I like to think I’m a pretty strong guy when it comes to temptation. I know my limits with food and drink, I generally never spend more than I can afford, and having two children means I’m always trying my best to think clearly, rationally and maturely.
But DAMN IT, being a horror fan can be tough. Seriously, there is just TOO MUCH cool stuff out there!
I don’t think a day goes by without at least 2-3 new items appearing that make me drool and gurgle like Homer. Action figures, clothing, games, memorabilia, the list is endless, and overwhelming. Being exposed to what is out there only increased when I started writing for Halloween Love and it really has been an ongoing lesson in self-control these last 14 months. If I purchased everything I felt a desire to own I would be broke, homeless and living in a box under a bridge. It would be a box surrounded and filled with awesome merchandise – but it’s still a box!
So, like those little bald dudes that sit in temples atop mighty snow covered mountains, I made a pledge to conquer my dark desires. I told myself to start appreciating the artistry and skill involved in making all these sexy horror toys and items, but I would appreciate them from afar. I didn’t NEED to physically own them all, or crave owning them all, just enjoy the knowledge they are out there, and sometimes write about them and the people who create them.
But everyone has Kryptonite moments, when even the strongest minds are reduced to jelly at the sight of something SO cool you find yourself chewing your own knuckles and repeating the words “Oh fuck yes!” over and over in your mind. Such a moment arrived a couple of weeks ago when our very own John Squires shared a link on his facebook page to a site called Jacks-Attic.com.
I could have cried when I realized that most of the (surprisingly affordable) products were limited editions and sold out, but honestly, that was probably a good thing – I would have been maxing out my bank account and buying every single item, Jack would have been a bit richer had these beautiful creations still been available. I’ve always been a sucker for the unusual, the different – those collectables that just scream COOL! It’s hard to put it into words, but if you want to know what I love as a collector, you just need to pay a visit to Jack’s site.
I had to know more. So like I always do in these situations I digitally hunted down Jack and requested a little chat which I’m delighted to say was as insightful and inspirational as I suspected it would be. Take a look …
Halloween Love: First of all can you tell me about your journey toward starting your business. Were you creative and a fan of horror / pop-culture from a young age?
J-A: “Horror and art have always been in my blood. I have distinct memories from my youth of my mother drawing Disney characters on really big pieces of sketch paper and hanging them up on my bedroom walls. Around the same time I remember my father going to one of the local dime stores and buying the 1979 MPC “Alien” model. He brought it back home and I have vivid memories of him meticulously putting it together. It was amazing and terrifying all at once.”
“Once I was old enough to start drawing, my earliest drawings involved copying scenes from horror comic books (Swamp Thing being a huge influence) and drawing all varieties of monsters. For Christmas and birthdays I’d ask for monster toys (Manglors – look them up for some epic awesomeness) or He-Man and Voltron villains as they were always more interesting and scary compared to the heroes. The first horror movie I ever watched (thanks to an incredibly irresponsible babysitter) was The Amityville Horror at age 5. It scared the hell out of me but also opened my mind up to the darker corners of the cinema.”
HL: I believe you started Jack’s-Attic around 2008? What were your first creations and was it a smooth transition going public?
J-A: “Jack’s Attic was originally started as a jewelry making endeavor, with plans to expand into channeling (Ouija style) boards. I never got the channeling boards up and running but the jewelry business did somewhat well. However, I started to realize that I was only scratching a small portion of the creative itch that I had and soon found the jewelry unsatisfying. That’s when I made the transition to making trading cards. The trading cards were fun and I got to flex my Photoshopping muscle but they too were only a placeholder until I brought everything together to start making action figures.”
“I think that with any creative process going public there is always an element of risk. The things that you make are generally pleasing to you and those you hold close but once you thrust your creations out into the rest of the world you suddenly feel very exposed and vulnerable. It gets even worse when you start to deal with criticism. Even though we live in a somewhat enlightened day and age, most people are pretty tactless when it comes to doling out criticism. Even worse than that is when your artwork is ignored completely. As an artist (and I use that term loosely when describing myself) I realized that a tough skin is a valuable skill. You just need to keep making the things that you like and eventually you will reach your audience, especially with the proliferation of social media. To quote the disembodied ghostly voice in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come”. Just keep building.”
HL: Most of your products have limited runs and prove to be incredibly popular. Is it ever tempting to produce them on a larger scale, or do you think that takes away from the desirability of an item? Is it a careful balancing act between the two?
J-A: “The small runs I have on products is a result of two factors. Firstly, I think about the collectability of a piece. Simply put, if there is less of an item, it seems the more people want it. And while I don’t do the Jack’s Attic stuff for the financial benefits, the more desirable a piece is, the more someone will pay for it. Secondly, I’m a one man show. In addition to the Jack’s Attic gig, I work a full-time Monday through Friday job and I just don’t have the time to crank out a ton of pieces.”
“As a result of those two reasons, I can also stay focused on a piece and not half-ass it just to get it done. Knowing I only have to churn out 20 of a certain figure makes it easier to give it my all with each piece.”
HL: I personally adore your ‘Kill People’ Bootleg Resin Figures, based on some very familiar faces. Can you tell me about the inspiration for those and give a little insight into how you create them?
J-A: “The original inspiration came from some wooden peg figures I created during the early days of Jack’s Attic. I had made some primitive wooden totem-like figures based on the cannibal legend of the Wendigo. It was my first foray into figure creation and didn’t really satisfy my creative needs in that venue. They also didn’t really sell all that well which caused me to shy away from any further figure releases for a time.”
“The ‘Kill People’ are an extension of those original wooden peg figures but also draw inspiration from a series of figures the Suck Lord produced called Suck Pegs. For those that do not know, the Suck Lord is considered (to many, myself included) the foremost resin bootlegger in the world. His Suck Pegs were essentially Fisher Price Little People bodies with heads from Star Wars, Micronauts and GI Joe characters grafted or sculpted on. Once I saw his work, I realized I could revisit those wooden peg figures I had attempted earlier, but in a different medium that would yield the results I was looking for.”
“Once I knew I wanted to head in that direction, I contacted The Suck Lord and asked for his blessing in essentially copying his idea but putting a horror slant on it. He got back to me and said, “Pop-culture belongs to everyone, go ahead and make your figures, but make them good.” That was the greenlight I needed to start making the ‘Kill People’ figures and I knew from the initial idea, I wanted the debut figure to be Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series. The process involved is called “kitbashing” but to most it’s known as bootlegging. Essentially you take bits and pieces of existing figures and cobble them together to create a new and unique piece. Kind of the action figure equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster.”
HL: Nasty question, but do you have a favorite item you have created since you started? Perhaps something that when completed exceeded your expectations?
J-A: “The Crystal Lake Prom figure is my favorite piece so far. It took a badass like Jason Voorhees and imagined him back in high school at his senior prom. The sophisticated simplicity of a tuxedo topped off by the iconic hockey mask created an elegant yet absurd visual that is very striking. Plus, it was the first time I experimented with magnetic articulation and really enjoyed the freedom of movement it allowed a figure, without having to do all kinds of intricate machining.”
“I also had a really fun time creating all of the little extras that go along with the figure. There is a prom photo, a prom ticket and a yearbook photo included. All approached from a completely serious point of view but so completely ridiculous at the same time. It seems that a lot of the Jack’s Attic work I do has that duality of darkness coupled with either childlike innocence or blatant stupidity.”
HL: Finally, what’s up next? Any plans you can talk about, and where do you want to be a few years from now?
J-A: “Up next is going to be another Kill People release. I’m going back to the well one final time with the first series Jason figure and release an incredibly limited design with some truly epic packaging. It’s going to be a museum quality display piece and should prove to be very popular. After that I’m circling a few other projects including a GI Joe style mashup, another entry in the Kill People series, some figures based on some professional wrestling legends, some original sculpted figures and I’d like to release a new trading card set based on some famous Cryptid monsters as well.”
“I also have a few collaborations lined up with a few other artists and personalities in the horror realm that we’ll be debuting later in the year. As far as where I’d like to see Jack’s Attic in the coming years; I’d like to be able to continue to release figures on a semi regular basis without having the whole thing turn into a second job. I’ve seen too many “hobbies” turn into jobs or obsessions and I don’t want Jack’s Attic to turn into something I HAVE to do. I want it to remain a fulfilling side project that I can turn to when the mood strikes me and use it as a creative outlet. I want it to remain fun and be able to share that fun with others.”
I want to say a HUGE thank you to Jack for freeing up some time to be involved. You can follow all his latest news and release info by clicking over to his facebook page and giving it a good old fashioned ‘LIKE’ … You’ll be glad you did.
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