New England Super Megafest Comic Con Announces Panel & Photo Op Schedule


New England Super Megafest Comic Con has announced their panel and photo op schedule for this weekend’s show on November 21-22, 2015 at the Sheraton in Framingham, MA.


5:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Optional Early Advance Ticket Holder Attendee Check-In ONLY.

8:00 PM – 11:30 PM – COSPLAY COMEDY KICKOFF PARTY (separate admission)



9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Advance Ticket Holder Early Entry.


1:00 PM – 1:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – RICKY WHITTLE

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – MICHAEL BIEHN

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – NINJA TURTLES – MICHELAN SISTI and LEIF TILDEN with JUDITH HOAG


5:00 PM – 5:45 PM – Star Wars Trivia Contest

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Costume Contest

8:00 PM – Midnight – Saturday COME TOGETHER MUSIC FEST Concert – included with admission!

9:00 PM – MIDNIGHT – Saturday Night CosCLUB Party – included with admission!



9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Advance Ticket Holder Early Entry.

12:00 – 12:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – NICHELLE NICHOLS

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – KEVIN MCNALLY

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – TATUM O’NEAL

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM – Question and Answer Session – CAROLL SPINNEY

Please note: This schedule is subject to change. Please check back for updates




12:00 PM – 12:50 PM – Firefly: Out of Gas Shadowcast performance by RKO Army – included with Weekend or Saturday show admission!

1:00 PM – 1:50 PM – Firefly: Jaynestown Shadowcast performance by RKO Army – included with Weekend or Saturday show admission

2:00 PM – 2:50 PM – Buffy: Once More With Feeling Shadowcast performance by RKO Army – included with Weekend or Saturday show admission

3:00 PM – 3:50 PM – Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog Shadowcast performance by RKO Army – included with Weekend or Saturday show admission

5:00 PM – 6:45 PM – REPO! The Genetic Opera Shadowcast performance by RKO Army – included with Weekend or Saturday show admission

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadowcast performance by RKO Army – included with Weekend or Saturday show admission




12:00 PM- 12:45 PM – WORLD BUILDING – Hosted by New England Horror Writers

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM – SUPER-STORY TELLING THROUGH VIOLENCE – Hosted by East Coast Combative Arts

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – THE ART OF GENRE WRITING – Hosted by Stacey Longo and Matt Herring

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM – COMBAT: TAKING ON THE MOUNTAIN – Hosted by East Coast Combative Arts

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM – GETTING PUBLISHED 101 – Hosted by New England Horror Writers



11:00 AM – 11:45 AM – GETTING PUBLISHED 101 – Hosted by New England Horror Writers

12:00  PM – 12:45 PM – DR WHO 101 – Hosted by Matt Herring


2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – THE ART OF GENRE WRITING – Hosted by Stacey Longo and Matt Herring

Please note: This schedule is subject to change. Please check back for updates




NOTE: Professional Photo ops are purchased directly with photography company at convention.


11:15 – Bobby Hart
11:30 – Bob Morley (CANCELLED)
11:45 – Caroll Spinney
12:00 – John Schneider/Catherine Bach (Singles/Doubles)
12:30 – Michael Biehn
12:45 – Kevin McNally
1:00 – Judith Hoag
1:15 – Michelan Sisti/Leif Tilden (Singles/Doubles)
1:30 – Dennis Rodman
1:50 – Trish Stratus/Lita-Amy Dumas (Singles/Doubles)
2:00 – Richard Dean Anderson (CANCELLED)
2:50 – Ricky Whittle
3:00 – John Schneider/Catherine Bach with General Lee Car(Singles/Doubles) – note: line up at car
3:25 – TBA
3:45 – Nichelle Nichols
4:05 – Addy Miller
4:20 – Michael Winslow
4:30 – Peter Tork
4:45 – Kristanna Loken



11:00 – Bob Morley (CANCELLED)
11:10 – Caroll Spinney
11:20 – Bobby Hart
11:30 – Michael Winslow
11:40 – Tom Wopat/John Schneider/Catherine Bach (Singles/Doubles/Triples)
12:00 – Addy Miller
12:15 – Judith Hoag
12:30 – Michelan Sisti/Leif Tilden (Singles/Doubles)
12:45 – Michael Biehn
1:00 – Tom Wopat/John Schneider/Catherine Bach with General Lee (Singles/Doubles/Triples) – note: line up at car
1:35 – Nichelle Nichols
1:55 – Kristanna Loken
2:05 – Ricky Whittle
2:15 – Kevin McNally
2:30 – Peter Tork
2:45 – Richard Dean Anderson (CANCELLED)

Please note: This schedule is subject to change. Please check back for updates.


For information and tickets please visit the website:

New England Super Megafest Comic Con on Nov. 21-22


Press Release:

November 21 and 22, 2015 in Framingham, MA! Super Megafest is New England’s Most FUN Multimedia Fanfest Comic con Party! We feature incredible celebrity guest signings and photo ops with guests such as RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON and THE DUKES OF HAZZARD in a VERY RARE appearance! We feature scheduled Q & A Sessions throughout the weekend. Spend the day with all your favorite celebrities from Comics, TV, Movies, and Rock & Roll.

Kickoff Friday night with the Cosplay Comedy Show and advance ticket check-in from 5-9 PM. Saturday begins with advance SPEED PASS ticket holder admission at 9:30 am followed by all other advance ticket holders. General admission starts at 10:30. This is cash only (there are plenty ATMs on site).

Other attractions include an amazing Costume Contest (including a children’s category), stunning Movie Cars, mischievous Pirate mayhem, RKO Army Shadowcast performances and much more!

After hours, enjoy a multitude of shadowcast movie performances and parties, including the COME TOGETHER MUSIC FEST and the CosCLUB Dance Party, ensuring the event has something for all ages!

Sunday continues with guest celebrity and artist signing and photo-ops. The Super Megafest also features an incredible exhibitor room with one of the best selections of comics, toys, videos, non-sports cards and memorabilia from TV, Movies, and Rock & Roll that you will ever find on the East Coast.

For information and tickets please visit the website:

DragonCon 2015 Report (with an Interview with Caroll Spinney)!

DragonCon log
It started with my friend John, whom you may remember as my sometime convention companion. He was with me at Minneapolis Wizard World and at Spooky Empire in Orlando, where we discussed the popularity of horror movies while waiting to meet Tobin Bell.

Back in 2011, John sent me an email that read, “Son, look at this.” John and I have called each other “son” for twenty years. It’s our oldest invention, the stone tools of our friendship. His email included a link to a convention called DragonCon, which I was unfamiliar with. “We should go to this to watch all the freaks,” he went on. “We’d have the time of our lives!”

We went to DragonCon that year, plus the next two. In 2014, John was unavailable, so I took my wife and daughter, who went with me again this year, marking my fifth Labor Day weekend spent in Atlanta, Georgia.

* * *

DragonCon has been held in the Dogwood City since 1986, when it was started by a science fiction and gaming group, the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players (DAGR). From the outset, it was different. In an era when most conventions focused on a single universe (Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who) or medium (comics, games, science fiction), DragonCon was founded as a multi-genre convention, and it has remained one ever since.

That first gathering drew 1,400 fans and featured some surprisingly renowned guests: Robert Asprin, Lynn Abbey, Michael Moorcock, and the band Blue Öyster Cult. Attendance grew every year, doubling in some years. By 1995, it was at 14,000. It topped 40,000 in 2010, and in 2015, just five years later, over 65,000 were expected. Heck, there are now more volunteers (2,300+) than inaugural attendees!

Most gatherings of that size take place in convention centers, but DragonCon is still hotel-based. Initially confined to the Piedmont Plaza, it now swamps five four-star venues: the Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis, Sheraton, and Westin. Vendor booths are located in a sixth building, the AmericasMart. Over 3,000 hours of programming are spread among those hotels, divided into fortysomething tracks. Tracks such as comics and Tolkien are the DNA of DragonCon. Others like podcasting, Whedon Universe, and filking are newer. The curriculum is always changing, always improving, according to Dan Carroll, DragonCon’s director of media. The alternate history track, for example, was added seven years ago when a panel on the topic was planned for 400 people. Over 3,000 showed up.

I went to one panel this year. Cacophonously titled “Legendary SW Authors Talk Mythos,” it featured four writers—Rebecca Moesta, Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, and Kevin J. Anderson—who have totaled no fewer than 50 Star Wars novels. To call these authors “legendary” carries a double meaning, as their works, like others of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, are no longer canon thanks to a 2014 Lucasfilm decree. (This article describes the new continuity in detail.)

The authors talked about this decision, not to bellyache but to explain that it isn’t the degradation most fans seem to think. They knew from the start that they were scribblers, hired to tell tales from someone else’s world. They didn’t feel betrayed; they felt lucky for the opportunities. After all, it isn’t just any world—it is Star Wars, one of the best worlds in this, or any, universe. Besides, there is nothing to stop Lucasfilm from taking their work—say, Michael Stackpole’s X-Wing books—and turning it into a separate movie or TV series, a possibility hinted at during last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

The panelists discussed other topics, including their tastes in stories (westerns, Doc Savage, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and fortuitously, romances like Gone with the Wind), what influenced them as writers, and how they collaborate. It was a fascinating colloquy despite the feebleness of the moderator, a supposed Star Wars blogger whose questions were rambling and confused the panelists. One question had already been answered by Stackpole, and after the moderator asked it, Kevin J. Anderson said, “Mike, you want to run through that again?” The moderator smiled, turned to the audience, and said, “Never mind. We’ll take your questions now.”

* * *

One of the biggest attractions of DragonCon is the Walk of Fame, where all the TV, movie, gaming, and other guests interact with fans. Over 400 guests attended this year, a few of them household names: Stephen Amell, John Barrowman, Katie Cassidy, Karen Gillan, Nichelle Nichols, and Edward James Olmos. I wanted to interview some guests, a process DragonCon manages better than most conventions. Reporters who are granted press passes must be separately approved for interviews. These approvals are based on the size of their media outlets. Once I got my approval, I could request interviews with up to ten guests.

With over 500 interview requests for 114 slots (according to Samantha Douglas, the interview coordinator), not every reporter approved for interviews actually gets one. Imagine my surprise when I was offered two: one with Sylvester McCoy, who played the Seventh Doctor on Dr. Who, and one with Caroll Spinney, who played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. The interviews were actually press conferences held in one of the Marriott meeting rooms. About twelve reporters were at each one. Most represented nerd-news sites like ConventionScene, though I also saw CNN and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Through no fault of DragonCon, the press conferences were disasters. After we waited thirty minutes for Sylvester McCoy, someone came in to say that he was cancelling. His panel had run long, and because he was leaving that afternoon, there was no time to reschedule. Carol Spinney was over an hour late (he simply forgot) and stayed only about ten minutes. Here is a bit of what he had to say:

Reporter: I heard in other interviews that you based Big Bird on a four-year-old child. Over the years, have you had to adjust your characterization of that four-year-old child version of Big Bird based on the generations?

Spinney: Actually, initially, since I decided Big Bird could not read or write, he was four-and-a-half. Then I had to go up to six. And now he has been six for years. He is a precocious child of six. He travels by himself with a dog. And he went to China, somehow. I don’t know how he got tickets. I think it’s just fun playing him as a kind of wide-eyed child. I get letters all the time from children saying, “Big Bird, you’re my best friend. Please come and play with me.” One said, “How about next Thursday?”

Reporter: When the movie [Follow That Bird, 1985] came out, Big Bird had already been around for a while, and a whole generation of children had been watching him and relating to him as a friend, and kids really felt that their friend had been kidnapped. Were you expecting Big Bird to connect to a whole country of children at that deep of a level?

Spinney: I didn’t really know what to expect. When Jim Henson hired me, we were both puppeteers. I would do whatever characters needed performing, but by the third year, with Big Bird, I was so busy. They tried to have me continue doing the incidental stuff too, but one day, Big Bird was in almost all the scenes, and I had to keep taking a taxi up and down Broadway [performing as different characters in different scenes], so one day I said, “Let’s not play this game anymore.” On the fourth year, I said I was busy enough that we needed more puppeteers. So we got some more.

Reporter: I saw that you visited the Center for Puppetry Arts yesterday. Can you talk about what you saw and did there?

Spinney: Well, the museum is going to open by November. They have so many things to display. I saw the place where they are building and repairing puppets, a lot of the Henson puppets that are worn-out. Some of the material has decayed. It has turned to powder. The only puppet I ever created myself is one that has gone to pieces. It was Bruno, who carried Oscar’s trash can around. There were fake arms going to Bruno’s shoulders, and my hands were inside. Oscar would come up and try to boss him around, but Bruno would not be bossed. I designed Bruno so that my head was in his head. I could see out through where the bags under his eyes would be. He looked like a Bert-type puppet. That way, we could get Oscar out on stage for concert tours. I asked a couple of years ago why we don’t use Bruno in shows anymore. He doesn’t exist. He has turned to powder. I asked why they don’t make a new one. It would cost $20,000, so good-bye, Bruno.

Reporter: You are an animator as well. Are you planning on making any future animations?

Spinney: Not really. After four years of doing it in Boston, I kind of got tired of it. I was glad it didn’t have to be my permanent career. I was hired by Disney Studios to be an animator, though I didn’t take the job. This was 1957, and the pay was only $56 a week for the first two years. I decided I’d try for something different, so I did. Walt [Disney] actually walked into the room during my interview. I never actually got to speak to him. I had always had a bucket list of three people I would like to meet: Andrew Wyeth, who I spent an afternoon with once and his son Jamie; Walt Disney—at least I was in the same room with him, and I turned his company down; and the other one was Jim Henson, who personally hired me. So I guess I accomplished all those.

Caroll Spinney in the interview room

* * *

Suppose you are thinking of going to DragonCon in 2016, which will be its 30th anniversary. What do you need to know?

  •  Book early. Tickets are plentiful, but the hotels fill up fast. The marketing manager at the Hyatt told me that it takes fifteen minutes to sell his 1,250 guest rooms for DragonCon weekend.
  • Prepare to wait. You will wait for autographs. You will wait for panels. You will wait for the Heroes & Villains ball or the DragonCon Burlesque or panels with the biggest celebrities. Heck, you will wait for an elevator or a restroom. Get used to it.
  • Pay in cash. I have a dream that someday the DragonCon decision-makers will realize they need to mail pre-paid badges. What’s the point of buying online when you have to pick them up in-person? This means 65,000 people standing in line. Yes, registration starts on Thursday, but this benefits only those who buy a weekend pass. Those who want a one-day pass on Saturday can only buy it on Saturday and must pick it up on-site, even if they paid online. You may as well pay for a one-day on-site, and if you do, pay cash. The cash line is terribly shorter and faster than the credit card line.
  •  Account for the parade. A highlight of the weekend is the Saturday parade, which starts at 10:00am and stretches through downtown. Over 80,000 people show up to watch, making it the second largest parade in the state of Georgia (the first is the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade). Along the parade route, every inch of sidewalk bears a geeky gawker. It’s like a Marvel mosh pit, so plan accordingly. I heard one woman complaining that she had missed her Saturday morning photo op (which she had paid for) because she could not reach the hotel through the throng.
  •  Schedules are bunk. The program you are handed at registration contains a detailed schedule for the entire weekend. It is outdated the moment it is printed. There is a smartphone app that is kept current, but even it is not omniscient. For example, when I entered the Walk of Fame on Saturday, I saw a handwritten sign taped above Karen Gillan’s booth announcing that she would arrive on Sunday. DC Comics luminary George Perez left at 1:00pm on Saturday, and that was announced only when his signing line was cut off at noon. And I’ve already mentioned the press conference bloopers. Bottom line: No one can manage a convention of this heft flawlessly, so be flexible. Don’t have a meltdown when something goes awry.
  • Take care of yourself. Dan Carroll calls DragonCon an “immersive experience.” This can be dreadful if you don’t manage it. He told me about an attendee some years back, a diabetic, who fainted during a session in the gaming room. She told the EMT who restored her that she hadn’t eaten in two hours. “When did you last eat?” the EMT asked. “Around 2:00,” the woman answered. The EMT looked at her and said, “Honey, it’s now 11:00.”

Six buildings. 65,000 attendees. 2,400 volunteers. A $55 million economic impact. You may have attended conventions in the past, but none compares to DragonCon, one of the United States’ largest and most venerable. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cosplays, which are more sumptuous than those you’ll see anywhere. Check them out for yourself below. Maybe I’ll see you there next year, when I plan to be dressed like this.

* * *

twenties DC

Gotham City’s underworld, circa 1925

Big Trouble

I didn’t want trouble, but these guys brought it. Big trouble.

Star Wars

George Lucas’s first casting attempt


Here’s Sam. Where’s Dean?


It’s always hot in Georgia in early September. Some people respond by practically going nude.

Scooby gang

Who you gonna call? Sorry, wrong ghostbusters.

scooby villains

Maybe Mystery Inc. was looking for these guys. I found them instead.


I went to DragonCon looking for a life-size Barbie doll. Here it is.

Steampunk ood

This was a ood cosplay . . . I mean, a good cosplay.

Kermit & Piggy

An impromptu Muppet Show breaks out.


I found a baby once. Then this guy took him from me.


Preach it, Deadpool. Preach it.


Want to know what 3,000+ cosplayers in a parade look like? Here’s a glimpse.

Wife and daughter

Want to know what happens when my wife and daughter spend an entire weekend together? Here’s a glimpse.

PA – Big Bird and Friends Appear at Toonseum

Caroll Spinney, the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street appears at a special event for the Toonseum.

Press Release:

Pittsburgh – On Saturday, November 6th, 2010, the ToonSeum celebrates memories of Saturday mornings filled with cartoons, breakfast cereals and animated heroes. Jim Martin (Gary Gnu of the Great Space Coaster) and David Newell (Mr. McFeely of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) will be on hand throughout the evening, along with live music, a silent auction with unique experiences, food, drink, and plenty of cartoons.

The evening begins with a special ticketed VIP reception at 6:30pm featuring a conversation with Caroll Spinney. Caroll is best known for his portrayals of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. Caroll is also a talented cartoonist, painter and illustrator. Attendees of the VIP reception will receive a signed print from Caroll, along with a year-long ToonSeum Membership.

After the VIP reception, the ToonSeum kicks open the doors to all ticketholders at 8pm for KA-BLAM! III: The Return of Saturday Morning. This year’s blast is a celebration of cartoons, comics and everything else that made our mornings special. With cartoons, hands on activities, entertainment and much more, the event is a great chance for grown ups to let their inner child out to play and party.

The annual fundraiser benefits the ToonSeum, Pittsburgh’s Museum of Cartoon Art. The ToonSeum, located in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, is one of only three museums in the nation dedicated to the comic and cartoon arts.

This year’s event being is chaired by Yu-Ling and Gregg Behr (who are fans of cartoons and of being big kids). “The Toonseum is a new and important asset to our vibrant Cultural District and we are honored to be a part of KA-BLAM. Celebrating childhood memories is important and something we should take time out to do. This event will remind us of all the things we loved as kids and still love as big kids.” – Gregg Behr

KA-BLAM! Will take place on Saturday, November 6th, 2010. The VIP Reception with Caroll Spinney begins at 6:30pm, and the main event will be from 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm.

VIP Tickets are $100 each or $150 per couple. VIP admission includes a signed limited edition print and ToonSeum membership. KA-BLAM event only tickets are $50 and student tickets are $25. All ticketholders must be 21 years of age to attend. Saturday morning pajama dress is welcome and optional.

Tickets may be purchased online at or in-person at the ToonSeum.

945 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222