Located on an eclectic strip of road in Burbank, California, “Dark Delicacies” has served for many years as the hub in the United States for horror culture, horror fans, the horror community, horror legends and horror merchandise. One of its well respected masterminds is the man simply known as “Dark Del”. Del Howison is an award winning writer, author, editor, actor, shop owner and overall class act! We had a chance to grab a few minutes with one of its captains, “Dark Del” himself, as he enters “The Night Market” and talks trends, Del’s writing, history, guests who stop by, the next stage for Del and his wife Sue plus so much more!
Interview by Jay Kay @HorrorHappensFF with Dark Del @DarkDel
Jay Kay: You call yourself “America’s Home for Horror”. This is a description that has changed, evolved and mutated over the years. How has the meaning of that title changed as the consumer, forms of media and technology has changed over the years?
Del Howison: This business has changed in a couple of significant ways for us and in general. Over the last couple of decades, we have certainly gone much more social network from those days when we would snail mail out newsletters about signing events. We have a website to keep up and the different media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter on which we post daily just to keep us in the minds of the horror consumer and to let them know about updates to signing events and such. We needed to move with changes and back in the day when
somebody else ran our website we couldn’t get the word out about changes fast enough. So Luddites that we are we still had to get into the swing of the media. Another change is our product mix which is always evolving, not only from what manufacturers are creating and making available to us but also items that we have created exclusively for Dark Delicacies like the vinyl skull print material travel bags and purses. If somebody had told me, we would be selling a lot of vinyl records and coloring books four years ago I would have told them they were nuts.
JK: Every time I look at Darkdel.com and see your events calendars, I see so many forms of horror media, talented artists, musician, writers, actors, crew and filmmakers coming out to meet the fans, sign product and talk shop! Could you talk about that element of the store and what it has meant to be able to have that experience in your shop and not have to go to a horror convention, expo or film festival to find it? How has online changed that experience? Who has been the most connecting guest or guests with fans at the store?
DH: I’ve seen the last 21 years of horror pass before me in-store. That’s simply amazing. In the beginning Sue and I had to beg people to come out and sign. The idea of an all-horror book and gift shop was unheard of. It was always a small section in a store that featured other genres like Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, and Fantasy. Now people are calling us to set up signing events at the venue. The beauty of it for the customer as opposed to a convention is no admission and no parking cost. All you have to do is by the item being featured (DVD, book, soundtrack, etc) and it gets signed as part of the purchase price. The beauty of signing at Dark Delicacies for the signer is that it is intimate (no a crunch by a big crowd being shuttled through like cattle) and the signers have time to talk with people and sell them other things (photos et al) in a relaxed atmosphere. No flights, no overnight or weekend stays and for most of them they get to go home in an hour or two and sleep in their own beds.
Online has simply grown to where we are shipping all over the world. Unfortunately, the post office has been raising prices of postage so high that now that is swinging back to being too expensive for some folks to order from overseas. Pertaining to crowd favorites over the years, they have included figures like Clive Barker, Doug Jones, Guillermo Del Toro, Tom Holland, Ernest Borgnine, Tiffany Shepis, Felissa Rose, and on and on.