Originally published June 1, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
PAQUET “NOSFERATU” BUST
Based on the 1922 silent classic movie “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror”
• Sculpted by William Paquet
• Produced by Tower of London, available from X-O Facto
• About 1/2 scale, 11 inches tall
• Made of two resin parts; casting by Mark Brokaw of Earthbound Studios
• Price: $120 plus shipping
• The “Nosferatu” kit pictured was painted by Steve Riojas of Denver
Back in the silent era of movies, director F.W. Murnau turned actor Max Schreck into Graf Orlok, one of the most memorable vampires ever put on screen. Unfortunately, instead of coming up with a story of their own or paying the Bram Stoker estate for the rights to “Dracula,” the filmmakers simply swiped the story. That led to all kinds of nasty legal entanglements, and for years it was a challenge to see the movie.
These days, “Nosferatu” has moved into the public domain, and in addition to being able to find cheap DVD copies of it all over the place, it’s one of the most popular subjects for garage model kits, one of the latest being the bust pictured above.
That piece and the others pictured are the work of sculptor William Paquet. William’s name is one of the first I learned when I got interested in garage kits, because he’s the creative talent behind some of the most sought-after kits ever produced. Of course, I’ve been watching for an excuse to contact him to do an e-mail Q&A ever since I started doing these profiles.
William, 41, lives in Virginia. He’s got a wife, Laurie; daughter, Valerie; a border collie named Rex; and two cats, Clovis and Vincent. Considering the frightening nature of much of his sculpture, I had to ask if there were any tell-tale hearts beating in his home. “No corpses under the floorboards,” he told me, “but a decent collection of animal skulls, including a crocodile and a bear.”
Q&A WITH WILLIAM PAQUET
Resin the Barbarian: Wasn’t the Nosferatu sculpture originally intended to be a very large, full figure piece? If so, why didn’t that work out?
RtB: Does this bust represent a specific moment in the silent movie “Nosferatu”? If so, what is the character doing at this moment?
William: There is a scene where the vampire is walking through a courtyard. At first the camera shows a long shot, and then the view pulls into a close-up of him. He stands there and slowly turns his head as though listening to something. The portrayal is so stiff and creepy that his look there always struck me as very unsettling.
RtB: To my amateur eye, your work looks like an extremely accurate representation of Max Schreck in the movie, so I presume you use books, photos and/or videos as references. Do you keep images pasted up on the walls around you while you work?
William: I have some horror anthology books with a few decent images which I did use, but most of the reference was straight off a DVD on still frame. Not the easiest way to work, but printed material on the film is so rare that it was the only choice I had.
I did want to get as accurate a portrayal as I could, but the art director in me is always there so I will sometimes alter things slightly. That’s why he has no hair behind his ears. I don’t like it visually. To me it looks out of place and haphazard, and just breaks up the clean yet freaky shape of his head.
RtB: You are considered one of the “pioneers” of garage kits. What was the first of your sculptures sold as a kit, and what led to you creating it?
William: The first sculpture I made was a zombie stormtrooper from a movie called “Shock Waves.” Why I made it is solely because of my appreciation of the movie and the great makeup designs that Alan Ormsby developed.
RtB: I’m betting that these days you make a lot more money creating the sculptures that get sold as prepainted statues than you do making Nosferatus and the like for kitbuilders such as myself. Is that true? And if so, what keeps you coming back to garage kits?
William: There is certainly a lot more money to be made from creating sculptures for the prepainted statue market than from garage kits.
I do enjoy the work of sculpting comic-book-based characters, but I am a die-hard horror freak. If given the choice, I will always choose to sculpt a zombie, freak, monster, corpse, etc. first. Unfortunately the market for that genre within the pre-paint business is slim at best, so the work that is available, while not my main area of enjoyment, still is fun and does pay the mortgage.
I have stepped away from garage kits for different lengths of time at different periods within my career, but you’re right … I do keep coming back to them eventually. There are several reasons for that.
Firstly, I started my career with GKs, and so there is a strong element of “coming home” when I do a figure for that market. Secondly, when I decide to make a sculpture on my own, I have carte blanche to do whatever I choose. I can create any character, in any design, and the only art director for the project is me. It’s the best of all worlds. The only thing that would make it better was if the market for the items was bigger, so that I could do more.
I’m currently working on a series of monster designs to be released as prepaints in the near future. I have no idea how the market will react to them, but if all goes well perhaps I will be able to devote more time to the genre that I love.
RtB: I did a Q&A with Mike Falcigno a few weeks ago and he spoke of you in glowing terms. How do you recall meeting Mike?
William: I got a package one day, that contained semi-nude pictures, a pair of old boxers, and a tube of lipstick. It was from Mike, and I thought, “Wow, what a sweet guy.”
OK, sorry … here’s the real answer –
I got a call one day from Mike inquiring about buying some of my work. We chatted a bit, and he seemed like a decent guy. We traded phone calls for quite some time, got to know each other, and found we had a lot in common.
We met face to face the first time shortly before I moved from New Jersey, to here in Virginia. I had called Mike one day, letting him know that I had a bunch of stuff I wasn’t interested in packing up and moving, so he drove down form Connecticut. We had a lot of fun hanging out. Mike went home with a carload of kits, and I didn’t have to pack so much for my move.
Mike is like a creepy little brother. Stranger than me, and that’s saying something.
RtB: I’m sure you’ve encountered your share of unique characters, probably even a few true oddballs (no, I don’t mean Mike and I hope I don’t mean me). Would you mind sharing a memorable story about meeting a fan of your work?
William: I wish I had a juicy story for you but I don’t. Are there oddballs around? Sure. Most of the folks I meet at shows or through business transactions are very nice. Fans don’t usually gush or shower praise, but mostly just talk about what they like that I have created. It’s a real treat to meet the people that enjoy my work.
Frequently collectors will request that I sculpt something that they want for their collections, or offer very kind words about a favorite work of mine that they own. It’s rewarding to hear from people that what I make with my stinky mitts, is often beloved by them or sometimes even the pinnacle of their collection. Combine that with the fact that I’m doing what I love to do, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Although there was that one time that someone called from Mike Falcigno’s cell phone at 3 a.m., saying only, “Play ‘Misty’ for me”…
RtB: Anything else you’d like to say?
William: Absolutely … I’d like to thank anyone out there that has liked my work enough to lay down their hard-earned dollars to buy it. You people allow me to work at a craft that gives me great satisfaction, and allows me to pay my bills every month. Without the collectors, I’d be a guy doing this in limited spare time after getting off work at whatever job I could find that would pay the bills.
So, to any and all that have kept me off the streets, dancing for nickels, THANKS!