For many comic, anime and gaming fans, MegaCon is the massive celebratory geek event that they look forward to all year long. For someone used to the intimacy of a horror convention like Spooky Empire, MegaCon tends to be more than a little overwhelming. It’s a massive space that requires a shuttle to get from one end to the other, walking the floor of the convention itself is like running a marathon. Everything going on is amazing, but there’s just so much of it.
Sometimes a sea of people like that can be hard to navigate, but I’m happy to report that that was not the case this year. This was my easiest MegaCon experience to date. For the first time, I had no trouble finding event parking, no trouble finding my way toward the convention, or even really navigating the panels, celebrities and vendor rooms. When there are thousands upon thousands of people crammed into a single, massive space, knowing where you are and where you’re going are hugely important. It was definitely a relief to see the convention make clear strides in this area.
As for the events themselves, for me those were the main attraction this year. There were so many different panels covering so many different topics and they all felt impressively inclusive. MegaCon is the rare kind of convention that can succeed at catering to every kind of fan because it’s actually big enough to pull that off. There’s always the major comic and pop culture stuff, like a terrific and energetic Flash panel with stars Danielle Panabaker and Tom Cavanagh.
But there was also a horror film festival going on in the middle of all of this, screening independent features that would not otherwise get this kind of huge exposure.
Horror fans also got to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Stars Nicholas Brendan, James Marsters and Eliza Dushku were all in attendance, each with their own individual panel to talk about their work on the show and their larger career.
My only complaint about that is that it seems like a wasted opportunity to not have one larger Buffy panel with all three stars talking about the show together. As great as it is to have those panels, it feels like the Buffy celebration fell a bit short in that regard.
Luckily, Buffy fans still had one off-the-wall, goofy event to look forward to in a shadow cast screening of the musical episode “Once More, With Feeling.” That was great fun, but the group putting it on was also doing three other shadow casts that weekend and it was easy to tell in places that they were spreading themselves thin. But it was still a great time and the audience participation was surprisingly lively.
That screening was great for me, too, because I got to hear complete strangers complaining about an article of mine in person for the very first time. Because 99% of the AP lines for “Once More, With Feeling” are about how useless Dawn is, people were shrieking their disdain for the character all the way through. I guess it was only natural to overhear people voicing their contempt for my Defense of Dawn Summers piece as they continued to bicker about the character after the screening. You can read that article here.
The shadow cast was one of the last events at the end of the day on Saturday, and I had expected Sunday to be a little bit calmer, but that wasn’t really the case. It was somewhat easier to get around, but there were still a ton of people there. The main draw for me on that day was a bit of a somber panel on the Love is Love anthology.
This anthology comic brought together a huge amount of top-tier comic book talent under the direction of writer Marc Andreyko. The comic book brings together a diverse group of talent in a tribute to the Pulse tragedy. All of the proceeds from the book have gone to charity, with Andreyko announcing that the proceeds will actually be going to a different LGBT charity every year. For 2017, sales of Love is Love will benefit The Trevor Project.
Most people involved in the anthology are not from Orlando, they felt affected by it as a member of the larger community, but to have them be here, talking about what happened and why they felt the need to put something together—it was a very touching and emotional hour, both from the writers and artists on the panel as well as the audience.
I encourage anyone with even a passing interest in comics to check out the book, though. With so many different writers and artists, Love is Love stands out as both a celebration of love itself in any and all forms, as well as an attempt to seek understanding of how something so deeply horrible can happen. Speaking as someone who lives here and had to make sure friends of mine were safe during the event, it struck a chord. It’s an emotional book, but a powerful one. It’s, simply put, what art is for.
Overall, MegaCon was exactly as it should be: an enormous celebration of all things geek and pop culture related, be it comics, sci-fi, anime or horror. While I left exhausted and my feet are still sore, it was a great weekend full of so many fun events and interactions. The layout felt like a distinct improvement over previous years. If they keep that focus on making the convention so easy to navigate, I definitely encourage fans to check this out moving forward.