Sunday, March 1, 2009

MegaCon Revisited

My wife knows a guy who works at the Orange County Convention Center, so we occasionally get free tickets to events we wouldn’t otherwise attend. For example, one year we went to a Reptile Show. I don’t have any particular interest in snakes, but it was fascinating to see the kind of people who do.

Likewise, a couple of years ago, we attended MegaCon – a giant convention for lovers of comics, anime, sci-fi and fantasy. It was full of people in bizarre costumes, exotic (often creepy) merchandise, and a pervasive spirit of fun and goodwill. We took my daughter, and she wandered the aisles with us, displaying nothing more than mild amusement.

When my wife’s acquaintance offered us tickets to this year’s MegaCon, we decided to go, because this year my daughter had an intense interest. She’s not interested in comics, anime, sci-fi or fantasy. Rather, she’s interested in sword fighting.

It seems that her boyfriend and a couple of other guys she knows are involved in a loose organization called Way of the Sword, and they meet twice a week at a local park to engage in practice sword battles using foam swords. There are different “clans” in the organization, who come together occasionally for a full day of games involving foam swords. I confess I have no interest in this activity, other than the fact that it’s free and it gets my daughter out of the house and provides her with some exercise. It’s almost entirely composed of geeky boys. My daughter’s clan was organized by a theater major who is actually skilled and knowledgeable at the use of swords, so they’re not just running around swatting wildly at each other. There’s actual training and discipline involved.

Way of the Sword had a booth at Megacon this year, and anyone who wanted to wait in line could duel with another person for a dollar. The booth was being run by the organizer of my daughter’s clan. This is him, I swear:


At one point, Darth Vader and Chewbacca engaged in a swordfight, to the delight of the crowd:


There’s a huge group of gamers who attend, because of the fantasy element found in so many console and board games. Here’s a group of gamers, watching transfixed as other gamers play:


There were at least four booths selling nothing but gaming dice, some made out of precious materials such as jade and silver. I can't imagine how hard it is to make a living selling dice.


Comics were everywhere, and lots of independent comic artists sat at tables trying to drum up interest in their products. I spoke to one of them, who said that distributors require you to have 3 complete issues of your comic ready before they’ll take you on, and if the first issue doesn’t generate at least $32,000 in sales, they drop you. It doesn’t sound like a good business for an artist, but there were dozens of guys trying to break in to the market.


In fantasy worlds, weapons are very popular. There were about a dozen vendors selling genuine swords with sharp, deadly blades. But there were only about three vendors selling Airsoft-type guns:



Because so many people attend in costume, there were loads of booths selling costumes and costume accessories. It was a strange kind of delayed gratification, where the attendees wore costumes they bought at last year’s convention, and shopped for costumes to wear next year. But wow, the costumes!












Some costumes were more successful (or perhaps just less weird) than others. This, for example, is a guy:


And this is a man who shouldn't remove his shirt under any circumstances, particularly when he's trying to look like some kind of Ninja superhero:


I asked this guy who he was supposed to be, and he told me that he was dressed as a character he had created himself. Apparently, there's a whole group of them who design their own fantasy/superhero characters and then spend months making costumes just so they can show up at this event:


But once again, despite the crappy economy, everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves:



burton said...

Cool! Thanks for sharing! I forgot about it this year. Any special guests?

Tim said...

Yes, there were lots of D-list celebrities there. Mickey Dolenz and his one-hit-wonder daughter Ami Dolenz. The hot chick from Caddyshack. Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) was there, and so was Lou Ferrigno. Lou was at a table reading a text message on his cell phone and there was no line, so I walked up. I said, "Hi, Lou," and stuck out my hand. Of course, I forgot that he's deaf, so for an awkward couple of seconds he seemed to ignore me, poking buttons on his phone. Then he looked up and noticed I was standing there, smiled, and shook my hand.

burton said...

I forgot he was deaf too. Easy error to be made. At first, I was going to ask why he had a cell phone, but it sounds like he uses texting.

Anonymous said...

Hey was wondering if ya could shoot me some info on that Way of the Sword crowd, damn thing was fun and I'm trying to find out how to get a hold of someone. Unfortunately this seems to be the only link I can find from google.

If you(or someone else) can get something to me I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

Granville said...

Need info on Way of the Sword and the Sakura Moon Empire?

Email me, the guy with the crazy facepaint in photo 1. I'm in charge of the recruiting business with the Empire, and I'm more than happy to help you find a group nearby.

The email I use for this is below:

Hope to see you in the Empire,
-Granville Sharpe
Daimyo Toriyama Kojiro

PS I liked the blog entry. Especially the part about me. Man, am I beautiful.