Tahoe Blue Event Center opens: Debuts with Lake Tahoe Comic Con

Mark Dodson

Do you love TV, movies, comic books, toys and the wacky world of pop culture?

The first Lake Tahoe Comic Con is coming to the new Tahoe Blue Event Center in South Shore on Sept. 23 and 24. A range of celebrities will be on hand, including C. Andrew Wilson (Darth Vader since 1994), original “Star Wars” Tusken Raider Alan Fernandez and Kevin Sorbo of the television series, “Hercules.”

You can also meet comic book artist Sam De La Rosa (Spiderman, Venom, Dr. Strange), Sam J. Jones from “Flash Gordon”, “The Highwaymen” and “Baywatch,” Mel Smith (creator of “Chainsaw Bob”) and Larry Todd, the visionary behind “Dr. Atomic.”

At the convention, fans will mingle with the artists, get signatures and purchase memorabilia while amateur cosplay, short for “costume play,” enthusiasts will be immersed in full-on representations of their favorite characters.

“If you’re a fan of movies and TV, shows and pop culture, this is where it all comes together.”
–Mark Dodson

One of the most anticipated guests for the inaugural event is Mark Dodson, best known as the voice of Salacious B. Crumb and the Gremlins. For those of you who aren’t Star Wars superfans, Salacious is a Kowakian monkey-lizard jester for space gangster Jabba the Hutt in “Return of the Jedi.” Though it was a minor role, the scrawny, cackling underworld pet captured the imagination of its audience, in no small part the memorable voice work of Dodson.

Becoming a voice actor
Dodson grew up in St. Louis, Mo. where he and his friends loved to do impressions of television characters of the day such as Humphrey Bogart and The Three Stooges. At age 10, his uncle Ed Franz, a beloved professor and gymnastic coach at San Diego State University, brought him and his sister to Disneyland.

“As we went through the park, I kept hearing voices,” says Dodson. “In the Haunted Mansion, that’s where it really hit me. I remember looking at my uncle saying, ‘I’d love to be able to do voices like that someday.’”

After high school, Dodson packed up his station wagon and drove to southern California with none other than Uncle Ed. He stayed in San Diego, saving up money working at a steel foundry, before finding an apartment in Venice Beach.

As luck would have it, he was on the verge of getting kicked out of The Banjo Café in Santa Monica for dancing when he happened to meet the crew of Lucasfilm. They had recently released the first “Stars Wars” film and, after a subsequent party in Bel Air, they invited Dodson to help build Skywalker Ranch. Eventually, word got around that he did voices.

Dodson was auditioning for the part of Admiral Ackbar when he let out a yowl of nervousness. Sound producer Ben Burtt encouraged him to go with it and the improvised, in-the-moment reaction became the basis for Salacious.

The next year Dodson was asked to do the voices of most of the creatures in “Gremlins.” He followed that up in 1985 with the zombies in “Day of the Dead.” He’s been doing voices for movies, television, commercials and video games ever since.

The comic con magic
Dodson started attending comic cons about 10 years ago at the urging of his friends and colleagues. Although he thought no one would want to meet him at first, he was overwhelmed by fans at his first event in Illinois.

“I did not expect it,” he says. “It was surreal. These characters have taken on lives of their own. To have new generations 40 years later still loving Salacious Crumb – it unites people.”

Dodson now does about 25 comic and horror conventions a year where he loves to meet fans and spend time with other celebrities after hours. One of the coolest items he’s ever signed is a Stormtrooper helmet with autographs from the entire cast of “Star Wars.”

“If you’re a fan of movies and TV, shows and pop culture, this is where it all comes together,” he says. “It’s a scene of its own.” | laketahoecon.com, tahoeblueeventcenter.com

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