Dressed in costumes of their favorite heroes or shorts and t-shirts, fans filled up the Orange County Convention Center again today to see their favorite comic creators and television and movie stars as rolled into its second day. The turn out was much larger than expected, and the lines for tickets sales were quite long. Inside, there was excitement in the air, and the floor was abuzz with news.
With this year’s guest of honor, George Perez, as well as Dan Jurgens and Dan DiDio, The Hero Initiative booth has had lines all weekend. The first ever federally chartered, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book industry veterans who may need assistance with necessities or simply a helping hand back into the comics industry, The Hero Initiative has become an annual staple at MegaCon, and the fans always flock to their booth.
Tabitha Johnson was excited about this year, talking about Friday’s “Lunch with Sketches” winners from e-bay, who bid to win a lunch and sketch from Perez and the two Dans.
They also held their Hulk signing for their Hulk 100 special with 100 different drawn covers like those that they did with Spider-Man last year (some of the Hulk covers were on display at MegaCon last year). Today, George Perez and Dan Jurgens were at the booth all day signing, sketching, and talking with fans.
The Hero Initiative also hosted the DC Universe panel, where Perez was given a very special surprise, in that Saturday, February 28, 2009 was declared by the County as “George Perez Day” in Orange County! Talk about a worthy tribute to a living legend! Sunday will see Perez and Dan DiDio at the booth all day. Johnson did admit that some MegaCon attendees were upset that the art auction usually held in Orlando each year was held at this year, which raised for the Initiative a considerable sum of needed funds. They sold nearly everything they had, so they are ready to accept art donations for next year’s auction!
Following MegaCon, The Hero Initiative will be at , , , and , as well as others. The full agenda, as well as more information about the Initiative, can be found at their website, www.heroinitiative.org.
All of the creators were busy once again with the constant flow of fans, and Mike Perkins was certainly no exception. He is currently working on The Stand for Marvel, which he said would keep him busy for quite a while since the overall project is a 30-issue tale, broken down into six 5-issue mini-series. He indicated that is taking up most of his time right now, but that he would like to do some more cover work. He is still exclusive with Marvel and has a couple of years left on the contract, and he did say that once his work on The Stand is complete, he would love to work on a Wolverine project. He also stated he would love to have done a Deathlok project, but for obvious reasons, that is not something that would happen now.
Sitting not too far away was Mark Waid, who was eager to talk about BOOM! Studios and their upcoming projects. The biggest news is BOOM! Studios’ alliance with Fox Atomic, who are the people who a few years ago did projects related to comics and other licensed-related comics. Waid informed fans that this new alliance would provide BOOM! Studios with access to a lot of the Fox library, and while they can’t announce the titles yet, he did guarantee that the comics would be coming from big, blockbuster stuff. One comic will be based upon a long-standing franchise that has been crying out to have a comic book series made about it, but Waid was not in a position to reveal the actual title at this point.
On the Hero Squared front, the final issue is coming out soon, but he was quick to add that he was being asked about the series at an awkward time, because there is big Hero Squared news coming, which he could not say anything about now, other than that fans will be really pleased.
Over at DC, Waid is working on a Batman in Barcelona one-shot, which will be out in May. This is an exciting project for Waid, in that not only is the story set in Barcelona and comes under a Jim Lee cover, but when it comes out in May, it will be simultaneously be published in a number of different countries. Waid referred to it as a world premier of the comic – literally!
Waid is also still working over at Marvel with all the Spider-Man he can handle, which, he said with a smile, he is really stoked about. The one upcoming story he talked about is called “24/7,” which deals with the repercussions of something that happens in the immediate prior issue that can’t be discussed at this time, but which will cause Spider-Man to start being Spider-Man 24/7 and basically drop the entire Peter Parker identity altogether. He quickly followed that up by saying that obviously, fans know it will not stay that way for a long time, but that Spider-Man will have to evaluate his real reasons for making that choice.
Also in that story arc, they will be introducing a new Vulture, who will be much scarier and more vicious than any prior incarnation. Waid closed by saying how much fun he was having at MegaCon, with his BOOM! Studios panel on Friday, his comics to film panel today, and the belly-dance lessons that he would be teaching (which he said with a wink and a smile before speedily admitting that he was just joking).
Brandon Peterson appeared relaxed, despite the number of fans around his table. Currently, he is finishing up the War of Kings covers for Marvel, where he has spent the last year being “cover boy,” doing more covers than he can count. The thing he is most excited about is a possible project that he and Jimmy Palmiotti are working on together that they have pitched to Marvel. If that actually happens, he will be thrilled, as not only will he be drawing the book, but he will also be co-writing it with Jimmy. He hinted that it would be a six-issue mini-series set in the Marvel Universe proper, and that it would be a lot of fun to do.
In the meanwhile, he continues to do more covers, which has kept him busy, going so far as to say that he has always had a couple of covers waiting while he has been working on each cover over the past year. It has given him the opportunity to work with a bunch of different characters, and when fans have come to the table with stacks of comics for him to sign, it appears he has done a tremendous amount of work, when in actuality, it has simply been the 20 or more covers that he has done throughout the year.
When asked which of his covers was the most fun to draw, the one he most enjoyed, Brandon readily answered that it was the alternate villain cover that featured Thanos, about which he was pleasantly surprised when the different angles and images he tried out worked together well.
Next up was Tony Bedard, who was busy signing book after book after book after book after book for faithful fans. The first issue of Bedard’s new series, R.E.B.E.L.S. just came out two weeks ago, and it starts off with a bang, as Brainiac 2 is on the run, coming to Earth to find Supergirl – "why he needs to find her is part of the fun", Bedard said. Once he gets what he needs from her (using one of her powers in a way no one has ever seen before), Brainiac 2 must put together a new team. His quest will ultimately lead into a major story that, as he jokingly said in one of today’s panels, in the same way that the Sinestro Corps came out of nowhere to overshadow Countdown, which was supposed to be the biggest event of that year, Bedard anticipates that the major story in R.E.B.E.L.S. will overshadow Blackest Night, so be warned!
When asked about any connection to the prior series, Bedard stated that he had always been a big fan of L.E.G.I.O.N. and the original R.E.B.E.L.S. series, so some of the old characters will show up; however, the new series is mostly about new characters. The new series is a jumping on point for those who have never read any of the old titles – but for fans of the original series, there will be stuff in there for you.
In addition to R.E.B.E.L.S., Bedard is working on a very huge, major project for DC, which is yet one more secret that can’t yet be revealed (which seems to be a trend at MegaCon this year!). But aside from that, Bedard revealed to fans that one of his dream projects that he would love to do would be an Aquaman series, even though he isn’t really sure what he would do with it if he had the chance – he just really loves the character.
A fan then asked about Route 666, if there was any possibility of regaining rights to continue that title. Bedard stated that he had been trying to track down the title, since Disney purchased all the properties from CrossGen, yet Disney is now telling him that they don’t have Route 666. He would love to bring the title back, especially if he had the chance to work with Karl Moline, who Bedard described as one of the "shiniest" people he knows.
Greg Land was another popular artist on the floor. He is currently working on Uncanny X-Men #510, and he’ll have another issue after that. He is also working on covers to Marvel Zombies 4, which he told us that he really enjoyed doing, particularly since he is a big monster movie fan. Doing zombies now, previously doing Werewolf by Night and Man-Thing – basically, Land loves any opportunity to do monster covers for Marvel. Since he is still exclusive to Marvel, fans can expect to see more from Land in the Marvel Universe in the coming months.
The last, but certainly not the least, creator of the day was Billy Tucci, who is currently working on Sgt. Rock for DC. Tucci told those present that he was glad to be back at MegaCon, having been here every year since 1995 with the exception of a few years when CrossGen owned the show and Tucci was not invited to appear.
With regards to Sgt. Rock, Tucci admitted that since he is notorious for his love for the female form in his art, there was a lot of skepticism regarding how well he would do on a male-dominated series, particularly following on the shoes of an industry giant like Joe Kubert. Tucci laughed, saying he was probably the last person anyone would expect to see tackling a Sgt. Rock project. But he wanted everyone to know that this work is more than just a paycheck for him. He loves the character, he loves the book, and he wants to pay homage to Kubert and all the other greats who previously did work on Sgt. Rock. For Tucci, doing this book is a dream job, something he has waited a very long time to do.
In other work, Tucci made many fans happy by announcing that he has another Shi series coming out before the end of the year. Despite this being Shi’s 15th anniversary, Tucci was so focused on Sgt. Rock that Shi had to be postponed until later this year. He announced that he has another project he can’t talk about (is this a trend here?), and apparently he also has an upcoming issue of Jonah Hex.
A rather off-beat title drawing attention in artist alley was Cow and Buffalo, by Mike Maihack. Cow and Buffalo is a weekly humor comic, which Maihack started due to his fascination with cows and his desire to put something out there that highlights things he sees that are just inanely ridiculous. He started it as a web comic in 2003, so that readers would have easy access to it. He admitted his goal was not to earn lots of money or become famous, but rather, to provide something that will hopefully make readers laugh.
It started just as an occasional web post, but in 2004, he decided to test himself and see if he could do the strip weekly – which has been going strong since then. When he started doing it weekly, he found it fun to do a story line that would continue for a month, maybe two – but it ultimately turned into stories that lasted a whole year, sometimes longer!
Maihack found it surprising how much people liked the longer stories, so he now has the storylines printed in trades, which he is promoting at MegaCon this year.
For more info on this strip, check out www.cowandbuffalo.com. He also has a new project, called Cleopatra in Space, which is about the Egyptian princess who gets transported to space in a story he described as Buck Rogers meets Buffy meets Veronica Mars meets Hellboy. The first eight pages of this new project are up at www.cowshell.com.
And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also involved in an anthology called Parables, which is a string of short stories by a group of different artists, including some animators, some from even Pixar. The anthology stemmed from the question of what are Christian comics not doing and what is not out there? Parables was created to answer that question of what Christian comics should be, with stories that illustrate various aspects of life without beating readers over the head with a moral or lesson learned. The first volume is done and work is starting on the second volume.
And so set the sun on another day at . Sunday marks the last day of this three-day convention, and it’s sure to be busy as fans scurry about the buy last minute comics, toys, and sketches, get in any last minute autographs from their favorite artists and writers, and we’ll get some final interviews from the likes of Steve McNiven, Amanda Conner, and even the big man, Dan DiDio, himself!