Dan Henk: The Horror Convention

By Dan Henk
Horror has been around a long, long time. The early fairy tales were much darker than their current Disney-fied versions. The primal gods of ancient civilizations endured lives filled with maniacal beasts, surreal landscapes and an ever-changing world of magic and dark sorcery. The oral traditions of early man’s forefathers always had an element of horror… 

Love it or hate it, the world we live in would not be the same without the dark side. So it should come as no surprise that a huge portion of the populace is fascinated with all the things that go bump in the night. That manifests itself in the mass culture, which of course includes skin art. Skulls, demons and grim reapers have been fixtures in tattooing ever since before the Bowery days.

Since then, tattooing has greatly broadened and diversified, and you now have not only artists that enjoy a good horror tattoo, but prefer it. Bob Tyrrell can do a mean portrait, but something tells me he would much rather do a horror piece any day. Artists like Paul Booth, Paul Acker, Scottso, Ron Russo and a few others (including myself) specialize in horror. All of which brings me to Spooky Empire.

It’s a massive horror convention, running May 25th through the 27th this year, filled with B-movie celebrities doing signings, people hawking their books, comics and movies, along with vendors, illustrators and all sorts people that live, at least for the weekend, outside of the mainstream. It now has a relatively new addition as well, a tattooing side, managed by Ron and Geena Russo and myself.

Hosting a fairly small number of spots, 26 in total, we carefully select who participates. It’s a big vacation for those of us who love horror, and we want everyone to have a great time. We get to hang out with the likes of Kane Hodder, Bruce Campbell and Gunnar Hanson, blow our money on cool merchandise, visit the nearby Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Universal Studios, have late night drinks at the hotel pool bar and forget the outside world, at least for the weekend.

It’s held at the Wyndam, a resort in Orlando Florida, and in our constant attempts to make it bigger and better every time, this year we hired a local Florida artist to design zombie figurines for the awards. We’re printing up gory convention t-shirts, planning trips to the nearby attractions and angling for as much fun as a horror weekend in Orlando can be…

We’ll have some badass artists on the spot, including Bob Tyrrell, Adrian Dominic, Paul Acker, Ron Russo, Scottso, Bili Vegas and many, many more. So if you’re a horror fan, show up and hang out! If not, we might just show up at your door with an ax! Or we might be too drunk at the bar. But hey, either way, it’ll be good times! For more info on the convention please visit there site: http://www.spookyempire.com/

(Dan Henk is a tattooer and blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. Dan can be found at: http://danhenk.com/.)

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