con a con man!
by Noah Mason
March 29, 2006
scene runs all year round, and among this season’s first conventions is
MegaCon in sunny Orlando, FL. We started this year’s con tour with a journey
down couth. MegaCon, based in the Orange County Convention Center, sports
the most massive dealer’s room I have ever seen. This is also the most
diverse convention I’ve attended, with more or less equal parts gaming,
anime, comics, and artists. Based on the booths in the vendors’ room alone,
I would say this was more of a comic book convention than anything else,
with a healthy portion of the floor devoted to independent artists, but the
other classic elements of nerd-dom were present in significant enough a
portion to satisfy the diehard fans of any particular niche.
were my frequent traveling companions Joseph Valenti and Paul Brown, along
with a few other friends. Ostensibly I was there to do interviews and
research for this wonderful column, and Joe for business reasons, but in
reality we all had our hands full manning the Nero International booth and
answering the questions of the massive amount of con attendees. We were
located directly across from the artists’ portion of the dealers’ hall,
giving us a great view of the big posters and prints the various artists had
on display. Much to Joe’s delight, we were also located within eyeshot of
both the pretzel stand and the Haagan Daas ice cream stand.
popular gaming activity at the convention was the foam sword fighting
competition being run by our good friend Jim Gasser of Barbarian Battles.
Each day of the convention there was an organized tournament, with random
sparring matches throughout the rest of the day. Although billed as “Foam
Sword Fighting,” the Barbarian Battles product line is by no means confined
to simple, straight-bladed weapons. They also sport a sizable array of axes,
spears and pole weapons, and even their swords sport cross guards. These
weapons are based on the bulky Amtgard/Dagorhir design and are fully
compatible with those games. It is to Mr. Gasser’s credit that the aesthetic
of his weapons suffers very little if at all from their large size. As the
hundreds of fighting ring participants could attest to, the Barbarian
Battles products maintain maximum safety without sacrificing any of the
“cool factor” from wielding realistic looking swords and battle axes. Though
MegaCon was the first convention he has attended in an official capacity
with his company, Mr. Gasser was very pleased with his success, especially
the enthusiasm of the attendees for the hobby.
other interesting and entertaining events of the weekend were several panels
and appearances by celebrities such as John Schneider of Dukes of Hazard and
Smallville fame, as well as Marina Sirtis (Star Trek’s Diana Troy,) “The
Crypt Keeper” John Kassir, “Space Ghost” George Lowe, and Troma
Entertainment’s Lloyd Kaufman, as well as a variety of big names from the
comic book industry. There was also a Star Wars themed costume contest which
sported several quite fetching Twi-lek women and a multitude of Jedi, not to
mention the ever-present 501st Imperial Legion.
pleased to find out that our next-door neighbor was the creator of a short
independent film based on The Punisher, which he submitted for the film
festival and competition. I have always been an avid comic book fan, and The
Punisher was always among my favorites, so I made it a point to sit down
with Cory Sosner, the producer and star of the film, as I made my round of
interviews. Mr. Sosner founded Get Me Out of Jersey Productions as a
collaborative effort between fellow actors and other friends in the film
industry essentially as an experiment to see if they could make a high
quality film with a limited, almost nonexistent budget. I have a copy of
First Round, and as anyone who been in my house for more than ten minutes
can tell you, Sosner and company are off to an impressive start. With
several undeniably Punisher-style gunfights, a brawl with Wolverine, and the
scheming of both the Kingpin and Jigsaw all in less than fifteen minutes, I
don’t see how you could go wrong.
a great many talented independent artists and comic book creators displaying
and selling their work in the Artist Alley portion of the vendors’ hall.
There were a couple artists I recognized from previous conventions around
the country, but for the most part both the work and composers were new to
me. Dozens of cartoonist sat poised in front of easels or sketchbooks
resting on their laps, drawing both for commissions and for the sake of
passing time. I had the opportunity to interview with two of, in my opinion,
the best artists in the fantasy genre present.
spoke with Tracy Cornet, creator and proprietor of Fantastical Photography.
Her dazzling pictures of faeries and other mythical creatures such as
mermaids, unicorns, satyrs, and even a darkly unique rendition of Little Red
Riding Hood drew the attention of everyone walking past her display. She is
based locally in Orlando and has been selling her amazing photos and
attending conventions for two years. Tracy has been known to play several
different tabletop role-playing games and in the past has played the Mind’s
Eye Theatre LARP based in White Wolf’s Vampire setting and is currently
looking into playing Deleria, the modern faerie tales game.
Vicenti, a creator and purveyor of oil paintings on canvas, was the second
artist I interviewed. Although Mr. Vicenti works in many genres of painting
including the more mainstream, he also does quite a bit of work in the areas
of fantasy (particularly medieval fantasy,) horror, and most recently Greek
mythology. His Lord of the Rings pieces immediately caught my attention, as
well as some truly impressive dragons and other fantasy prints. The biggest
draw for these conventions, for him, is the camaraderie shared by the
attendees that comes from sharing some basic level of common ground.
Although the major art shows and galleries may bring in more money, much
like Ms. Cornett he enjoys the connection he gets at conventions by
personally meeting the people who will take his work home.
several theatre style games were being run throughout the convention as
well, including Paranoia and Call of Cthulhu. Several of their players
stopped by our booth in the vendors’ hall and invited us to play, but
unfortunately our own business had us far too busy to go visit.
All in all,
MegaCon was a gas. Of course one would really have to go out of their way to
not enjoy a weekend in Orlando in the middle of Pittsburgh’s bitter winter,
but weather aside it was still a very enjoyable event. Look forward to
another report from Florida in next spring’s issue!
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