Ted Wilson’s new gig has him hanging out with Captain America, Spider-Man, Black Panther and a host of other cool characters every day.
Wilson, the mind behind the Telluride Horror Show, recently opened a pop-culture shop, Gargoyle’s Gift Shop, in the former Brown Bag deli space in the breezeway at 126 W. Colorado Ave. Making use of the former eatery’s cooler and ventilation hood, he’s stocked his store’s shelves with awesome items, including Funko Pop! Vinyl figurines, the Incredible Hulk — and other Marvel superheroes — piggy banks, graphic novels, Grateful Dead lunchboxes and Edward Gorey gifts.
“It’s a celebration of all the cool things in life,” Wilson said.
He explained he’s always wanted a space that gave the horror show a “full-time presence” in town (naturally, there’s gobs of badass horror show merch, including T-shirts and festival posters).
“It has been in the back of my mind for a year or so,” he said. “…Just to be able to expose the festival to all our visitors throughout the year.”
Wilson said his 8-year-old son, Gage, has helped him carefully curate the many curiosities, which can’t be found anywhere else in town, or the surrounding region, for that matter.
“My 8-year-old is more informed than I am,” he said. “It’s stuff you can’t necessarily get anywhere else in town.”
He pointed to the Five Nights at Freddy’s horror game that “all the kids are playing” and the “Stranger Things” action figures as examples.
He strolled over to the graphic novel and book shelves, where “the classics,” such as the creations of author/madman genius Alan Moore, rest.
“I’m really excited to bring in the graphic novels,” Wilson said. “Of course, we sold out of ‘Watchmen.’ That went quick.” (Side note: “Watchmen” is required reading for every self-respecting comic nerd out there.)
Some of Wilson’s favorite offerings are the books and posters of late writer and illustrator Edward Gorey, whose pen-and-ink sketches are “beautiful, but dark.”
“I love Edward Gorey’s work,” Wilson said before dropping this little nugget of knowledge. “…Most people probably don’t know that John Updike wrote a satirical little book about Christmas (‘The Twelve Terrors of Christmas’) that was illustrated by Edward Gorey.” Yes, the book is available in all its macabre glory at Gargoyle’s Gift Shop.
Hot sauce is one of Wilson’s passions as well, so there is a whole section of the stuff at his store.
“It’s almost like being a wine connoisseur. There’s so many out there in the world, you have to try them all,” he said.
Asked what his favorite was, Wilson said, “I actually use the stuff that’s not that hot. It’s edible,” though, he stocks some “insane” hot sauces that are made with ghost pepper and similarly incendiary ingredients.
“You use like one drop,” he said of such sauces.
Whether its hot sauce or horror knick-knacks, the physical format is making a comeback, Wilson said, and having such a shop offers memorable experiences, like walking in to find the latest Pop! Vinyl character or that “Hellboy” hardback you’d been looking for.
“For me it’s a blast from the past. I grew up in a small town in Indiana,” he said. “I’d go into newsstand shops and turn the comic book rack, and see the new Fangoria magazine.
“Pop culture was fairly readily available to us as kids. It was all there. It’s weird how we have access to so much more thanks to the internet, but the physical part of it has disappeared.”
In the two weeks since he’s opened, Wilson said it’s been fun “to watch customers come through and get all excited and talk about when they saw a particular movie. For the kids, it’s the same thing. They just get excited to see stuff that they know.”
While Wilson was showing this reporter the shop, a man with two young kids popped in.
“Dropping a couple of children off. Be back in a couple of hours,” the man joked.
The youths proceeded to comb the racks and ask Wilson questions about sugar skull-shaped breath mints and “Friday the 13th” dolls.
“There’s a lot of stuff for kids and a lot of stuff for grown-up kids, too,” he said.
For summer, the shop is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wilson is planning to have an official grand opening at a date to be determined. For more information and to check out a sampling of the store’s stock, visit gargoylesgiftshop.com.