Walker Stalkers Take Boston!

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When I’d first heard rumors that a “Walking Dead”-centric convention was possibly coming to Boston, my curiosity was more than piqued. When the rumors were confirmed to be true, and the convention in question was actually the fairly new “Walker Stalker Con,” created by the wonderful minds behind the “Walker Stalkers” podcast– James Frazier and Eric Nordhoff- I was elated. I’d heard an overwhelming amount of good things about past Walker Stalker conventions in other cities- so I couldn’t wait to check it out. What better way to prepare myself for San Diego Comic-Con, and really kick off the whole Summer/Fall convention circuit in general- than by enjoying one centered around my favorite franchise- right in my own backyard?

It wasn’t until I saw the impressive full list of confirmed guests and the schedule for some of the panels and events planned that I had to refrain from throwing on my (nearly completed) Daryl Dixon costume a little too early and have a full-blown fan-girl freak-out. I grabbed my weekend pass and I headed down to the Westin on the Waterfront this past Saturday and Sunday to get my zombie aficionado on.

First and foremost, I really want to commend the staff involved in the Boston “Walker Stalker Con,” which includes both hired hands as well as the tons of eager volunteers I encountered during my two days in the hotel. Every single person I spoke to who was involved in pulling this off were so friendly, so helpful, and so, so funny- that I was at a loss for words more than once. I’ve been to various conventions over the past few years- and some of the people working different booths, panels, or photo areas- have all but ruined the experience for myself and others with their rude, condescending, and mean-spirited attitudes. That wasn’t the case with “Walker Stalker Con.” I was met with smiles, laughter, more than one high-five, and even patience at one point when I got lost trying to find an area of the convention I was supposed to be in at a certain time. The upbeat attitudes of the staff and volunteers didn’t falter once- which only helped to make my weekend even better. It’s always more enjoyable when EVERYONE is having a good time.

Secondly, not to sound too cheesy- but I consider it an honor to be a part of such a wonderful community of fans. You’d be hard pressed to find people more dedicated to a comic/show/game than “Walking Dead” fans. Best of all? There’s no competition or rivalries within the fandom. Generally speaking- everyone gets along. At least that was the case with this past weekend’s convention. I met so many interesting, talented, sweet, knowledgeable, and passionate people of all ages and from all walks of life over the past couple of days who inspired me with their creativity and who truly made me feel welcome during discussions- ranging anywhere from cosplay to post-apocalyptic survival preparation to what our predictions were for season five. Getting to know so many people with common interests was not only refreshing- it was ridiculously fun.

Lastly, the cast of “The Walking Dead,” past and present, who were able to come to Boston this past weekend were fantastic. Every person I spoke to (and there were a lot of them!) were kind, humble, appreciative, and definitely hilarious. It was  an incredible experience to be able to ask questions and have some one-on-one time with each of them. Much like the fans of the show- the actors who have played a role in it are also some of the coolest people you could ever hope to meet.

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I’m not quite sure what was happening here.

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Out of all the panels, I think my favorites were Jeff Kober’s (who played Joe near the end of this past season, and who never fails to scare the living hell out of me in nearly every role he takes on,) and a “Little Dead Girls” one that featured Madison Lintz (Sophia,) Addy Miller (Zombie Girl) and Meyrick Murphy (Meghan) which was absolutely adorable- and maybe a little morbid.

Sean Patrick Flanery was also in town for a “Boondock Saints” 15th Anniversary Celebration that extended through the weekend and included Q&A’s and a screening of the movie with Brian Mahoney and David Della Rocco. Sean had his own panel on Sunday afternoon- which was a pretty wild event in itself and included a lot of really funny stories from his days of filming different projects- including a few near-death experiences.

When I wasn’t checking out the panels, saying hello to friends at different local vendor booths (many of whom I see every October at the ‘Rock N’ Shock’ convention,) or snapping photos- I was posing for some, instead.

Me with Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh)

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And Chad Coleman (Tyreese!)

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And Jeff Kober:

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And Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie,) who had me “just look at the flowers.”

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Sean Patrick Flanery, OF COURSE:

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Lauren Cohan (Maggie,) who was even more stunning in person than she is on TV:

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And Steven Yeun (Glenn!)

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There were so many other people who I didn’t have time to photobomb with my ridiculous grin, but who were lovely none-the-less, including Alanna Masterson, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Sonequa Martin-Green, Michael Cudlitz, and Jose Pablo Cantillo.

All in all, I had an absolute blast. If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” and this convention comes to an area near you, I highly recommend going. You won’t regret it. Between the guests, the incredible staff, and the other fans in attendance- this might be one of my favorite convention experiences ever.

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SDCC ’14.

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One of my more “just for fun” New Years Resolutions for 2014 was to attend San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest multi-genre fan convention in the United States. I hadn’t invested too much hope into successfully completing the resolution, however- since I knew well in advance how difficult it was to get tickets- which typically sell out within minutes for the general public. Even still, I created an account at SDCC’s official website and patiently waited for an opportunity to participate in what I had only assumed was a “Hunger Games”-style bloodbath the day badges/passes were made available to the masses.

That day was today, and the bloodbath in question actually turned out to be a carefully coordinated lottery-style system. Hopeful attendees entered a virtual “waiting room” during a specific time bracket this morning, and then were randomly given a position in a queue before tickets went on sale. If and when they reached the front of the queue, they could purchase badges/passes for any or all days available.

By pure, dumb luck- my wait in the queue wasn’t long- and I was able to obtain badges for each day of San Diego Comic-Con, including the preview night on Wednesday, July 23rd. Needless to say, I’m beyond giddy and grateful. This will be my first year attending SDCC, and I don’t think I could possibly be anymore excited to experience as much as possible.

Before it was announced that tickets were going to be made available today, I had briefly thought about whether or not I would make my own costumes to wear should I be fortunate enough to attend. Now that I am, I’ve decided to go through with crafting and creating three costumes on my own. I’ve never done it before, and I’m always up for trying new things:

Artwork by Brian Bolland.

Artwork by Brian Bolland.

My first, and possibly most intricate attempt at a costume, will be of Poison Ivy- my favorite (redheaded!) villain from the Batman-verse. I’ve got an idea of how I want the costume to look, which is more along the lines of the comic book version of Poison Ivy and less Uma Thurman-“Batman & Robin”-ish- and may or may not include something robotic attached to it- assuming I can get it to work properly!

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My second costume attempt will be of my other favorite redheaded villain- this one from Riverdale instead of Gotham- Cheryl Blossom. I was a big fan of the Archie Comics series when I was a kid, and while my friends were choosing between Betty and Veronica, I always liked Cheryl the best. She was devious for sure- but she had the best wardrobe for a cartoon high school student.

Courtesy of AMC & Entertainment Magazine

Courtesy of AMC & Entertainment Magazine

And lastly, I can’t go to my very first San Diego Comic-Con without repping one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows. My third and final costume attempt will be none other than everyone’s favorite crossbow wielding, lovable redneck- Daryl Dixon. While I’d love to rock an ear necklace and a belt of dead squirrels à la season 2 Daryl- season 4 Daryl has a pretty kickass ensemble going on (including the hideous-but-beloved poncho from season 3,) so I think I’ll be working around that.

I’ll probably be posting updates leading up to SDCC about how my costume designs are going, both here and on my Instagram. I’m just really, really excited and stunned that I was able to get badges for such an iconic event. I hope to meet some new, wonderful people at SDCC- and catch up with some old friends while I’m in town, too!

Rock N’ Shock 2013 Recap: Day 2.

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While Friday night’s kick-off to the 2013 Rock N’ Shock Convention was all about meeting and greeting actors and performers, yesterday evening was spent almost entirely in the artists gallery discovering new work, and perusing different vendors who had set up shop for the weekend. My VIP access had granted me my own “swag bag” upon entry, which was filled with little trinkets, a commemorative t-shirt (that I’ve already wrinkled,) and vouchers for some of the local businesses and upcoming events/promotions in the area. I got some other neat stuff, too:

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Initially, the only autographs I had wanted were from the cast of ‘The Walking Dead,’ to add to my collection of signed paraphernalia, and Michael, Scott, Lew, and IronE were king enough to help out (the Daryl Dixon laminate poster was a bonus,) but when I saw Gunnar Hansen and Zack Ward (FARKUS!) were in attendance, I couldn’t resist- I picked up a couple of photos and asked them for their signatures, too. They both portrayed two of my all-time favorite movie villains- but were, of course, so lovely in person. I briefly forgot how badly Leatherface had traumatized me as a kid while I talked to Gunnar, since he was so kind and polite- but then I look at the picture he signed and get chills all over again.

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One of my absolute favorite apparel companies, SKULLebrities, had a booth set up with a bunch of their morbid/fun/cute designs on display (I currently own the Amy Winehouse-inspired t-shirt and I get a lot of compliments on it,) and although they were unfortunately out-of-stock on their recently released Breaking Bad shirts- they did have this great Boston design for sale. I picked up a t-shirt (and they threw in a matching sticker, too,) that I wore proudly today as a way of celebrating the Sox making it to the World Series last night.

I really can’t say enough good things about SKULLebrities. Truly. I was first introduced to the brand about 2 or 3 years ago, and I’ve I loved their stuff ever since. It’s so unique and well made, and the folks who run it are just some of the nicest, most fun people around. I highly recommend taking a look at their website and checking them out on social media. You’ll definitely find something you like.

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I had met up with my friend Evan last night at Rock N’ Shock, who bought me this little plushie Daryl Dixon doll as a present. I’m pretty sure I squealed when I saw it. Between the poncho and the crossbow, it could very well be one of the most adorable things I (now) own. My friends know me all too well.

Now I just need a matching Merle plushie doll to go with it.

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Lastly, there was a booth set up that sold authentic Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) items. The holiday fascinates me, and I find myself marveling at the colorful, eye-catching sugar skulls used to commemorate the days. This particular skull, while made of ceramic instead of sugar, was so bright and beautifully painted that I knew I had to have it. There’s a hole carved in the bottom where you can place a candle or a tea light to illuminate the space you place it in through the nasal and eye cavities- which will make it a pretty interesting decoration for Halloween, too.

I did stop by Rock N’ Shock briefly this afternoon for the third and final day, as well- but it was mainly to take one last stroll throughout the convention center, bid farewell to a few familiar faces, and have a brief chat with Robert Englund while it was quiet. If you ever want to meet a man who is so grateful, open, and warm to his fans- Robert Englund is the man to see. He was very excited to talk about his upcoming projects (one that involves Malcolm McDowell- the love of my life,) and to get to know some of us who had come by to say hello. Total class act.

All in all, I had a phenomenal time this year. It was fantastic to get to see and speak at length to some of my favorite actors and meet some wonderful new people who are working on incredible things. Rock N’ Shock, despite being considerably smaller than other conventions I’ve been to, remains one of my favorites for the overall laid-back attitude of the guests and attendees. There’s no insane rushes to get from panel to panel, no ridiculous lines, everything (except food or water, of course) is reasonably priced, and as long as you aren’t behaving like a rowdy drunk or a creep- security are pretty lenient and very helpful.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for next year.

Rock N’ Shock 2013 Recap: Day 1.

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Every year for the past four or five years, I’ve made a point to drop by the annual Rock N’ Shock Convention in my beloved-but-often-teased hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. Rock N’ Shock, a 3-day gathering and celebration of all things horror, offers attendees the chance to meet legendary horror icons while introducing them to aspiring and up-and-coming artists, filmmakers, apparel and accessory companies, writers, and genre-appreciating personalities through various booths and panels.

This year’s festivities, celebrating ten years of success, kicked off last night. I was fortunate enough to get V.I.P. access for the weekend, and headed to the convention center after work to dive right in with my dear friend (‘boo!”) Mike, and his lovely friend Amber, who were stopping by for the night. After a brief walk-through of the area to familiarize myself with the layout of where everything and everyone was located, we headed to the celebrity area to check things out.

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Amber, Lew, me, and Mike- getting our 'stache brigade on.

Amber, Lew, me, and Mike- getting our ‘stache brigade on.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I was really excited to see some of the cast (and former cast members) of The Walking Dead: Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon,) whom I professed my love to for the second time this year, and who remains one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene,) who was so sweet- and yes- still has two legs, IronE Singleton (T-Dog!) who’s humble, appreciative demeanor was inspiring- and Lew Temple (Axel,) who had so much personality and one hell of a mustache. Not content with being the only one rocking one so ferociously, he insisted on the above ‘stache brigade picture. Poor Mike’s hair wasn’t long enough to fake one.

As if talking to and laughing with these incredible actors and people wasn’t enough, I had a shot of nostalgia in the form of N’Sync’s Joey Fatone being in the building. Now, I know I literally JUST ripped apart the movie “Inkubus” in my last entry, but I have to give credit where credit is due. I loved N’Sync when I was in my early teens (okay, and even now. “Tearin’ Up My Heart” is still my jam,) and Joey Fatone being such a personable, down-to-Earth, and very funny guy reduced me into a giddy fourteen year old girl.

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You see that face? That’s the face of someone whose teenage dream just came true.

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Now, although I absolutely love to rip apart bad movies and shitty acting, I’m not one to speak badly about anyone personally- unless it’s 100% justified. People have bad days, and sometimes you catch them at the wrong time and they say or do things they don’t necessarily mean. It’s only human- and I can absolutely understand and excuse that. What I’m about to say, however, I feel is completely justified. Eric Roberts was also in attendance last night, and having enjoyed his work in various movies and his appearance in two of my favorite Killers’ music videos to date- I stopped by to say hi.

Eric was seated at a table with a group of people from the upcoming “Army of the Damned” movie, between two of the lead actors, and myself, having not heard a thing about it until that moment, had innocently assumed he was in it, too (why the fuck would he be sitting at the middle of the table otherwise?) This was apparently a gross offense to Mr. Roberts, who went from looking bored with being there to being annoyed and extremely rude to Mike and I. I tried to brush it off, asking if he’d pose for a picture, which he seemed fine with until he flat-out YELLED at Mike while he was two inches away from me for the way he was holding the camera- hence my look of discomfort in the above photo. I ended up rolling my eyes and walking away, completely disgusted.

Like I said, people have bad days and that’s fine- but I feel that if you’re being paid to promote whatever B-level horror movie you’re in (or not in, apparently,) and the people who are responsible for your success (i.e.-  fans, obviously) are there to continually support your artistic endeavors- the least you can do is grin and bear it and try to not be a complete dickhead in their presence. My take away from the experience is that every story I’ve ever heard or read about Eric Roberts being an ungrateful asshole were 100% true. His ass needs to go back to “Celebrity Rehab” so Dr. Drew can straighten him out.

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To end my night on a high note, however, I got to attend the hour long “Walking Dead: Dearly Departed” panel before I left for home. The Q&A, featuring Michael, Lew, and IronE, was comical and pretty interesting as they discussed how the show changed their lives, their favorite scenes to film, the filming process itself, and their thoughts on the current season and it’s story lines. It was a blast.

I’m getting ready to head back to the convention again this evening to check out the artists gallery, hopefully pick up some cool stuff along the way, and see who else I run into.

Talk Nerdy to Me.

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For anyone who has read or followed this blog for any considerable amount of time, or who has met me in person, you know- or you have at least had an inkling- that I’m a total and shameless geek. I’m a horror movie connoisseur, I’m an avid gamer, I can have long and heated discussions about which Avenger is the best in the group (Captain America, by the way. End of story,) or which character in “The Walking Dead” is best equipped for long-term survival- and even though I can’t speak Klingon and my comic book collection isn’t as impressive as others- I have a deep appreciation for the brilliant minds behind the artwork, books, movies, and television shows that I’ve come to love and embrace in my nerdy-ness. I also have so much admiration for other fans and the time, energy, and skill they channel into showing their passion for a particular series/character/etc.

Yesterday afternoon I headed down to the Seaport World Trade Center for Boston Comic-Con, which was originally scheduled for April but was postponed due to the Boston Marathon Bombings and the subsequent manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers in the aftermath. I spent hours meeting wonderful new people, chatting with extraordinary artists, admiring some of the most impressive costumes I’ve ever seen, and running into a couple of famous faces. The convention runs through this evening (Sunday) for anyone in the area who may want to check it out. I personally had a phenomenal time.

Here are some of my favorite costumes/people I ran into:

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This guy had an incredible Bumblebee costume. It was massive!

This guy had an incredible Bumblebee costume. It was massive!

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Holy shit at the guy in the background photobombing like a champ.

Holy shit at the guy in the background photobombing like a champ.

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Rick Grimes & Tyreese!

Rick Grimes & Tyreese!

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I had such a mini freak-out over these brilliant Silent Hill costumes.

I had such a mini freak-out over these brilliant Silent Hill costumes.

Kick-Ass!

Kick-Ass!

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One of the coolest Tony Stark/Iron Man costumes I've ever seen. This guy was on point.

One of the coolest Tony Stark/Iron Man costumes I’ve ever seen. This guy was on point.

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There were so, so, so many more, and I truly wish I could have photographed them all. Major kudos to those who came in costume. You all looked fabulous- and thank you so much to everyone who posed for pictures. You were all so sweet and so fun. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you all!

Speaking of meeting wonderful people. I was fortunate enough to have a quick hello with Kristin Bauer van Straten of “True Blood” fame. She’s GORGEOUS.

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Laurie Holden (Her most recent role being Andrea on “The Walking Dead”) was also there- and just as stunning as ever. I had last seen her in June while I was in NYC. Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman from “The Hobbit” were present yesterday as well. Very, very cool.

And I didn’t leave without scoring a few awesome things, too. By the end of the day, my purse was bursting with business cards, contact information, and promotional items from different artists and independent publications- but I was especially fond of the following:

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The Dixon Brothers figurines from Funko POP! Television are two of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in my life. I can’t get over how adorable they are, and it pains me to know that they will forever be left in their respective boxes when all I want to do is cuddle them both. I mean, look at them!

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Merle has the little arm attachment, and Daryl has cartoon bags under his eyes. Way too precious (and hilarious.)

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I also got a pair of these “pixelated” frames which completely cracked me up. I’m not sure where outside of a comic convention I would ever wear these, but with YouTube’s first ever “Geek Week” kicking off today, who knows? They could come in handy.

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And lastly, an adorable addition to my collection of “quirky” jewelry, I took home this 3-D squid cameo necklace from Kay and P. They were kind enough to tie some beautiful ribbon through it, but I plan on getting a chord or a chain to go through the loop to guarantee it won’t come undone and that I won’t lose it somewhere. It’s just so cool looking.

Again, thank you to everyone I met who helped make this such a great experience. I had a blast, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!