Halloween Love: I’m going to jump right in by congratulating you on #AuGHOST, which for those of you that don’t know is quickly becoming a yearly tradition in the horror community, where each August, for all 31 days of the month, there’s a new keyword prompt each day for participants to draw, paint, or craft depictions of ghosts based on their interpretation of that word of the day.
It’s really neat (a word I reserve for truly cool projects) and just pure and delightful fun. The best compliment I can give to the project is that I’m actually a little jealous that despite trying over the years, I was never quite able to capture the same kind of sweetness and interest from the community with any of my own projects.
Give me a quick history lesson on the project, what year was the first year and how/why it was created?
Jeff: Do you remember? My memory ain’t so good. Is it …four years ago?
Dave: Let me see…
J: Are you looking it up, to be sure? (folks, this is what happens when you’re over 40) I looked it up — it’s 2018
D: Ok, I looked it up. My memory is as sharp as ever. We started it in 2019.
J: That’s just not right. HA! I opened the prompt list document and the first is 2018!
J: Off to a great start! SO, the year was 2018. I believe the DATE was like… July 30th? Or 31st?
D: Stardate… I guess we created it because we both love Halloween, ghosts, and puns.
J: I remember at the time we were joking about making our own “daily prompt” thing… I was furious over how… not inclusive Inktober seemed to have gotten.
D: Yeah, that’s a good point. We really wanted something that was welcoming to everyone at all levels of skill and commitment.
J: So we started to “pun around” with month names… and I think AuGHOST was the one that made us laugh the most?
D: We have some others pocketed away for another time maybe.
J: Mar… no I got nothing… GRAPE-ril! Is that anything? Ooh APEril. I can’t imagine that doesn’t already exist…
D: Now we’re talking.
J: And then I think we realized that August was just like a day away… so it all happened pretty fast that first year.
D: And THAT is our meet-cute.
J: Meat… cute… no, again, that’s nothing! (but just to be clear, by the time we came up with AuGHOST, we’d known each other for… 20 years? I’ll have to check my calendar.
D: I think it’s only been 3 years, Jeff.
J: Christ. Time drags with you.
HL: As for the future of the project, as it continues to get more popular, any ideas on expanding? Perhaps a collection of the drawings, paintings, and photographs as a coffee table book, maybe a calendar, or giveaway prizes for participants? I hope it keeps reaching new people. For example, I’d love to see art teachers having their students join in.
D: I love all those ideas. We’ve talked about a few of them and we’re going to do some giveaways this year. Many of those things take effort.
J: Yeah, I love that it’s expanding. But I also want the participants to feel like they own it? I don’t want to take their work and make a book. I’d rather they do that for themselves. I don’t really see this as a money-maker for us, but if it can be, for the participants, that’s cool!
D: And they take effort. Yes, that’s a good point. People can really celebrate and share their own work.
J: Oh, yeah, totally… anything we’d do would be a lot more effort — wrangling rights for each artist and whatever — and I’m too tired to do any of that! I’m just glad that people love it and that it sparks creativity.
D: I’m tired too. But yes, it’s really rewarding to see so many people from all over participating and sharing their work, and to see them come back year after year.
J: Exactly. I hate how often the term “community” is thrown around, but it is really nice that we have so many people who are so invested and interested. And I’d love to see that grow — especially because the folks who participate are great — so supportive of each other. And I think the world could always use more of that. Are we saints?! We might be saints, Dave…
D: I’m pretty sure we are!
J: There, done. St Dave and St Jeff. What would you be the patron saint of?
D: Chocolate… clearly.
J: Crap. I guess I’ll have to be “beer” and or “beards” —— beerds.
D: Fair. Jeff does have a magnificent bear.
J: Please do not correct that typo.
D: Jeff owns a black bear.
J: Walking it in NYC is a nightmare. So much mauling…
HL: As co-creators, is #AuGHOST a one-off, or do you think you might partner on other projects as well? Also, please hit me with a laundry list of each of your own personal creative projects you might want to share.
D: We spilled the beans earlier on other monthly prompts, but Jeff and I have worked together for a long time on various projects. We’ve done some comedy, podcasts, spelunking…
J: Yeah, I think AuGHOST is just the latest in our projects together — we have a history of working together… but I think this one works because we barely have to spend time together, to make it work…
D: Should we promote our own projects here? Are we those people now?
D: Jeff builds gundams.
J: And Dave has a book you can read! A real, live, novel book with words! I’d spoil the ending, but I’ve … actually not finished it. Because I’m a terrible friend.
D: (blush) Forget that whole saint thing now.
J: Crap. St Jeff: patron saint of HEELS. Other than that, I don’t have anything really to share… I’m not currently “monetizing” anything right now! ha!
D: The book is called Kip and Shadow, and I make video games sometimes and other stuff. We are A+ self-promoters!
J: Wow. Brag. I wrote a book, once, too. You don’t hear ME talking about it…
D: He did! AND I read the whole thing!
J: (Jeff pulls at his collar, nervously)
J: I think this interview might be the END of our friendship…AuGHOST 2021: the FINAL AuGHOST (just kidding)
D: Feeling existential, you just got me thinking someday there will be a FINAL AuGHOST.
J: OVER MY DEAD BODY.
D: That’s the spirit (pun).
J: Of CORPSE it’ll go on forever… But, on a lighter note: Which one of us do you think is going to die first?
D: Given my track record? Probably me. Hopefully mauled by your bear.
J: That’s EXACTLY what I was going to say!
D: We did it!
HL: If money was no object, what would be your dream project?
J: I have an idea for an app that Dave (who HAS made mobile games before*) refuses to build. And with money being no object, maybe I could finally convince him to build WALL HOLDER — a mobile app game where the goal is…
D: Here we go… Don’t give the idea away! Copyright that sucker.
J: ™ ™ ™ ™!!!!
D: Better. Real answer? Hmm. If we’re working on it together, probably a film of us driving cross-country as Kermit and Fozzie.
J: Oooh! Yeah. a real passion project. In full makeup? Which one would you be?
D: I think we know, but I don’t want to brag. Sidenote: people have said I sound like Kermit.
J: “People”? Is YOU these “people”?
D: My mom when she tucks me in at night. “You’re a real Kermit, sweetie.”
J: Ha! I hope that’s 100% true.
D: I wish! We didn’t really answer this question.
J: I dunno. I don’t really have a dream project. I kinda just want to be happy…?
D: I guess I’d write more books and want to make a film or something. OR END WORLD HUNGER!
J: Damn. That makes me look like a real greedy jerk! Good job! (You beat me to it.)
HL: Do you believe in actual ghosts? Have you had any encounters with them? If so, please share what happened.
J: Ha! 100% no. I WISH they were real. But I guess I’ll settle for being haunted by my past…
D: I’m like Fox Mulder on this one, “I want to believe”… but I don’t. I’d love to have a firsthand experience that would change my mind; set up a little table with a sign that says “Ghosts aren’t real. Change my mind.”
J: Yeah. I wish there were unexplained phenomena, magic, or whatnot. But I’ll settle for drawings of those things from other people’s imaginations! THAT SAID. If ghosts CAN be real, you know I will 100% come back and haunt you, right Dave?
D: Honestly, we’ve discussed this a lot. I don’t doubt it!
J: Though. I’m not sure I want to see what you do when you’re alone…
D: That’s why my mom doesn’t tuck me in anymore.
J: HA! Wow.
D: You’re welcome.
HL: What is your favorite horror movie and what is your favorite non-horror movie?
D: Oooo. Let’s see here… Favorite horror movie: Alien. Favorite non-horror: Jaws. Is Jaws a horror movie though?
J: Is Jaws a horror movie? Even if it is, I don’t think it’s my favorite. This is a tough one. I love all movies like they were my children, so it’s hard to decide. (PS I don’t have children but I know 100% that I WOULD have a favorite, so that answer is BS)
D: Yeah, it’s pretty hard to pick my favorite of Jeff’s children.
J: Jeffrina or Jeff Jr, for sure.
D: I love them both equally. Ok, I’ll stick with my answers for movies. Jeff, you have to pick. Pick from your top five.
J: I’m actually pulling up my Letterboxd account, to jog my creaky memory… and the top of the list for horror is… SHIN GODZILLA. And, yeah, I’ll stick with that. It’s amazing. Go watch it right now. Finish this interview, then go watch it. But in the original Japanese, with subtitles — I’m not a SNOB, I’ve just heard that it’s a better translation of the story than the dub. (I am a snob)
D: I actually watched it WITH Jeff. He’s not a snob.
J: That’s true! We text-chatted while we watched it. Because Dave refuses to do video hangouts. I’ve not heard Dave’s Kermit-y voice in over a year and a half! (what with lockdown and all that)
D: It’s as exhausting as it sounds.
J: Favorite non-horror? L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat.
D: It’s true. (busted out the French pretty quickly for someone who’s NOT a snob)
J: I copied it from Wikipedia.
D: Fair. Next Q?
HL: What are your fondest childhood memories of Halloween?
D: Wow, good question. Let me think…
J: I remember going as Tom Baker’s Dr. Who one year — my mom sewed a couple of scarves together and I wore boots and a floppy hat. People would ask “who are you?!” and I’d say, obviously, “Doctor Who, of course!” It was the first time I realized that not everyone watches what you watch. Bittersweet! A therapy moment! Top THAT, Dave!
D: Yeah, that’s a tough lesson. Best costume: I went as a Droogie from A Clockwork Orange… but that was as an adult.
J: Oh best costumes? My mom owned a costume shop and made all mine growing up. One year she made me a full Gumby suit out of carpet padding, spray painted green.
D: I love this Jeff origin story.
J: It’s honestly, one of the reasons I HATE wearing costumes, now… because as I got older, she expected me to wear costumes to kids parties as an entertainer. So many Saturdays spent sweating inside a suit with a huge head as, like, a ninja turtle.
D: Be honest, are you wearing a costume right now?
J: We all wear masks. Mine is Jeff-shaped. ANOTHER THERAPY MOMENT! We’re making some good progress today, doc!
D: We’re out of time for today. We can pick this up next week.
J: …but, seriously, you have to have one memorable costume from when you were a kid!
D: I was Spider-man one year!
J: Cool. Should we move on? hahahaa!
D: Yeah, we dead-ended that one.
HL: What’s a question you’d like to be asked, but never have been? Go ahead and ask yourself that question now and answer it.
J: “Can I give you a million dollars?” is what I wish someone would ask me. Let me ask it… Crap, I said “no.” Why would I turn that down?!
D: Should have said “yes.” I did.
J: The question I’ve always wanted to ask you (since about now) is: “Can I borrow some money?”
D: Never a borrower or a lender be.
J: Is that YOUR question? More of a “koan” or aphorism…
D: My question I’d like someone to ask me: “Would you recite the ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy from Hamlet?” I took the time to memorize it!
J: I am NOT taking this bait, as life is but short and we actors merely fret and strut upon the stage for a brief m’o. Or something.
D: Tricky bastard.
J: Wait, was this recently? Did you take the time to memorize it recently? Or in… school? I hope?
D: No, like two years ago. I recite it once in a while to myself to keep it fresh. This is a true story.
J: Yeah, see, again, this is exactly what I’m talking about… I don’t want to come back to haunt you only to watch you try and memorize the speech from The King’s Speech or some shit.
D: “Peoples of England…”
J: Yeah, I’d be like “It’s meeeeee BoooOOoOOOOooh nevermind.” Then I fuck off to hell or whatever.
HL: At HL, we love getting weird. Anything bizarre, random, or off-topic you’d like to share?
D: Hmmm. I once got a pet bullfrog for my birthday. I got it home, put it in its terrarium, put a screen on top and a rock to hold it in place. It jumped up immediately and bashed its head against the rock and died. Happy Birthday!
J: (uncontrollable laughter)
D: True story. I looked at my dad and he said, “we’ll go back to the pet store.”
J: And did you?
D: Yup, I got a salamander instead. They don’t really jump.
J: To quote Shakespeare: “All’s well that ends well.” (except for the frog, of course)
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