Several months ago, I made the now erroneous statement that I wasn’t going to attend any conventions this year. My annual journey to Trek Expo in Tulsa in June seemed doubtful due to a lack of organization for what was once a very well run “small” convention. The guest list of Planet Comicon in Kansas City was full of people I had already previously met. And then something very cool happened. By sheer luck, I discovered that MegaCon in Orlando was happening the same weekend we were arriving for vacation. With great timing and an even more wonderful wife, I was very lucky to attend that Sunday, March 17. Best of all, my wife was in attendance with me.
To say this event was by far the biggest convention I had ever attended is an understatement. They were anticipating some 60,000 fans over the course of the three-day event. While I heard Saturday was insane, the Sunday crowd was large but very manageable. I was immediately impressed by the organization. We arrived just after the opening of the doors and had no wait getting inside. Once through the doors, it was like stepping into Oz. A massive hall of vendors welcomed us, offering everything from anime accessories to DVDs to comics to toys. You could get a tattoo or meet up with Gil Gerard (TV’s Buck Rogers). Passing through the hall, we made our way into the second hall where the autographs were being held. My primary goal was to meet Patrick Stewart and get his autograph. I found the lines extremely well organized. Tape on the floor ensured you were in the right line for the right celebrity. Patrick Stewart was late in arriving, not getting to his table until 11:30. Ten minutes later, he was gone as they rushed him off to a photo op. We were now number 4 in line. Thankfully, about 45 minutes later, he returned and both of us got his autograph. He was very pleasant and even spoke with my wife briefly. With the entire primary cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation present, my wife got wrapped up in the moment. Not only did I get the last of the Trek stars I needed for my autograph collection, I now have a great cast photograph signed by the entire cast. The picture is from a very recent shoot, occurring last October in Ontario. One of my prized possessions.
Of all of the various stars we met, not one was unhappy to be there. Two of the highlights included the Weasley twins from Harry Potter, who were very talkative, and Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman). Dean was beyond professional and genuinely happy to be there. David Prowse was doing well, despite his age. The least impressive was Lou Ferrigno, who seems a tad full of himself. However, overall, I must say I was very impressed and a bit starstruck by all of them.
There were cool Lego displays, a working Dalek and R2D2, a DeLorean (Back to the Future) and a Rancor (Star Wars). In the artist alley, I met artist Jason Metcalf, purchasing two of his incredible prints. Spending some five hours there, we only tapped the surface. My only complaint would be that they seemed to run the stars a bit ragged with panels and photo ops, particularly Patrick Stewart. As always, the food selection could have been better. But these minor quibbles aside, it was a tremendous experience. I highly recommend MegaCon if you are in the area in March 2014.
Next stop…Planet Comicon. After attending the last two years in Overland Park (a suburb of Kansas City), they’ve outgrown their old location and moving into Kansas City proper at the much larger Bartle Hall. I am attending this year after all due to my friend Joe wanting to meet the incredible George Takei. I’ve met him twice before at Trek Expo and both times have been highlights of the year. I look forward to seeing him again but, more so this time, being there with my friend when he meets him. George truly gets it and enjoys the fans. A much smaller budget this year due to MegaCon but I’m hoping to come away with a couple of low-priced Golden Age comics and maybe an autograph with comic book legend Neal Adams.