The Mad Monster Party returned to Charlotte this weekend, March 21-23, 2014, by far their biggest effort yet. This was the third year for the convention that celebrates everything from old school Twilight Zone to A House of 1,000 Corpses, and everything in between. In fact, where else could you find Leatherface himself, RA Mihailoff reciting the Bard with Shakespeare Carolina, while music legends The Misfits looked on? It was truly a bizarre weekend.
I had the great fortune to be invited by local independent film makers, Long Walk Productions, to hang with them at their vendor booth for the convention. This meant that my time was split between working the Con and also enjoying it from a visitor’s perspective. It’s interesting to see things from both sides of the house, especially if you want a clear impression of what is really going on around you. It’s always a good thing, unless of course you are reviewing a restaurant. In that case, I assure you…stay out of the kitchen.
The Mad Monster Party (MMP) was set up between two large ballrooms at the University Place Hilton in Charlotte. The hotel is situated by a small lake, amongst many shops and restaurants all connected by small footbridge. Parking was a little tricky, but almost always is at events such as these. MMP utilized every bit of space that they could, lining the hallways of the hotel with various vendor booths and installing a gala tent in the parking lot. Everywhere you turned, strange collectibles and stars of the macabre awaited. Upon set up Friday, it seemed as though everything was planned to perfection. Little did I know how busy things were in the lobby with people trying to get through Will Call with their pre-paid ticket receipts.
And then, of course, came Saturday. Saturdays are notorious for being the busiest convention day because that’s when most people are able to attend. It became evident quickly that the volunteer staff was not prepared to handle the situation. Social media began to explode with posts citing excessively long lines and ticketing issues among other things. Television and film star John Schneider, who was there to do a special screening of his new film Smothered, remained positive as he told me, “We had a good turnout [for the screening] but I wouldn’t do it on a Friday night again, because I’ve had a bunch of people say that they couldn’t get in last night because in order to see Smothered, they had to get in here first. And the line was too long, so by the time they got their ticket, Smothered was either already started or over.” Aside from that snafu, Schneider seemed rather pleased with the rest of MMP.
That seemed to be the consensus all around. Nightmare on Elm Street’s Heather Langenkamp, commenting on the amount of people waiting in line to meet her, “It’s something like I have never experienced.” For the most part, vendors and celebrities were easily accessible, with no more than a 10 minute wait at any given time. But as Saturday progressed, maneuverability waned. Table lines grew wildly, specifically for William Shatner, Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, and Corey Feldman. Traffic flow to the tables was not designated prior, so fans were coming at them from all sides. It was a complete cluster. Finally, someone had the sense to put some silver duct tape on the floor in front of Elvira’s table to split the flow of traffic in either direction. Feldman told me, “I think it’s [MMP] great, you know. It’s probably the biggest one I’ve seen outside of [San Diego] Comic Con, that would be my guess.”
Joe Moe, one of the three event organizers, was on hand throughout the weekend, talking to vendors, guests, and overseeing things first hand. I witnessed him assess a pedestrian traffic jam and quickly remedy the situation by addressing volunteer staff and guests. Having been on the working side of conventions before, I know how overwhelming things can become. Moe, always with a smile on his face, took it all in stride. “We’re having some growing pains, yes. Ballpark, it looks like we’re on track with 4-5,ooo in attendance, which is what we had hoped for.” Moe also made sure to respond to comments on social media outlets throughout the weekend, which were not always positive, and address concerns in the best way that he could. “We’re really responsive to fans.”
Many of those fans had some downright horrible things to say in their posts. This is the first time that I have seen that level of response to a convention. Sure, I had issues with the event. For starters, the power went off twice in the ballroom leaving everyone in the dark for a few moments. The A/C was all but non-existent. There wasn’t enough signage or a proper map laid out in their pamphlets to let guests know which celebs were in which ballroom, or to provide the location of any special panels (the tent in the parking lot, in case you were wondering). One of the actors, I won’t name names, bumped into me at a water cooler. “I ain’t seen a staff member in hours.” He’d had to abandon his autograph table in order to get a drink of water because volunteers all but disappeared the more chaotic the crowd became. There were so many things that I witnessed–again, as both vendor and guest–that I would have done differently.
Certainly, there were cases where the venting was called for. If I’d pre-purchased tickets and still been subjected to a 3.5hr line to hand in the receipt, I would have been pissed! If my car had been lost by the valet (yes, that happened) the whole world would have known about it. But, the majority of the complaints were, in my opinion, blown out of proportion. I don’t know anything about this Joe Moe or his colleagues. But what I do know, is that someone who is a fanboy at heart, got the idea to start a convention. A party by the fans for the fans. For everything that was wrong, so much of the weekend was right. Even Disney World gave me a headache (fast-pass my behind). But it was still one of the greatest vacations of my life.
That being said, let’s consider the rest of MMP, shall we? One minute I’m discussing special effects make-up with the great Tom Savini, and the next, I’m cracking jokes with the likes of Richard Kiel and Dick Miller. There was a panel between WWF (yeah…I said it) legends Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan. Henry “the Fonz” Winkler was showing off children’s books. Cherie Currie was chatting me up on the history of rock legends the Runaways. Corey Feldman used my cell phone. Megan Grant, a licensed cosmetologist and entrepreneur, was set up with her Get Dead Crew, providing air-brush and prosthetics to people, literally turning them into monsters on site. There was karaoke in the hotel bar Saturday night. I laid down the boogie and played that funky music til they died. Or at least until the Misfits’ Dr. Chud cracked up laughing at me. The highlight of my weekend at MMP was Saturday night at midnight, when an estimated 1,000 guests piled into the gala tent to watch a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring a spectacular shadow-cast troupe called That Type from Charlotte’s Cinebarre, and featuring the film’s stars Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn and “Little” Nell Campbell. RHPS historian, Larry Vizel was on hand to film and conduct interviews for the upcoming 40th anniversary documentary Rocky Horror Saved My Life. It was an historical evening. In her second year attending with her family, Roseana Matthews found a “Golden Ticket” in the “Monsta Bar” she had purchased. The chocolates were a monster mock up of the famous Wonka Bar, with 6 lucky winners being upgraded to RIP status.
I guess the point that I’m trying to make, is that people need to lighten up. Unless something truly horrible happened to you or someone you care about as a direct result of something at a convention, you’re problem isn’t as big as you’re making it out to be. MMP is, as Moe said, experiencing growing pains. In 3 short years, the event has grown exponentially. Given their celebrity guest list, perhaps they should have considered a different venue. This is an event that is convention center worthy, crammed into a hotel. In order to make up for the overcrowding (which, according to local news, had the attention of the Fire Marshall), organizers will need to carefully consider where they set up next year. Or at least, reconsider the amount of vendors in the halls (many in wheelchairs had difficulties navigating) or alter the layout. Volunteer staff could be better trained. But this is how it is done, honestly, trial and error. As an event organizer, you try to prepare for every possible scenario you can imagine and you train your staff based on that. Without fail, something unexpected will always crop up; being short handed, celebs that cancel, ticketing issues, photo-op issues, and so forth. Conventions should be looked at as viable organisms, growing and changing and evolving. They will never be able to please all fans all the time. But they will certainly try. Year to year, they’ll try.
And it’s important for MMP to learn from their mistakes and move forward a little more prepared next year. For every celebrity guest I interviewed raved about how much fun they were having and how they couldn’t wait to come back. Celebrating all that scares us excites our film heroes, too. “Your first scare is the most important one you have,” said Langenkamp, admitting that the Flying Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz is what started it all for her. Dick Miller laughed, “I’ve very rarely been scared by movies…except for something Shirley Temple did.” Barry Bostwick had other ideas, “You wanna know why I do this? I do this to talk to lovely people like you and to oogle the girls. I just sit here and watch the girls go by.” Thanks, Barry.
All in all, in spite of a few hiccups–some preventable, some not–I think Mad Monster Party was a huge success. It is a relaxed environment where you get to hang out with the celebrities, rather than being separated from them like at some other conventions. Between the few panels that they had, the movie screenings, and the Rocky Horror reunion, it was definitely worth the ticket price for anyone who attended. Even though I did my fair share of mumbling and complaining throughout the weekend, I will admit, as a fan I am grateful an event such as this has been put together. I hope that, in time, other fans will learn to appreciate what all goes into putting on an event of this size and what they got to experience over all. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings for the Mad Monster Party!
Photos courtesy of Garrett Marks and Walker Bait Productions, unless otherwise noted.
March 20, 2014 by Joe Fauvel
Filed under Animation, Anime, Collectibles, Comic Books, Comic Strips, Convention News, Cosplay, Florida, Gaming, Horror, Manga, Movies, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Sports, Television, Video Games, Webcomics
Win a Lifetime Pass to ALL Florida Supercon events, V.I.P. passes, and Weekend Passes!
* 1 LIFETIME PASS TO ALL FLORIDA SUPERCON EVENTS ($700 VALUE)
* 1 V.I.P. UPGRADE FOR FSC 2014 ($200 VALUE)
* 1 V.I.P. PASS FOR A FRIEND ($200 VALUE)
* 2 V.I.P. TICKETS TO FLORIDA SUPERCON 2014
* 2 FULL 4 DAY WEEKEND PASSES TO FLORIDA SUPERCON 2014
WINNERS WILL BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM ON APRIL 1, 2014 @ 9:00PM
NOTE: If you have already purchased tickets, and win the contest, you will receive a refund for the purchased tickets.
For more info on Florida SuperCon check out their website!
March 17, 2014 by Joe Fauvel
Filed under Animation, Anime, Book Festivals, Collectibles, Comic Books, Comic Strips, Convention News, Cosplay, Florida, Gaming, Horror, Manga, Movies, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Television, Video Games, Webcomics
The following map indicates available parking areas for MegaCon 2014 during the dates of March 21-23. The OCCC charges $9 per standard sized vehicle or $15 for oversized vehicle (RV or Bus). The OCCC will be providing complimentary shuttle services to and from the Destination Parkway Garage and Flat Lot, which is directly across from the Hilton Orlando hotel.
If you are staying at the DoubleTree Orlando by Sea World, the host hotel for MegaCon 2014, MegaCon will be providing complimentary shuttle service to and from the convention center and the Doubletree Friday-Sunday.
If you are staying at one of the hotels on I-Drive or Universal Blvd and do not want to drive over, there are cabs in the area that will drop you off in front of the South Building. Cost may vary based on distance away.
An alternative is utilizing the I-Ride Trolley, which has pick up and drop off locations in numerous locations up and down I-Drive. You can pay $2.00 per ride or purchase off their website or at your hotel, a 3 day unlimited pass for $7.00. This is a great alternative if you want to get back and forth to MegaCon without having to drive and find parking. For more information on the I-Ride Trolley for pick up and drop off locations or to purchase a trolley pass, please visit their website at:
March 17, 2014 by Joe Fauvel
Filed under Animation, Anime, Collectibles, Comic Books, Comic Strips, Convention News, Cosplay, Florida, Gaming, Horror, Manga, Movies, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Television, Video Games, Webcomics
Grab your game piece from one of sixteen amazing artists and start the hunt!
Collect them all and you’ll get an entry form to fill out and be entered for our daily prize pack!
For more info on MegaCon check out their website!
|JERSEY SHORE COMIC BOOK SHOW|
|Convention Website Address|
|This convention will take place:|
|Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)|
|About This Convention|
|The Jersey Shore Comic Book Show will be holding a show on Sunday July 20, 2014 at the Toms River Elks Club 600 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ. From 10am to 4pm. FREE Admission, FREE Parking.
Come out and meet the Writers, Creators and Artists of the comic business in our “ARTIST LOUNGE” with over 20+ guests !!
Special Appearances by the Imperial Klingon Forces, The Finest G.I.JOE costume club and more!!!
Door prizes, $how Ca$h and hourly drawings for great prizes!
|Venue Name and Address|
|TOMS RIVER ELKS CLUB
600 WASHINTON STREET
TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY 08753
|Number of Dealer/Exhibitor Tables|
|Please select the Category that best describes the convention|
|Rusty Gilligan, Paris Cullins, Neil Vokes, Tom Smith, Howard Bender, Paul Castiglia, Don Smith, Chris Ring, Jim Main, Robert Sodaro, Emilio Velez Jr, David Hardy, Michael Grassia, John Pross, Edward Dipollito, Rose Arenas, Mina Sanwald, Tom Schloendorn.|
This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Greg Capullo (Batman); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men: Battle of the Atom); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Tommy Lee Edwards (Star Wars); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); David Finch (Forever Evil); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (All-Star Western); Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Fred Hembeck (Garfield); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); JG Jones (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Black and White); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Barry Kitson (Empire); Aaron Kuder (Action Comics); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Alex Maleev (Moon Knight); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Tom Raney (Incredible Hulk); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Jim Starlin (Thanos: The Infinity Revelation); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe: A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony).
In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.
Please use the following e-mail addresses to contact the Baltimore Comic-Con:
email@example.com - for any general press inquiries or to be added to our PR distribution
firstname.lastname@example.org - for requesting exhibitor, publisher, and Artist Alley applications
email@example.com - for inquiries about submitted registrations
firstname.lastname@example.org - for the Harvey Awards ceremony and banquet
email@example.com - for general Baltimore Comic-Con inquiries
About The Baltimore Comic-Con
The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.
About The Harvey Awards
The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry’s oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 9 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.
March 6, 2014 by Joe Fauvel
Filed under Animation, Collectibles, Comic Books, Comic Strips, Convention News, Cosplay, Florida, Gaming, Horror, Movies, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Television, Video Games, Webcomics
Just a reminder, don’t miss out on one of the hottest parties during MegaCon 2014, hosted by our friends over at Moshi Moshi Productions.
-The 5th Annual MEGACON Attendees After Party-
Moshi-Moshi productions presents…
80’s Toons… gone WILD!
SATURDAY March 22, 2014 8PM-2AM
@ Backstage nightclub in (The Rosen Plaza Hotel)
***FREE VALET PARKING FOR THE EVENT***
Hero Initiative makes first-ever trip to Wizard World Sacramento!
LOS ANGELES, CA (February 27, 2014) Hero Initiative will be heading to Wizard World Sacramento March 7-9 at the Sacramento Convention center located at 1400 J Street to raise money for comic creators in need.
Artists around the floor have volunteered to be goodwill ambassadors, asking for donations to help Hero throughout the weekend. Make sure to drop by Paolo Rivera (Booth #A17), Jimmie Robinson (B14), and Arthur Suydam (A41) to help out!
In addition, Hero will be raffling off a Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again statue based on the art of Frank Miller, courtesy of Sacramento’s own Empires Comic Vault! You could be the lucky winner, so stop by booth 600A! See you there!
About The Hero Initiative
The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterday’s creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.
Since its inception, The Hero Initiative has had the good fortune to grant over $500,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today. For more information, visit www.heroinitiative.org or call 626-676-6354.
We’re still adding some great guests to the lineup, and now to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of A Nightmare on Elm Street we have added ROBERT ENGLUND and HEATHER LANGENKAMP! Meet them both at Spooky Empire’s May-Hem, on May 30-June 1 at the DoubleTree @ Universal. Get your advance tix, VIP packages and your hotel rooms today! http://