On Friday Morning I took a cab to get to Budget Rent-a-Car (by the way, did you know it’s cheaper to rent an economy car from Budget than it is to use a Car Coop vehicle for almost anything over 4 hours or out of town?) and then drove to North Van to pick up Mario & Katie.
Take note, fellow Lovecraftites: when I told the border guard at the Peace Arch Crossing that we were going to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival he reminisced about his friend “who used to play that Cthulha game.” That was refreshing. What was decidedly not refreshing was the traffic on the I-5. Never “good” traffic, what was supposed to be a 5 hour drive turned into a 9 hour drive due to a fatal car accident. I came close to a breakdown. We were in the fast lane, not moving at all, with 4 lanes to cross to get to the side of the highway, and I had to pee. We sat in stop and go traffic pretty much for four hours. I actually got out of the car in the rain not only because I had to go #1 but just out of sheer stir-craziness. This traffic jam happened just at that time when I thought we were going to be only slightly late, so I was getting extremely anxious, on the verge of tears. When the traffic slowly started moving again I started cutting across lane after lane to get to where I could go pee in the woods, but just being on the shoulder lane (and inching along rather than being completely stopped) made me calm down and I didn’t get out of the car until the next exit.
We finally got to Portland at around 8:30 and looked for a place to park. I saw Linda and Andrew Migliore and Aaron Vanek for the first time in I don’t know how many years. Almost the first thing that happened was Andrew introduced me to Mike Mignola. He knew who I was – or at least knew The Thickets. I sent him a CD of Cthulhu Strikes Back shortly after it came out – for those who don’t know our song “Ogdru-Jahad” is more or less about the big bad “outer gods” from the Hellboy universe. Mike said he was surprised anyone was paying enough attention to write a song about that. I asked him if he does sketches for people and he said “for you I will.” That could mean a lot of things but I took it to mean I’m special. I think this was the first time I got to be a gushy fanboy since…ever. I don’t give special treatment to celebrities but Mike Mignola is someone who I really admire and whose career I’ve been following since my youth. I also met Scott Allie. They had a panel to go to so I wandered around and was reunited with other Lovecraftians I have known and haven’t seen in a decade or more, like Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire (reference our song ‘Six-Gun Gorgon Dynamo’: “Sesqua Valley’s singing out my name”) and Allen Koszowski who did artwork for the Spaceship Zero rpg. I also met the publisher of Centipede Press who put my drawing of Where the Great Old Ones in that immense art tome. Oh and the incomparable Bryan Moore.
I puttered about for a couple hours, won a prize for knowing the special hand sign that Dean Stockwell used in the 1970 “The Dunwich Horror,” and after the last film ended we went to Tony Starlight’s Supperclub Lounge where I met Jovanka Vuckovic, editor of Rue Morgue. We talked about The Thickets playing at the Festival of Fear next year and she was guarded without seeing the band. I told her we wouldn’t disappoint at the show the next night. I drove both Jovanka and Bryan back to their B&B and then slept in little Vincent’s Buzz Light Year bed.
I spent most of Saturday hanging around the Thickets booth after I finally set it up. Jordan and Merrick were caught in traffic so they arrived at about 6 or 7pm. I swapped a CD for Wilum’s latest book and also bought some comics, but I tried to keep the spending down. Merrick bought some kind of Cthulhu shirt and toque and Jordan bought a Miskatonic U parking sticker. Sales of our buttons were especially good as always and we had a few people come by to chat. I forgot to make up some more Where the Great Old Ones Are t-shirts which is lame because that was clearly the one to have at the venue. I swapped CDs with Troy Sterling Nies of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society which is great because now I have more Lovecraft audio books to listen to while I draw. I brought my drawing of Hellboy vs. Rhinosferatu to present to Mike Mignola and gave him my sketchbook to do his sketch in. I also had him sign some comics – Rocket Raccoon #1, Chronicles of Corum #1, and a few others.
I joined the boys to setup for the show at Tony Starlight’s Supperclub Lounge. The interior looks like this:
It’s a restaurant! The foreground shows the stage and the upper level. Behind the lady in the blue blouse is the rest of the restaurant with the bar and more booths. The stage was small, and yes the piano was present, but add a drum riser so small that Jordan had to forgo the cowbell and the ride cymbal. On the upper level everyone was sitting down while we played, but in the rest of the place it was standing room only. It was pretty funny watching people who desperately wanted to jump up and down during “Colour Me Green” do so more or less in their seats, although a few stalwart fans did get out of their chairs. I don’t really know how many people were in there but it was pretty packed, and I don’t think Tony’s Lounge had ever seen quite that sort of spectacle. The table right in front of the stage was reserved for Andrew, Aaron, Bryan, Jovanka et al and I hope to get some photos soon.
After our set I came back out with CDs to sell and did well. Some other neat stuff happened but I’ll tell you later – it has to do with Cthulhupalooza. I will say that Jovanka gave me some big old hugs – I knew she wouldn’t be disappointed! Then we went back to the Migliore home where Thickets crashed in various nooks.
Sunday morning was the traditional Film Fest brunch, but this time it was at Tony Starlight’s rather than at Chez Migliore. It was good but was tainted with the melancholy of leaving, since Mario and Katie had to be back in Vancouver at a reasonable hour to get up for work on Monday.
I picked up a couple more posters for Mike to sign. I had another short chat with Mike, we said our goodbyes to all the rest and hit the highway. We left at 2pm and got back to Vancouver just after 7pm.
ADDENDUM: No, I didn’t see any films while I was there, with the exception of a good chunk of Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (documentary) which was excellent.