Megacon 99


        Megacon 99 was held on March 5-7 at the Orlando Expo Center. Major guests included Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Stracyznski, SF/Fantasy artist Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, Marvels and Kingdom Come artist Alex Ross, writer Terry Brooks and Lost in Space actresses Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen.

        Programming largely focused on comic and media related topics. Even Terry Brooks' presentation focused on his adaptation of the new Star Wars movie rather than his own work. The dealer's room also reflected this. Comic book, animae, media and gaming dealers took up most of the dealer's room. The Science Fiction Book Club, a Georgia art college and HASH graphics software company were also represented.

        The Secrets of Marvel Universe Revealed panel was held by The Comic Book Show, a local television show out of Tampa working to get national syndication. The guest was Joe Casey, a writer who has worked on most of the major Marvel books. He was planning on revealing what was coming up in the X-Men books but was prevented by legal reasons. The panel consisted of the audience coming up with dream writer/artist teams for the major Marvel titles. Casey did point out that Marvel actually did seriously listen to fan opinion. He also explained Chris Claremont's, former X-Men writer, current role at Marvel. He functions mainly as an editorial advisor and continuity cop. Claremont does not have the broad business powers once held by previous editor-in-chiefs Jim Shooter and Tom Defalco. When asked what other things they would like to see from Marvel, most in the audience agreed the Marvel should give the original creator's credit like DC does. Also they would like a return of the Epic comic line which allowed the creators to own the rights to their work and gave them greater artistic freedom.

        Arne Starr gave his coming attractions presentation. He played trailers of upcoming films and discussed projects that are in development. Disney's 1999 animated feature will be Tarzan. This will be the first film to use the names and language of the apes. Phil Collins will provide the main song. The films Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor will explore otherworldly dimensions and seems to have the same look as last year's Dark City. The Mummy has an Indian Jones-type character fighting the classic horror character. Free Enterprise, written by former Sci-Fi Universe magazine editor Mark Altman, is about some fan boys approaching thirty and their meeting with the real and imagined William Shatner. Detroit Rock City deals with a bunch of young teenage boys trying to get to a KISS concert and the obstacles that get in their way.

        Joe Straczynski discussed the recent problems with Crusade, the Babylon 5 spin-off. He had to explain the situation in the form of a fairy tale for legal purposes. Essentially someone at middle management at TNT had some great ideas to improve the show. Most of these suggestions were horrible and were ignored. As a result TNT only ordered 13 episodes with no appearance of asking for any more. There is hope that the series will be picked up by another network in the future. Straczynski also discussed that some Babylon 5 plot threads will be further explored in books and he will write some Babylon 5 short stories in Amazing Stories. He then concluded with the showing of a Crusade episode (a rough-cut with no music or sound effects). The episode "Path of Sorrows", consisted of back-story focusing on the pasts of three of the major characters (Captain Gideon, Lt. Matheson and Galen). It was well received which was a vindication for Straczynski since the TNT executive thought no one would be interested in back-story.

        While the convention was fun it could use some improvements. One thing that irritated me was that the con would not except checks for registration. This is strange since smaller conventions take checks. Also get rid of wrist strips and make con badges. It makes it easier to socialize with people. It also might be a good idea for the big name guests to limit what can be signed in order to keep the lines moving. The organizers should consult with the Necronomicon and Dragoncon people on nighttime activities. Aside from that the convention was pretty good.

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