Marty Gear (1939-2013)

Marty Gear

Legendary costumer Marty Gear’s participation in fandom spanned six decades. Marty and his wife Bobby, who passed away in 2005, won many awards in masquerade competitions. He founded the Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers’ Guild, a forerunner of the International Costumers’ Guild, was the ICG’s first Executive Director, and was honored with the ICG’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.

When he traveled to the 1953 Worldcon at age 14 Marty felt overwhelmed, but according to Marty, “a tall, white-haired man came over and began to talk to me about what I liked to read. I had just bought a copy of Skylark of Valeron in the dealers’ room… and began enthusing about this ‘new’ writer that I had just discovered, E.E. Smith, Ph.D.” He soon learned that he was talking to Smith himself. “Doc” and his wife took Marty in tow and introduced him to other authors and artists during the convention.

Marty’s next sci-fi convention was not until 1977, when friends convinced him to attend Balticon to meet Philip Jose Farmer. Marty soon became a fannish leader, running programming for Balticon 13 in 1979 and becoming a regular as its masquerade director starting in 1981. He chaired Costume-Con 3 (1985) and Balticon 21 (1987), and was guest of honor at Union 87, Disclave 34, Geenericon 2, Arisia 9, and Balticon 30.

Marty was famous for presiding over masquerades in costume as Count Dracula, and infamous for filling time with terrible vampire jokes. He was also a fiery advocate for the Worldcon masquerade. “To the Worldcon committee the Masquerade is not the most important event…. It’s just the best-attended, and has the most people involved…”

Perhaps Marty’s greatest legacy was mentoring new generations of costumers, and passing on his enthusiasm for the costuming arts and sciences. He once quipped, “I probably won’t stop costuming until I am dead, and maybe not even then.” The International Costumers’ Guild is proud to continue encouraging that enthusiasm by naming its Costuming Arts and Sciences Fund in Marty Gear’s honor.