Goth Chick News: At the Midwest Haunters Convention

Thursday, June 27th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Midwest Haunter's Convention 2019-small

For the past 30 years, TransWorld Tradeshows LLC has hosted the Haunted Attractions Association show (HAA) where professional haunt content providers come together to show off their new offerings. Though 2019 actuals aren’t yet available, an estimated 9,000 guests from around the world piled into the St. Louis America’s Center, which has hosted the HAA for the past 10 years.  The tradeshow floor space itself has tripled since the show moved to St. Louis from Chicago in 2009, which is understandable when you think about Halloween now being a $9 billion industry, with most of that money being made in the month of October.

And though the HAA is the largest event of its kind, it requires professional credentials to attend; credentials Black Gate’s ‘big cheese’ John O. is more than happy to give us, ensuring that for two days every February, BG photog Chris Z. and I will be out of the office, enabling the ‘upstairs staff’ to smoke cigars indoors and hold their annual strip D&D game.

Don’t ask.

However, this has left Chicago bereft of a significant haunt-industry trade show. TransWorld’s other big event, the Midwest Haunters Convention (MHC) which unlike the HAA is open to the public, is a show we’ve talked about covering for years, but it was held in Columbus, OH. That meant signing up to a 12-hour round trip car journey, which in and of itself isn’t horrible, until we considered the sort of overnight accommodations our Black Gate expense account would allow us… in Columbus, OH. While we were considering the viability of sleeping in the car, Transworld made the incredibly convenient decision to move the MHC to a Chicago suburb.

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Goth Chick News: The Time We Went on the Mother of all Haunted House Bus Tours

Thursday, June 20th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick Midwest Haunters Convention Pre-convention Haunted Bus Tour-small

Though there is no denying that the opportunity to talk to you about my favorite genre each week is in general the most awesome job ever, there are certain Goth Chick News situations which transcend awesomeness into full-on unbelievable. Just such a situation occurred last week when Black Gate photog Chris Z and I were invited to join the Midwest Haunters Convention’s pre-convention, haunted house bus tour.

The MHC, which unlike the HAA is open to the public, is a show we’ve talked about covering for years, but until 2019 it had been held in Columbus, OH. That meant signing up to a 12-hour round trip car journey, which in and of itself isn’t horrible, until we considered the sort of overnight accommodations our Black Gate expense account would allow us… in Columbus, OH. While we were considering the viability of sleeping in the car, the show organizers, Transworld, made the incredibly convenient decision to move the MHC to a Chicago suburb.

Insert fan-girl squee here.

In advance of the show, MCH organized a Haunted House Bus Tour consisting of a 13-hour odyssey to visit four of the top, professional haunts in Chicagoland. These attractions would be fully staffed and operational (on a Thursday in June by the way) for the enjoyment of the guests who would experience each of them twice; once as visitors do during “the season” in October, and once with the lights turned on and all the magic revealed.

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NASCRAG: 40 Years at Gen Con

Sunday, May 5th, 2019 | Posted by David Mitchard

The Book of Nascrag-small

If you’ve ever been to Gen Con, you know it can be an overwhelming experience. More than 50,000 people surge through the halls of the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, attending thousands of individual events, often at the tops of their lungs. It’s a gathering that’s grown exponentially from its humble roots as a wargaming get together in the Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva to become the premiere game convention in North America.

Not much remains of the early Gen Con these days. Its heart is the same as always, of course. Gamers who want to spend time with other gamers. A community of folks who think a little differently than the mainstream. But the particulars have evolved over the years. In addition to the wargames and board games and roleplaying games, there are video games, cosplay, collectible card games and so much more. And gamers aren’t outcasts these days. The crowd is a mix of races and sexes and orientations that the gamers of the 70’s could not have imagined. Good signs of a healthy and still developing hobby. But if you look very carefully, amidst all the hub-bub and growth, you can still find a few things that have endured.

One of those enduring things is NASCRAG; the National Association of Crazed Gamers. NASCRAG is a gaming group that has been putting on RPG tournaments at Gen Con since 1980. Think about it; 2019 will be our 40th consecutive Gen Con.

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Support Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp, Illustrated by Mark Wheatley

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Giants The Poetry of Pulp banner

I spent this weekend at the Windy City Pulp & Paper Show and, as usual, I met a lot of great folks and discovered plenty of fabulous books and artwork. One of my most intriguing discoveries came when Christopher Paul Carey introduced me to Mark Wheatley, the renowned comic writer and artist behind Mars, Breathtaker, and Comico’s Jonny Quest. Mark had launched a Kickstarter for an ambitious project titled Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp, an illustrated book featuring some of the greatest pulp writers of all time. Here’s what Mark told me about it.

It’s really gratifying to see how poetry in general is popular these days. When we launched Songs of Giants about a month ago on Kickstarter we had no expectation that the Poetry of Pulp would be so popular. But we are now at 200% of our goal. This means that everyone is getting great extras with stretch goals and we expect to add a few more before we’re done. My personal favorites are the audiobook and the signed limited-edition prints. And I’m very much looking forward to adding the three portrait set of our masters of Pulp poetry, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H. P. Lovecraft.

Having Jack McDevitt, one of our very best current writers of science fiction, write the introduction to Songs of Giants is a huge personal perk for me. I have loved Jack’s books for many years. And he actually evokes that sense of wonder that was so prevalent in the Pulps in his own writing today. Ultimately though it’s obvious from his introduction that he truly understands pulp and poetry and I think he gives us some good insights.

Songs of Giants is a terrific project, and the unlocked stretch goals already include a complete audio book, exclusive bookmark, a Robert E. Howard music video, multiple signed art prints, and much more. It wraps up in three days, but there’s still time to get on board. Here’s a closer look at that gorgeous cover art.

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Total Pulp Victory: A Report from Windy City Pulp & Paper 2019

Sunday, April 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Windy CIty Pulp and Paper 2018 paperback treasures-small

A few of the $1 paperbacks I brought home from Windy City

I returned from the 2019 Windy City Pulp and Paperback Show a few hours ago, weary and happy. It was another fabulous convention, and once again it proved to be the undisputed best show in Chicagoland for those who love vintage books and magazines.

This was the 19th annual convention. It was founded in 2001 by Doug Ellis, and I’ve been attending ever since Howard Andrew Jones and John C. Hocking made the long trip to the 7th Windy City way back in 2007. This year I spent most of the show with friends, including BG bloggers Bob Byrne, Rich Horton, and Steven Silver, as well as local booksellers Arin Komins and Rich Warren, who had a booth and a few spare chairs and were kind enough to let us hang out. There was lots of great food and terrific conversation, and we toasted absent friends, including Howard Andrew Jones, Jason M. Waltz, Barbara Barrett, and especially bookseller and all-around great soul Dave Willoughby, who passed away last year. Dave personified the friendly and welcoming nature of Windy City better than anyone else, I think, and he was profoundly missed.

I made numerous great purchases at the show, including an assortment of Arkham House hardcovers from Doug, some marvelous books from the Glenn Lord estate (purchased from his widow, Lou Ann), a couple of recent Dark Adventure Radio Theater releases from Greg Ketter, a box of vintage SF digests in great condition — and some really wonderful treasures at the auction, including a copy of the 1990 Donald Grant illustrated edition of Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, several stacks of pulps, and an absolutely magnificent set of 1927 Weird Tales, bound in two volumes.

But as usual, most of what I took home with me was paperbacks. Lots of paperbacks. I found a few that I was willing to pay a premium for, including some Clark Ashton Smith collections and horror anthologies, but the vast majority of them — well over 200 in total — were less than $1 each, including all those I spread out on my kitchen floor to photograph when I got home (see above).

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The 19th Annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention

Sunday, April 7th, 2019 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Windy City Pulp and Paper 2019-small

The 19th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is now just over a month away! The convention will take place on April 12-14, 2019 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois. As usual, we will have auctions on both Friday (April 12) and Saturday (April 13) nights, and this year’s auctions promise to be our best ever.

The Friday night auction consists of 230 lots of material from the estate of famed collector Robert Weinberg, while the Saturday night auction begins with 100 lots from the estate of Glenn Lord, literary executor for the Robert E. Howard estate, followed by 56 lots from a few other consignors. And more lots will be added to the Saturday night auction at the convention, to include material consigned there by convention attendees.

Here are some of the highlights in this year’s auctions.

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Goth Chick News: Kicking Off “The Season” at the HAA

Thursday, March 28th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Transworld Halloween and Attractions Show 2019-small

Unless you are a regular visitor to the subterranean offices of Goth Chick News, and let’s be honest, no one voluntarily comes down here unless its “The Big Cheese” John O. to yell at us about our expense reports, then you may not know Halloween only takes a short hiatus for Christmas, before ramping right up again. Each year the new “season” kicks off in March with the mother of all industry conventions in St. Louis, MO, TransWorld’s HAA Show, resulting in a sometimes hazardous, 5-hour commute from Black Gate’s home in the Windy City.

The Haunted Attraction Association (HAA) is the only official association for the haunt industry, boasting a worldwide network of members from professional attraction owners, to Hollywood special effects and makeup artists. For the past 30 years, TransWorld Tradeshows LLC has hosted the HAA show where professional haunt content providers come together to show off their new offerings. Though 2019 actuals aren’t yet available, an estimated 9,000 guests from around the world piled into the St. Louis America’s Center, which has hosted the HAA for the past 10 years.  The tradeshow floor space itself has tripled since the show moved to St. Louis from Chicago in 2009, which is understandable when you think about Halloween now being a $9 billion industry with most of that money being made in the month of October.

One would think that being at the forefront of such a lucrative niche would earn us the right to expense a couple of Fireball shots… but alas… no.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Lou Tabakow

Monday, January 14th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Photo by George Young

Photo by George Young

Peter Graham is often quoted as saying that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12. I was reminded of this quote last year while reading Jo Walton’s An Informal History of the Hugo Awards (Tor Books) when Rich Horton commented that based on Graham’s statement, for him, the Golden Age of Science Fiction was 1972. It got me thinking about what science fiction (and fantasy) looked like the year I turned twelve and so this year, I’ll be looking at the year 1979 through a lens of the works and people who won science fiction awards in 1980, ostensibly for works that were published in 1979. I’ve also invited Rich to join me on the journey and he’ll be posting articles looking at the 1973 award year.

The E. Everett Evans Big Heart Award was founded in 1959 and the first recipient was E.E. “Doc” Smith. The award was originally named in honor of E. Everett Evans, a fan who helped run the first Westercon and was active in publishing a fanzine in FAPA as well as participating in activities for LASFS (The Los Angeles Science Fiction Society). He helped found the N3F (National Fantasy Fan Federation). From is founding until 2000, the award was administered by Forrest J Ackerman and was one of the awards traditionally presented as part of the Hugo Award ceremony at Worldcon. In 2000, Ackerman stepped down as the administrator with David A. Kyle taking over. In 2006, Kyle renamed the award the Forrest J Ackerman Big Heart Award. The award was renamed a second time in 2018 and is currently the David A. Kyle Big Heart Award.

Lou Tabakow was born on January 14, 1915. He owned a dry cleaner in Cincinnati when Dale Tarr introduced him to science fiction fandom in the 1930s. When Tarr, Charles Tanner, and Ross Rocklynne founded the Cincinnati Fantasy Group (CFG) in 1935, Tabakow became the organization’s founding Secretary/Treasurer. Within a few years, Tabakow was functioning as the group’s President, a position he retained until his death, when he was succeeded by Bill Cavin.

Through his position within CFG, Tabakow helped found several long-running conventions, including Midwestcon, in 1949. Midwestcon is widely considered to have been the first relaxacon held. It has long drawn from the greater Midwest and over the years has been attended by pros as well as fans, despite its lack of programming.

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Goth Chick News: Before the Turkey There Was Days of the Dead

Thursday, November 29th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Days of the Dead 2018-small

For the last six years, Goth Chick News has concluded the haunt season with a final show which rolls through Chicago each November. Days of the Dead (DotD for you cool kids) has always been an interesting experience and the 2018 show which occurred last weekend was no exception.

In past years DotD has resulted in memorable encounters with the likes of Vampire Santa, Carrie Henn who played “Newt” in the movie Aliens, and my spiritual hubby, Brad Miska aka “Mr. Disgusting” owner of the premier horror website Bloody Disgusting. It has also been the source of quite a lot of under-the-breath commentary from Black Gate photog Chris Z such as his whispered “What the f***?” when Sleepy Hollow actress and former Tim Burton muse finally showed up to her press call (click here for why) and his speculation on the cause of Tara Reid’s extreme tardiness which likely wasn’t the “late lunch” her handler offered.

The 2018 event was a little thin on “celebrity” front with the biggest names being Clive Barker, who was quite a score since getting someone out of LA to Chicago in November is no small accomplishment, and the rapper Coolio who I guess was there for his appearance in the 2004 movie Dracula 3000 and not his web foodie show Cooking With Coolio. Nonetheless, there was still a lot of fun stuff to share.

So let’s dive in shall we?

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Vintage Treasures: The Dreamhaven Box

Monday, November 26th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

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49 beautiful vintage paperbacks for $36, courtesy of Dreamhaven Books

On years I attend the World Fantasy Convention I don’t usually do Windycon, the local convention here in Chicago, the very next week. I don’t typically have the stamina for two back-to-back cons. But this year Richard Chwedyk, who runs the Saturday Writer’s Workshop at Windycon, asked me to fill in as a judge, and I learned that my friend Rich Horton and his wife Mary Anne were making the long drive from Missouri. So I decided to register for the con.

I made it to the Dealer’s Room only a few minutes before they closed Friday night. And who did I find in the back but the tireless Greg Ketter and his wife Lisa Freitag, manning the well-stocked Dreamhaven Books table. I’d seen both of them at World Fantasy, where they’d also had a table. They’d packed that up, driven from Baltimore to Minneapolis, and then here to Chicago — with brand new stock! Talk about stamina.

While we were chatting in front of their booth I discovered eight boxes at my feet, tightly crammed with paperbacks. “They’re all a dollar,” Lisa said, noticing my distracted gaze. “Less than that if you buy a bunch.”

Gentle reader, I bought a bunch.

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