Orlando MegaCon 2004 – A Lackluster Report
by Josh Sullivan
Fuck, I knew I should’ve written this right after I got back from the convention. What I’m talking about is MegaCon, the big comic soiree that happens every year in Orlando. So, without any further ado, here’s my glorious weekend I had back in March, along with crayon drawings.
Friday, March 5th, 2004
I wasn’t completely ready since I had one final comic book I had to draw up and make copies of and then put together. I’ve been self-publishing comics for eight years now and I was finishing up my 122nd book, Chauncey #13. I got done around midnight and I ran to the copy shop (not Kinko’s, fuck them). I spent the next three hours making copies, assembling books, eating random meats I threw in my backpack, and trying not to fall asleep. I then went home and slept for about a half-hour.
Cut to the morning and my pals Joy Fuller and Chris Goodbread showed up in Joy’s tiny little car. We somehow managed to cram all of my comic shit in there and we headed off to Lakeland to pick up GB’s girlfriend, Tammi.
Everytime that the car hit a bump, we would hear a scraping noise. Eventually, we realized that it was because of all the weight of my comics that the frame was rubbing on the tires. We got Tammi and on the way up to the con, we had to resituate the stuff in the car a few times. I was freaked out the whole way up there because I kept thinking a tire was going to explode. We get to the Orange County Convention Center and the four of us lug in the mulititude of shit I brought. Goodbread and I went to get our badges and the lady running the Artist’s Alley section of the convention, Jennifer, says that she’s going to walk back to my table because she thinks there is going to be a problem.
We get to the table and this grumpy fuck has stolen it. He said he got there first and was entitled to it even though my name was on it. He started getting all lippy with Jennifer and said he needed to sit there because his friend Dragon Artist Man had the table next to it. Grumpy Man then tried to bribe me by saying “I’ll draw you something if I can have this table.” I told him no thanks and was very tempted to say that I already knew how to draw. Another head of the convention was then called down at this point because he wouldn’t leave! Chris and I were standing there waiting to get my crap all set up for forty-five minutes so I could start selling things. Jennifer looked through her book of all the artists attending and I ended up getting a great spot because I turned in my paperwork way back in October and this idiot had turned in his paperwork only a few weeks prior to the convention. Needless to say, he got moved to his right spot: the ass-end of the convention where hardly anyone would walk over to.
I set up my comics, art, used CD’s, and misc. junk and started handing out flyers to passers-by. At conventions, I’m always real personable and I say hi to people and hand them things to draw their attention to my work. Most comic artists sit there and brood and don’t interact with potential fans as they just draw in their sketchbook. I always want to make an impression on someone because I’m not widely known and there’s no way that’s going to change if I’m sitting on my ass acting shy of people who might want to buy my stuff.
People were coming up to the table and wondering why that old man was gone and why he stole my table. It was cool to meet some of the people who’ve seen my work before or to make some new fans. My pal Nick Roditcher had come down from my hometown of Saginaw, MI on vacation with his family and decided to make a stop by MegaCon. It wasn’t too entirely busy on Friday but I had fun and so did Joy, Chris, and Tammi. We left the majority of my belongings under my table and took off to go to the Amazing Bill Nord’s house because that’s where we were staying for the weekend.
We got to his house and I wanted to make babies with him because I love him so much and he’s so funny. I never stop laughing when I’m around him. We were hungry so Bill said we should go eat at the hospital. I had started putting food on my plate and then everyone else said they didn’t like any of the stuff they had out so we ended up going to Olive Garden. I ended up spitting a chunk of a breadstick on Joy for some reason and we all had a real nice meal. After that, we went to the liquor store because we’re all pretend drunks and we needed to live up to that label. Joy and I split a six-pack of something or other and we went back to Bill’s to drink. Some ridiculous show was on TV called “Having a Beer with Mike” and we were in awe of how odd it was. There was a midget who was dumpster diving and Mike was a big pud and then his sidekick was a guy pretending to be Richard Simmons. I ended up falling asleep shortly after and I probably had dreams about wanting to kill Mike from “Having a Beer with Mike”.
Saturday, March 6th, 2004
We all had a hard time waking up because sleep is so good but I did my impression of Pimento the Midget Rapper for Tammi and this magically made everyone want to leave. This turned out to be the biggest day of the convention and right off the bat when we got there, a ton of people were swarming my table. The guy next to me, Dragon Artist Man, kept getting mad because kids were standing in front of his table and at one point I said real loud, “Watch out, kids, this guy hates you so you should move.” I didn’t talk to him much the whole weekend because you could tell he was pissed at me for getting his little friend kicked into the back of the convention. I kept asking people if they liked swear words and they would most likely say “Of course!” and I would hand them comic flyers with comics featuring swear words. My friend Matt Rhodes showed up with his brother, Michael Rhodes Your Boat Ashore, and I kept giving them crap just for my amusement. Matt and his brother actually rock and I think they’re going to take over the world. I eventually wrapped Michael up in a bunch of sticker paper and then wrote things on it like “My back is full of skulls” and “Punch Me!”. Their family members who were sitting nearby got a kick out of that and it drew a big crowd over to my table. The people on the other side of me, from Valentine Comics, were absolutely awesome and they loved my shouting matches I’d get in with myself or the weird comments I’d make such as when a guy with yellow makeup walked by and I yelled “That guy has jaundice!”.
I made some new friends named Ricky and Erin and I played around with Ricky’s video camera for a bit and filmed people for non-existant magazines according to what they were wearing. Some of those included “Green Shirt Bi-Weekly”, “Back to the Future Magazine”, “Coal Chamber Gazette” and “Crappy Kabuki Make-Up Job Times”. These idiots were falling for it and actually believed I was interviewing for these magazines. I asked them questions about themselves and then about my comics and it was really funny.
At a few points during the weekend, I gave some awesome interviews about my comics and such things I didn’t know anything about. I saw this news crew walking around and asked them what they were filming for and they said on a story about gaming. I said I knew absolutely nothing about gaming and I would be great to interview. They started filming me and I went into this whole bullshit story: “I was playing with some twenty-sided dice and they kept coming up “3” and “19” when I would roll them. It kept happening over and over and then I looked down and I realized I was playing with my balls. I had somehow written “3” on one ball and “19” on the other and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t playing with twenty-sided dice at all.” They got a kick at how crazy I am and the people around me were in awe at the shittalking that spewed out of my mouth the whole weekend.
I finally got to meet the darling Heather Lorusso, who came to the con with another one of those Ink 19 people, Matthew Moyer. I talked to them for a short time but there were so many damn kids around my table that it was hard. They took some pics and I drew dumb drawings for people and they left. Mr. Julio Diaz also stopped by a couple times and it was good to see him, too. A person I had been wanting to meet was Louis Rosen, who had played sax in the ska/punk band Baker Act from Gainesville. We had e-mailed each other back and forth a few times and found out we were both going to be at MegaCon so it was a real treat when he came up to my table and we talked for a bit. Baker Act is one of my favorite bands ever so that was pretty cool to finally meet someone that was in it. Cameron Worden, of Lawnmowers Gone Awry fame, also showed up and hung around my table for a bit. He gave me stuff and I was glad because if he didn’t, I would’ve never talked to him again.
At one point a couple guys came up to my table, the Cook Bros., and just stood there for a few seconds looking at me and then they said that I influenced them to start making their own books. I was totally shocked and that made me feel really good about still continuing on with this comic shit. Matt Rhodes had then come back for the 8,000th time and I took him with me as I went to talk to Chris Staros of Top Shelf. I thanked Chris for e-mailing me back when I sent him a copy of the big ‘zine I made, “Stand Together”. I told him he had a lot of class just by e-mailing me and letting me know he liked the book because most people won’t even do that since the majority of the population is lazy. I also got to meet Jesse DeStasio, who is the head of the SubCultures toy exhibit (which includes some by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer) and he liked my comics. I’m going to work on a toy design to maybe have it get added to SubCultures.
The group of Joy, Chris, Tammi, and me all trudged back to the car and then through the traffic to Bill’s. We watched some Stella Comedy shorts and then the tape of Bill’s comedy masterpiece, “Flapjacks and Fannypacks”. We all then went out drinking and the first stop was to this awesome bar that was located above a bakery. The bartender there was real nice and I gave her a Chauncey comic that she hung on the wall. Bill’s roommate Eric was there and I also love Eric because I just do. We listened to some music from a band that was playing there and Bill eventually poured his beer into an empty wine bottle that was on the table. He ended up doing some stand-up and playing really funny songs on the keyboard that was there. At one point, he hit a button that played old-time music and he said “This goes out to everyone from the 17th Century. You know who you are.”
We left there and went to a dive bar somewhere else in Orlando so we could sing Karaoke. We got some beer and perused the song list. Bill and I chose “Take on Me” and wrote it out on sheet of paper to give to the woman in charge of playing the hits. We also wrote that we were the singing duo known as The Lions. We belted out that damn A-Ha song like it had never been sung before and we even made up a little dance to go along with it. It was so much fun to be buzzed and singing Karaoke for the first time ever. While other people sang, Bill and I danced to their awful crooning. I went around asking people questions for a fake magazine I said I was from and we met some girl who’s name I don’t remember, a guy named Daryl and a guy named Billy Jack. We asked the woman what she thought of Daryl and she said he was a lovely drunk. She also said that the singing of The Lions was better than the dancing of The Lions.We asked Daryl what he thought of The Lions and he said they were great and he told us he’d been hanging out at that particular bar for three years now. I asked him if he had naked women at his house and he said yes. I asked Billy Jack if he liked The Lions and he gave a resounding “Yeah” and I continued on with why he chose a particular song he had just sung and his reponse was “The women.”, whatever that meant. As he went to go sing for the umpteenth time that evening, we saluted Billy Jack with our beers and he stopped for a second, looked over at us, and said “You don’t want to mess with me. I’m having a good night so far.” When he was done, he came over and put his arm around my neck and squeezed me and told us not to fuck with him. Bill wanted to kill him and we now have a personal hatred for Billy Jack. Chris and I sang a Toadies song to round out the night and we high-tailed it out of there before Billy Jack would’ve gotten a knuckle sandwich.
Sunday, March 7th, 2004
The last day of the convention was wearing on us all and we just wanted it to be done. I didn’t sell too much stuff but I sure had a lot of fun. I ended up throwing fries in people’s mouths as they walked by. I stood on my table a few times screaming things and people would come over. I’m sure I left quite the mark on their brains with my idiocy. Tammi and I went over to go talk to George Lowe, the voice of Space Ghost. I said hi to him and before I knew it, George goes “Aren’t you the guy who gave me the pin with the kid having yellow hair?” and I was shocked because it was one of my Josh Comics pins I gave him two years ago. I told him yes and he said that he still had it and it was right by his phone. I gave him some of my newer comics and headed back to my table to start packing things up. The guy who was next to me and pissed off the whole weekend had left while we were gone and he took off so fast, he even left some of his stuff there. My pals Gwen, Arlen, and Aubry took about half of my crap back with them to St. Pete so it wouldn’t weigh down the car. The whole weekend, I only spent five bucks on parking at the convention so I didn’t really have anything extra to lug home.
We headed back to Bill’s and all ended up taking a nap. I woke up in a puddle of drool and we watched TV for a bit. There was this really odd infomercial on for this appliance place and it was quite intriguing. It had a lot of green and yellow in it, too. We said our goodbyes to Bill and headed back on I-4. We discovered a 24-hour Arby’s and we ate there. I told Tammi she looked like the Arby’s Oven Mitt when she makes this goofy face that she does from time to time. We dropped her off and went back to St. Pete. It was so much fun and I can’t believe it took me so long to write about it.