Friday, June 02, 2006

A Sense of Wonderfest, Part 4

In closing my week of Wonderfest reveries, I'd like to present a gallery of personal snapshots, pictorial and verbal, of some other fine folks who made an impression on us last weekend.

Donnie and Dana Dunagan Of course I've already written at length about the profound impression made on me by Donnie Dunagan, but I haven't written anything yet about "The Major's Minor," Dana (pronounced "Danna") or about the Dunagans as a couple. Dana is a wonderful, warm person whose sense of fashion (we loved the fringe work she sheared into her Donnie Dunagan T-shirt) is matched by her spirit of adventure. She and Donnie are planning an autumn's trip along the length of the Canadian boarder via their favorite mode of transportation: Harley-Davidson. This photograph was taken on the evening of the Sunday banquet; we were coming down in the elevator, the doors opened, and there they were -- looking like a million bucks. And when you see a million bucks, you photograph it! Favorite memory: Our Saturday dinner conversation, of course.

Basil Gogos This was my second time meeting the Michelangelo of the Macabre. I took the opportunity once again to shake his gifted hand and let him know how greatly his work had enriched my life and imagination, and how he, as much as anyone, connected the dots between the horror genre and fine art. I posed for a few pictures with him, but none is as good as this one of Basil and Donna (who he couldn't wait to pose with). As she pointed out later, Basil has such warm and unguarded eyes, it's impossible to take a bad picture of him. I used to think if I had the money, I'd commission a painting of myself by Gogos; after seeing this picture, I'd much rather see what he would do with a painting of my sweetie. Favorite memory: Seeing Gogos interact with partner Linda's be-ribboned pet Yorkie, Cleopatra.

Kerry Gammill Comic art legend, MONSTER KID online magazine publisher-editor, MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES filmmaker, and also the prime mover behind the superb book FAMOUS MONSTER MOVIE ART OF BASIL GOGOS, which I hear sold out its entire supply in the first hour-and-a-half of Wonderfest! Warm and soft-spoken, Kerry poses here with the handsome trophy with which he was presented at the Sunday night banquet. Favorite memory: Kerry shyly asking me if there was any way we could postpone the Bava book till January, so that he and Basil would have a better chance of winning the Rondo Award for the Best Book of 2006. (Considering how loved Gogos' work is, and how magnificently Kerry produced the Gogos book, I don't imagine he'll have any problem racking up the votes.)

David Colton USA TODAY front page editor, Classic Horror Film Boards moderator, Rondo Awards originator and Master of Ceremonies, and the gentleman who introduced the phrase "Monster Kid" to the popular lexicon, David is seen here hoisting the 14 pound "dummy" (blank book) version of the Bava book, which Donna and I brought along to Wonderfest. He observed that people could read the book in bed and bench-press at the same time, and more than a couple of folks had the eureka that this is the copy we should send to a certain trouble-maker. Favorite memory: Talking to David and his charming wife, ace punk photographer Eileen Colton, about their attendance of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair -- but really, just talking to the man.

Frank Dietz Disney animator, MONSTER KID HOME MOVIE filmmaker, and horror fandom's premier caricaturist, Frank's latest collection is called SKETCHY THINGS MUST BE DESTROYED. His peerless knack for capturing what is most silly and divine about his movie subjects destroys me. Visit his website and its galleries and tell me that he doesn't absolutely nail Glenn Strange and Boris Karloff at the end of HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. As all artists do, Frank is feeling a bit constricted by his caricature work and is branching out into more serious portraits; he showed us an assortment of this brilliant new work he'd done for Wonderfest and nearly all of them were sold by the time we got into the dealer's room the next day. Favorite memory: Seeing Frank, a couple of minutes after toasting our happy reunion with a belt of Elijah Craig bourbon, suddenly knocked for a loop by what he'd swallowed.

Gary L. Prange "Have you ever heard of... Prange?" A past (and hopefully future) VW contributor, and a moderator and frequent poster at the Classic Horror Film boards, Gary hosted the CHFB Hospitality Suite (Room 870) at Wonderfest. This gave us many opportunities to talk, especially about a mammoth book on silent genre films for which Gary is presently in the "research and accumulation" phase. Gary brought some DVD-Rs to the room, including a HITCHCOCK HOUR called "The Magic Shop" which I've been wanting to see again for decades, but sorry, Hitch, the conversation was just too engrossing. Favorite memory: Gary's discussion of the Bull Montana curio, GO AND GET IT -- an impressive measure of the man's obsession.

Joe Busam MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES producer and contributor ("The Raven"!) and Rondo's Monster Kid of the Year. Joe and his wife Patty have become two of our best local friends and we dine out together as often as work and pocketbook allow. Being around Joe at Wonderfest was like standing next to the direct current of Monster Kid electroplasma: his joy was our joy, and you can see exactly what I mean in this photo of Joe and the King Kong armature. We love him and his success is well-deserved. Favorite memory: Many, but mostly knowing that Joe's wife Patty and his grown children Susie and Joe, and their Significant Others, were in attendance when he accepted his Rondo Awards.

Jim & Marian Clatterbaugh The folks behind the extraordinary classic horror magazine MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT are seen here with frequent MFTV contributor Tom Weaver at the Sunday night banquet. In the CHFB Hospitality Suite shared by Gary Prange and Joe Busam, Jim and I did most of our infrequent talking while mutually absorbed in watching "Monsterama" shorts from the Monsters HD channel. On Saturday night, when the suite was filled to the gills with people, I saw Donna and Marian having an animated discussion and I had to cross the room to listen in. Favorite memory: Their neat and interesting girl-talk about the real life problems of producing/copy-editing magazines.

And while I'm at it...

Tom Weaver Horror cinema's most accoladed scribe likes to project the image of a crusty cuss who can recognize poseurs and bad apples from the get-go. All this is true; Tom isn't one to suffer fools or willingly waste his own time (we saw him make a few early exits from various festivities over the weekend, but always after bidding a formal farewell and thank-you to his hosts). But those who know Tom well will confirm that he's actually a big softie, and good company because he's someone who can always be trusted to find the humor in any situation. Favorite memory: His generous comments about me while accepting the Rondo for Best Writer... at least I think they were about me! If so, coming from Tom, they were better than winning the award!

Chris Walas How many times in life can you meet someone, not see them for 20 years, and then suddenly pick up exactly where you left off, as though time stood still? That's how it was when I went up to Chris at Wonderfest and tapped him on the shoulder. We haven't seen each other since THE FLY was in production back in 1986. For him, it's an Academy Award, two directorial efforts and two kids later, and for me, it's 125 issues of VW and two novels later, but we're still the same people -- more seasoned and experienced, but still passionate about movies. Favorite memory: Our post-banquet talk about the films of Aleksandr Ptushko and Karel Zeman, and meeting his eldest daughter, who is Chris's wife Gillian (the continuity person on THE FLY, whom I first met on VIDEODROME in 1981) all over again. (Chris has heard about a big new Russian fantasy film made within the last few years, but he doesn't know the title -- could it be that new remake of VIY I've been reading about?)

John Clymer An occasional poster at the Classic Horror Film Boards, John is just Good People. We first met at the last Wonderfest we attended, a couple of years ago, and Donna and I enjoy hanging out with him. We had a few opportunities and got to see a picture of his pretty little daughter. John held our digital camera during the Rondo Awards ceremony and took the pictures seen in Part 1 of this report. Favorite memory: Learning that John had read and enjoyed THE BOOK OF RENFIELD while on a business trip last year.

Richard and Angie Olson
Father and daughter. Richard, whose home movies planted the seed of inspiration for Joe Busam's MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES, is a towering teddy bear of a man; he raised Donna off the ground when he hugged her -- and Joe Busam says he does the same when he hugs him. A warm and effusive man, he is just about the love of monster movies incarnate, and we enjoyed the little tour he gave us of the memorabilia sideshow he helped furnish at the show. Richard's daughter Angie has her father's sweet nature and made an excellent presenter at the Rondo Awards and (as seen here) a makeup model for CSI makeup artist John Goodwin. Favorite memory: A couple of people told me they saw father and daughter sitting in the hotel hallway sharing tears of joy and sadness when Wonderfest ended. I know how they felt.

And last but never least...

Donnie Waddell Meeting Donnie, the talent coordinator of Wonderfest, was very much like meeting an old friend... because he's like David Del Valle all over again! There is a slight resemblance between them, but if I was blindfolded and listening to them, I might have trouble figuring out which one of them was in the room with me. (Well, eventually I would... eventually, Donnie stops and David doesn't!) But Donnie's mind, like David's, is a freewheeling carousel of pop cultural references that can and will keep an entire room in stitches. I'll never be able to think of Gordon Lightfoot the same way again. Favorite memory: Donnie and me riffing on the 1966 BATMAN movie and premiere episode, especially his dead-on impression of an inebriated Caped Crusader: "Robin! I've got to find Robin!"

Undoubtedly there were many other terrific people at Wonderfest we didn't meet or with whom we didn't share much time. It was good to see Vincent di Fate again, and it was only as we were preparing to leave that I met Dave Conover, who I am hoping to interest in writing a feature article about Willis O'Brien's abandoned WAR EAGLES project (the subject of a fantastic after-banquet slide show). Ah well... thanks to everyone for the happy memories.

"That's my final report / Of the Wonderfest sort / Till next year on the WatchBlog Fitzgerallllld -- Woo HOO!"

All photos reproduced in this blog are copyrighted (c) by Tim & Donna Lucas, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

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