When Calan Ree was in elementary school, she entered a Halloween costume contest.
She spent weeks learning to paint her face into the likeness of a skull. She finally took the stage in a black robe and proclaimed, "I am Death! I come to you from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol!"
She lost to a kid in a Snoopy mask.
But that dark sensibility trickled into her life and art. Ree, who lives in St. Petersburg and does graphic design by day, will be featured Saturday at ARTpool's Abnormal Formal. Ree is creator of the online comic GingerDead and Friends, now in its fourth year. She also makes art dolls, finger puppets, Day of the Dead-inspired wall hangings and sculpted jewelry, all with a twisty edge.
To gear up for the Abnormal Formal, we asked her a few creepy questions.
What's the scariest thing you have ever eaten?
Tainted fish at a beach bar in India. I was sick for a week and truly thought I'd die. I returned home with discolored gums and a lot of weight loss. My mother didn't recognize me in the airport.
Best music to listen to on Halloween?
Oh, wow. Fun question. Let me consult my iPod. Okay, I'd start with something fun like Book of Love's Witchcraft, move on to something moodier like Bauhaus' Bela Lugosi's Dead, and then just let Dead Can Dance set the mood for the rest of the night.
What Halloween costume makes you groan?
Punk rocker. I grew up in the punk and goth scene in New York City. When I see someone don a fake Mohawk and awful canned hair color, it's just too lame to stomach.
What's worse? No candy, or the guy on the street who hands out erasers and pencils?
I'm an artist. I'd take the erasers and pencils. Besides, the pencil can double as a murder weapon so it's still Halloweeny.
Is there a candy you'd kill for?
Dark chocolate truffle.
Name the most unintentionally terrifying movie?
The fact that the Left Behind movie even exists is pretty scary.
Finish the sentence: I'd rather be dead than …
… be a glittery vampire.
Tell us your biggest fear.
It's a toss up between losing a loved one and having to squish a palmetto bug.