Thursday, March 25, 2010

Episode #118: MegaCon 2010: Day 1!

Note: While this blog post is the first of three on MegaCon, the podcast episode on MegaCon itself will be a single episode.

I first attended MegaCon in Orlando, Florida in 2005, as one of my son's birthday presents, as both were around the end of February that year. We did it again in 2006, both times only on Satuday, but have not been back since. I had the opportunity to go this year because Jeffrey Taylor O'Brien, of the Superman Homepage website, was going to attend in order to accept an award for the website. We had friended each other on facebook after the podcast he co-hosts with Michael Bailey, From Crisis To Crisis, began. We later began working on a comic book project that I'll be able to discuss at a later date. On Sunday afternoon, March 14, 2010, he accepted the award for the best comic book fan website award from Project Fanboy The whole award ceremony can be seen here:

To read Jeffrey's coverage of MegaCon 2010 on the Superman Homepage website, click on the following links:
These links also contain some of the pictures I took at MegaCon.

My convention experience actually started Thursday night, when my wife Cynthia and I drove to the Orlando Internaional Airport (OIA), to pick Jeffrey up. He stayed at our home that weekend, and it was a pleasure to finally meet him in person, and enjoy his delicious cooking.We went to the orange County Convention Center first thing Friday morining and bought our three-day passes. We avoided the long line inside by going to an outside booth (a tip for those who don't buy their tickets in advance).

When we first entered the hall, the Ghostbusters ambulance sat in front of the hall entrance, followed by the Flintstonemobile and a new stlye VW Beetle stylized as Pokemon. To show my age, the one that grabbed my attention was the Flintstone car.

The first panel we went to was The Power Of Plot, hosted by writers Glenda Finkelstein and Kimberly Raiser, both of whom I was not familiar with. I had forgotten to bring my notepad with me, so I took notes on the back of the convention program. The two panelists had some good pointers that I'll share with anyone interested in writing. The first thing they mentioned was how inportant it was to know the ending of the story before halfway through writing the story, or the ending could fall apart. It's important to know where you're going, but still allow yourself to be surprised. Sometimes the story, or its characters, will lead you down a path you didn't expect and improve the tale. How to begin a story is to draw in the readers. Engage them from the first paragraph. It isn't always necessary to explain a character's background. Use conflict to develop his or her background. Also, don't have too many characters. It will bog down the story. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Always provide clues in the plot, especially in the mystery genre, that point to the conclusion, even if the readers don't always pick up on them before they get to the end. Always give readers characters to care about. Noone enjoys unsympathetic characters. Conflict in a story is not necessarily good vs. evil, but some disagreement between characters that is resolved by the end. Finally, when writing, write for yourself. If you enjoy what you're writing, then that emotion will flow to your readers, and they will enjoy your stories also.

After that panel Jeffrey and I wandered through the main hall separately. The convention wasn't as heavily attended that day, as it would be on Saturday. My main focus that day was to meet Billy Tucci and buy a copy of the hardcover edition of his book Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion for my son. The story placed DC's iconic WWII character and Easy Company in the middle of the historic Lost Batallion battle of that war. I had earlier interviewed Billy back in episode #97: When I introduced myself he got up from his chair and gave me a hug. He gave me a warm welcome and it was the highlight of the convention for me. he autographed not only the copy of the book I purchased, but my copy of Jonah Hex #53, May 2010, which he drew. As he did in all of the copies of his Sgt. Rock book he autographed, he drew a very nice Sgt. Rock sketch, and signed it, "To Will - War Is Hell. Billy Tucci." To look at it. it's hard to believe that it took only a few minutes to draw.

Another artist I wanted to meet was Central Florida artist Derek Fish, who I first met at the 24-Hour Comic Book Day event at Acme Comics back in October of 2009. He was in Artist Alley doing sketches and selling his new comic book The Wellkeeper, issues #0 and #1, on which he served as writer, artist, cover colorist and letterer. Back in October I sat next to him and watched him ink the pages of a future issue. I reviewed his comic book on My Pull List Issue #83

I also had a few books signed by Marv Wolfman, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jamal Igle, Darwyn Cooke and Laura Martin.

I asked Marv Wolfman if he worked with Curt Swan, and he said that he did many times. He described Curt as a perfect gentleman. When I asked him if he had a favorite among the many stories he wrote he said that it would be the tribute story to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Action Comics. He didn't remember the issue number, and as I wracked my brain tothink if I had read it, he mentioned that it was drawn by the late Gil Kane. That was the clue I needed and I recalled the cover, even though I didn't know the issue number either. (Looking through my collection, it's Action Comics #554.)

As Laura Martin signed my copies of Planetary vol. I and issue #27, I asked her how she came to be the colorist for the Planetary series. She informed me that she had been the colorist for artist John Cassaday on his Image series Desperado, and he like her work and told her that he and writer Warren Ellis were looking for a permanent colorist for Planetary. So she walked right into it. I asked her if she has met Warren Ellis in person, and she said that he has. Laura also said that, while Warren cultivates an internet persona (that I'll describe as a sharp tounged curmudgeon), in person he is a gentleman. But we love you anyway, Mr. Ellis.

As I waited in line for Darwyn Cooke to sign my copies of The New Frontier trade paperbacks and DVD, someone brought him a box of "Handerpants" and said Jimmy Palmiotti told him to bring them to him. Darwyn opened the box and put them on. They were white fingerless gloves that look like whitey tighties for the hands. Jimmy sat at a table on the other end of the section from Darwyn. My friend Marc of Acme Comics later told me that he was at the same bar as Darwyn and Jimmy, and Darwyn talked about how weird, but how comfortable the gloves were on his hands.

Jeffrey and I met again to attend the DC Comics panel. On the panel were: Dan Didio, Tony Bedard, Rob Hunter, Mark McKenna, Stephane Roux, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner. Unfortunately, I din't have any room on the program to take any notes, but you can read Jeffrey's fine coverage of that panel at: The biggest announcement that I remember from that panel was the now familiar announcement, to Power Girl fans, that Amanda Conner was leaving the book after issue twelve, and co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were leaving with her. The reason she gave was simply exhuastion. She had not had any time off, and ws working extremely long hours to keep the book on schedule. While I don't read Power Girl, only for budgetary reasons, I do enjoy Amanda's art style.

That pretty much summed up the day. We also took pictures of various cosplayers in attendance. there were several Supermen, including a Black Lantern Superman, several Supergirls, at least one Wonder Women, and my favorite, Saturn Girl of the Legion Of Super-Heroes. She was the first Legionairre I can remember seeing in the three years I've been to MegaCon.

On our way home Jeffrey and I stopped at the grocery store to get a few things. He seasoned the salmon my wife had bought, steamed asparagus, boiled potatoes, and made a lemon cream sauce to go with the salmon. It was a delicious dinner, and a hint of what we would enjoy Sunday evening when Jeffrey would cook the entire dinner for us. But that's another post.

To see more of my pictures from MegaCon, click on this link to my megaCon 2010 facebook photo album:

Next: MegaCon 2010: Day 2!

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