Wicked Art Wednesdays – Rhode Montijo

This October, we celebrate Rhode Montijo, children’s book author & illustrator and creator of curious oddities from Southern California.

United_by_Rhode_Montijo
©RhodeMontijo

Artist: Rhode Montijo
Company/Studio: The Fantasmical World of Rhode Montijo
Where to Purchase Goods: Online shop, comic book conventions, special events, etc.
Website:  http://www.rhodemontijo.com/
Social Media:  https://www.instagram.com/rhodemontijo/

Why we love them:  Rhode Montijo specializes in that vintage Halloween look, where his works truly capture the whimsical innocence of Halloween. When browsing through prints, be prepared for a flood of childhood memories to engulf you and remind you why you fell in love with Halloween in the first place.

 

Wicked Art Wednesdays – Diana Levin

This October, we’ll be sharing some great Halloween and horror art from awesome artists.  We’re kicking the season off with a fantastic indie artist out of Los Angeles:

DianaLevin Artworks sm
©DianaLevin

Artist: Diana Levin
Company/Studio: Ghoulish Bunny Studios
Where to Purchase Goods: Online shop, comic book and horror conventions, special events, etc.
Website: https://www.ghoulishbunnystudios.com/
Social Media: https://twitter.com/ghoulishbunny

Why we love them:  Creepy cute art blends the best of two worlds. Diana Levin’s colorful and whimsical style mixed with the dark Gothic tones is a feast for the eyes. In addition to drawing some delightfully creepy versions of pop culture and fabled characters, her own original character drawings are exquisite. Diana’s creative art inspires the imagination, which might explain how partner Shawn Givens comes up with all those spooky stories for their book series, The Ghoulish Grimoire.

 

Midsummer Scream 2018 Recap

Halloween lovers and horror fans (aka screamers) gathered over the weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center to kick-off the unofficial start of the 2018 Halloween season, as Midsummer Scream returned for its third year. This spectacular convention celebrates Halloween, haunts and horror. Here’s a recap of convention highlights:

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Hall of Shadows

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The Hall of Shadows was split this year between haunters, vendors, filmmakers and special effects on one side, and the interactive scare zone on the other, where SoCal’s top haunters previewed their upcoming spooky haunts for fall.

The Hall main stage featured everything from zombie burlesque to the classical quartet Nostalgic Nebula. The flexible and talented Decayed Brigade, SoCal Sliders, returned with a brand new show. My personal favorites were Murder House Production’s Trick ‘r Treat maze and The Haunt Store’s display of those awesome AtmosFX projections.

Six Flag Unleashed showed off their glow-in-the-dark world, with the most talented folks on stilts I’ve ever seen.

Warner Bros. Studio Tours showed off costumes and props from It and The Nun, in promotion of the upcoming Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights, starting in October.

The Show Floor

This year, there was an abundance of creepy and unique creations from some exceptionally talented artists and creators, where screamers could find everything and anything relating to Halloween and horror.

Screamers over 21 were able to get a blue wristband and purchase adult beverages at bar stations around the convention hall, or one of two cash bar attractions hosted by Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place and Slashback Video, courtesy of Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum.

SoCal Valley Haunters & Classrooms

Thinking of creating your own decorations for Halloween but don’t know where to start? Well, Midsummer Scream had you covered. On the Show Floor, SoCal Valley Haunters taught screamers how to create their own tombstones, carve foam pumpkins, make lanterns and village displays, with the help of Dept. 56. Down the hall, classes on Halloween floral arrangements, budget decorating, yard displays and more, inspired a whole new generation of Halloween designers.

Theater Macabre, Black Cat Lounge, Screaming Room and Second Stage

Screamers flocked to the upstairs second floor, where they could fall in love with rescue kittens in the Black Cat Lounge, or attend haunt shows and theater presentations from Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Urban Death, and many others. Inside the Screaming room, screamers could watch horror shorts and listen to spooky stories. A nice respite for weary feet.

The Grand Ballroom

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The Grand Ballroom, which seats about 2100 people, offered sneak peek presentations on this fall’s upcoming horror theme park and haunted attractions, and two very special panels:

On Saturday, screamers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark movie, where they were treated to interview clips of cast of the movie and with amusing, funny and witty anecdotes from the Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson.

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On Sunday, screamers packed the room again for the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus and hear behind-the-scene stories. After an incredible live performance from The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus, the panel featured actress Thora Birch, who played Dani, producer David Kirschner, screenwriter Mick Garris, composer John Debney, production designer William Sandell and make-up and special effects artist Tony Gardner.

Elvira, Mistress of Midsummer Scream

mss2 curtesy of NBC
Photo ©NBC

The fabulous Cassandra Peterson spent two days signing autographs at her booth, where Elvira’s Boo-tique and Sweet Hollywood were selling candy, clothing, novelty items and other amazing Elvira wares. I swear this woman has done a deal with devil or something because she does not age! This past year, Cassandra retired Elvira from doing Knott’s Scary Farm and I heard she’s cutting back her schedule, possibly to work on an autobiography?  In any event, it’s so great to see her at Midsummer Scream. I hope she returns next year!

That pretty much wraps up my experience. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff because there’s just so much to do and see.

Midsummer Scream is now my favorite  horror convention. I have a feeling this show is only going to grow and get better. Highly recommended for Halloween and horror fans.

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Some of the goodies I bought at the show.

 

Halloween Creep is Good Business

A little birdie told me that Halloween merch is already creeping into the retail stores.  While there may be a desire to throttle the messenger, since nobody likes ultra-aggressive commercialism, for Halloweenophiles, this news might as well have been heralded in by silver trumpets.  This is the unofficial start of the Halloween season!

Wait, Halloween in July? Why the heck are they starting so damn early? What’s the rush? Indeed, the rush may be simple math.  The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $9.1 billion on Halloween last year, up from $8.4 billion in the previous year, with $2.7 billion spent on decorations alone. Anyone who works or has worked in retail knows the need to get sales into the black, as early in the year as possible, is much desired.  According to NRF’s annual Halloween survey, over a third of Halloween shoppers start in September or earlier. Roughly 30% of households find inspiration within physical retail stores.

Hallmark Halloween Merch
Hallmark Stores Halloween Merchandise 2017

No one likes empty shelves, so retailers always look ahead. Thus, the term “holiday creep” is born. Holiday creep, which is more associated with Christmas, but can be used interchangeably with all holidays, like Halloween, Valentines, Easter, etc., only increases year to year, so, retailers will often cater to those shoppers in hopes of moving merchandise sooner than the Halloween season, mostly because the bigger holiday season follows right behind.

In fact, those retailers spend a great deal of energy, time and money, fine-tuning their sales process and strategizing their local marketing efforts and inventories for the region. Weather, location and pop culture all have an effect on Halloween sales. They have learned over the years, discounted seasonal items, collectibles and blow-out back stock almost always sells out early. This in turn allows retailers to offer newer merchandise or restock old favorites, at full price, and sell even more during the months of September and October.

Michaels Halloween merch
Michaels Halloween Merchandise 2017

There’s another really good logical reason by Halloween merchandise appears in stores early, and one could argue the term holiday creep shouldn’t even apply here. Anyone who frequents craft stores like Michaels or Joann’s understands that the supply chain must start earlier in the season. Artisans, designers, DIYs and other craftspeople who create and sell their own Halloween merchandise, can’t wait to get product in September. To be ready by October, their work starts now.  The same goes with Christmas, shoppers need to craft their items before the holiday season in order to sell in the holiday season. That’s why Halloweenophiles, stake out their local Michaels and craft stores during the summer, we long for the glorious warm hues of Fall to first appear and caress our demented little souls.

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Michaels Halloween Fall Merchandise 2017

Halloween creep may be an annoying reminder to some people that time is flying by and the holidays will soon be here, but until the backlash is louder than the ringing of cash registers, holiday creep in general is unlikely to change.  If you encounter anyone freaking out over that fact, kindly remind them this is a totally natural progression in our capitalist society, which benefits the entire country overall, relax and enjoy the fact that we Americans get to celebrate holidays at all.

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Who, What, When, Where, Why and How (much to spend) on Vintage Halloween Collectibles

Hello future collectors! Apologies, it’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been busy making more content for readers. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that shopping for vintage Halloween collectibles was a cool activity. So, I decided to expand a bit on the topic of collecting.

WHO
I believe collectors fall into three types of categories:

  1. Professional collectors: Collecting, trading, buying and selling is their business. They do it for a living. They might own a physical shop or an online business. They know everything there is to know about vintage Halloween, including company details, origin dates and prices. You can talk to them online on their web page forums, or at collector shows, or find them in social media groups. The professionals love to talk vintage Halloween and share their knowledge.
  2. Serious collectors: This group is also quite knowledgeable and passionate about vintage Halloween, but they don’t typically make a career out of it. Usually, these types of collectors are not open to trading or selling, and their collections tend to be plentiful, rare and quite expensive.
  3. Casual collectors: If you don’t have a cabinet full of vintage Halloween wares, this is probably the category you fall into, for now. Casual collectors may or may not be as passionate or knowledgeable, but they’re always learning and on the prowl for cool vintage stuff.
vintage collectibles
Vintage Halloween Collectibles

WHAT
What to buy is purely subjective. Generally, the rarer or the older the item and the better the shape, the higher the value. Some people work hard to build a collection of specific types of items, like blow molds, lanterns, Kokomold plastic candy holders, or die cut cutouts. Others buy whatever they can get their hands on.

In the past few years, Retro Halloween, or replicas of old Halloween decorations, have become all the rage with retailers. Owning retro items is totally cool, so long as you understand you are not buying authentic vintage collectibles. Watch out for online sellers who label retro items as vintage items. Also, keep in mind that even reputable shops could sell knock-offs, not necessarily because they’re trying to scam buyers, but sometimes even shop owners cannot tell the difference between authentic vintage and replicas. I once got suckered over a mislabeled black cat Paper Mache lantern that I bought on a whim. When shopping for Paper Mache lanterns, arguably the most sought after and yet most difficult to determine authenticity, look for a ring pressed in at the bottom. Smooth bottoms or crackled paint are sure ringers for a replica.

 

 

Determining the difference between authentic vintage, replicas or retro and knock-offs can be difficult. Over time, labels and logos disappear. Information gets lost if there was any to begin with. Don’t get discouraged. The Halloween gods are generous sometimes. Information on embossed die cut cutout decorations, Halloween party books, or blow molds is easily accessible online nowadays. Two of the biggest and most popular producers of Halloween party decorations and paper collectibles are Beistle Company and Dennison Manufacturing Company, both whom typically marked their products with the company name or logo. Dennison merged with Avery years ago, but Beistle is still around and making replicas of their own merchandise. Empire, a popular maker of blow molds and pumpkin pails, almost always placed their imprint near the bottom or back of their products.

 

It’s important to do your research and ask questions before making purchases. Do not be afraid to sound stupid. Most sellers of authentic vintage Halloween collectibles know what they are talking about and are happy to answer your questions.

WHEN
There’s no need to wait until October. Off-season shopping might yield lower prices, whereas, in-season, you may find more vintage wares but at higher prices. It’s not unusual for antique shops to put out merchandise according season, just like retailers. During off season, depending on the condition or rarity of the item, you may have better luck convincing store owners to accept lower offers. During the peak Halloween season though, don’t be surprised if they don’t budge.

vintage halloween snowman
Kokomold Halloween Snowman Plastic Candy Container

WHERE
Vintage Halloween collectibles are usually found in antique stores, thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales, collector shows and specialty stores. Vintage Halloween postcards often can be found at collector or paper shows. You can also shop online for all vintage collectibles, at places like eBay, VintageHalloween.com, Etsy, and specialty stores. Typically, retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Hallmark, or Spirit Halloween stores, do not carry vintage collectibles, only replicas.

2015 walmart replica halloween blow mold
2015 Walmart Replica Halloween Blow Molds

WHY
Most people get into collecting because they love vintage Halloween, but some are hoping to make money. Either way, remember do your research and ask lots of questions. There are collectible and price guide books available in book stores or online. Many of these books are from the 90s but are still great resources. One of the most current guides published is Mark Ledenbach’s Vintage Halloween Collectibles – Third Edition from 2014.  It’s a fabulous book, full of detailed information and over 700 color photos. You can find out more about his book and wealth of information on vintage Halloween collectibles at his blog here: http://halloweencollector.com/ 

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Mark Ledenbach’s Vintage Halloween Collectibles – Third Edition, 2014

HOW (much to spend)
If you make a cool find in antique or thrift store somewhere, and not sure if it’s worth the price tag, Google it! Check eBay for a price comparison. Never let yourself feel pressured into buying anything. If you’re on a budget, stick to it. If you’re uncomfortable with the price, go with your gut. Missed opportunities do happen. It’s the worst feeling in the world,  but so is being in over your head or in mountains of debt. Best advice I’ve ever received, only pay what you fell the item is worth.

You may have noticed I didn’t talk much about Halloween post cards. That’s because it’s a special category and deserves its own blog post. 🙂

Happy hunting, collectors!

Beistle black cat die cut cutout 1933
1933 Beistle Black Cat  Die Cut Cutout