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Frank ‘N’ Con Report – First Strike

Living in the middle of nowhere, you get used to the idea that you’ll have to travel if you want to see much of anything, particularly when that something is a specialized interest, like a horror convention. Cons are on the list of things we just don’t get around here, along with fresh seafood and people who know how to use turn signals. So I was thrilled to hear about the first annual Frank ‘N’ Con, a horror convention that was held Halloween weekend in El Paso, Texas, which is “only” a three hour drive for me. That’s as local as it gets when you’re homesteading out here in the badlands.

The guest list was impressive. A fairly comprehensive reunion for the cast of the 1985 classic Return of the Living Dead, including a live performance by legendary punk band 45 Grave, was the big draw for me; but they also had Ernie Hudson, Margo Kidder, Dee Wallace, Belinda Balaski, and a slew of other stars.

So I got up early on Saturday morning and made the trek down with my sister Julie, who knows a whole lot more about horror films than I do. Being a novice at the con scene, I’m a poor judge of the success of such an event, but it seemed like a decent turnout to me, especially for the first year. It was pretty busy both days, but not so packed that you couldn’t get around. Lines for each table were rarely more than two or three people deep and frequently there was no wait at all, so there was a lot of opportunity to interact with the booth operators.

[ we also got the chance to meet chicks! ]

The Return of the Living Dead cast was set up in their own special side room, which is a good idea in theory. In actual practice, I think it segregated them a little and led to a lower turnout for the actors. That was good for us, as we got to hang out with them a bit more, but I hope they did well with their merch sales. We spent a lot of time talking to Linnea Quigley, and also interacted quite a bit with Miguel Núñez, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Don Calfa, Brian Peck, Thom Matthews, Allan Trautman, William Stout, and Michael Perez who is the executive producer for the new Return of the Living Dead documentary, More Brains.

It was a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Miguel Núñez in particular was hilarious. At one point he freaked out Linnea Quigley by swiping her money pouch and sending a fan over to tell her that someone had made off with it. He let her sweat a little before coming over and handing it back. Michael Perez encouraged us to try to prank Beverly Randolph, but she was just too nice for me to go through with it. It was also the first time that Dinah Cancer from 45 Grave had met Linnea Quigley, so we had a lot of fun watching the stars have their own fan moments. The only sad note was the absence of Jewel Shepard, who was scheduled to appear but is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and had to bow out on the advice of her doctors. There is an opportunity to donate to her medical expenses on the Frank ‘N’ Con homepage.

Another interesting booth was a local El Paso group called Guerilla Graphics. They were promoting artwork for a planned animated horror project called the Zygomatics. Good stuff! I was impressed with their artwork, and intend to keep up with what they are doing.

The main area was open until six. Then it was time for a night of horror set to music. I think blog posts are best if they are only so long, though, so I’ll leave that story for another day. Stay tuned…

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