WClub members received this email today from Mel Odom, creator of the Gene Marshall doll. It seems to be the end of the era of Gene, but she’ll be going out with a bang!
This is a letter I’ve been writing in my head for quite some time, but have not been able to actually put down on paper. It’s a tough letter to write and I’ve been pretty emotional about it. (Big breath) I’ve been feeling lately like it’s a perfect time for Gene and her friends to retire. I’ve been working on Gene since 1991. That’s when the first drawings of her are dated and I’d probably had her in my head for some time before that. The point is, she’s been a consuming interest of mine for close to 20 years. It’s been the most detail intensive project of my life and certainly the most fun. I’ve been given much because of Gene; acclaim, financial security and the best bunch of friends and collectors anyone could ever expect from their profession. It’s been an amazing journey for me- completely different than what I had imagined.
This year, we’ve had a really wonderful collection, with awards and popular triumphs and a great sense of energy among you guys. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been amazing. And the Hollywood Royalty minis being a hit was just the sprinkles on the cupcake for me. I just think it’s always better going out a winner, while you are on top.
This is the thing…I want to do something else. I’ll be (gulp) 60 next year and feel like there are other things I can accomplish if I can devote my full attention to them, like I have done with Gene. I’ve practically ignored my first loves, drawing and painting, for far too long. For twenty years before Gene, I was known as an illustrator and graphic artist. I don’t think I can go back to being an illustrator; that’s over for me. But I’d like to be known as a painter and I’d like to maybe teach art. As some of you know, I’ve been knocking on the doors of art galleries with my paintings for the past few years and am not about to give up on that particular dream of mine. I feel like I have enough time for one more great phase in my career, even though I’m not positive what it is.
Gene is in my head and heart and nothing I can ever do will change that. She’s always been with me in some form and will stay with me and very probably morph into another phase of whatever it is I do, paintings maybe. But I’ve always had to change every so often, like when I stopped focusing on illustrating and created a fashion doll. This is one of those times. So Gene and I are pulling a Garbo, and retiring, but not without a fabulous sendoff.
I have gone over my plans with Integrity and we all want to make sure that we have a proper celebration for Gene and her friends (both plastic and human). I have really enjoyed working with Integrity and making these past few years some of Gene’s best ever. The Integrity team and I are planning one last, big blowout for all of us- a 15th Anniversary convention to celebrate Gene and all her friends, to be held in early June in Philadelphia. And for this special party we’re creating one more collection, “The Stardust Collection”, a curtain call of sorts for all of our characters, and get this… including Trent. Ashton Drake is graciously allowing us to use the original molds to create one more classic Trent for the party. So, Trent will be there and Oona and Ivy and Violet and Madra. I’ll be there and hopefully everyone will be there, to celebrate 15 years of the coolest thing to happen to fashion dolls since high heel feet.
Facts and forms will be forthcoming, but I wanted to tell you all this personally. There will also be a special Gene happening in early 2010; you’ll be privy to the information later on. It’ll be fine, you’ll see. Gene will be a perfect 15-year long phenomenon in the doll world, a story with a humble start and surprise ending- a beautiful arc of stories, characters and costumes that changed the doll world. And as long as Cher and Barbra Streisand are in this world, there’s always a chance of a comeback somewhere down the road.
I’ll still be blogging; the W Club has happily agreed to continue to send all of you my “Mel Mail updates”, right through the big party in June. Later on, I’ll be blogging from my own website
http://www.melodomart.com, which should be completed and up soon. Any of you who are interested can come along with me for the rest of the journey as well. You’re all invited. Thank you for everything and remember to always….
Play nice Kids,