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Nolan Pop Culture Review, 2003!
This week's
La Floridiana
Movie Review
Matt's Rail
Mike's Rant

On the CF Homepage:
Florida Filmmaker Update

  Number 154  (Vol. 4, No. 10). This edition is for the week of March 3--9, 2003.

I used to go to conventions all the time. Big ones, small ones, free ones, expensive ones, local ones, out-of-town or even out-of-state ones. I still go, but it's rarer now for reasons I'll get into later. Until this year, however, for whatever reason, I had never attended an Orlando MegaCon.

The reason I went this year, mainly, was to foster a meeting between myself and someone else I knew would be attending. You all out there know him as the author of the (deservedly) wildly popular The Lost Interview of Dr. Paul Bearer, the link to which is still on the Crazed Fanboy homepage. Altho ED Tucker and I had corresponded regularly since the first publication, this would be our first face-to-face meeting. ED would be coming from Jacksonville and I would be coming from, where else, Tampa. La Floridiana columnist Will Moriaty would also be attending, but the St. Petersburg "Floridana Fest" was the same day (and you can read about that in this week's issue of La Fla), so he wouldn't be arriving in Orlando until later that day. So, with all necessary cellphone numbers exchanged, fellow webmeister Scott van Sickle and I headed out around 9:00am.

Arriving around 10:20am, incredibly, the historic meeting happened before we even got out of the nearby, cut-rate parking lot! ED and his friend Byron Rocher arrived just minutes after we did, and ED spotted me. We all walked in together. What followed is a convention that I have mixed emotions about, which I'll get into later. The most meaningful thing for me was, as ED perceptively pointed out, was another great Reunion in a year of reunions for me.

I now give the floor to ED Tucker who has written a provocative and honest piece on our experience in Orlando. Much of what he says is echoed by William Moriaty and myself anyway. I'll be back in a bit with some additional comments and final thoughts...

MEGACONNED    by ED Tucker
Ed and Nolan
Writer/fan ED Tucker and PCR publisher Nolan Canova meet at MegaCon 2003
The March 2003 show was the second Megacon I have attended. For those unaware, Megacon is large (for Florida) comic show held annually in Orlando, FL. The show is notable for both itís size, selection, and what is probably the largest, and certainly the most eclectic, media guest list in Florida. Reports of this show and its past list of "celebrities" (I am going to use this term and "star" very loosely from here on out) had been coming to me for years but it was only in 2002 that I finally broke down and attended, mainly to meet about half of the surviving cast of my all-time favorite show, Lost in Space. As collectible conventions have morphed from being simply "by the fans, for the fans" fun into "big business for blatant businessmen", Megacon has been no exception. The current admission price is $18 per day, $15 in advance, with no multi-day discounts. On top of this, the Orange County Convention Center charges $10.00 for parking so plan on being out at least $25 before you step inside the show.

Byron and Erin
Byron Rocher with Buck Rogers' Erin Gray
Allow me to preface the observations to come by saying that while I have attended many different types of collectibles shows in my lifetime, only a handful have been primarily comic book oriented in nature. I can probably best be described as a moderate comic book fan as I do collect certain series from the silver age of the 1960ís and 70ís. These were comic books that I grew up with as a child and, while I do in a technical sense collect them, I buy them solely for the purpose of reading. Holy crap Batman, he actually touches these time-worn treasures with his bare hands! Yes thatís right dear reader I buy these comic books as a sort of time capsule to return to the days of my youth and relieve a simpler time. This causes me to steer clear of archive editions and most reprints because I want the total package experience of reading a comic book - advertisements, letter columns, and all. Is there a 70ís comic reader alive who didnít want that $6.95 Polaris submarine (large enough to hold two kids!) or the $1.49 Capture the Flag game that included genuine "exploding tanks"? Because of this my main concern with a potential purchase is the price and I do not mind buying comics that are only in "good" condition. I think the entire concept of the "CGC" system is a joke and an insult to the artists who created these books to be read and provide entertainment.

The vendor mix at this years show seemed about the same as last year. It consisted predominantly of comic dealers but there were also purveyors of gaming items, fantasy wear, toys, and bootleg movies. To the best of my knowledge this is the only show in Florida to feature such a large selection of golden age and silver age comic books. While I did not see as many key issues this year, there was still a lot to plunder through. I have never been able to really grasp the disparity of price ranges at shows like this. I understand the basic conditions and guidelines of books like the Overstreet Price Guide but I doubt any comic in that guide is listed as worth 100 times more in mint condition than in good. I saw multiple examples of comics for sale at prices ten to twenty times more than what I have paid for them forom other dealers in the past year or so. I bought a silver age Green Lantern comic from one dealer for $12 in very nice condition after I saw the same issue, in comparable condition, for sale at another booth for $400! I guess I should have tried to resell my copy to this dealer for $100-$200 but I think we all know how that would have gone over.

Ed Tucker and Gary Lockwood
ED Tucker with "2001: A Space Odyssey" star, Gary Lockwood. The poster (of "They Came To Rob Las Vegas"), from ED's personal collection, was a gift to Lockwood.

I collect autographs in about the same manner I collect comics. 95% of my collection was obtained in person and it is dictated by whether or not the celebrity in question really means anything to me personally. While this year's show featured guests as diverse as Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nicols from the original Star Trek, Jamie Farr from M.A.S.H, and Kathy Garver from Family Affair, the one draw for me was actor Gary Lockwood. I am sure Mr. Lockwood is best remembered from his role in the second pilot to the original Star Trek series, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and a close second for his role as ill-fated astronaut "Frank Poole" in the awe-inspiring "2001: A Space Odyssey". I will always remember him as the Prince Valiant wannabe hero in the underrated classic "The Magic Sword" which, according to exploitation producer Bert I. Gordon (a.k.a. the notorious Mr. B.I.G.) was "The Most Incredible Weapon Ever Wielded!". It was fun to get to see a lot of these celebrities in person, but purchasing an autograph from them was an entirely separate experience.

David ProwseJamie Farr
David Prowse  (Star Wars)Jamie Farr  (MASH)
Kathy GarverGil Gerard
Kathy Garver  (Family Affair)Gil Gerard  (Buck Rogers)
After an early negative encounter with Buck Rogers' Gil Gerard, this is as close as we'd dare get to most of the "stars" for fear they'd call security to confiscate our cameras They were all charging $20 a pop for a photograph/autograph of any kind. ---Nolan
A trend that I have found rather alarming in recent years is the rising price of autographs at shows. I can still remember the good old days of the 80ís when celebrities were paid to attend shows and would autograph anything for free. Eventually it became a paying proposition but usually it was only $5.00 for a signed photo and then they would sign any personal items for free. As time went on this price began to rise to $8.00 and $10.00 for the photo and then at least $5.00 each to sign personal items. Today most stars are charging $20.00 to sign anything whether you purchase it from them or bring it yourself. Some have even taken to charging a sliding scale depending on the type of item you bring, as if they are entitled to some percentage of the supposed profit their signature adds to your collectible. As a fan of these stars, many of whom have not acted professionally in anything significant in multiple decades, I find this rather insulting. I realize that, for some, this may be the majority or even sole source of their income but I believe this price gouging is an insult to the very group of people who sustains them, the fans. I can say that I have never had an item signed because I believed the signature would increase itís value and I have never sold an item once I had it autographed. I think it is understandable if a celebrity wants to charge a few dollars for a signature but keep in mind thatís all it is, the act of signing your name. I can also say that in many instances I have had fewer items signed or just foregone getting a signature altogether because of a guests prices or pricing structure and I have seen many people walk away when they see how much it costs to get a signature. It seems to me a celebrity guest would sell more autographs and make their fans much happier if they kept there prices at a reasonable rate. I believe this is a policy that seriously needs to be rethought at conventions like Megacon before the whole concept of celebrity guests becomes a losing proposition.

Megacon is a fun show as long as you are familiar with their procedures and informed about what you are getting into. Their was certainly no lack of attendees for this year's show and the long lines for tickets and crowded isles Saturday morning proved that fans still want a place to go and socialize with other fans. The highlight for me was getting to finally meet Nolan and crew in person as well as seeing other friends and associates at the show, but getting a copy of Justice League of America #4 from 1961 for $10.00 was pretty cool too!

MegaCon and Me... How the changing face of convention culture has left me pining for a good, cheap SunCon      by Nolan B. Canova

Russ Heath
Comic artist legend Russ Heath, 76 years young!
Yes, I used to go to conventions all the time. I remember the local SunCons, small intimate affairs, usually held at Holiday Inns, where for a $2.00 "door fee", you could hobnob with fans, buy a few reasonably-priced back issues, maybe add in some collectibles, dream of the day you could save up for that rare comic or magazine, and if the venue was so prepared, meet a TV or movie celebrity or two and get their autograph without too much trouble or expense. The dealer rooms had many of the same faces from event to event and there was a sense of community and comfort among the fans. The attending celebrities could be on the downslide of their careers, or could be currently hot. Usually, the hotter ones were reserved for something like TrekCons, also a fan favorite, especially while that series (Star Trek) still mattered. But the local Necronomicon, for example, normally oriented towards the literary field, always seemed to snare some pretty good guests from there and other media as well. For the graphically inclined, there was the San Diego Comic Con, or the Atlanta Dragon Con, still the two largest fan-oriented events in the country. I'm not normally a big noisy crowd kind of guy, but I have attended all of these conventions at one time or another, save for the San Diego Comic Con (never got a good window for it). I did fly to LA in the late '80s and early '90s to attend 2 (or 3?) FangoCons and to Crystal City, Virginia, in 1993 for (arguably) the last Famous Monsters of Filmland Con where the new publisher re-introduced the long-dormant magazine (an enterprise that admittedly went terribly sour soon afterwards--Matt's Rail has chonicled that in these pages well, but the Con was amazing). All of these events were great. With extremely rare exception, the price you paid at the door to all of these entitled access to everything for "free" thereafter.

Virginia and Andrew
"Wake Up and Smell The Comics" writer Drew Reiber, right, with main squeeze, Virginia, at MegaCon '03
Somewhere in the mid-to-late 90s, as I remember it, the format and protocol (for lack of a better term) for setting up and attending these conventions began to change into a very dark thing. First off, and this is admittedly only a personal objection, the "subjects" became much more focused on role-playing games, video games, and non-sports cards collectibles. Spaces for comic books and Monster Mags were diminishing rapidly. I felt like this is where a new generation's demands were being met and the "boomer" generation was stepping off the boat, generally speaking.

But something far worse was starting to happen, and it only got worse. Something only a corporate mentality could inspire: the emphasis was now on how much money could be drained from fans' pockets every step of the way. No longer would merely purchasing the by-now wildly inflated ticket price to attend the Con guarantee you of anything but entering the door. Only a few years ago when that started it was only a matter of whether you intended to stay in the dealer's room or not. Then it expanded. Am I against super-sized conventions? Of course not. It's where you can often meet the best and brightest. But how far am I willing to go for the thrill of it all at this stage?

Ben Gregory, Ben Jr., and Donna
Former "Super-Kid" Ben Gregory, with Benjamin Jr., and wife Donna
Which brings me to MegaCon. You might be thinking that with all the negative talk so far, it was a total loss. Not at all. Like ED Tucker mentioned above, you get out of it what you can, and, if you are prepared for the rules of the game, you can enjoy yourself. ED's done a great job of describing the main points of the Con, so I'm going to just tell you the greatest parts of the Con for me:

Meeting ED Tucker and his friend, Byron Rocher. Encountering former PCR columnist Drew Reiber and his girlfriend Virginia (who I'd never met, both are currently living in Orlando). Hearing stories from Gary Lockwood. Talking with Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) before he demanded cash for a snapshot I wanted to take. Seeing Walter Koenig (Chekov) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) from Star Trek. Meeting the still-beautiful Erin Gray from Buck Rogers! (She blew me a kiss when she heard me describe her that way out loud to ED! Ha ha. Even up close she hasn't aged a day, swear-to-god. Gil, on the other hand....) A run-in with an old school chum from Tampa, Sam Catalino. Another run-in with old Andromeda Society member and former "Super-Kid" and magician, Ben Gregory (of course, he screams "NOOOOOOO-LANNNNNNN!!!!" at the top of his lungs--haha). A shoulder-brushing with "The Front" producer Eric Avant (he was pretty zoned). A mind-blowing and personal encounter with a childhood comic-book artist hero of mine, Russ Heath. After I told him how he influenced my art style, he thanked me and proceeded to tell me how California pineapples compare to Florida's! (I think Florida won, but I was kinda hysterical at the time.)

And finally, the meeting at Darryl's Restaurant afterward where Scott and I and ED and Byron were joined by Will Moriaty and another friend of ED's, Jerry Bourne. We exchanged fan stories that went back decades. Awesome stuff.

ED and Will at Darryl's
ED Tucker, left and William Moriaty, seated across from me at Darryl's Restaurant on Int'l Drive, discussing horror hosts on shows we grew up with.
Of particular interest was the topic of local horror host, Dr. Paul Bearer. See, ED and I actually "met" once before...only we didn't know it. As chronicled in ED's classic The Lost Interview of Dr. Paul Bearer, it was at the 1991 Necronomicon that ED and some friends arranged to give Dick Bennick, aka, Dr. Paul Bearer a plaque for outstanding service to the community. I was at that Con. What I didn't know was I was being videotaped! Now, thanks to ED, I have in my hot little hands a video of my 80-pound lighter, darker-haired and considerably younger and better-looking self talking to Dr. Paul Bearer!! Here's another mind-blower: ED's standing directly across from me in the video!! Talk about a small world. In return I gave ED what remains of a pet project gone down the tubes: "The Redemption of the Lost Tapes of Dr. Paul Bearer". Basically the first half of a TV special I was planning. In it I document via "home video" (at that point) the world's largest collection of Dr. Paul Bearer memorabilia owned by fan Rusty McClellan. What happened to the rest of that special is a long and frustrating story I'll write a book about some day, BUT we may be able to salvage something out of it eventually.

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD!! YOUNG NOLAN CANOVA MEETS DR. PAUL BEARER AND ED TUCKER IN 1991!! (Stills from the videotape produced by ED Tucker and friends)

1991 Necronomicon in Tampa, where a couple of loyal fans converse with Dick Bennick, aka, Dr. Paul Bearer. From left, Dr. Paul Bearer, unknown fan, ED Tucker, and Dan TuchmanAs the camera pans left, some thin guy with a dark ponytail and bright red T-shirt joins the fray---ME! Jeez, was I ever that thin? I'm asking DPB about his Famous Monsters Magazine collection as ED looks on.
Holy cow, no facial hair! Not sure what I have in my hands, possibly my little 110 Instamatic camera I know I had with me that day. I have a photo of Bennick from this occasion.As I swing around into view, my incredibly young-looking, bare-faced self reveals a familiar T-shirt.
The "I Don't Do Mornings" T-shirt given to me by Lisa Zubek ("Lisa's Lambast") is plainly visible as I walk right in front of the camera. To this day, I don't remember a camera being there, despite looking directly into it. And I've since lost that shirt.
Meeting Dick Bennick was a thrill and totally unexpected...his appearance was arranged rather spontaneously.

Famous Monsters of Filmland -- Trademark for Sale

Mr. Avery of Sulmeyer, Kupetz, Baumann & Rothman represents the Chapter 7 Trustee, David K. Gottlieb in Ray Ferry's Bankruptcy case. I have noticed that you have frequently posted updates on your website, Crazed Fanboy dotcom, regarding the case. We have recently acquired the trademark "Famous Monsters of Filmland" and will be auctioning it. If you should like more information on the sale of the trademark, which will be auctioned to pay creditors, mainly Forrest J Ackerman, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Tonia N. Mann-Wooten, Legal Secretary
Sulmeyer, Kupetz, Baumann & Rothman
300 South Grand Ave., 14th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Telephone: 213/626-2311 xt. 287
Facsimile: 213/629-4520

La Floridiana
This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
FLORIDA NEWS........JEB VADER........FLORIDANA FEST........MEGACON!...... .................Click here for more.

Matt's Rail
This week's issue
Matt's Rail by Matt Drinnenberg
A FEW MUSINGS........THE BIG APPLE........ .................Click here for more.

Movie Reviewmovie review
This Week's Movie Review:

The Life of David Gale  review by Michael Smith

Mike's RantMike's Rant
This week's issue
CONVENTION NOTES........OSCAR BEWARE........ ANOTHER TOP 10........ .................Click here for more.

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.
I omitted a lot from my "MegaConned" article in the interest of keeping it short (imagine that) including the following Sunday Byron adventure.

In brief, a big part of the reason my friend Byron was there was to get the autograph of the guy who plays Lex Luthor. (Michael Rosenbaum---N) Byron paid $15 for an advanced Sunday admisson, $10 to park on Sunday, and got me up early so we could eat breakfast with friends and be at the show by 9AM so he could get a ticket for the autograph. We got there about 9:15 and there was a line all the way to the door for the 2PM signing this guy was doing. Byron found out people had been in line since 6AM for the 11AM signing the tickets were gone by 9:05AM, five minutes after the started giving them out. He just said fuck it and we went home. The scary part is those people in line were going wait in line for 4 hours to maybe get a ticket to wait in line again for an autograph!

ED Tucker

I read the article and agree wholeheartedly that the prices for autographs have gotten a little high (that didn't stop me from dropping a few bucks to get one or two, though). In defense of the celebs, however, I have heard some nasty rumors about table costs at these events. I'm sure most of the bigger names are paid for their presence as a draw, but I know of some lesser known thespians who have dropped out of coming to Megacon because the Convention Center's price for a table was too high.

Last year some "B" movie actresses I now had to drop out because they were being charged something in the neighborhood of $2000 for a table.

I guess what I'm saying is that costs have gone up for everyone, so I understand being asked to pay a little bit more for a signed photo. If you want something interesting, check some of the webpages and see whose autograph you can get cheaper if you don't bother to pay the price of admission to meet them.

Just a note from yours truly,
Jason L Liquori
PS 008 is online at www.bisentertainment.com
PPS Nolan, I still owe you a copy of DARK ROSE for Schlockarama. I missed you at the Con, so I guess I'll have to pay postage.

If convention table prices are so high that "lesser-known thespians" are forced to soak fans, then the Convention producers must share some of the blame, yes, and while they aren't charging the celebrities more than they are charging the dealers, the dealers have products to sell. I'm sure all the bigger celebrities were paid to be there (including hotel stay and amenities) otherwise I have trouble believing they'd bother to show at all.
   What you bring up about online autographs is a big reason for the price-haggling at Cons and everywhere else. An unfortunate encounter with Adam West at a previous Con left ED feeling very disillusioned about the "sliding scale" process: many celebs want their cut now (as do baseball stars and what have you) of a potential sale you're going to make from what they're autographing and spontaneously inflate their price. It's a shame it's come to this.
   I know we should feel lucky that big Cons give us an opportunity to meet certain celebs at all, but if costs are so high that certain ones drop out and fans come away feeling soaked, it's time to re-think the Convention idea.
Sorry I missed you at the Con. Thanks for writing, it's good to hear from you!---Nolan

Hello, my name is Robert W Clark. I enjoyed reading your section on "MegaCon 2003". I was particularly interested in your mention of "Dr Paul Bearer". See, I grew up in the 70's watching him & I am glad a Video was filmed of him. Thanx.

Robert [Clark]

Here's some movie stuff you may already know, but if not, here it is:

  • Josh Hartnett as Superman. He may be edging out Jude Law, Brenden Fraser, and Ashton Kutcher as the Man of Steel. This movie is finally getting legs as Anthony Hopkins is slated to play Jor-El.
  • Laughable name: Deuce Bigalow: Electric Gigolo
  • Spidey villain: Just Doc Ock (per Sony) -- played by Alfred Molina from "Frida"
  • CGI "Garfield" gets the greenlight with Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt
  • Joe Carnahan from "Narc" replaces Fincher to direct Mission Impossible 3
  • Stern to lead re-make of "Porky's" and more?
  • Scary Movie 3 (hey, they've got Denise Richards) just got Charlie Sheen signed on. It's due out in early October. I loved "Hot Shots" - I'm pathetic, I know.
  • I still haven't seen the Hulk trailer, it's getting rave reviews. - I need to get out more...? Just get out.

You know, I was running down the list of sequels coming up -- this is sick.

I was just telling someone, who asked me about writing a screenplay with them, that Hollywood is a big ball of recycled crap. I need to move the CLIPS rants and movie stuff to another site (like yours)...sorry, just venting. Doesn't that idea that someone got paid to write "Dumb and Dumberer" or "Legally Blonde 2" make you vomit?

Brandon [Jones]
Clips Productions

Hell yes! That's why the Tampa filmmaker community needs to be promoted---Hollywood needs the new ideas! Thanks for the updates. --Nolan

To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

"Mike's Rant" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty    "Matt's Rail" is ©2003 by Mathew Drinnenberg    This week's movie review of "The Life of David Gale" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith    Add'l thanks to ED Tucker, Jason L. Liquori, Robert Clark, and Brandon Jones for their input in "Letters".     All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova ©2003; all rights reserved.