The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 

It should come as no surprise that as a person who has made a career out of creating monsters (among other fantastical things), Halloween is by far my favorite day of the year. Spending my time in two worlds — adventure gaming, where we slay monsters, and film making, where they’re brought to life on screen — I’m usually surrounded by like-minded people who share my reverence for this holiday.

My first DIY costume was an attempt to recreate Boba Fett, but this was October 1979, over half a year before THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK came out. The inspiration came from Fett’s first appearance in the 1978 television broadcast of THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, a Christmas themed spin off that will forever live in infamy. Pieced together with ski gloves, a dyed t-shirt detailed with magic markers, and a toy police helmet covered in tin-foil, I very well might have been one of the first ever Boba Fett’s to bounty hunt a Snickers fun-size bar.

The parties, candy and fright-fests are all things I love about Halloween, but the thing that fired me up the most as a kid was the chance to create a costume each year. Off-the-rack costumes have come a long way since I was pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in an effort to harvest as much free sugar as possible. But as a kid, the store-bought costumes held no interest for me. There weren’t many to choose from and the plastic half-masks always felt incomplete, so I endeavored to make my own as best I could with limited skills and resources.

A great deal of paper mache was sacrificed to create this Yoda costume in 1980, long before you could buy a decent Yoda mask. It lacks the gentle wisdom of its inspiration and probably looks more like a gremlin or goblin, but it took 1st place in the school costume contest. Guess that tells you what kind of competition there was! (side note: the robes were made from burlap potato sacks. I still itch when I see a raw potato…)

Star Wars was a big inspiration and probably accounted for at least half the costumes of my early years. Other subjects came and went with my current interests of the day. Mom often assisted with the sewing and fabric dying, and I recall a great deal of duct tape, tinfoil and paper mache going into those projects.

In the 5th grade, I departed from my Star Wars inspiration because I was playing Death in a school play for Halloween. I liked this getup so much I would have dressed in it every day if they would have let me.

I’ve all but missed out on Halloween for the last few years due to a hectic schedule and adjusting to the new role of parenthood. But in the latter, I’ve got a new hope for the future. Tonight, Sherry and I will take our nearly-two year old son to the Disneyland Halloween Haunt in an effort to gently immerse him in the festivities of the holiday. We’re appropriately going as pirates, and while the little one shuns the notion of wearing costumes so far, we’re going to do our best to cajole him into an off-the-rack buccaneer get-up that looks much better than anything I ever assembled as a kid.

Okay this isn’t for Halloween and obviously I’m not the one in the costume here. But I did design these fugly things and even helped sculpt the masks as well as made the rubbery suits for the [WELCOME TO] LEVEL 7 short film. Truth be told, I like making the costumes far more than wearing them, especially after seeing how uncomfortable it was for our poor actors to be trapped in them all day long!

My hope is that as he grows older, he’ll enjoy Halloween as much as I did and allow me to assist him in whatever wild character he wants to bring to life. And if he doesn’t, then I’ll suspend his allowance and restrict his TV and video game time until he agrees to wear whatever crazy creature idea I want to bring to life. That’s the parental prerogative, right? Hey, at least I’m involved!

Happy Halloween!