Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another View Of MegaCon

Trudy V. Myers
I peeked at the schedule the day before the con, and at first glance, I thought, “There’s nothing here for me to do!” But we’d already bought our memberships, so I figured I’d just have to go and make the best of it.

HUGE dealer’s room! The room itself included an autograph section, an artist’s jam section, a section for ‘independent presses’ and who know what else, but the dealer’s area rivaled the size of a Worldcon dealer’s room, or maybe outstripped some of them.

No art show. Bummer.

Parking was also a bummer. I bitched continually about having to walk ‘from Scottsbluff to Omaha’ to get from the parking lot to Megacon. Why didn’t they build a parking garage for this convention center? Friday, we were in a parking garage, but it actually belonged to the neighboring hotel and was being used because the convention center’s parking lots were all full.

Costumes. WOW!!!

Why were the anime activities segregated from the rest of the stuff?

Nobody was allowed into the con until 10 AM, and nothing lasted past 9 PM. Food and drink, if bought from the convention center, cost an arm and a leg, but they didn’t say anything if you brought in your own. Tables and chairs were available for those waiting for the next panel to attend, but not nearly enough of them.

Staggered timing on the panels, which I’m not a big fan of. Even with the staggered timing, some panels’ stages were set up ‘at the last minute’, which makes you wonder about their organization.

It was fun. Different in some ways. Worth attending, at least this one time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dr. San Guinary.Org

From 1971 until 1981, John Jones donned the mantle of Dr. San Guinary and hosted Dr. San Guinary's Creature Feature, a program of really cheezy monster movies starting at 10:30 PM Saturday nights on KMTV. Nirvana for adolescent science fiction fans. His show was moved back to midnight when NBC took the 10:30 time slot for SNL.

In 1995 Fredd Gorham created the Dr. San Guinary WebLab which is still available on the internet. With clips and photos from the shows run. Recently Amanda Shannon built a Dr. San Guinary’s Creature Feature Facebook page which has generated a lot of interest, not to mention over 5100 fans linked to it. Chris Palmer has been working on a biography of Dr. San Guinary which should be out either late this year or early next.

With all this interest coming together, Chris and Jason Jones (one of John Jones’ sons) decided it was time to bring fans together and build an organization that could further the charity work that John Jones did as Dr. San Guinary. DrSanGuinary.Org is the web site they built to facilitate this cause. They are hoping fans will work on events that will help generate donations to organizations like the MDA.

They first met in Donohue's Bar on Saturday, March 27th to kick things off. They plan to keep coming together, as that is what fandom is really all about: fans of whatever genre coming together to share their experiences with others like minds. And once we get the word out about these activities, sharing those passions with those who have never experienced them.

OSFest wants to help this group get rolling by getting the word out about them. We will be hosting a panel discussion about Dr. San Guinary, with Jason Jones, Fredd Gorham, and others. And possibly other events over the weekend to showcase the fun you can have with old “B” movies and charity activities. So join us the weekend of July 23-25, 2010 and learn about this fun part of your heritage.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Can We Learn From MegaCon?

I have attended conventions with what I had thought to be large crowds; 1500+ for Windycon or Archon these days and 3-4000 for the annual Worldcon but even I wasn’t ready for the estimate I got on the number of attendees for MegaCon this year: 75,000.

Where did they house all these people? I was told that a lot of them come for only a short while, day-passers that drop in and out quickly. They’ll drop in to see a particular panel or browse the exhibition hall. Even then, I would have to say the facility was crowded from the 10AM start until the Exhibition Hall shut down every night. I guess this explains why the Special Guests spend almost all their time at their tables in the Exhibition Hall. I don’t think any of them did more than one panel, and some weren’t involved in any panels.

So to allow people easy access during the day, the convention used wrist bands instead of name badges. For me, this is a shift in focus. Name badges at conventions are often ice-breakers, allowing attendees to quickly get a handle on what to call someone they never meet before and talk to them. Using anonymous wrist bands shifts the focus of the convention from fannish interactions to a more impersonal convention experience or one devoted to those you brought with you. While this is a good thing for the collector, there were lots of things to collect in the Exhibition Hall, from artwork and autographs to props and toys; I think a lot of the interpersonal aspects of a convention were missing. I noticed this mostly when I talked to a couple of the panelists after their panels and they welcomed me into their discussion, even though I lived 1200 miles away. One area convention organizer approached me hoping I had just moved into the area; he had noticed the Denvention 3 shirt I was wearing.

That is not to say that various fan groups had not bought into the MegaCon experience, several of them actually had:

  • The 501st Legion offered a Friday prop panel and officiated at the Universal Costume Contest, as well as a prop display exhibit.
  • The Wolf Pack Elite ran an exhibit and costuming panel.
  • Skiffytown did a live radio play as well as a costuming area in the Exhibition Hall. {Skiffytown also did a costuming panel – Trudy}
  • The R2-Builders had roving robots as well as a large prop exhibition area.
  • Alpha Ghost Team did daily Paranormal 411 panels along with their exhibition area.
  • Oklahoma and Tampa Bay Ghostbuster groups had displays both in a booth and around the convention area. {The Oklahoma Ghostbusters also did a panel – Trudy}
  • Anime Sushi organized the anime programming for the convention, including a separate cosplay event.
  • Willie’s Wenches gave nightly performances as well as host an exhibition area.
  • Doctrine Productions offered a panel.

MegaCon is Hall Costume nirvana! Whether you are a costumer or a photographer, you will have a long fun day, each day, enjoying the Hall Costumes. And they didn’t even have a Hall Costumes Contest. I will probably have to devote an entire block in the near future to showing off some of the costumes I photographed.

This area has two television/movie production studios and several film schools nearby. Therefore, it is no wonder that groups like Doctrine Productions get involved, especially since MegaCon has an Independent Film Festival as part of their lineup. This and their daily movie trailers events created a noise problem in a couple of the other panels I was attending. But it sounded like their attendees were having a lot of fun. They did not have the traditional video room like a lot of us think of, but they did have an anime video room.

I usually have to carry my PDA when I go shopping in a convention’s dealer’s room, but not at MegaCon. Except for comic or art books, I could find very few books for sale. There was also a lot of costumes and costuming accessories, collectibles, and DVDs. I do wonder if anyone polices the merchandise sold in these dealer’s rooms, I believe I saw at least a couple of DVD sellers with bootleg merchandise. I am not enough of an expert to judge the authenticity of the collectibles offered. I hope their high prices meant the goods were the real stuff.
So what can we learn from MegaCon? Number one; while big is good for managing your overhead expenses; it doesn’t mean that it will provide the best fan experience. Fan group buy-in allows the committee to turn over certain duties and give them a chance to focus on other things. Fans want to show off what they have accomplished, they need room and sometimes encouragement to do so.

Every convention committee does some things well and others not-so-well. We all need to help each other out to improve the fannish community no matter where we live. It is all a volunteer game; otherwise all conventions would be run by professional organizations. Remember it has been tried, even in Omaha and those of you who went to [ ] know how they turned out. Local, volunteer committees bring their heart and soul to the experience. We all need to keep supporting their activities but we also need to give them ideas we discover when we travel and experience what works elsewhere. Have you sent in your memberships for Willycon, ConStellation, OSFest, Nuke-con, and NebrasKon yet?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MegaCon Day 3

I am at the three day comic convention held in Orlando annually known as MegaCon. These are my impressions of Sunday, the final day of the convention:

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF GOOD CHARACTER DESIGN by Bryan Tillman was a well constructed look at the techniques that need to be considered when creating a graphic character. A lot of the techniques apply to literary characters; the most important is the back story the character brings to the moment that he/she is created. Using the STAR WARS saga, he expanded the character Jungian archetypes necessary to tell a good story. Some of his techniques were geared to artists and would apply to book cover design in addition to graphic character design, like color usage in the costumes worn by the characters and making the silhouettes they cast unique and recognizable. Mr. Tillman will have a book out next year on character design and I felt right at home whenever he said, “Buy my book.” ;-)

THE DOCTRINE FILM EXPERIENCE took participants through the process of making Independent film making. Using a green cloth sheet over a convention false wall they filmed a short scene and added the background and sound effects in a matter of minutes. Their message to every potential film-maker is to not wait for the best possible equipment, but get out there and start making movies. I had them take a look at the SLR camera I was carrying, and they said it was good enough to “Make it happen.”

This was a great convention for costumers. The last panel we attended on Sunday was WOLF PACK ELITE BRINGS YOU COSTUMING THE ELITE WAY. This costuming group shared techniques and ideas about creating great costumes from everyday items. They constructed the Black Widow’s sting cartridges out of wood dowels and cloth pins. They suggested websites where plans for building vacuum-forming machines can be found. And offered ideas about projects attendees were working on, Q&A not show and tell. Several members of the Wolf Pack are also members of the 501st, showing the cross-pollination of groups in areas outside of the Omaha area. Can we use conventions in our area to share our various expertises? Is there something you do that you would like to show off? Comment here or drop an email with your suggestions. Watch the programming page of the OSFest website as the schedule gets pulled together, and if you don’t see something you want, ask us to bring it to you.

I had tried to get into the panel with Levar Burton and Brent Spiner, but it was the only one that was too full for me to attend. I had no trouble getting into any of the STAR WARS panels or the Q&A with Nichelle Nichols or James Hong, so does this speak to the enduring popularity of STAR TREK-TNG? What do you think? Leave a comment or better yet, go to your favorite forum and start a discussion. If you’re not on an appropriate forum, join and speak your mind.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cosplay On Ice

By Ellene M. Cudd

Cosplay on Ice was On March 6, 2010 at Mahoney State Park from 4 PM to 8 PM. About forty to fifty people showed up. Most were wearing cosplay and a few just had NebrasKon shirts on. The Cosplayers showed up from a variety of series such as Bleach, Vampire Knight, and InuYasha.

The ice rink had some melting problems when we first arrived at 4; but later in the evening, the ice refroze completely. They even brought out a Zamboni to smooth over the ice. Nearly everyone ice skated despite a few falls from a few people. When not skating, a group of otaku were hanging out upstairs and chatting. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the new friends that they made!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MegaCon Day 2

I was at the three day comic convention held in Orlando annually known as MegaCon. Saturday was a very full day and here are my impressions:

The first panel I wanted to attend was cancelled but only after we got to the room and were ready to attend. There was no prior announcement, despite the fact that the start of panels were being announced on the public address system, which is a nice way to remind people of the panels they planned on attending so they don't miss them.

THE ART OF THE COVER was a talk by several very established comic book artists talking about what went into making a comic book cover the last line of the marketing of a comic. They talked about how comic book covers had evolved from explaining the story that would unfold within the pages of the magazine to an effort to get the magazine to shout "Pick Me" off the lineup that is now how retailers display them. They shared some great tips for aspiring artists while telling of their working relationships with editors and above.

EVERYTHING STAR WARS: Steve Sansweet moderated a Q&A with Jeremy Bulloch, Peter Mayhew, Maria de Aragon, Dave Barclay, and Ray Park. Steve and Jeremy began with verbal sparring until Ray Park arrived. Ray was the most physical of them and he entertained people moving from place to place on the two room stage. Of course there were plugs for the upcoming Celebration V in August.

SKIFFYTOWN STORY TIME, SUPERHERO RADIO DRAMA recorded a live radio broadcast for kids using costume performers and the audience. They later held a panel on COSTUMING YOUR OWN CHARACTER. They shared techniques that allowed them to create their unique costumes, which they could live in all day at conventions, on a modest budget. These tips were similar to some of the ones imparted yesterday by the 501st in their prop creation panel. Keep your eyes open while shopping, particularly at thrift stores, and be ready to tear apart items to get the effect that you need.

There are many areas of SF fandom where I think the practitioners need to come together and either help each other out or teach the techniques that each has learned. This is one of the reasons that OSFest is a science fiction convention with something for everyone. We are trying to learn from other groups and share what we know. The MEGACON UNIVERSAL COSTUME CONTEST could have used a little planning help from the people who put on costume contests at literary conventions, like Worldcon. The costumes that were presented on stage were well made, but with a little effort in staging the event, they could each have shined. They had to share the stage with tables from the prior panel and had no theme music unique for each of them. The judges and MC did a good job, but the lack of a masquerade planning meeting with the contestants was evident. It was a good show, but it could have been a spectacular one.

You know it's a late night when Cthulhu puts in an appearance. HAMLET: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO by Willie's Wenches was an adult oriented comedy performance of Shakespeare's' Hamlet, complete with filked Disney songs. It was a very bawdy but entertaining performance to end the evening. A Cthulhu hand puppet was part of the cast.

Trudy's Comment: Not all that late, John, since after Hamlet, we had to walk 6000 miles back to car, drive back to the resort, and we still got there before 10 PM. I don't think Megacon did anything past 9 PM.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Megacon 2010 Day 1

I am at the three day comic convention held in Orlando annually known as Megacon. This is Friday and here are my impressions:
Remember the noise problems that both OSFest and AnimeNebrasKon had between panel walls? If you didn’t experience them, where were you (go back and see Support Your Local Convention)? Well, it seems that major convention centers are not immune from such happenings either. I found it hard to listen to the five comic book artists talk about storytelling over the Indy Film Festival going on in the next room. The lesson here for all convention programmers is to schedule a buffer room between activities that will by their nature be loud and everyone else.

Okay, what is the fascination with celebrity Q&A panels? I attended two of them; Billy Dee Williams and James Hong. While I found them mildly entertaining, it is not something that I would seek out on my own. Normally, I like panels that will challenge me intellectually or teach me something. But I would love to have those people who like these activities to teach me and the rest of my readers how to enjoy them. So either leave a comment (or two, three, four) on this subject, or drop me a guest blog if you have a lot of information to relate. I, for one, want to hear from you.

The panel that I actually enjoyed the most on Friday was the Hardware Store Props panel presented by members of the Florida Garrison of the 501st. One gentleman showed how to build Star Wars replica weapons from parts found in a hardware store and did a resin cast of an assassin robot head in about ten minutes. Another individual showed off and discussed how he built several lightsabers from parts found in the plumbing department of the local hardware store. They were a couple of great guys inviting others to join their great hobby. To me, this is what fandom is all about.

More thoughts about this convention as the days pass.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Out Of This World Event

Over 40 costumes, props, and models from the films and TV series, and most of them had been actually used before the camera. For anyone interested in costuming or prop-making, this is heaven. “Out of this World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television” is currently on exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando FL until May 16, 2010. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography while viewing the exhibit, but you can take away a lot of detail, if you are willing to take notes.

The costume Burt Ward wore on the 1960’s Batman television series was made from t-shirts - really simple, but it looked right out of the comics on television. And while there were small tubes in his utility belt, I couldn’t find any pockets for any of the gear George Clooney needed to carry in BATMAN AND ROBIN, but at least his gloves were the right color; the display for the 1960’s Robin had yellow gloves, while the attached photo had the actor in black gloves. The embroidery work on Mark Leonard’s Savek costume was simple but very impressive. But that was overshadowed by the sequin work in the Riddler costume that James Carrey wore in BATMAN FOREVER.

The first costume displayed as you enter the exhibit is a Klingon uniform. I studied this one closely, since I am currently working on one, and noticed several differences between it and what I thought was needed. I don’t think I am going to build a set of split toed boots for mine. The costumes worn by Jeri Ryan and Jolene Blalock, as 7 of 9 in VOYAGER and T’Pol in ENTERPRISE, were both simple jump suits, like the flight suit used by Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS. Some of the attached commentary included Ms. Ryan’s on how uncomfortable that costume was to wear. She had to wear a corset under it and no underwear (as the material was so thin that panty lines would have shown through). Also I noticed that all the STAR TREK costumes included feet straps.

Anyone who is a 501st Stormtrooper should be glad for today’s helmets. The one on display was not made of light plastic but a very thick material which was already starting to crack around its base. And I have to ask you guys; is the scope actually mounted backwards? It looked to us like you would be looking in the wrong end, assuming a stormtrooper actually used the scope.

The Proton Packs from GHOSTBUSTERS appeared to be made of Styrofoam, as the Dr. Stantz costume that Dan Aykroyd wore in the movie was on display.

This exhibit was organized by the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, so if you can’t make it to Orlando by May 16th, drop the Seattle museum a line to see if they are going to put it on the road. Or if anyone can make it up to Seattle, let me know what you think of the museum.
If you have collected, built, or created something that you would like to display at the Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, OSFest, email me at to let me know what you have and how you would like it displayed. If you would like to talk about your collection or construction techniques, I also want to hear from you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Maidens And Monsters

There is a very lucky private collector in Central Florida. Stephen D. Korshak, a 57 year old Florida attorney has a wonderful collection of original artwork from the pulp era of science fiction. While my wife and I are down here in Orlando for Megacon, we took the time to see the part of his collection that is on display at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park, FL for their Maidens and Monsters: The Art of Science Fiction, Adventure and Fantasy art exhibit.

This is a collection of 80 years of original pulp magazine art, both cover and interior, along with several book jacket illustrations. It included works by Frank Frazetta, Hannes Bok, N.C. Wyeth, Margaret Brundage, Frank R. Paul, Richards Powers, Micheal Whelan, Frank Kelly Freas, Virgil Finlay, J. Allen St. John, Ed Emsh, and many more.

Along with their works was a brief history about the artist, where they succeeded and how they faded into obscurity. Laid out was the process used to create what was one of the more vivant images in the collection (before the inks used faded) and the cover jacket from the book that was still unfaded. In the case of L. Ron Hubbard’s SLAVES OF SLEEP, the artist used four different plates to produce the color image. One for the red, yellow and blue separately then he followed those up with a black plate. It was the red paint that had faded off the original artwork, it is still visible on the book jacket displayed.

It was also interesting to look at the original works of Margaret Bondage and the magazine covers they were placed on and see the changes the magazine editors made to the artwork. Margaret worked in nudes.

You could definitely see in this collection the way the solar system had been imaged in the thirties, forties, and early fifties. Frazetta depicted John Carter bravely battling on the surface of Mars, Hannes Bok had his tourists striding forth on airless moons with space suits sporting vacation style hats on the cover of MARVEL SCIENCE FICTION (1951 SF magazine), and Virgil Finlay’s The Golden City appeared on the cover of FAMOUS FANTASTIC MAGAZINE.

This was the golden age for publishing science fiction. Not only was anything possible in the universe, but there were several monthly magazines that were bringing you these ideas. We had ASTOUNDING (now ANALOG) and FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION but there was also: WEIRD TALES, AMAZING, WONDER STORIES, MARVEL SCIENCE FICTION, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MAGAZINE, and PLANET STORIES to name a few of them. This was the era of the short story as the avenue into our future, today it is the novel. Is one better than the other? Not really, though up until the advent of the e-book readers, I could carry more stories in one magazine than in book form.

Maidens and Monsters will be at the Albin Polasek Museum until April 18, 2010 if you happen to be in the Orlando area before then. If not, consider asking the fans in your area if there is a collector who also has such wonderful artwork and see if there is a way they can be displayed at a local convention. ConQuesT has done this effective with Frank Kelly Freas’ work. Science fiction from the golden age on is our heritage, we should make an effort to look to the past when we are looking to the future.

Join us at OSFest 3, where we will be talking about Fanzines, fan publications of fiction, commentary, and letters, from both a historical and current perspective.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How To Throw A Room Party!

So, you want to host a room party?

We at OSFest Central love room parties. But if you want to throw one you need to let the convention you are planning to throw it at know that you want to. Why? They usually have a special floor for room parties. Often they have booked that entire floor or made arrangements so that that floor is just for convention attendees. People wanting to actually sleep are off on another floor, where they will not to be bothered by the merry-makers on the party floor. Usually this just requires an email to the convention’s hotel liaison after you have booked your room and they will take care of the room arrangements.

For those folks who are new to room parties, go to: for an in-depth guide to planning your party.

The Comfort Inn & Suite has been good to us regarding room parties. They have blocked off the third floor, the same floor we have our Con Suite on, just for our party animals. We have only had a single incident where a non-convention family got booked on that floor. All of our parties have been civilized enough to keep any security involvement away, while still being fun enough to last well into the night, even the wide Karaoke party by our Artist Guests of Honor last year.

Throwing a room party is easy; book a room, contact the hotel liaison to let him know, and follow the guidelines at or make up your own. But come to the convention and have a great time. OSFest 3 will be July 23-25, 2010, pre-registration rates are still available.