31st May, 2009

Burbank Airport Marriot Hotel & Convention Center
2500 Hollywood Way Burbank,
California 91505 USA



 

 

Doug's appearance at the very first MONSTERPALOOZA con gave Fan Sapien Anoray the chance to secretly put into motion a plan to give Doug some belated birthday presents from his beloved Fan Sapiens, so after months of planning, Anoray went along to the convention armed with a briefcase, a Birthday Goodie Bag and her heart in her mouth as she carried out ... OPERATION FAN MULE. This is her story in words, pictures and videos.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image

 


MY DAY AT MONSTERPALOOZA


aka 'Operation Fan Mule'
aka 'There’s Love'

By Anoray

I must begin this con report with a giant thank you to webmistress, HM [That's short for 'Hellmistress', I'm embarrassed to say, my alter ego on Del Toro Films - Ed.] and her co-conspirator, Derek (Doug’s appearance manager) who aided and abetted me in Operation Fan Mule. My mission was to transport birthday presents from some very dedicated Fan Sapiens to Dougie during his appearance at the con. Since this was the first Monsterpalooza ever (not to mention my first time meeting Mr. J), no one could really tell me what the con was like or what the turnout would be. So when I bought my advance ticket online, I just prayed for the best possible outcome … and not to completely embarrass myself in front of Doug.

Speaking of that, I’ve made an attempt here to dust off my ancient journalism degree and write an objective report with minimal drooliness. For those of you who‘ve met Doug, you‘ll know what a difficult task this is and why it’s taken me several days to finish!

On the way to the Burbank Marriott, I listened to my U2 No Line On the Horizon CD to distract me from the increasing pitter patter of my heart. Grateful was I to find not only a parking space, but the right entrance on the first try. Things were off to a good start! Perusing the little map given to me by the pleasant gatekeepers, I discovered that Dougie’s booth was almost disconcertingly close. Gulp. Was I really ready to meet him right away? I debated taking a stroll around the exhibits first to get my bearings. I finally settled on rather surreptitiously passing by his booth--just so I could figure how best to commence Operation Fan Mule, of course!

Grasping the big, red birthday bag o’ goodies and shouldering my briefcase, I walked over to my left expecting a formal line up in front of a table. Oh, joy! It was a laid back, rather cozy alcove with a table set up at the back. Up on the black curtain dividers and on the tables were all the delightfully familiar images of Doug as Pan, Abe and the Silver Surfer … and behind the table, chatting with a couple of people, was the delightfully real Dougie! After months of anticipation and planning, the fact he was now only ten feet away got my hands trembling. My stomach felt like a thousand monarch butterflies were doing their annual migration inside. No, no, no. I will not approach him in this condition, I forbid myself.


JOHN ALEXANDER, MY HERO

As I hesitated, my rescue came from the absolutely delightful John Alexander, who was sharing the alcove with Doug. A lovely, soft spoken man, he smiled and shook my hand as we introduced ourselves. I passed along greetings from dear HM and we started chatting away about his roles in Hellboy II as Johann Krauss and the legless Goblin. He explained how his role as the Goblin kept getting bigger and bigger and that’s why Guillermo del Toro brought in a second actor [James Dodd - Ed.] to help with Johann’s background scenes. John got down on the floor to show me how he was positioned in the cart, and pointed out in a photo how the buckets in back covered up his feet. We laughed about how the crabs got plopped on the Goblin by the makeup artist instead of staying in the bucket.

We discussed the rigors involved in wearing Johann’s diving suit, especially when it came to holding objects. John had no sense of touch through the thick gloves that were screwed on, so holding props was no easy task. I told him I found it delightfully absurd that Johann‘s after-hours hobby was building miniature furniture--he laughed and said he was holding real antiques and trying not to drop them! As for dropping props, he said they had to do several takes of the scene where a nearly blind Johann tosses the rings to a mostly blind Abe, but Doug did manage to catch the velvet bag once.

I told him I was looking forward to seeing his performance as a Wheeler in Return to Oz and we talked about the construction of the costume. He next spoke about the making of some of the ape suits and masks from Tarzan and Mighty Joe Young and how things advanced technically. I asked him how he had became the go-to guy for primate performances. I learned he had started in show business doing acrobatics as a teen, then gradually shifted into theater and finally movies. He said there was no planning involved in his career--in this business, he said he’s not sure anyone can really make a plan! His next project is for PBS NOVA in a special on prehistoric man. It sounds like a very interesting program I‘ll definitely want to see how much of John is recognizable.




ENTER DOUGIE, STAGE RIGHT

Around this time, Dougie was momentarily free and my stomach was considerably less infested with butterflies. I stepped forward to introduce myself as Anoray from the DTF message boards and showed Doug the bag of birthday goodies from his Fan Sapiens. His greeting was so sweet: His eyes went wide and he clasped his hands together with apparent delight, “Anoray!“ Smiling, he stepped forward saying “Look at you--aren’t you a precious princess, a precious love?” He said he’d heard there was some mystery about what a Bosie was and apparently his first order of business was to educate me. I was a totally willing pupil, of course. “You brought luggage!“ He waved away my briefcase, telling me to put everything down.

“Okay, first is a regular hug …” Dougie enveloped me into a full on hug, complete with oohs and ahhs and squeezies. While I marveled at how he felt like quicksilver under my hands, he explained hugs were very nice, but brief. He then stepped back a little bit, looking down into my eyes. Goodness only knows what kind of goofy grin I was wearing by now, but he kindly chose to ignore it. “Now, a Bosie …” He gently folded me back into an embrace and spoke softly. “A Bosie is a type of hug, but it‘s for holding and petting and soothing for as long as you need it.“

So there I was, snugly wrapped up in Dougie’s impossibly long arms with his chin resting tenderly on my head. He rocked me gently back and forth and told me it was our dear HM who taught him all about the Bosie. HM, you are a goddess for inventing and passing this miracle on. The only description I can offer: a Bosie feels like you are intertwining on a molecular level with the other person in an unconditional “There‘s Love“ kind of way. In magical slow motion, of course.

Alas, even Bosie‘s have to end sometime … Doug eased the transition by kissing my hand when we separated, calling me a precious princess again. Even better, he cupped my chin in his hand and told me I was beautiful. Yes, he probably says it to his fangirls all the time, but I will cherish the memory nonetheless.

As my senses returned to Earth, I heard strange music from an exhibit area across the way. Dancing and singing along to the music was a full-sized animatronic skeleton with glowing eyes (later on, Dougie would do a dead on imitation of this skeleton that was amusing to say the least). The surreal spectacle reminded me I’d recently seen the absurd Sockbaby 4. I asked Doug if John Soares’ recent project The Danger Element would have the same silly humor and he said, “Oh, absolutely.“ We chit chatted about enjoying goofy humor dating back to programs like the Carol Burnett Show. He said that whenever he watches an old show like that, he realizes how much this type of comedy has influenced his own sense of humor through the years.

I pointed out the blue, brown and silvery striped colors of my shirt to Doug and explained I wore them in honor of Abe, the Faun and Silver Surfer. I should have thought to say the black stripes were for Goth rocker Jerry in MNIJ, but I had the Gainesbourg/Gainesbarre creature on my mind instead. Dougie then amused me with the correct pronunciation of the names and said the name Gainesbarre does not actually exist in the French language. I got too distracted by Doug’s mini French lesson to pester him for more details about the character. Maybe that was his plan all along--he can be quite enigmatic when he wants to be.

I complimented him on his embroidered shirt and asked him if he bought it while in France. Doug chuckled, “Are you all talking about my shirts again?“ He did get it from the same place he purchased the form fitting black and white shirt so many of us admire. He said he loves that shop because it‘s one of the few places where he can find such nice things that fit him like a glove. Dougie did indeed look fetchingly svelte: For you fashionistas out there, the rest of his ensemble consisted of an Abe-tight pair of dark corduroy pants, and black pointy shoes. He is definitely one lean, talking, and hugging machine ;-)

At some point, Dougie told me I looked about 5’9”--but I raised up a boot heel to justify looking taller than my actual 5‘7.“ All this led to me asking him how tall his father is/was. Doug told me his father was 6’ 5,” but he had passed away 30 years ago. I was very sorry to hear he‘d lost his father so young. Doug started to tell me a really sweet story about how his father’s death changed him, but just then someone wanted an autograph. Dougie told me to “Put a comma right there, I promise we’ll get back to it.“




DOUGIE, the HUMAN PARTICLE COLLIDER

While Dougie signed the photo (and charmed the socks off a very happily smiling young woman), I pondered when and how to commence his gift unwrapping. He’d previously told me he was extremely excited and curious to see what his Fan Sapiens had given him, but now an increasing stream of admirers crowded into the alcove. I didn’t want to hog too much of his time all at once, nor did I wish to rush anyone‘s special gift to him. As if sensing my quandary, Doug stepped away from the others for a moment to see if I was okay with waiting a bit longer. I assured him I didn’t mind in the least as long as it was not a problem on his end. He seemed content with me simply hanging out as a fly on the wall--and I must thank the very kind woman (I can’t believe I didn’t get her name!) who was assisting Dougie with his autograph requests. She made me feel so welcome, and I hope I hovered along the outskirts of the alcove unlike a vulture.

Once in a while, Doug would cheerfully point out a particular person to me, or even be kind enough to introduce me to a visitor as one of his dedicated Fan Sapiens. I tried not to look like a gaping fool and give those of us in The Tank [Dougie's message board - Ed.] a bad rap. I observed with great interest how Doug so deftly interacted with the wide variety of people that visited him and John Alexander. They ranged from awestruck fans who could barely talk, to fellow actors and industry professionals, but they all walked away from The Doug Zone smiling. I came to the conclusion that Doug emits a special subatomic particle (which I christened “the dougon”) that collides with each person‘s unique molecular structure, thus generating an irresistible positive charge due to the laws of quantum physics. If you had seen Dougie pinch the cheeks of a burly, grown man wearing the ubiquitous black t-shirt--and get the man to giggle like a toddler--you would not doubt my theory.

There were so many people, I could not keep up with all the names and I have absolutely no idea how Doug does it all the time. For instance, Camden Toy (Doug’s Gentleman cohort from the “Hush” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) bopped in and out frequently since his booth was nearby. He had a delightful personality and grin. In fact, he said his grin was why he got cast as a Gentleman.

There was a man and his wife/girlfriend who gave Doug a t-shirt--I believe it said “Renaissance players do it with panache” on the back. This man had a stack of DVD inserts from just about every project Dougie ever appeared in. Signing several, Doug was impressed to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the group. Mentioning his one line in the film reminded Doug of an amusing anecdote about his bit in a Jack Frost film: He couldn’t believe he got dubbed over because the producer only hired one guy to do all the looping! We all laughed when Doug quoted the line in a whining voice (similar to Napoleon Dynamite), “Someone ate all my carrots!”

One thing about Doug, he’s definitely tactile and loves to touch people. I don’t think anyone escaped his alcove without at least one hug or a pinch on the cheek. “There’s Love!“ or “Precious Puppies,” and “Look at you, precious” was frequently heard as he petted heads, cheeks, or poked tummies. His fingers did squeezies along my forearm when he explained to me this is how he really communicates with people. At various points throughout the day when we talked, he’d gently squeeze my hands or wrist, or caress my hair. His touch was never invasive and felt healing.

Doug also seemed to know just what to say to an individual to elicit a positive reaction or deflect a potential problem. Laughter was definitely abundant in the Doug Zone. Also, Doug‘s keen awareness of the people around him was obvious in the way he’d compliment someone on a facial feature, their outfit, or speak out their name first if it was written anywhere visible. Once, he plucked a couple of stray hairs off the shoulder of a bemused man he was chatting with. How delighted was I when Doug complimented me on my speaking voice and declared, “You sing, don‘t you--Alto, right?” This meant a lot to me because, as I told Doug, I found his own speaking and singing voice very soothing to my ears. This earned me some more squeezies from Dougie.

At some point in the day, I asked Doug how comfortable the Abe outfit in Hellboy II was. He said the suit itself was quite comfortable since the muscles were all part of it, but it was made of pleather and got quite steamy inside. He mentioned he was a complete basket case on the day of filming Nuala’s death, with his own tears streaming behind Abe’s mask.



HOW I MET A SLEESTAK

Seeing Doug pucker up his lips and say, “There’s love, you precious,“ was doubly amusing when Marti Matulis stopped by. Marti was Doug’s accomplice in The Converters and seeing the two of them standing eye-to-eye with Dougie pinching Marti’s cheeks affectionately almost got me started on a giggle fit. The fact that Marti kept a straight face through all the “booga, booga, booga” action made it even funnier.

I must take the time to report what a really, really nice guy Marti is. We kidded around about how difficult it must be to work with Doug since he’s such an aloof, difficult, prima donna. Marti mentioned he’d just been featured in the website trailer created for Guillermo del Toro‘s book The Strain. Marti also recently finished working as a Sleestak on Land of the Lost and was getting ready to head out to New York for The Tonight Show to suit up again as a Sleestak during a skit featuring Will Ferrell. I asked him if the new Sleestaks were as slow moving as the originals and he said the movie capitalizes on that nonsense. He said he made sure the other Sleestaks did the hissing and shuffling correctly. He’d also played a troll creature on an unaired pilot for ABC called Captain Cook’s Extraordinary Atlas directed by Tommy Schlamme. Too bad it hasn’t been shown, at least not yet since it has Hal Holbrook and is about a girl who uses a magical atlas to discover an alternate world beneath Earth. Marti told me he originally wanted to be a make-up artist, but didn’t possess that ability. However, he did translate his love for make-up artistry into performing as the creatures themselves.

Hovering around the alcove and basking in Dougie’s energy was getting way too addictive, so I decided I’d better give him a break from me and check out the rest of the con for a while. When I let him know my plan, he thanked me for being so patient. I kept assuring him I was having a great time (and hoping he wasn‘t feeling any pressure). He had me put the gift bag behind his table for safekeeping. “You’ll be back, right?“ he asked with more squeezies of my hands. You’ll have to pry me off with a crowbar, I laughed to myself before I departed for my side adventure.




LAND OF THE BLACK T-SHIRTS

Right across from Doug’s alcove was Margot Kidder of Superman fame. She looked quite like her Lois Lane days, only more matronly. In the next booth, a smiling female makeup artist was creating incredibly realistic wounds on the faces, necks and arms of delighted customers. Later on, one of them (a young boy with a bloody slash across his throat) would stop by to visit Doug.

Speaking of blood, I found plenty of bottles filled with the fake stuff. There was even a handy pack marked: Venial, Aged, Venial Splash and Arterial. I had no idea there were so many options! As for the variety of people perusing the aisles, although the majority were black t-shirt clad males of different sizes, shapes and ages, there were women and children present in sizeable numbers. I spied quite a few hardcore Goth types, but they looked pretty tame next to creatures like Pale Man, Pinhead and the plethora of hideous horrors for sale.

There was one room entirely filled with the busts of famous monsters like Creature From the Black Lagoon, Lon Chaney‘s Phantom of the Opera (did I mention Kusanivy really, really should have been there?) and at least sixty others. No matter where I turned, my eyes encountered bizarre creatures, aliens, insectoids, and dragon heads--at the back end of the main hall loomed a gigantic gorilla with hairy arms upraised.

I meandered past a bust of HP Lovecraft, and got the shivers from trying on a replica Freddy Krueger glove…complete with slashing fingerblade action. Various artists worked on their clay sculptures as if there weren’t already enough monsters filling the halls and exhibit rooms. Chucky dolls grinned maniacally alongside vintage comic books and countless macabre collectibles. I saw only a couple of cosplayers: an extremely savage looking werewolf, and some sort of unidentifiable albino beastie.

The most interesting room to me was the museum, which featured life size sculptures of famous horrors, such as the classic Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Mummy, and more modern cousins like Alien and Predator. One of the creepiest inhabitants was Heath Ledger‘s Joker, his eyes glittering up at me through the gloomy darkness while eerie background noises emitted from somewhere.

I decided I’d had enough of the bad and the ugly--and it was time for the good.




RETURN TO DOUGIE-NESS

When I returned to Doug’s booth, he gradually made his way over to me through the cluster of visitors. I rather sheepishly admitted to him that, out of all the monster memorabilia available, I had purchased a miniature Gumby and Pokey for my sons. I told him I’d found out a new claymation movie starring these bendables was coming out sometime down the track. We laughed about that, then Doug remembered the story he wanted to tell me about his father:

When Doug was a boy, he was not a hugger of people--he hugged his little dog instead. None of his family were really huggers either, but when his father passed away, Doug was only 19. He was getting ready for finals at Ball State when he got the phone call. In the aftermath, his older brothers held a family meeting because they were especially concerned about Doug still needing a father figure and role model. The second-eldest, Tom, sat down with Doug and offered to fill that role for him if this was something Doug wanted. And Doug said the tears just started rolling down his face … and he and his brothers all hugged. And from that day forward, hugging was the way his family gave each other emotional support. Thus, Doug became a hugger of people.

We hugged in a mini-Bosie after this heartwarming story and I told Doug that I really admired his gift for connecting with others--and I most especially appreciated his spiritual nature. His eyes lit up and he smiled. “Oh, so you’re a sister?” Doug explained how HM calls him her spiritual soul brother. “Isn’t she absolutely wonderful?” Doug asked me. I heartily concurred. He emphatically added, “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Around this time, Jose (El Fauno Sabio on the DTF message boards) showed up with his adorable girlfriend, Karena. Dougie opened his arms wide and engulfed them both in a giant hug. “El Fauno--you brought me a puppy! You’re both precious puppies!” Jose was grinning ear to ear. After the hug-fest and some chit-chat with Doug, Jose told me he had felt shaky about meeting Doug and he was nervous and excited thinking about going to Guillermo’s book signing for The Strain later in the week. Jose recorded Doug in a buoyant video greeting for the DTF website (with a special shout out to his Fan Sapiens), and had Doug sign a Hellboy II poster that Guillermo and Mike Mignola had previously signed. Jose and Karen came and went a couple of times as the explored the con. I can say that El Fauno Sabio-- aka Jose--was a very, very sweet guy and it was a pleasure to meet him and Karena!

The alcove remained busy with visitors. Doug was asked several times about what was happening with Frankenstein and Hellboy III, Silver Surfer, and The Hobbit, but he didn’t have any solid updates to share on any of these projects. He confirmed he was definitely interested in being part of them, especially his dream role of Frankenstein and finishing off Hellboy III. Both he and I only half-jokingly bemoaned the fact Guillermo is tied up until 2012 with The Hobbit. “I’m 49 years old, Anoray, I don’t know how much longer I can wait!“ I reassured Doug not to worry--he must be on a separate aging track because he looks so young.

In the meantime, July will be a good month for Dougie: the DVD’s for Angel of Death and Super Capers are coming out. The director of AOD, Paul Etheredge, had dropped by the alcove earlier and given Doug an advance copy of the DVD. He told Doug he had changed some of the music and edited the pacing to better suit the longer format now that all the webisodes were incorporated into a single narrative.

Two gentle giants stopped by the booth at different times, both seeking Dougie‘s advice about acting under heavy prosthetics. Timothy, a sweet faced young man with red mutton chops, was already working in special effects but was considering becoming a suit actor since several people said he had the right build for it. He had massive, Brian Steele sized hands! Later on, an even bigger giant arrived, this one with a long ponytail. His name was Sky (appropriate, since his head was scraping it) and he said he had so much awe and respect for Doug‘s work. Sky asked about advice regarding agents and Doug urged him to be sure he lets the agent know what kind of work he wants to focus on. “And don’t let the studios treat you like a hanger … make sure your agent gets you paid what you‘re worth. You’re not an extra in a suit. Don‘t sell yourself short.” Doug emphasized that suit acting takes specialized skill and endurance. During this conversation, I was thinking Doug should display his My Name Is Jerry poster and pictures of his non-creature roles to make his versatility more visible to the con going public.

I’m happy I got to see Dougie being taped for the intro to a video being made about Monsterpalooza itself. It’s always intriguing to see how something is done live, then how it appears onscreen. Doug laughed when he did a rare flub on the first take, then flawlessly performed on the second go round, making up the entire intro as he went.




DOUGIE GETS GIFTS

At long last, Doug determinedly pulled me back behind the table area so he could finally see the messages and presents his Fan Sapiens had sent him. He still got interrupted for autographs in between gifts, but he’d happily write an inscription for the person, have his picture taken with them, then return to unwrap another present like an excited little boy. It was a joy to witness first hand his reactions to every item. Somehow, he tuned out the overall loudness of the con to focus on this little ceremony. I was so touched when I saw his eyes tearing up a bit as he held various birthday letters. His supple fingers even trembled slightly while emotions played across his face.

I gave Dougie the note from HM first. Again, he told me how wonderful she was and that she was his soul sister. I told him how much I appreciated her help in setting up Operation Fan Mule. Part of HM’s message was admonishing him to eat something or he‘d get “THE LOOK.” Dougie then did an impersonation of a stern HM looking over a pair of glasses with upraised eyebrows that cracked me up. I can see why he doesn’t get to eat much at cons, though--the man gets no downtime and goodness only knows when he gets a restroom break!

Next up was KateC’s double whammy of a present. Dougie talked about meeting KateC in Boston. He had been very touched by her previous letter--he said he’d been in tears reading it. When he realized he was meeting the author, he wanted to be sure she knew how much it meant to him. Opening the new birthday letter, he was delighted KateC wrote long letters by hand instead of typing, remarking that hardly anyone ever did that anymore. He said she was a very good writer, then read the explanations of the drawing KateC had done as a belated 25th anniversary gift for Doug and Laurie, plus the history behind the two beautiful Armenian crosses. He oohed and awed over everything, saying he was very impressed by her exquisite drawing and all the fine detail and artistry she put into it. He folded the letter away to savor it in its entirety at home later that evening.

 

As Doug picked up the package sent by KatyBacon, he looked at me, eyes wide and asked me, “Doesn’t she make the most wonderful videos? She is so talented!” Naturally, Dougie was totally thrilled to find a lovely card, along with a DVD with all three videos she’d made of him. I totally agreed she knew how to capture his essence. He thought the dolphin cookie cutter was hilarious--it would be perfect for Laurie to use for his PB&J sandwiches from now on. Dougie said he really misses PB&J when’s away from home, along with Taco Bell. Of course, I had to find out his favorite Taco Bell food: Combo #1, people. Earlier, we’d talked about him meeting both KatyBacon and Telly at Dragoncon and he laughed and said he was bracing himself for a full on, knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out encounter.

Foolishly I had neglected to bring scissors to help Doug open his packages, so he used his car keys on the next box from Maya. While he was doing this, I could smell something like burnt matches. I ignored it, assuming it came from one of the many bizarre displays. Earlier, Camden Toy had returned to visit for a bit and I could see Derek rustling around with something under the table. However, I was too focused on Doug‘s quest to open the present to pay much attention. Next thing I know, Derek pulls out a chocolate birthday cake from under the table, complete with lighted candles while the familiar tune of “Happy Birthday to You“ filled the air! His two assistants and many other Dougie friends sang along. It was an amazing moment.

Both Doug and Camden were totally surprised, jaws open about a foot. It was Camden’s birthday that very day, plus Doug had celebrated his the previous weekend. Doug laughed, saying he had smelled smoke--but he was opening presents and nothing was going to stop him! Dougie and Camden had great fun outdoing each other on the candle blowing, then even more maniacal madness ensued with them slicing into the cake. It reminded me of the shower scene from Psycho! Despite just sitting there like a grinning fool during all the mayhem, I was given a slice of birthday cake by Derek, which made me feel so included rather than intrusive. He’s quite the sweetie.

After the cake was demolished, Dougie was delighted to find a carved dolphin from Maya inside the stubborn box. He oohed and awed, kissing the dolphin like a little pet. As he carefully rewrapped it and made sure it was snug in the box, he said how pleased and touched he was to have such devoted Fan Sapiens. Earlier, he‘d mentioned he likes to drop in on The Tank when he can to feel the love there. He loves meeting and hugging Fan Sapiens at cons and he’s got several coming up. He wrote Maya’s DTF name near her real name on the box so he’d be sure to connect the two.

Doug was impressed to get a package all the way from Germany--he asked me if I’d ever seen Kaddi’s website, where she goes by Coldmirror. I said only briefly so far, but I knew she’d gotten a lot of people interested in My Name Is Jerry via the trailer. Doug expressed how grateful he was for her support as he opened her gift. Oh, he was happy to find Kit Kats! He explained these were the big, special chunky German kind you can't get in the States. Kaddi had also sent a handmade little book and Doug cracked up at what she labeled "crappy dolphin drawings." “Awwwww!“ Dougie saw a picture of Kaddi and her boyfriend in the booklet and gave it a big smoochie. Last, but not least, he unfurled a big red t-shirt with the words “Have a break, kick a cat” and a cartoon Abe Sapien kicking a cat. This, of course, refers to the incident of where Doug accidently kicked one of Hellboy’s cats during filming because he couldn’t see where he was going. “Wow, this is specially silk screened and everything!”

Now it was Telly’s turn: When Doug opened the package, he found it full of shiny star confetti. “Oh, she must know the story about the confetti,“ Doug laughed. He then told me that whenever he travels, Laurie packs star confetti in his suitcase--which he then spends weeks finding in his underwear while he’s wearing it. He looked rather puppy-eyed and said it can be very uncomfortable. I confess I couldn’t express much sympathy because I was too busy laughing over the image in my mind.

In addition to the confetti, Doug found a Rubik’s Cube, and a dolphin pen. He petted the pen with his finger…and then looked mystified to discover three quarters, and a ginko tree leaf. He looked from these items to me as if I had answers. “Do you know what the quarters are for?“ I shook my head, grinning. “I have no idea.“ He laughed. “But why three of them?“ I could only laugh back and say, “It’s from Telly!“ He was sure there would be answers in the card, which started playing music when he opened it. That got him dancing in his chair and I could only imagine the Bosies he’d be giving Telly (and KatyBacon) at Dragoncon!

 

The last items in the bag were my gifts for Dougie. I discovered that HM is right: Dougie LOVES chocolate covered almonds. He said he and Laurie just recently discovered their mutual passion for the yummies on their last trip. Doug told me that Laurie returned to Los Angeles a couple of days ahead of him. When he arrived, she asked if he’d brought the almonds. When he had to tell her he couldn’t fit them in his luggage, her face fell. I was very glad to give him something they could both enjoy together! My main gift to Doug was a handmade album with “Did you ever wonder what would happen if Guillermo del Toro directed My Name Is Jerry?” written on the cover. Basically, it starred my Abe action figure in my directorial debut: Hellboy III: My Name Is Abe. In this mini drama filled with my sons‘ toys as a cast of characters, Abe dealt with his mid-life crisis, but it did have a happy ending. Dougie looked up at me, “This must have taken you hours.“ I told him I had lots of fun creating it. I also did not expect him to read the whole thing then and there, so I tucked it back in the gift bag with all the other Fan Sapien goodies after he’d chuckled over several of the pages.

With all the gifts opened at last, Dougie thanked me again for bringing everything on behalf of the Fan Sapiens because he was so happy to feel the love. He asked me if I had anything for him to sign. I gave him my Hellboy: Bones of Giants novel, plus the beautiful Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie I’d won from Spydaweb. Dougie hadn’t seen the art book before and leafed through it. “Is there a particular place you want me to sign?” Doug doesn’t know this, but there was a specific picture I wanted him to use. For some reason, I told him to please sign wherever he decided was best. And lo and behold, he found the close up photo of the tender moment between Abe and Nuala in the library. “I want to sign this one,” he smiled. He proceeded to write me a beautiful inscription using a portion of the dialogue from my favorite scene in the movie. I don’t know if I even thanked him properly for his empathy and reading my mind…I was too busy floating at this point. I did manage to control my faculties long enough to find an illustration of Abe in the other book. Doug wrote that I’d definitely won the Silver Dolphin of Devotion today! A heartfelt thank you to Doug for these two priceless treasures.

I’d brought some questions to ask, but I only chose one so Doug wouldn’t call security to extract me from his presence. “What is something you want your Fan Sapiens to know about you, but no one has ever asked?” He thought a moment about that and laughed. “I talk so much, I don’t think there’s much that’s been left unsaid!”

By this time, the con was officially over. I couldn’t believe four hours had gone by so quickly. Doug made sure we got a picture together before Derek dismantled the alcove. Not only that, he asked me to look at the image to be sure it turned out the way I wanted. Knowing he must be exhausted by the day’s activities, I was touched by his consideration for me.

I told Doug how much he and Guillermo--and the creative Fan Sapiens--had inspired me. Back when I‘d worked in the entertainment industry, my friend and I had strived for years to start our own production company, but I‘d wound up getting burned out instead before leaving the business to get married and have children. “Oh, but you have a purpose!“ Dougie assured me as he squeezed my hands, rocking them to and fro. “Oh, yes,“ I totally agreed, “I love being a wife and a mother.” I admitted with some embarrassment there was just a small part of me that still missed the … “Hoopla?” Doug supplied just the right word, gesturing around at the bizarre exhibits of Monsterpalooza, “There’s definitely a bit of hoopla to go around in Hollywood.”

After one last Bosie, along with some sweet words I will keep to myself as precious mementos, we bid each other farewell. There Doug stood, surrounded by countless manifestations of horror, his gentle face in stark contrast to all these fearsome creatures conjured by human minds to entertain and terrify. I found it both odd and wonderful to know that the man who brought life to so many of these monsters was, in actuality, a beacon of light against the shadows. I know Doug has said that after he dies, he wants to be remembered for making a person feel like they are the most special person to him during that moment he is with them. Well, Doug, that is how I will remember you.

 

Anoray
Los Angeles, California
6th June, 2009

© 2009 Anoray. All rights reserved.

A lovely message from Dougie!

Thanks to Fan Sapien Jose ('El Fauno Sabio') for the video!

 

© 2009 Jose. All rights reserved.

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