Eek! Zombies!!

ZomBcon was fun. This cannot be denied. But I have to be honest and say that IMHO it was not as much fun as GeekGirlCon – which was AMAZINGLY fun.

Really I think that ZomBcon could have been more accurately named “Tom Savini Con” because the man was on a bazillion panels.

Tom Savini on the right - Hairy man on the left

The good thing about this is that Tom Savini is amazingly cool in a panel setting. He is thoughtful, witty, urbane and comes off as an overall nice guy. I was surprised to learn that he is, among other things, a classically trained actor and had performed such roles as Cyrano and King Arthur in the musical version of Camelot. I know, right?! Could’ve knocked me over.

The most interesting (and hysterical) panel of the con, for me, was “Creating A Hero: Costume Design of a Super Hero” which featured notable cosplayer Vampy BitMe and local-Seattle real-life super-hero (and multi-hyphenate) Phoenix Jones. It was supposed to be a panel on how to make your own kick-ass costumery. It ended up being a panel about Phoenix Jones and his “in-case of zombie outbreak” self-defense kit which included peanut butter, a lighter and surprisingly ineffectual hairspray. (If you want to make zombie go “PHWOOM” with fire, don’t buy Vidal Sassoon.)

First, you find a zombie....

Say what you will about Phoenix Jones putting himself in harm’s way and driving the Seattle PD nuts – he is a seriously funny, super-intelligent and incredibly sharp dude. If crime was being done to or near me, I’d want Phoenix nearby to save the day.

Another great panel was “Zombie Autopsy” where Zombie Research Society members Harvard PhD Dr. Steven C Schlozman &  Jonathan Maberry talked about actual diseases that could evolve into zombie-like plagues. The good news is that with our current infrastructures in place it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that an apocalyptic scenario would play out in real life. The bad news… stay away from prions. Seriously.

One really neat thing about this con was all of the cool people attending and exhibiting. Who knew that the nicest people in the Pacific Northwest would be at a convention for one of the most violent, gory, and terrifying subgenres of our time? I met some amazing artists and writers and all-around interesting people. I even met a few folks who I’ll be writing some future blogs about – yay!

The biggest issue I think ZomBcon suffered from was poor planning. The con was held in a venue far too small for the number of panels it was trying to run, and the panels ran consistently over-time which meant that all of the panels also started late. It was confusing trying to figure out when panels were actually starting, if they were still in the room they had been scheduled for and whether or not we could even stand in line for them due to fire safety restrictions. For next year the planning committee is going to have to do a massive re-think.

But now I’d like to share my “magic moment” from ZomBcon. I’ve been very lucky in that most cons I attend include a special “magic moment”. At GeekGirlCon it was telling a joke that made Jane Espenson laugh and give me a thumbs up. At ZomBcon it was getting to meet Judith O’Dea (Barbara from the original Night of the Living Dead).

That doily continues to haunt her to this day....

Judith had a little table set up  in “autograph alley” and she was signing for a small fee (as most do). Here’s the thing about Night of the Living Dead – even though it’s firmly ensconced in B-Movie land – it is actually a pretty darn good film! The script is well-written, the direction clear and the acting is more spot on than not. Judith, as Barbara, was tasked with one of the most difficult emotions to play on-screen: shock. Barbara is the first character in the movie to experience a “ghoul” attack, and witnesses the violent death of her brother as a result. She manages to get away to an isolated farmhouse, only to find the presumed owner of the house half-eaten on the floor. After an initial freak-out she ultimately succumbs to a state of utter, nigh-comatose- shock. As an actor, this is not easy. What is easy, far too easy, is falling in to the trap of melodrama. Judith handily avoided this and played Barbara’s shock truthfully. I’m not sure how to explain this except to advise that you watch the movie, particularly her performance.

Anyway, seeing as Judith was at the convention, and in the business of receiving admirers, my wife and I took the opportunity to meet her. She was SO nice and elegant and wonderful! I told her my feelings regarding her performance in NotLD and she was absolutely gracious and said that I had made her entire day. Maybe I had, and maybe I hadn’t, but she sure made me feel like I had. She said that her friends had always teased her about some of the acting choices she’d made in the movie and that it was nice that someone actually “got it”.

I may have made Judith’s day, but she made my entire convention. This is what cons like this are for – moments like this.

I’m not sure if I’ll be attending next year’s ZomBcon, this year was a little too willy-nilly and disorganized. But it was still a fun experience overall.

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