"Fanboys" †by Mike Smith
MEGACON 2009 †by ED Tucker
|GROWING UP FANBOY|
Toys in the Attic Part 1 †by Chris Woods
Ufl Sets Up .... Rip Test .... Itís Still A Championship Ring! .... Were Not Going To Disney World! .... .... .... .... †by Chris Munger
Boston .... Movie Notes .... .... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... †by Mike Smith
|Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review|
With recent discussions of a perceived decrease in fandom and the current downturn in the economy, I was eagerly awaiting this yearís Megacon to see if it would be affected. Last year, the show had more attendees than I have ever seen and the admission lines were still stretched out the door when I was leaving half way through the day. This year the event was moved back to the older section of the Orange County Convention Center so it was already looking like it might be a smaller show.
The Three Megacon Stooges: Byron Rocher, John Thrailkill, ED Tucker
Having our pre-convention routine down to a well honed art, there werenít a lot of surprises prior to the show. I was working in Central Florida the week before the event, so Byron Rocher, coming from Jacksonville, and I met up at John Thrailkillís house in Orlando on Friday evening. As in previous years, there had been much posturing and promising coming from our extended network of potential cohorts but when the dust settled on Friday night, the same three stooges were gearing up for Megacon the next day. Following tradition, after everyone was accounted for, we reconvened at Alfonsoís Restaurant for our usual debriefing and strategy session over wings, beer, and some darn good pizza. This year, Johnís wife Amy and daughters Amy and Jordan endured our Fanboy ramblings for the promise of food. Afterward we retired for an early evening with John and I watching a couple of bad old movies that would make Dr. Paul Bearer proud (Night Fright with John Agar and Sisters of Death) while Byron snored away blissfully on the sofa.
Early the next morning, we crawled out of bed and made a bee line for the International Drive Ponderosa breakfast buffet. This was my first indication that, in the span of a brief twelve months, things werenít quite what they used to be. This budget banquette is usually packed at 8AM on a Saturday with lines backed up on both sides of the bar. This year it was only half full and one side of the buffet was closed entirely. The food was still good but we did notice some cut backs in the selection. According to our server, with tourism down in Orlando, many restaurants have gone under but this one still does a decent business over all at the moment. After a solid breakfast and multiple refills of coffee, we got into character and headed for the main event.
Entering the convention center parking lot, the line of cars waiting to get in seemed to be impressive. Unfortunately it was just bad planning that had everyone slowed down as four lanes merged into two right before the toll booth. We realized there really werenít as many cars in front of us as we thought as we pulled up to pay the $8.00 parking fee (up from $6.00 in previous years). At least we were able to get a good parking space and minimize the unavoidable hike into the show.
On the convention centerís second floor, we paused to look down on the layout for this years Megacon. From our vantage point it certainly looked like less dealers than last year and it was obvious they had not sold all of the available tables. Approaching the admissions area, there was almost no line to purchase tickets. This seemed incredible after the backup last year and the prices had remained the same ($24 per day or $55 for the weekend). John, happy that he wasnít going to have to spend an hour in line to buy tickets this year, headed off to get his while Byron and I picked up ours at the will call booth. We were all finished at the same time but John had to wait for general admission while Byron and I went in early to get some photos and talk with the dealers.
Making as quick a walkthrough as we could, Byron and I got a good overview of this yearís set up. Most of the celebrities werenít in yet but we did make a stop at an awesome Battlestar Galactica prop display in that area. This setup was courtesy of the Prop and Costume Archives and included a very impressive life size Cylon from the classic series that talked! Continuing over to the dealerís area, we spoke with the nice folks from Ravenwood Entertainment, who always have a good selection of vintage items. Byron bought a Canadian Star Wars action figure case while I discovered the reason behind the dealer decrease this year. Wondercon in San Francisco was being held this same weekend and many vendors who regularly travel to Megacon were forced to make a choice. There were still plenty of dealers in Florida this weekend but it did look like some of the hardcore comic sellers might be on the other coast. As we were wrapping up our conversation, the announcement was made for the start of general admission. John joined us on the floor along with regular Tampa attendee Lonnie Dohlen.
Beginning my shopping in earnest, I perused the golden and silver age material on display. It was definitely down from previous years, possibly due to the other convention, but there were still a few good finds. I picked up some silver age DC comics including Phantom Stranger and Mystery in Space, but my find for the day was a copy of Hawkman #1 for $20. I had a few near misses with dealers that just didnít want to deal or at least not to the same degree as I did. When I caught back up with John, he had experienced the same thing and ended up spending a little more than usual to get the kind of comics he likes (mainly war, mystery, and monster titles). Byron found some gaming figures at good prices but passed on several items he knew he could find for the same price or cheaper retail.
ED Tucker and James "Caretaker" Hampton ED Tucker and Dirk "Starbuck" Benedict
In my review of the 2008 Megacon, I pointed out that many guests at that yearís show had lost their appeal due to multiple area appearances in the last few years. For 2009, there was a noticeable shift to quality versus quantity where the media guests were concerned and some excellent choices were made. This yearís featured guests, and the ones with the longest lines, were Tricia Helfer and James Callis from the current Battlestar Galactica. There was also a reunion of just about everyone from the original series (except for Richard hatch who canceled) including Dirk Benedict who played Starbuck. I couldnít pass up a chance to get Mr. Benedict, who looks surprisingly well for his age and having survived cancer, to sign my insert poster for his very first feature film, SSSSSSS. He told me he always felt this was a good film that didnít do better because so many people are afraid of snakes it chased away the audience!
Sadly A-list actor Beau Bridges had to cancel this year, apparently due to a death in the family, but we did get James Hampton. Best known for playing Hannibal Dobbs on the television series F Troop, the hard working Hampton has had a steady career in films and television. Younger attendees probably recognized him as Michael J. Foxís father in Teen Wolf or the sympathetic psychiatrist in Sling Blade. I will never forget him as Caretaker in the original version of The Longest Yard starring Burt Reynolds. His death scene in that film is not only shocking but it changes the tone of the film 180 degrees in less than a minute of screen time.
ED Tucker and Mickey Dolenz Mickey Dolenz and Lonnie Dohlen
By the time we finished meeting Mickey Dolenz, it was almost 1PM and our reassembled group was ready to go. It had taken a couple of hours but the room was getting very crowded by this point. Feeling we had covered as much ground as we could, we were ready to grab some lunch and plot out the rest of the day. On the way out, we noted that there was no crowd waiting to get in like there had been at this time last year. For the second year in a row, we lost Lonnie, who was in his own car, on the way to Crazy Buffet (next year we Mapquest it for sure). After lunch we visited one nearby comic shop where Byron got most of the action figures he had passed on at the show and then it was time for me to head for Tampa and yet another adventure at the Gasparilla Film Festival.
I would have to say the 2009 Megacon show was noticeably down from 2008 but some of that may have just been bad timing. If the other convention that weekend did divide a portion of the dealers then that may explain most of their reduction. Attendance appeared to be down but 2008 looked like a record year and there were plenty of people at the show by the time we left. The one thing that surprised me was dealers not being as willing to bargain as they have been in the past. This could have been due to a perception of less competition or the fact that the FX show follows Megacon this year in April rather than preceding it as it has previously. Regardless, this was still an excellent show and the guest list was considerably improved over last year.