Normally I keep these Q&As to a reasonable 13 questions, but when I got the opportunity to interview the gentlemen responsible for this coming weekend's huge Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta, I knew I wanted to throw a few extra in.
After all – these were tow guys that went from doing a podcast to planning and organizing a three day convention featuring not only the top stars of The Walking Dead, but also a number of luminaries from other parts of the industry – Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, Judith O'Dea, Joe Lynch, and Giancarlo Esposito. Not to mention Zack Galligan, with whom I conducted an audio interview for this year's episode of Earth Station Boo!
- What are your top geek passions?
ERIC: I love 80’s movies and TV shows. I like old school. I’m also a little older than James, so that explains it. I also have to have the latest Top 40 singles from iTunes every week. Comes from my years of recording Casey Casem’s America’s Top 40.
JAMES: I’m a collector of memorabilia. If I like a show, I want a piece of it to collect. The funny thing is, when I have it, I don’t always hold onto it and sell it on Ebay.
- Obviously there’s a big love of The Walking Dead here. Have you guys gotten to the comics and what do you think of the differences between that narrative and the show’s?
JAMES: I love the comics. In fact, I need to get over to the comic book store and get the latest issue. I love the differences. It’s nice to not know exactly what’s going to happen each week. But on the other hand I love that they are including some of the characters from the comics into the TV show. Their story arcs, in some cases, are completely different. I like that. We have a Comic Book Guy that calls in on a regular basis to our podcast. At first he hated the show and loved the comics. We were able to turn him around and get him to be a fan of the show too. We consider it part of our duty.
- What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?
ERIC: My favorite toy was my IBM PCjr. It had like 256K of RAM, but I used up every bit of it. I’d use up those floppy disks until the thing just died. I programmed my own games using the DOS-based BASIC program. My favorite games on the PCjr were Flight Simulator, Ultima I, II and III and Wizardry!
JAMES: I’m a lot younger than Eric (haha) so I loved playing with a hacky sack when I was a kid. The Rubik’s Cube was also a good way to keep me busy. But, my favorite toy of them all was my GI Joe Jeep and GI Joe dolls. I wore those things out!
- What is one album everybody should own?
ERIC: Peter Gabriel – So and anything from U2.
JAMES: The Beatles – White Album and anything from Paul McCartney.
- Who is your favorite wrestler and why?
ERIC: I loved Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. I loved when he would dive off the ropes and smash his opponents. My favorite duo were The Bushwhackers. I loved how they would march with their arms in unison and whack the opposition. It was good fun.
JAMES: I’ve always been a Hulk Hogan guy. Good clean American fun. I met him one time and he changed my life forever. I always wanted to have pecs like him – never could get there.
- How did you end up going behind the scenes of The Walking Dead and what went down there?
ERIC: It was basically our dream day. James called me the night before and saw on Twitter that they would be shooting the last scenes in Senoia, GA the next day. We both agreed we had to go. So, we drove from Nashville where we live at 3am – arrived at just before 10. Within 15 minutes, we met Laurie Holden next to the production lot area next to Senoia Main street. That day we met, got autographs and pictures with 7 cast members and crew from the show. We even got to hang with Melissa McBride for almost an hour in the Senoia Coffee Shop while they were shooting just outside – final scenes from Season 3 just outside the wall of Woodbury. It was an incredible day. One we will never forget. Here’s a video from our day:
- Who had the idea for the website and podcast?
ERIC: It was something James suggested. We both like listening to Podcasts. There was one specifically that James listened to called the LOST podcast with Jay & Jack. They did some zany things like spoof songs, etc. with that show. That’s where we got our inspiration.
- How did you guys meet?
JAMES: We are neighbors. We became closer friends based on our mutual love for the show LOST and our kids all play together. So, we just naturally became friends. Then, when Season 3 of The Walking Dead started, we began watching in my basement theater room.
- What's a favorite Halloween memory?
ERIC: I will always remember when I was too old to trick or treat (or I felt too old), I tied a string around candy and lowered it to everyone that would come to the door. Then, when they tried to grab it, I’d pull it up. It was a real fun game I played with the kids. They hated coming to my house. LOL.
JAMES: I remember my friend and I trick or treating and going to one person's door. This old lady was dressed as a wicked witch. After we got our candy, she kept following us. The faster we would run, the faster we she would run. My friend started crying. And she eventually apologized and got our of character. Scared the crap out of both of us.
- Which actor do you feel like you could sit and watch for hours no matter what they were doing and why?
ERIC: Steve Carrell – I think he’s hilarious in just about everything he is in.
JAMES: Melissa McCarthy – she is naturally funny. Her mannerisms crack me up.
- How in the world did you decide o start a convention? It seems like such a massive and, quite frankly insane, undertaking.
ERIC: I know. It was James’ idea. I tried to talk him out of it in the beginning. And, I tried quitting 3 times since he came up with the idea in April 2013. He kept telling me to hang on…and I’m glad I did. It’s turning out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
JAMES: It was really tough in the beginning. I just had this vision for a Con run the way I would have liked it – as a fan myself. And, we definitely had some challenges getting it launched. But, after a really successful Finale Party in March, I just thought we could do it. Build on the success of the Walker Stalkers Podcast and the relationships we had built with the celebrities we interviewed. It’s turning out to be an awesome Zombie and Horror Convention.
- The Walking Dead offers plenty of starpower and a huge fanbase, how did you decide to expand beyond that for Walker Stalker Con and bring in names like Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, and Zack Galligan?
JAMES: From the beginning, we wanted this to be a Zombie and Horror convention- and not just a Walking Dead convention. Although we are fans of the show, we wanted to create something even bigger than one show – something fans of these genres could appreciate – especially this time of year.
- And with that, how is Walker Stalker Con going to differentiate itself from other horror cons?
ERIC: This is a convention By Fans for Fans. It’s completely Fan-funded. We are spearheading it, but it’s really something that fans have rallied around. So, we feel that will make it very different – we want it to be like no other Con with more celebrity access and interaction. Of course, there will be similarities to Cons, but we want to make it a better experience for fans. Like, the lines. We have 4 different lines for Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln. We will have an actor VIP, which will get you in VERY FAST. Then, a regular VIP, which is also promising faster access. Then, a Virtual Queue system which will notify you of your time to get in line for the actor. These 3 lines will help improve line wait-times significantly for fans. Of course, there will be a regular General Admission line, but that’s the line you least want to be in – because it will take the longest.
- What advice can you give to somebody looking to organize a convention?
ERIC: We led with passion first. We led with the dream of doing a Convention. Doing something bigger than ourselves. We were persistent in asking for actors to come. When we got no response, we kept being respectfully persistent. When something good happened with another celebrity guest joining, we would always notify the ones who hadn’t responded. I think a lot of people were looking to make sure we were legitimate before they committed, which we understood – we are a first-time Con.
- If you could pursue any project, what would it be?
JAMES: Eric and I one day want to produce some reality TV shows. We have some concepts in mind. We also have some ideas for taking our Conventions online.
- Is there a movie that should never be remade and if so which one?
JAMES: You can’t touch Star Wars, ET or Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Closer – pitch time. Go crazy shilling Walker Stalker Con. Who’s there, what’s happening, and where is it?
JAMES and ERIC: Well, I don’t know how crazy we can be. But, if you love The Walking Dead and want to meet just about every one of the actors – we have 25 cast members from the show attending. Plus, we have Eulyn Womble – the head Costume Designer, Greg Nicotero – Director, Exec. Producer and Special Effects Guru and several Make-up artists from the show attending. In addition, we have other Horror and Sci-Fi favorites attending like: Judith O’Dea (Night of the Living Dead), Kane Hodder (Friday The 13th, Hatchet), the cast of Holliston (Fear.net), tons of Zombies from the original Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead films. We even have Zach Galligan (Gremlins) and Giancarlo Esposito (Revolution and Breaking Bad) attending. We will have Zombies strolling the Con floor. We will have fast access to celebrities with VIP and Virtual Lines. We will have Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) who hardly ever comes to Cons. We will have 2 VIP Meet & Greets, an amazing concert with Emily Kinney (Beth Greene) and a mind-blowing Zombie Costume Bash Party from 10 – 2am (18+ only) on Saturday night. It’s all happening November 1 – 3 at Atlanta’s AmericasMart Building 3, Floor 1 and The Westin Hotel Downtown Atlanta! Go to www.WalkerStalkerCon.com to get all of the details and get your tickets in advance – cheaper than buying them at the door!!! How was that?!!
That sounds like more than enough for a first-time con!
I am so impressed that these guys have accomplished what they have and - quite frankly - how much they have their shit together. I'll be at Walker Stalker on Friday and Saturday, taking pictures and putting notes together for my inevitable recap. This sounds like a good one, Phantomaniacs. I think you should check it out.
Phantom Troublemaker vs. 31 Days of Halloween
I’m changing the format a bit this year in order to more accurately portray SyFy’s schedule and also to preserve my sanity. I had the genius idea to cut and paste the schedule directly from SyFy’s page rather than typing it out in my own format. This has saved me an awful lot of time and also means that individual episodes are listed rather than blocks of programming like previous years. So what I’m going to do is provide commentary where I feel it is needed rather than posting next to every single entry. Don’t worry – you’re getting the same amount of hilarious, then kind of funny, then labored, then thoroughly disenchanted Phantom content. Just in a different way.
Like last year, I am covering the programming from the time this posts until the time of the next post. That means that on Fridays you are going to be treated to a shit-ton of this stuff.
Let’s do it!SyFy has given me another easy one. We've got a bunch of stuff that's been hown earlier in the month, so guess what? I'm taking the day off. My back is killing me from jumping out of the ring wrong at MCW over the weekend and I've got a pile of toys taller than a bugbear waiting to be opened.
Here's SyFy's recycled junk for the next 24 hours:
Oct 30 11:00 AM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Return To Darkness
Oct 30 12:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 The Lost Chamber
Oct 30 01:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Phantom Intruder
Oct 30 02:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Wandering Spirits
Oct 30 03:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Ghosts Of The Geiser Grand
Oct 30 04:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Mystery Train
Oct 30 05:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Massacre At Hells Canyon
Oct 30 06:00 PM Ghost Mine, Season 2 Supercharging The Supernatural
Oct 30 07:00 PM Ghost Hunters, Season 9 The Coroner's Case
Oct 30 08:00 PM Ghost Hunters, Season 9 Shock Island
Oct 30 09:00 PM Ghost Hunters, Season 9 Hyde And Seek
Oct 30 10:00 PM Ghost Mine, S2
Oct 30 11:00 PM Ghost Hunters, Season 9 Hyde And Seek
Oct 30 12:00 AM Ghost Mine, S2
Oct 30 01:00 AM Naked Vegas Paint The Town, Red
Oct 30 02:00 AM Ghost Hunters, Season 9 Hyde And Seek
Oct 30 03:00 AM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Ferryman, The
Oct 30 05:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 31 06:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 31 08:00 AM Naked Vegas Paint The Town, Red
Oct 31 09:00 AM 31 Days Of Halloween Movie Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's
Be sure and come back tomorrow for a very Halloween-centric post. It isn't my usual over-the-top finale, but I had fun writing it. It's one of my overl-long ramblings, so I think you'll enjoy it. Or groan and wait for Friday's post.