AC Boardwalk Con Adventure Part 1

You couldn’t move in AC last weekend. Everywhere you turned there was a bachelorette party going on. It was like an old B-movie, but, instead of the Jersey Shore getting infested with 50-foot mutated soon-to-be brides, it was overrun with literal hordes of drunken twenty-something girls wearing dresses that could barely fit my arm. They were stumbling all over the boardwalk, making a scene at the casinos, and even loud talking (slurring) on line at Starbucks. Believe me, I’m all for partying, but the combination of drunkenness only amplified the fact that they all seemed to think they were hot shit. Something about getting dressed up and downing weak shots of fruity liqueur makes even the biggest disasters feel like they could nail David Beckham. They couldn’t even pronounce Macchioto at that point, but, then again, they could barely walk – even with those giant heels in hand. Don’t think for a second that their male counterparts weren’t up to the same shenanigans in other casinos, they just disguised it better. Clusters of dudes on their bachelor parties were equally as obnoxious, but they weren’t wearing tiaras and sashes, so they didn’t stand out as much. Why am I telling you this? To set the scene of course!

While much of this turned out to be entertaining in itself, like witnessing multiple girls trip over their giant heels in their micro mini skirts right before my eyes, it got in the way of my real mission: getting to the FIRST EVER Atlantic City Boardwalk Con. Last weekend, Dinosaur Dracula and I escaped immediately into a parking garage and sought refuge in the most perfect place imaginable – The Atlantic City Convention Center. This place was bustling with an entirely different breed of revelers: Geeks. The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con was like being in the Merry Land of Oz, if Oz was a comic convention and Kevin Smith was the Wizard.

AC took on a double meaning for me. The Atlantic City Convention Center was supplied with Air Conditioning, which made it a haven in more ways than one; it was an awesome way to get out of the humidity (I’m currently AC-less at home), but it was also an immense emporium for all of my favorite geek things. From comics books to Zatanna cosplay, it was all there spread throughout the cavernous facility. The craziest part about it was that they didn’t even utilize half the floor space and ACBC was still a huge con.

Cosplay was in full force. Personally, I never get sick of seeing cosplayers and the insane amount of time and effort they put into their bringing their characters to life. Some cosplayers have such elaborate homemade costumes and they never break from their roles. They’re usually happy to chat and take pictures and those I spoke to at ACBC were friendly and seemed pretty psyched to be there. Cosplay was a key part of the AC Boardwalk Con (i.e Dark Helmet) and it’s welcome to see it get the spotlight that it deserves here in New Jersey. I saw Callie Cosplay as Sue Storm and she looked fantastic. Much like some of the other cosplayers at ACBC, she changed costumes over the course of the weekend, but in the video you can catch a quick glimpse of her as Sue.
Since ACBC is new, it was a fresh experience. There was an aspect of discovery that I don’t get from other cons. With New York Comic Con, it always feels like an organized mess, overshadowed by the mega conglomerates who sink the most ad money into the event. On the other hand, ACBC provided me with a happy feeling every time I turned a corner and noticed something that I hadn’t before. It was a mix of independent vendors and the random official Marvel Universe kiosk. An excellent balance of both. Plus. the easy to follow floor layout and the imaginative vendor set-ups infused the stagnant con prototype with a new style. Mostly, it was just different than the norm, and less stressful and aggravating to navigate than the other big cons.

Enticing my eyeballs for a few hours were random toys, odd collectibles, and beautiful artwork. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I actually didn’t come home with any. I resisted. I so desperately wanted the Batman/Harley Quinn painting you’ll see in the video above, but it was about $900 bucks! I got bills, yo! I’ll stick with the shots in the video footage I took. Further guilt was brought on by the fact that I’ve bought so many figures recently that I wanted to stick with a few original items to take home with me, so let me show you what came home with.

The NJ Ghostbusters were on site investigating a free floating full torso apparition of an old famed casino owner who is known to haunt the Atlantic City area. When I ran into the boys in gray, they didn’t have much time to B.S with me about the latest issue of Space Catalog because they just got an urgent call from Janine Melnitz, so I quickly threw them some cash so I could own one of their beautiful NJGB t-shirts! Could this shirt be any more apropos for me? NJ and Ghostbusters, perfect. I also picked up some stickers.

All the way from the far off land of Los Angeles, CA, I stopped at the table of JSalvador’s Super Emo Friends. These cute paintings of sad super heroes, rock stars, and pop culture icons grabbed me as if I saw a sad puppy in a pet shop window. How could I resist Emo Jason Voorhees moping on his mother’s severed head? I also picked up the Emo Arrow for Mike

ACBC didn’t give me much to bitch about at all. I only had one minor gripe. I didn’t wind up meeting any of the guests, but the celebrity signing lines could’ve used more ingenuity. Once you reached the autograph and picture area in the back of the con, it was clogged up with people milling around trying to figure out whose line they wanted to go wait on first. Even getting remotely close to that wing would’ve gotten you caught up in a bit of a traffic jam. It’s possible they weren’t expecting such a huge turnout, but they’ll definitely have to expand this area next year.

ACBC was a success and I will venture to say that it was one of the most enjoyable conventions I’d ever been to. There was a positive vibe throughout and people weren’t acting like jerks. Seeing kids and families there also brought me back to when I was young and geeky things like comics weren’t ruled by 40-something dudes. It’s a family affair and that’s cool. ACBC did a bang up job right out of the gate. Looking forward to next year already!

You didn’t think our adventure ended at The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, did you? Of course, there’s more to come from our exploits AFTER the con! Things got pretty interesting so come back soon to check it out. Thanks for reading!

Interview With Pinup Artist Erica Hesse

Erica Hesse brought to life our vision to commemorate The Sexy Armpit’s 10th birthday in a vivid, epic work of art. In my interview with her, we get an in-depth look at her creative approach, her influences, her favorite comics and horror movies, and growing up in New Jersey.

SA: I’ve had this idea for a commission from you in my head for quite a long time and it’s finally come to fruition and it’s very exciting. Since I’m not an artist, how does it feel knowing that you’ve created the exact piece of art that I had in my head?

EH: It’s pretty rewarding, as an artist you can only hope you can bring every idea to life that the person has- and be able to do it justice. Especially when the client has original ideas and thoughts and you want to be able to convey what they are thinking. I think it helps in this case, a lot of the subject matter I’m familiar with and a fan of. So it made it that much easier to interpret and have fun with! 

I’m glad you had some fun with this project! Do you prefer to create a piece of art directly from your imagination or do you like having more of a direction such as in commission work?

I like doing both to be honest. Doing art straight from my imagination is therapeutic and freeing. I can do whatever I would like with no one to tell me any different. But I do like commission work too, because it keeps me on the straight and narrow and gives me a sense of direction. I learn a lot from each commission and it gives me a new perspective on how to solve or approach each new piece of art. I find that a lot of commission work I get the clients usually have a lot of imagination and creativity, some things that I wouldn’t think of doing. So it’s refreshing, challenging, and fun to do these pieces of art, subject matter that is “outside of the box” for me. There is this one project I’ve been working on with a writer for a while now, about a year or so. It’s completely different than what I’m used to illustrating, it’s really creative and thought provoking. The story is pretty amazing and we have a great working relationship. He has a great imagination and has a clear vision of what he wants, and that’s exciting. I welcome other people’s ideas and thoughts when it comes to art, I think a large part of it is due to the some of the training I had. I worked for a company before where I had a lot of art direction and creativity within a team. I welcome that because in some cases you only become better at what you do.

Can you briefly tell us about the process you went through to create this piece? You incorporate traditional and digital art, right?

Sure! You’re right I did incorporate traditional and digital art for this piece of art.  Every artist has a different way of approaching a new piece of art, I feel I kind of do things unorthodox as far as my approach in laying out the composition. I usually sketch/pencil in the main characters first, trying to capture a feel for them, then build up the background and elements around them. I usually do two different concepts and email them to the client to see if I’m heading in the right direction concerning their ideas. If it’s approved I then go back and print out the rough concept, lightbox the rough onto a piece of heavy bristol paper and start working on the final pencils. The final pencils is a tighter and more clean version of the rough concept. From there I ink over my pencils with a brush. I typically use a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen or a Windsor and Newton watercolor brush. All depending on the look I need to achieve. When the inks are done, I erase any remaining pencil lines and it’s ready to be scanned and digitally painted. Once I have the line art scanned in and cleaned up, I started blocking in loose colors using Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. From there it’s a lot of playing around with colors and determining if any small details in the composition need to be changed. Colors, for me, I find at times to be challenging, I like them to be heavily saturated and have a certain “pop” to them. I work best when I’m working on a piece of art and walk away from it for a day or so, that way I have a fresh eye when I look at it again. Sometimes it changes everything.

And that POP is certainly distinct in the final piece! How do you feel about it? Is there an aspect of it you think is exceptional?

I was a bit concerned as I first started digitally coloring the art and how I was going to make it all work with each other. Honestly I think every artist has that thought when they approach a piece of art, the gears are constantly turning and asking yourself “How am I going to make this work?” But as the piece progressed I was pretty happy on how it was turning out, I really love it.

The parts of the art I think are exceptional are how a lot of pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the art, from the He-Man sword to the Toxic Avenger-like waste barrels, the art is one big fun New Jersey pop culture piece. I love adding the little elements in there that perhaps only people from New Jersey would get. I honestly could have added more, but didn’t want to take away from the main focal point, which is the characters. l do have to say I did add a little personal touch in the art. The license plate on the beach is one number/letter off of my own old license plate I had for years.

Ha! That’s awesome. A little Easter Egg hidden in there! I love it. Switching gears, I’ve always been a huge fan of pinup culture. When did you realize you were in love with pinup style art? Is it something you realized you excelled at and just continued to do or is it legitimately your favorite style to create?

I think pinup style art has been part of me since I was a kid, it was somehow always around me in some shape or form. A lot of the comics I read growing up had a “pinup” aspect to the art, Archie’s Betty and Veronica, Katy Keene, Millie the Model, Sabrina the Teenage Witch all had an impression on me growing up. I didn’t actually discover pinup (in the form of photography and art) until years later. I knew this guy and he had this calendar of Pinup art, I believe it was by Olivia. I remember the image for that month, the woman was a brunette and had on a white man’s dress shirt and it looked innocent and incredibly sexy at the same time. And it wasn’t a photograph, it was a painting! I wasn’t drawing for a few years around that time, that image resonated with me and was in the back of my head. Fast forward some years later I was introduced to Bettie Page and was intrigued by her. I was at a point in my life where it seemed pinup art was always reaching out to me, calling to me and I finally made the leap. I guess you can say it’s been a slow steady progression.

I don’t know if pinup art was something I thought I excelled at, it’s definitely a form of art I enjoy doing. Some people liked drawing animals or wildlife scenery, for example. I like illustrating those things too, but I’m always drawn back to illustrating women. I’ve always been drawn to the female figure and consider it to be one of the most beautiful forms in nature. It’s a form of expression, an extension of myself if that makes sense.

Well, we think you definitely excel at it! As an added bonus, much of your subject matter incorporates comic art, horror, burlesque – which just so happen to be things that I am heavy into. Your piece Roller Bride of Frankenstein really seems to sum up the stuff you enjoy. With that said, can you share with us your favorite horror movies and comic books?

Ooh yes! Ha, I sure can! My favorites change here and there, but here’s what’s on top of my head at the moment. For horror movies, I love a lot of the classics. All of the classic monster movies, Bride of Frankenstein,Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy. I love Night of the Living Dead, White Zombie, Dawn of the Dead, Fright Night…I could go on and on! Fan of the first few Nightmare on Elm Street movies. For newer horror movies, none stick to the top of my head at the moment. I did recently see the remake of Evil Dead. While it was good, nothing beats the original.

For comic books, I’m currently liking/reading Brian Wood’s X-Men, The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and the new Harley Quinn series by Palmiotti. Other favorites include Linsner’s Lucifer’s Halo, Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, Wonder Woman, Witchblade and The Walking Dead series. I usually go for comics with strong and interesting women in them. Or if they have zombies.

Zombies are always a plus. I’m enjoying the new Harley Quinn series as well. Also on the DC front, what are your thoughts on the promo photo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman from Batman v. Superman?

I thought the promo shot looked good, but kind of holding back my opinions until I see the movie. There’s a lot of thoughts and concerns that are rambling around in my head but I know that will probably change once I see the movie.

Can you tell us some of your artistic influences?

I kind of have a mash up of people, art, or artists that I’m inspired by. In no particular order: Gil Elvgren, George Petty, Alberto Vargas, Alphonse Mucha, Dan De Carlo, Stan Goldberg, Linsner, Coop, R. Black, Bettie Page, Rita Hayworth, Dita, Mosh…to name a few. Tara McPherson and Tokidoki are big for me in the Designer Vinyl Toy World. 

I’m a big fan of Vargas, De Carlo, and Miss Mosh as well. How about influence from your ? Were you born and raised in New Jersey? Growing up, tell us some of the places your frequented or fond memories you have from living here.

Oh heck yes. Born and raised here in good ol’ South Jersey. A lot of the memories I have growing up is where I used to live, in Egg Harbor City. I spent a lot of my time in the Don and Tom’s Newspaper store and the local Ben Franklin five and dime. Mostly buying comics and plotting which Barbie doll was going to be added next in my collection. I had a huge Barbie doll collection. It’s funny, I was never allowed to leave them naked (undressed) they always had to be fully clothed. I had a few Ken dolls but they were boring to me. I used to “borrow” my brother’s G.I. Joe dolls and make them Barbie’s boyfriend. The guy had flocked hair, how can Ken compete with that? I think I even somehow managed to make my brother’s 18-inch Alien figure Barbie’s boyfriend too. Barbie had great taste.

As far as places I checked out, I would say Ocean City was the top of the list. To me it was the “place to go” it had a little bit of everything. It had the boardwalk, ice cream, the beach, the Boardwalk Mall and of course boys. I was a bit of a boy crazy nut then. But what teen wasn’t? Of course I was rarely on the beach, I was always wanting to hop on the water slides or stuff my face with boardwalk pizza. Man, I loved that. And I used to tan, A LOT. So glad I gave that up…eventually, ha. Now I’m as “un-beachy” as you can get. The only tan I get anymore is a driver’s tan.

Same. I get as much tan as David the vampire from The Lost Boys. Similarly, I used to take my sisters Barbie dolls to have my GI Joes mingle with them on her party boat. It was a blast. So, what’s on the horizon for Erica Hesse? Are there any upcoming projects or comic shows you’d like to mention?

I’ve been keeping busy with quite a few sketch cards projects this year. Some are currently out right now. I did a few exclusive sketch cards for Zenescope’s Oz and Grimm Fairy Tales for San Diego Comic Con. I also did some cards for Chaos and the Women of Dynamite which were only available at the San Diego Comic Con as well. I have some more sketch card sets in the works but can’t mention them really until they are talked about in the press or been released. I’ve been kind of laying low on the comic con scene (which is really hard) this year due to commission work and the day job. I also made a point not to do any shows this year because I really, really want to jump back on some things I’ve been putting off. As much as I LOVE drawing pinups, I’m really itching to work on some sequentials/comics! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on pinups, but I just want to develop some ideas that have been in my head the past few years. These stories are dying to come out. I’ll be sure to talk about them when the time is right. To keep up to date on any news you can follow me on http://www.hesse-art.com or my Facebook page over at www.facebook.com/TheArtofEricaHesse.

We’ll be on the lookout! As we wrap up, being a fan of your work, I’ve read that you’ve really made your own way. You practiced hard to become a great artist and carved a space for yourself via Internet/social media as well as setting up at shows such as Wizard World to sell your prints. It’s very inspirational, so if you could leave us with some sort of motivational wisdom that might apply to anyone, not just artists, no matter how cheesy it might be, that would be awesome!

I guess the only thing I can say is do what you love. You’re going to get criticism and feedback on no matter what you do, just take it all in stride and grow from it- don’t let it affect you negatively. Do the best that you can do. Don’t worry about what this person is doing or how successful that person is, that’s a total mind killer. No art would ever get accomplished if we constantly compared or doubted ourselves.

Excellent advice Erica and thanks for the interview! The new Sexy Armpit artwork KICKS ASS!

Erica obviously has our full endorsement, so check out some of her art here:
http://www.storenvy.com/stores/159375-the-art-of-erica-hesse

10 Things I Love About Jersey Shore Shark Attack

Shark Week is coming. Matter of fact, a friggin’ Sharknado is scheduled to touch down tonight, on SyFy Channel. Luckily, this time it’s New York City that will be infiltrated by sharks, but rewind only a couple of summers and it was the Jersey Shore that was overrun by sharks in glorious Sy-Fy style. It was blood spattered, B-Movie bliss!

Preppy rich folk are trying to build a beach club spa and undersea drilling from the project winds up attracting a very rare species of CGI albino bull sharks, the natural non-tanned well known enemy of the shore faring orange gorilla guido. A Jersey Shore Shark Attack of epic proportions ensues.

While MTV’s Jersey Shore is a distant memory to many of us, clearly its impact still lingers. Jersey Shore was in its final season when Jersey Shore Shark Attack aired on SyFy Channel in the summer of 2012. Similar in spirit to 2010’s Piranha 3-D, another film with Jersey connections, JSSA garnered a better than expected 3 out of 10 stars on IMDB and 25% liked it on Rotten Tomatoes.

The title is a bit misleading because the movie has nothing to do with the actual shark attacks that happened along the Jersey Shore in 1916. If it bums you out and you were geared up for some historical progressive era carnage, you are S.O.L. there, but you’re in luck here because I’ve compiled 10 things I love about this movie. Here we go!

10. No actors from New Jersey appear in this production. This is not surprising. The closest we get is Staten Island’s Jeremy Luke who plays “The Complication” and sort of looks like a white Tracy Morgan. Staten Island is so close to New Jersey that it’s apparent why he was also cast in other Jersey related films like Don Jon and Jersey Boys. This guy is likable on screen and he’s definitely going to become a familiar face. You’ll enjoy his performance more than watching the real Situation.

9. Guy fishing in a canoe smoking a cigar catches a…New Jersey Turnpike sign. This sign is so iconic to me that it’s been part of my site logo for nearly 10 years. That wasn’t the only surprise this guy got, he caught the severed head of a guidette! Pulling body parts out of the water in Jersey is a weekly occurrence here, they aren’t embellishing.

8. Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) plays boardwalk Tiki bar proprietor, Captain Sallie. Although he was born in Brooklyn, Sirico will always be associated with New Jersey thanks to The Sopranos.

7. WET T-SHIRT CONTEST. With Super Soakers.

6. The Warriors reference. “Preppies come out and pla–ay!” The Preppies think the Guidos are trash but they both have to grudgingly team up in this film. Ugh, how excruciating.

5. Jack Scalia rules. He’s like a Shakespearean actor. Who needs Anthony Hopkins when we have friggin’ J.Scal? My mom had one of those hunky pictures of him on our fridge in the ’80s so there’s that. Oh, and there was also one on the inside of our coffee mug cabinet.

4. Luring sharks with Protein bars, they might be onto something.

BJ: 
“You really think you’re gonna attract sharks with protein bars?” 
DONNIE: 
“Nothing’s gonna resist 25 grams of power packed peanut butter crunch!”
(he delivers this line like a pro-wrestler cutting a promo!)

3. Italian Stereotypes to the MAX er, um the MASSIMO! Bocce Ball! Grappa! Sopressata! Surprisingly, I don’t think there was one mention of a cannoli.

“Ya got 10 miles of beautiful white sandy beaches, blue sky, and what do you have to show for it? Wet T-shirt contests and funnel cake…”

2. ATHERTON! The brilliant William Atherton will help you’ll get a feel for the other side of the Jersey shore, the one that that you don’t often see depicted on TV – the yuppie rich folks who own yachts and mansions right on the beach. They wear boat shoes. You know them. Guidos don’t seem so annoying in comparison right? Atherton is the big pretentious a-hole from that crew, similar to Jerry Hathaway from Real Genius. This time, instead of turning off the protection grid like Walter Peck in Ghostbusters, he’s activating undersea drills that attract killer sharks in order to build his beach club.

1. Thank you Captain Obvious! This movie over-explains everything and I love every utterance. After a shark launched into the air and swallowed N’Sync’s “legendary” Joey Fatone whole, the actual Vinny from Jersey Shore yells “Joey Fatone just got eaten by a shark!” Or, how about the classic “Help me my foot is stuck,” when Nooki’s (knockoff Snooki) foot was stuck. Riveting! In the end, there’s even a celebratory fist pumping “Guido” chant to remind viewers that these guys are supposed to be guidos.

CM Punk Rescued at Jersey Shore: A Sexy Armpit News Brief

If the wrestling news and rumor sites are accurate, it’s been reported that CM Punk is now officially a “former WWE Superstar.” I still have a slight amount of hope that it’s all part of storyline though. Whether Punk ever returns to the ring or not, he still deserves a vacation. His woman, WWE Diva AJ Lee, begged him to go to Wildwood this summer, and becoming a softy in his old age, Punk gave in. Ordinarily he wouldn’t be caught dead in Jersey, but the irony is that he WAS almost caught dead there. Watch the Sexy Armpit news brief above for all the details on this near fatal occurrence. Later in the news brief is a video montage of The Sexy Armpit and Dinosaur Dracula’s trip to the Wildwood boardwalk! Music by The Brigantines. See them live playing shows this summer! Listen to a Free track at their official site: www.thebrigantines.com

SUMMER KICKOFF 2014!

Watch the 2014 Summer Kickoff Show with The Sexy Armpit and Idiot at Play. It’s filled with nonsense, and a few good ideas of how you can enhance your summer experience. Plus, summer reading recommendations including Last Exit in New Jersey, Exit Zero, and The Non-Linear Flow of the Universal Tides by Michael Gary Wirth. Music by Lipstick & Cigarettes, Lux Devil, and Kevin McLeod.

BIZARRE AC Expo 2013 Recap Part 2

Where were we? Snowstorm is looming. I’m just pulling into the Trop. 

If you’re the geek/fanboy type like me and you’ve never been to the Tropicana in Atlantic City, there’s one thing that will strike you about it. Their parking garage is almost a replica of the one you see in The Dark Knight where Batman utters the greatest line in movie history “I’M NOT WEARING HOCKEY PADS.”

There’s never a time when I’m entering the Trop that I don’t pretend that I’m Batman in the Batmobile Tumbler navigating the wild mouse roller coaster-like turns and insanely steep inclines of that parking garage. It’s like a ride in itself. It’s also one of the more inviting garages in all of Atlantic City, because each and every one of them is abysmal. Bringing yourself to a near heart attack, getting rear ended, and not understanding the signage are constant possibilities in A.C’s parking garages. At least at the Trop you can pretend to have a run-in with Scarecrow and his goons.

bizarreACxmasAside from the nasty accident I passed earlier, things were going strangely smooth. I even found a parking spot about 20 feet from the elevator to the casino. This translates to “I was meant to go to this thing.”

Once inside the casino, it did seem a bit light on people. Is online gambling in NJ taking away from attendance? It’s possible, or it was just the shitty winter weather putting a damper on people’s weekends.

The setting of the Bizarre Expo provided a refreshing change compared to the other conventions that we’re accustomed to. Holding the event at a casino adds a bit of glitz to what’s usually just a bunch of people standing around a hotel lobby or convention room when you really think about it. Chiller and Monster Mania, I love you guys, but the hotel setting is limited and does grow a bit stale. There comes a time after 20 years of a convention that it needs to graduate to the next level of facilities. Bizarre skipped a grade. If only it went to school in the Spring time.

What’s cool about having the expo at the Trop, is that you’re right on the boardwalk looking out at the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Since it was bitter cold, walking on the boardwalk is an activity reserved for those of us on shrooms, people who like running, and those who don’t mind a little hypothermia now and again. Here you have the option to gamble, or you can get really drunk and then walk through two big horror convention rooms as well as a movie screening room. I always choose the horror option.

masksbizarreAC

After I got situated and registered, I made my way into the first large convention room. This room housed the aptly named Bizarre Bazaar. As soon as I walked in I noticed the “look” of the event. Something about the whole space just looked cool. It’s hard to describe, but it’s possible that it was the lighting. It definitely gave the impression that it was a step above other conventions as far as presentation goes. There weren’t as many merchant/vendor tables crammed into a tiny space in the way we are all too familiar with. This gave them a nice boost since it focused your attention to the tables and the people running them rather than missing stuff in order to navigate through a mob of people.

The Saturday installment of Bizarre had just begun. As the day went on more and more people started filing in. Luckily for me, it wasn’t crowded to the point where you couldn’t walk around comfortably. This is important because I get claustrophobic in crowds. Of course, the promoters of the event probably preferred the floor to be packed with people, but it’s way more frustrating for attendees when it’s like that. I always prefer a larger space that’s less crowded to a smaller space with the same amount of people.

Shannon from Mallrats wouldn’t be too pleased with me since I didn’t have much of an agenda. This was a brand new event and I really wanted to enjoy it and take in the scene. As I strolled around, it was cool to run into a few friends at some of the merchant tables.

Maria from the 2014 Gorgeous and Gory Zombie Pinup Calendar

My buddy Jess Rajs from Gorgeous and Gory was promoting the new 2014 Zombie Pinup Calendar. It’s filled with hot undead women and it’s a perfect gift for the person with a zombie fetish in your life. She firmly believes this one is their best work yet, and coming from a dude who has all of them, I have to agree with her! Check out some of these incredible photos and head over to http://www.gorgeousandgory.com to get your own!

One of the best shops in the whole state is True Jersey. They are proud to be from NJ and all the stuff they sell reflects that. Naturally, I couldn’t walk away without picking up a shirt that I’ve wanted for a long time! Another t-shirt? Really? But, I’ve had this one on my mental wish list for quite a while now. It’s Jersey done in the style of the SEGA logo. Since I was a Master System kid this t-shirt was made for me. Aside from tees and other clothes, True Jersey also offers collectibles, accessories, and housewares.

fearfactoryNJ01 

I am a sucker for haunted attractions so I stopped by the Fear Factory Haunted House table. This is a newer haunt that I was meaning to get to this Halloween season, but, prior to its opening, it ran into all kinds of roadblocks from the town and it hindered them from having a proper opening season. Then, after talking to the girls from the haunt, I found out that there’s only TWO MORE NIGHTS of their Christmas haunt, Tinsel Town Terror. Not happy about the idea of missing this. Well, I made it to Bizarre A.C, so perhaps there’s a trip to Mays Landing in my near future for some yuletide terror?

freakydeekys 
Freaky Deekys horror and geek pillows

Just so you know, skipping the merch tables and going straight for autographs is never a good idea. You’ll definitely miss out on cool stuff. I did manage to buy ONE Christmas gift. I was hoping to get a few more, but funds were diminishing. But, I will say that the $5 dollar margaritas were pretty cost effective.

The horror personalities were out in full force and Bizarre offered the opportunity to hobnob with them without getting shooed away due to crowds. Just a few of the actors I saw signing and chatting with fans included Heather Lagenkamp, Doug Bradley, Kane Hodder, John Kassir, Bill Mosely, Tom Savini, Alex Vincent, Micheal Berryman, former WWE Superstar Gene Snitsky, and Clerks’ Brian O’Halloran.

One of the Q&A sessions was going on as I was walking around the merch tables. This one was called “Being Jason,” and it featured Kane Hodder and Steve Dash answering questions from the audience about their experiences playing Jason in the Friday the 13th films. This was enlightening to several members of the audience who apparently have never seen or read Crystal Lake Memories.

Just before I made my way down the escalator to the 2nd convention room, I ran into our NJ friend Ryan Scott Weber, writer and director of Mary Horror and Sheriff Tom vs. The Zombies. At the moment, Ryan was screening Sheriff Tom and we were shooting the shit about the upcoming third part of the trilogy called Witches Blood. It’s coming out soon so look out for it! I also talked with the Jersey King of No Budget Horror, my pal Armageddon Ed.

After a while, weather apps and text messages kept alerting me to how bad the snow was getting up north. This meant that I had to miss out on the costume contest and some of the other truly Bizarre aspects of the expo and hightail it out of Atlantic City. In various parts of the state there was already 3 or 4 inches of snow. Oddly enough, the South Jersey area and Atlantic City was spared and only got rained on. As I made my way back up the Garden State Parkway, I was baffled because all I hit was rain. Then, sure enough, around exit 100, I abruptly entered Hoth. The rest of the trip home turned into my very own Twilight Zone episode called Nightmare at 15 Miles Per Hour.

Hosting a convention in December runs the risk of inclement weather. The snow definitely had an impact on attendance, but the expo kicked ass. If you didn’t make it, you missed out because the organizers improved upon horror fans gripes of other local conventions and it showed. Hopefully if this becomes and annual thing, the Bizarre Expo will only get bigger and more enticing next year. You’re going to look back and wish you were at the first one because you know how many jackasses (myself included) will be bragging about how “I was at the FIRST Bizarre Expo man!” 

ALF in A.C!

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For a pretty large chunk of the late ’80s, ALF merch was a goldmine. With four seasons of the prime time show and two animated spinoffs, an array of ALF stuff was abundant during that time. Whether you were strolling through Toys ‘R Us or a Hallmark store you’d see ALF everywhere. On the shelves were wise cracking plush toys, (I still have mine!) posters, pajamas, and video games. ALF’s likeness was licensed to everything.
ALF even had a couple of sets of his own trading cards. Aside from his “Bouillabase Ball” trading card series, in 1987, our little sarcastic pal also appeared in a 50 card set called U.S of ALF.
You’ve probably heard that ancient proverb “He who lets an alien life form give them a tour of the United States, winds up chasing feral cats.” I’ve never been able to get ALF’s actual opinion of the Jersey Shore, but he did make a stop here when he toured the country. Pictured above is the card commemorating the time when ALF visited Atlantic City, New Jersey.


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