After a decade of attending conventions as an artist, Megacon being the last 7 years of that, I took a year off for a number of reasons. This was the first time hitting MegaCon as an attendee and, as with doing shows before, the whole family went. Now keep in mind that a lot of my thoughts on the show are still through those “rose colored glasses” of a previous artist alley attendee.
Parking: Although still ridiculous at $10 for a day, I do know the convention center sets this, not the show and even though it was in the same lot that was terrible last time the show debuted in the South concourse, it was pretty painless. We got in parked and the local “dudes on tricycle than can haul your ass around that I don’t know the official title of” were making the best of the situation(and making a killing) to transport our ass to the entrance.
Entry and End of Day Exit: Getting our tickets was super easy. It helped that I popped in Saturday to grab Sunday’s wristbands near the end of the day, which I highly recommend. Exiting sucked ass as the one entrance you could enter and leave from all day was closed and (convention) security were being asshats about it. We parked a straight shot from the entrance and ended up having to walk around the entire building, then the parking lot with an exhausted 4-year-old in tow. Not. Cool.
“Media” Guests: Tons of guests and some new faces I haven’t seen down here. Quite a few high-profile cancellations, but that’s something literally every show deals with and completely outside their control and they did a good job scrambling for replacements. (Dammit get Ron Perlman). [The move from March to end of May when shows tend to start shooting again definitely hasn’t helped this issue – editor]
Pro Section: The opening up of the pro section to more indie artists (and getting the word out) helped beef up this area with a few new faces, and a few old faces I haven’t seen in years. I’d love to see more West coast artist guests on the indie side of things. Most of the “Pro artists” we the same fair we get at every show between Tampa and Orlando, with a handful of exceptions (J. Scott Campbell!).
Artist Alley: *puts on rose colored glasses*
Still a mess. Still too many artists crammed into one spot. Lots of empty tables or tables you can tell “were empty” that someone expanded over too, which reinforces the fact that they need to cut down on artist alley. The layout was akin to a flea market with lots of short aisles and endcaps, and even with a floorplan where I literally mapped out everyone I wanted to see, I missed people. AGAIN no signs overhead, or row markers. Look I realize that shortening tables, getting rid of the colored table skirts and signage and breaking the long rows with ample walkway into shorter rows with more endcaps to sell makes it a more profitable layout, but it isn’t working. I say that as an attendee this year, albeit with an artist perspective. It was exhausting getting through the area, even more so with kids. I was there all day and didn’t even get to shop the vendor area really at all (read I went to one vendor Big Redhead Comics because I literally marked him on my map)…
Vendor Exhibitor Area: Geico? Lasik? Five hour Energy? That’s…yeah, that makes me wonder about people being on board, especially with the call going out a couple weeks prior to the that few were still available. I’m sure they all did well. Geico had a good presentation and they sponsored the cosplay contest for adults and did a Hell of a job from what I heard. Five Hour energy, while yes maybe kinda being the demographic…kinda like kids are still the demographic for Facebook yeah? Their booth was largest there. I wish there was a Marvel, DC, or Image, Or Hell, Darkhorse (yes please) with that kind of setup.
Cosplay Area: So this is where all empty space from Artist Alley went. They did have some cool backdrops setup up for taking photos. It was nice to see the Cat5 Ghostbusters have larger accommodations this year. My son loved the R2D2s and Daleks. I think the idea may have been to give cosplayers a place to congregate…but no one told them.
Food: Hot damn what a selection! While still a little more expensive than Disney (same price, less food really) there were enough places that lines weren’t bad and enough tables open that we found a place to sit relatively quickly.
Panels: To beat a dead horse with a dead horse, we spent enough time trying to navigate the floor and see everyone, I didn’t do any. We DID do the kids cosplay contest though, which was a blast. (It helped my son won Third place)
Summary / TL;DR?: Look I’m not the average attendee, so of course, my opinion is going to sway in interests of the artists. We weren’t dropping ridiculous amounts of cash for photo ops or getting autographs (that was last year) so one day was more than enough for us. I think if anyone hasn’t been to a show before, they would definitely have a good time (and not be nearly as picky or passive aggressive about it as me).
Artist Addendum: From an artist’s perspective, look, MegaCon isn’t the old show we all grew up with. It’s literally a cookie cutter version of Informa‘s other shows, right down to artist alley having zero visibility on their website (because who needs Google indexing from a heavily trafficked website right?). I realize Informa bought MegaCon for two things, the name and gaining a foothold down here in Florida with an established base of attendees, I also know it’s counter productive both logistically and financially to change it. That said, I still say just rip off the band-aid and drop the MegaCon name. This way everyone will stop comparing it to what it was and if they say “this isn’t how MegaCon used to be”, they can throw back, “No duh, it ISNT MegaCon! You don’t get wide aisles, an easily readable map and signs, your 8-foot tables and a three (instead of four) day show that isn’t the same weekend as literally 30+ shows across the US literally all trying to get the same guests and attendees.”
Because really…it isn’t anymore.