Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend: Horror, Effects Pedals

Two Petri Dish Entries in a week? Jeez, you'd think it was Horrorpalooza season.

Actually, it sort of feels that way. Crypticon, Seattle's first-ever honest-to-gore horror movie convention, storms the Sea-Tac Doubletree Inn this weekend. In an earthshakingly surprising development, yours truly will be there with bells (or maybe rattling dungeon chains) on.

There's a pretty terrific line-up of celebrity guests scheduled, including cast members from the original Friday the 13th, Rob Zombie's well-received Halloween remake, The Devil's Rejects, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (super-huzzah!). And the scheduled events sound like a kick and a half: If doing an acting workshop alongside Bill Johnson (Leatherface from TCM2) doesn't float your boat most mightily, you've stumbled into the wrong Blog by mistake, Biff. This is the very first horror convention in this area, friends and neighbors, so you best get out and support it if'n you want more.

Crypticon effectively displaces the massive Gorge Sasquatch Music Fest from the list of activities on the old fridge To-Do board. But I could give a hang less, especially since Swervedriver will be in town for the first time in almost a decade.

I've loudly sung the praises of this band (and lead singer Adam Franklin's fine solo work) already, so I won't get too verbose now. Suffice it to say, this British quartet bring the space-travel rock and roll--with hooks and volume to match their effects pedals--and word on the street is that they're tearing it up live.

And sadly, playing live will probably be the only way they can make money off of their music. Most of the Swervedriver catalogue went completely out of print years ago, and in a Seattle Weekly interview Franklin points up the fact that Universal Music (the corporate megalith currently holding the Swervies' recorded output in its iron-gloved mitts) doesn't have any financial incentive to re-issue the band's material. It's a suckworthy situation for the band, and yet one more example of how media conglomeration crushes artists without even trying. This is Swervedriver's first appearance in town in a decade, friends and neighbors, and you'd best get out and support it if'n you want more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Emerald City ComiCon 2008: Get Your Geek On

I freely admit to wearing many Geek hats--Movie Geek, Horror Geek, Music Geek. But one label I'm not as worthy of is that of Comic Book Geek. That's why I love the Emerald City ComiCon: It's a great way to get caught up with an art form I've always enjoyed but don't always keep up with.

The 2008 Emerald City ComiCon hit the Convention Center in Seattle on May 10 and 11, and yours truly was on hand to drink deeply from the Nerd Well on the 10th. Technically, I was on assignment to cover the Wil Wheaton panel and do some videotaping for But there was more than enough time to explore, play, and have fun.

Like any Gen X'er worth his salt, I spent a lot of my boyhood with my nose in comic books, so a trip through many of the dealers' booths stoked some major memory nodes. Most of my knowledge of the medium is rooted solidly in the 1970's, so seeing back issues of Jack Kirby's post-apocalyptic Tarzan mutation Kamandi and obscure Atlas Comics' hero The Phoenix took me back big-time.

Tons of comics artists and writers were on hand, and I never tire of seeing members of the former category working away at sketchbooks and commissioned works. Biggest highlight for yours truly: Seeing veteran artist Esteban Maroto (whose vivid, Frazetta-informed inkwork for Marvel's Savage Sword of Conan rocked my pre-pubescent world) in action. Surrounded by original galleys of his gorgeous fantasy and horror work, he tended to a trickle of blood on the lips of a buxom vampire maiden with customary finesse.

Elsewhere, fun conversations were had with Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau, the writer/artist team behind a fun new superhero comic, The Perhapanauts (think the X-Men, if the X-Men were all true-life urban legends like Bigfoot and Chupacabra); Carrie Smith and Stephanie Lantry, who describe their creation To the Power Against as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but by Steven J. Hawking!"; and scribe Michael Alan Nelson, whose Fall of Cthulhu trade, The Fugue, is occupying some time in my nightmares of late (as befits the author of an update on the Cthulhu Mythos, the guy knows his Lovecraft).

And even if (God forbid) you don't dig comics, this year's ComiCon did plenty to stroke sci-fi movie and TV geek nodes. Media guests included Gigi Edgley of the Farscape TV series, the new Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber, and Julie Benz of Angel and HBO's Dexter. Best of all Wil Wheaton (Star Trek the Next Generation's Wesley Crusher) read from his new book and met and greeted fans. In addition to being an engaging blogger and raconteur (chronicled in this scintillating piece--please overlook the editor-inflicted typos), Wheaton was a great sport in person, autographing items from two of his less-sterling-cinematic efforts--Python ("Worst movie EVER!" he inscribed on my DVD cover) and The Curse ("That movie killed my career," he sighed only half-jokingly as he signed my VHS case)--with good humor.

I was so nose-to-the-grindstone with videotaping and panel coverage that I didn't take a lot of pictures, but enclosed please find a few choice ones. My partner in crime--local actor and good buddy Bob Bohan--has turned posing with costumed attendees into a minor art form. Good on ya, Bob, and enjoy, everyone.

The Green Lantern's power ring was evidently ineffective at securing him a babysitter.

Bob Bohan assists Wil Wheaton's Starfleet-appointed guard...

...And sucks up to several members of the Bush cabinet.

Yes, we are badasses. Oh, yes we are.

...But if you're not nice to comic book characters, they can get a little testy.

Mr. Bohan feigns enthusiasm at the Return to Wonderland booth, and around Who Wants to Be a Superhero finalist, Ms. Limelight.

Hipsters with awesome body art were in full effect.

Wil Wheaton, meanwhile, performed Snake Fist Kung Fu on a Shao Lin Microphone.

All that fun, and I adopted a baby and presented it to the missus (just in time for Mother's Day!). Rita named him Bjorn Skullcrusher. Really.

Special thanks to our pal (and comic book Master Jedi) George Tramountanas for the opportunity to work--and play--at the ECCC.