My Favorite Vampire

The mourning doves were singing July 19. Their soft hoots greeted me as I woke. Each long mournful call filled my ears. It was the first time I had heard them this summer and it seemed odd. But there were things to be done, so I shrugged it off and went about my tasks. A few hours later I heard that Marty Gear had passed away the day before. I have to ask, how did those doves know? It seemed as though they were announcing to the world that a remarkable man had left us. Other than one small hoot Saturday morning, they’ve been silent since. Believe me, I’ve been listening.

So who was Marty Gear? Born Alexander Martin Gear, Marty was a fixture at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Since 1981, Marty also served as Master of Ceremonies for the Balticon masquerade. There isn’t enough space here to tell his whole story, but a quick Google search got me over 9,000,000 hits. Give it a try. Look up any variation of Marty Gear, Martin Gear, or Alexander Martin Gear.

In his 74 years, Marty touched thousands of lives. He encouraged writers and costumers of all ages, helped found the International Costumer’s Guild, put books in the hands of children, inspired countless people, and was a treasure trove of bad vampire jokes. He helped run and worked at many different conventions in the world of fandom and costuming, his last, just two week before passing.

I remember the first time I met Marty. It was at my first Balticon. He was registering people for the masquerade contest. Not an on-stage kind of person, I’m still not sure how he talked me into entering. There were many entrees that year, so for several hours I waited for my turn, listening to Marty, in his Vlad persona, tell more vampire jokes than I knew existed. I left that year with a ribbon and ideas for more costumes.

Vampires—Bats— I couldn’t resist. Marty’s passion for vampires and bad jokes was contagious. For my third masquerade, I designed a bat costume with a nine foot wingspan and a giant bell. It was titled “There’s a Bell in My Batfry.” Winning a ribbon was great, but the best thing was listening to Marty chuckle after my presentation. It took a minute before he was able to announce the next contestant. Goal achieved. Even after many years, Marty remembered that costume. I will always remember him. 

Marty Gear (1939 – 2013) You will be remembered.

Marty Gear
1939 – 2013
You will be remembered.

About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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5 Responses to My Favorite Vampire

  1. lynnkennison says:

    What a lovely way to remember your favorite vampire!


  2. ldelgenis says:

    Hi there Arny (did I spell it right?)-

    I’m a new portrait artist who has just started to show at cons and I would like very much to create a few charcoal-sketch portraits of Marty, as he was so Beloved by so many people. I think that it would be a tribute to him and would make many people happy to see him immortalized in Fan Art. What do you think?

    I’d like to consider using the picture in this post:

    as I think it’s perfectly typical and a great shot. I would like to do portraits of him with and without fangs. 😉

    Did you take this photo? Do you know who did?

    If you did take this photo, would you have any objection to my basing a charcoal sketch on it and entering it into Con Art Shows? I would of course credit you as the photographer.

    Would you object to my offering the original sketch and/or copies for sale, as one often does in Con Art Shows? Again, you would be fully credited as the original photographer.

    I would not want to risk stepping on any professional toes and out of respect for your work, would want your blessing in this endeavor. If you say no, then that’s the end of it. I’ll find other photos. I will be putting my previous art up online at some point this week, if you are curious as to what I do. Just let me know if you’d like to have more data to go on.


    Thankee so much!!


    • alkaplan says:

      Hi Lori,

      Yes, I’m the photographer. The picture was taken at Balticon in 2009. In all the years I knew him, this is the only picture I took. You have my permission and blessing to use it for your art. Thank you for asking. May I have a copy? Will you be attending this year’s Balticon?


      • ldelgenis says:

        ::dances excitedly::

        Yes, at this point I do plan to attend Balticon and in fact was considering entering my portraits of Marty into the Art Show, assuming I got permission from the photographers. Of *course* you may have a copy; it’s the least I could do. You took such a wonderful photo. I’ll look forward to meeting you!

        Be well


  3. ldelgenis says:

    Hi again,
    I don’t think that I gave you your print at the con (apologies if I don’t remember)? If you want a print of ‘My Favorite Vampire’, just let me know an address to send it to. You can email me directly at weegoddess at googlemail

    Also, a question has come up: the International Costumer’s Guild has created a scholarship in Marty’s name and they wonder if I might allow them to offer my art as prints which would be downloadable from their website for a donation to the scholarship. I have told them that I wanted to check with the original photographers first. What are your thoughts on that?

    Hoping that you’re well


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