Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scouting Report From DragonCon

At the end of August, there is a con. This con is not the biggest, but it is by no means small. Is this Dragon-con and it is open to one and all.

Seussian rhymes seem appropriate to describe my first time visit to the biggest Atlanta based con as the trip was a carefree mish-mash of genres with slightly disturbing subtext. Most of you have probably gone to the Labor Day weekend event, but I hadn’t because above all else, even fanboy-status, I’m cheap. And Dragon Con is not. But the chance to go for one day sprang up, and now I gift to those future noobs my basic working knowledge of waiting in line and what to expect. Practical gifts, like socks on Christmas. Garm was with me, and complained non-stop about every flaw, so, the mistakes I made are fresh in my mind. And if not, I can reference the enumerated email he sent me.


Dragon Con is a four day-ish convention with sci-fi, fantasy, horror, anime/cartoons, cos-play (dressing up as characters only geeks recognize) and comics. About four hotels in the Hyaitt regency area host events in all their ball rooms, exhibit halls, and broom closets. You pay get a badge and start going to presentations, Q&As with actors, roundtable discussions, art exhibits, demonstrations, autograph signings, and other stuff I didn’t have enough time to see. It’s crowded and confusing and the guide book has a class on how to read the guide book. Seriously. Dragon Con is also a mix of Ren Fest, Halloween, a Trekkie Convention, and the of Comic Book Guy’s family reunion. Here’s the website, I suggest you read up and plan ahead because there’s too much confusion to just play it by ear. Oh, and waiting in line, plenty of that at popular events and registration.

There and Back Again:

You really do not want to drive back and forth with gas like it is, and with events going to the early morning in some cases. Securing local lodgings is a must. If you’re doing the whole con, register early and get a room in the area. I suggest printing your own maps from the internet for getting there and walking. Walking up is easy, as you can just follow the growing crowd of storm troopers and pirates, but finding the right building can be a time waster. Parking is amble, but drop the extra cash for a nearby spot because wandering back to the three dollar lot at night can be an adventure of its own. I departed the con to find a Romero-like unlit lot with scattered, lifeless bodies covering the concrete, which slowly stirred as we made our way to the car. This impromptu game of “don’t wake up the homeless” was super-fun, but all the same, probably something to avoid in the future.

The Mos Eisley Cantina:

So, while on my short-lived scouting trip I visited a number of events.
First, was the Q and A with Nathon Fillion and Alan Tudyk. Incredibly long wait to get in, but they didn’t start until both brown-coated super-fans and the rest of us muggles were in the cramped seating. The actors gave away signed prizes to the questioners and told funny stories. Very enjoyable and the con has many similar forums.

Next was the [adult swim] panel. First off, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer were sitting a few empty rows behind us, so, much to the embarrassment of Garm, I gave Doc the old “what’s up” wave/head nod and the Venture Bros. hand sign. The [adult swim] panel was dressed as dragons (well, as a 6 year old might be costumed as a dragon) and acted as if the event was a forum for human/dragon relations—absurd humor, but funny. Clips from next years line up were shown and then in-character questions were fielded. They run a tight PR ship because when nobody rushed to the microphone their staffer underlings quickly formed a line and started a heated back and forth about dragons, dragon porn, and golf. It was funny, but not an insightful discussion of the good-to-great television they make. I left thinking they must vacation in coal mines because their jobs seem to be nothing but cool and fun.

After a 20 dollar hamburger, we checked out the Cthulhu movie panel. Though a small forum, it was in some ways the most fun because the horror based panel, which included the comic book editor of Hellboy, echoed many of the same ideas and opinions about the horror genre one cannot just insert into everyday conversation without ending up on a government watch list. We got real substance, real insight, and a hopeful feeling that some people are trying to save the genre.

Last we popped into the animated history of Batman. In an extremely overcrowded room, fanboys showed and were shown clips from various Batman cartoons. It was mildly interesting, but by that time in the evening the beer had begun to flow like wine and nary a minute went by without someone throwing down a geek gauntlet.

Of course, the big draw for most nerds is the scores of scantily-clad costumed womens (most of who were, yet again, on the tattooed arm of some loser). I myself fell in love half a dozen times, but bravely brooded from afar so as to avoid the risk of losing my soul—damn this gypsy curse! After a subtle but concerted effort on my part to stay really late and study the effects of alcohol on the fanged, chainmailed, and fairy-winged sirens was rebuffed by Garm, I left feeling at the very least the con had social aspects which were well worth future exploration. As one veteran put it, “Dragon Con is the only place your prowess as a man will be judged by the size of your long-box.” Moreover, it’s a place where you’ll meet thousands of people that think your ability to completely reenact the movie Predator by yourself is a healthy, non-disturbing skill.

If you’ve never been to a con don’t wait like I did. Go, you’ll have some fun, you’ll see some cool stuff, and meet tons of people with similar interests. As for Dragon con, with some planning more in depth than mine, it’s a good time for all manner of geeks and freaks—just try not to stare.