Megacon 2004

            Shopping-con is what one person called it, but also pointed out this is not like Dragoncon, where people usually stay all three days.   The bulk of Megacon seems to be one-day memberships.  Most people come in to check out the Dealers Room and to get an autograph.  Not a lot of programming is included (at least not as much as Dragoncon).  The big-name media guests do not give Q&A sessions.   Big-name writers such as Harlan Ellison, Joe Straczynski, Peter David, and Kevin Smith have not been coming in for 2 years. So why do I keep coming?

            Well, part of the answer to that is the programming that is there is very good.  There was a very good costuming panel focusing on how to put a costume together.  There was also a presentation displaying Star Wars fan films.  One can see the latest and greatest coming attractions.  Two of the major anime groups of Orlando sponsor great programming:  Anime Sushi did the Costume Contest, and Japanese Animation Club of Orlando (JACO) did the Anime Music Video contest.  Both were great ways for fans to display their creativity.   Both groups did a very good jobs giving a sample of the best anime coming from the East (I say this since the feature film Wonderful Days was Korean).  There were some presentations from some of the minor studios and American anime distributors.  There were talks given by some creators and artists, although not as much as I would have liked.   Megacon does offer something for everyone though in the portions I am used to at similar size conventions.

            The Dealers Room is top notch.  Again there is something for everybody.  I was able to get a copy of I. Asimovand Foundation’s Friends (an anthology which allowed other authors to write in Asimov’s worlds) for $4.  I rejoined the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund after a two-year absence.  I felt I had to since now the agents of censorship have struck successful blows in the radio industry and comics could be next.  I got a copy of Robotech Perfect Collection soundtrack.  The only bad thing about that is when I played it on my computer I found out it was bootlegged (the tracks names did not load in Windows Media Player).  This was a bummer since I have been trying to stick to legitimate merchandise.  The ‘80s version of Metropolis was tempting particulary since it is rumored it will never be released.  Lack of funds prevented that purchase.   If Megacon is for the majority of its patrons a one-day shopping event, they get their money’s worth.

            This year I volunteered at Megacon.  I helped SunQuest at the gaming  registration.   I usually helped at out at the set up at the beginning at the day and tried to be there during the rush periods.  It was intresting particulary since I never worked at gaming at a convention before.  Saturday morning turned out to be a challenge.  Gaming was supposed to start at 9AM.  Gaming registration was given some wrist bands to register gamers.  This would have been an easy task had regular registration (which was being run by the OCCC) opened at 8:30 AM when it was supposed to.  They did not open till 10 AM so this led me to do about $1400 of business for the convention.  We kept going till regular registration open despite shoratge of change and wrist bands (additional bands were supplied by the Con chair).  I have to give credit to some of the gamers who were understanding and helpful.  Some of them paid me in amounts which allowed me to pay them with the change I had.   It was a bit stressful but it is always great egoboo to flex one’s volunteer muscles at any convention.     

            Costuming is another strength of Megacon.  The focus is more comics and anime. There were some pretty good hall costumes.  A group did good job of recreating ‘80s G.I. Joe characters.  While at gaming registration, I saw Claudia Grant and Roy Fokker from Macross (aka Robotech) walk by.   The Justice League was represented by Hawkman and Wonder Woman.  There was a ‘60s Iron Man (one can tell since it was one of the bulkier armors).  Spider-Man was seen with the Black Cat.   Gollum was seen crawling around the Dealers Room.  There were a couple of Spike Spiegels and at least one Eddy from Cowboy Bebop. Shego from Disney’s Kim Possible was seen to be on the prowl.  The might of the Empire was demonstrated by the 501st Imperial Stormytooper Legion which included a female stormtrooper.  Allaince pilots and Jedi Knights were around to keep an eye on the Empire.  Unfortunately due to a prior commitment, I was unable to catch the costume contest.   

     Thanks to advancements in computer technology, it is easier for fans to make their own films.  In the anime community this has led to anime music videos (AMV).  Fans use clips of their favortie anime and tie together them with a song.  At anime conventions the AMV contest is one of the most highly attended events.   At Megacon JACO runs the contest.  There was a video done to the ‘60s Batman theme using footage from The Big O which many say is Batman with giant robots.  There were at least three videos using the footage from The Animatrix.  The song “Love United” had clips of almost every major male lead in anime singing the song.  Best Comic Video or Trailer was the sound from the trailer of Once Upon Time in Mexico using the footage from Trigun.   Best in Show was Brad DeMoss’s aka Mister Furious video of SaiKano (She the Ultimate Weapon) done to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”.   DeMoss also entered another video with footage from Barefoot Gen done to Pink Floyd’s “Goodbye Blue Skies”(which dealt with the bombing of Britain during World War II).   The anime graphically depicts the atomic bombing of Japan.  There was an audible reaction to the video.  Several gasps could be heard.  I wonder if it was the raw brutality of war shown in the video or the fact we had to such force on a country whose culture we were celebrating which caused the audience reaction.

            This year was also a reorganizing one for Megacon due to the fact it is no longer owned by Crossgen Comics.   Attendance will hopefully justify getting a bigger hall for the convention next year.  Hopefully more good writer guests will come back.  This year’s convention was supposed include Kevin Smith, but he could  not make it due to other commitments.  An interesting thing I noticed about Megacon is the fact people who do not attend other conventions due come here.  Maybe Megacon can or has become the gateway convention to the various fandoms.

            Special thanks to my good friend Patricia Russell for helping write this and to Elaine of SunQuest for letting me volunteer at the con.


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