Megacon 2001


         Megacon 2001 was held on March 2-4 at the Orange County Convention Center.  Major guests included Mark Waid (comic book writer), Peter David (comic book writer), Kurt Busiek (comic book writer), George Perez (comic book artist), Dave Arneson (Dungeon and Dragons game co creator), the surviving cast of Lost In Space, Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin form Babylon 5), Jason Carter (Marcus from Babylon 5), Nicholas Branden (Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Amber Benson (Tara from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Zoe McLellan (Marina from Dungeons and Dragons).
         There were some changes in this year’s convention. Mark Alessi, President and CEO of CrossGeneration Comics, now owns the convention. It was decided to move the convention from the Expo Center to the Orange County Convention Center.   The Convention Center gave the convention more room unlike the crowded Expo Center.  Not only was the main area/Dealers Room bigger but so were the rooms were panels and discussions were held.  Hopefully the nearness of major hotels may provide more nighttime activities in the future.
         Megacon 2001 was the site of a major announcement.  On Friday it was officially announced that the Justice League/Avengers team-up comic was going to be produced.  Kurt Busiek will write the book and George Perez will draw it.  This is appropriate since George Perez had done 21 pages of art for this team up 15 years ago.  The project got shelved in the mid 80s.  The book will come out some time next year.  The book’s creative team opened the floor to questions.  Many of the questions related to which characters  was going to be in the book, whose universe would it be in.  This led to a discussion on the pros and cons of cross company team-ups. One of the more amusing suggestions for the book was to have dueling butlers with Batman’s Alfred Pennyworth on one corner and Jarvis, the Avengers butler, in the other. At the end of the talk George Perez said that the sketch for the promotional art he did for the book would be up for sale at the ACTOR auction. ACTOR is a charity designed to help out the older writers and artists who help create the comic industry.
     There was only one after hours event at the convention.   It was a party called  The Songs of Freedom, which was held by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  This was held at the Shreaton World on Friday night.  Members of the organization went in for free and everyone else paid three dollars.   After a meet and greet one could send their favorite comic professional to do Karaoke for $20.  For an additional $20 one could pick the song. Peter David, Mark Waid, George Perez and many others did renditions of Summer Loving, Total Eclipse of the Heart, My Way, Mack the Knife, Secret Agent Man.  All proceeds went to the fund, which is presently engaged in 2 major cases.  For more information on these cases or on fund in general check out their web site at www.cbldf.org.
         Arne Starr did his usual movie trailer presentation in an unusual way. Not being able to appear at the convention due to a family commitment in New York City, Arne prepared a prerecorded tape with him introducing the trailers and discussed the latest news from Hollyweird.  Memorial Day weekend will see the premiere of Pearl Harbor, which will use stunning effects to recreate the attack.  This will star Ben Affleck and Cuba Gooding Jr..  In June we will see Atlantis this year’s Disney animated epic.  The trailer does not reveal much abou the plot but showed the film has a Jules Verne like quality to it. Shrek, a computer animated film, deals with unlikely hero, voiced by Mike Myers, tasked into saving fairy tale land. Shrek will be assisted by a donkey voiced by Eddie Murphy and try to win the love of a princess voiced by Cameron Diaz.    Nickelodeon is also producing a computer-animated film called Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius.  The movie deals with a boy who builds a robotic dog, rocket ships and other interesting devices.  In May we return to the world of the pulp magazines with The Mummy Returns. Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weiss and the rest of the cast return with the addition of the Rock of the WWF as the Scorpion King.  Later this year there will be a film called The Scorpion King focusing on the Rock’s character.  In Christmas we will get the first installment of the live action Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring.  The next 2 installments will also be Christmas movies for 2002 and 2003.  Arne also discussed a web site he is working on with fellow Genie veteran Jeff Zusman. Starbase Earth will try to bring the same services as the old Genie SF/Comic boards.  For more information check out www.starbaseearth.com.
         Most guests had panels/Q&A sessions. The only one I was able to make was Peter David’s.  Peter read from his forthcoming novel Sir Apropos of Nothing and a script from his comic Young Justice that only had 2 words of spoken dialogue.  He discussed all his current projects.  There will more Star Trek: New Frontier books and comics.  He is currently working on Young Justice (DC), Supergirl (DC), Captain Marvel (Marvel), and Soul Searchers (Claypool).  He will be doing a comic based on his text Hulk story called “The Last Titan” with former Hulk artist Dale Keown.   Peter was asked by Chris Ceralo (know to many as Skates) to explain the upcoming Writer’s Guild strike.  He said the major areas of contention dealt with residuals (Studios/producers do not wish to pay them anymore) and the “Film by “ credit in movies, which currently goes to the director.  The most disturbing part of the David’s talk was finding out that both he and Harlan Ellison watch Survivor.  Ellison got Peter hooked claiming it was great source for character material particularly for villains.  Peter also discussed how he proposed to his fiancée at Disney’s Adventure’s club, which was a first for the facility.  Peter David made himself accessible throughout the con at the artist’s area.
        The convention had two anime rooms run by Anime Sushi, Japanese Animation Club of Orlando and American Gaijin.   Anime Sushi held the second annual Megacon Anime Costume Contest on Saturday night. American Gaijin held their Music Video Contest Saturday afternoon.  Unfortunately due to schedule conflicts I was unable to attend either of these events.
        The convention ran smoothly. Only bump I encountered was the last minute change of Peter David’s room.  There was a great selection in the dealer’s room although it was focused on comics and collectables.  I hope Mark Alessi can keep up the good work and bring in some other guest. My pick would be Neil Gaiman, Paul Dini (Batman:The Animated Series writer/cocreator), Bruce Timm (Batman:The Animated Series artistic designer/co-creator), and Terry Moore (creator and writer of Strangers in Paradise).  Next year’s convention will held on February 22-24 2002 at the Orange County Convention Center.  The convention program book promises over 300 guests for next year.

 This writer would like to thank Arne Starr for allowing me to present his tape to the convention. Thanks also go out to Carolyn Miller of Border’s Books who loaned me her handcart.
 

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