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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Dragon*Con 2014

Today The Aquaman Shrine is happy to announce the addition of two new correspondents, devoted F.O.A.M. members Darrin and Ruth Sutherland, who will be covering comic conventions for us. Their first report is on this year's Dragon*Con con, so take it away D&R!

Event: DragonCon (www.dragoncon.org)

Location: Atlanta, GA

Dates: August 29 – September 1, 2014

Venue: Downtown Atlanta hotels including the Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, and Weston, plus the AmericasMart.

Price: Tiered. Starts ~ $75 if purchased months in advance. Increases over time to ~ $150 at the door.

Years: Began in 1987

Attendance: 60,000+

Type: Multimedia Convention

Guests: Nearly 200 guests including film and TV actors, comic writers and artists, musicians, and novelists

Overview: DragonCon is held over Labor Day weekend each year.  While officially four days long from Friday – Monday, many weekend attendees arrive to register on Thursday so the festivities can begin first thing Friday morning.  In fact, DragonCon recently began scheduling some panels on Thursday evening for those early arrivals...so technically the con could be described as five days long.

DragonCon is divided into programming "tracks" focused on different parts of fandom.  Star Trek, Star Wars, Middle Earth, Comics, Sci-Fi Classics, Fantasy Literature, Robotics, Anime, Horror, Steampunk, Podcasting, Video Gaming, and many others are all separate programming tracks.  So, a fan can choose to focus exclusively on a single programing track such as Star Trek and at the end of the weekend, they will have attended a Star Trek convention. Or, a fan can choose to attend events from the various programming tracks and at the end of the weekend they will be exhausted from running from location to location to maximize the number of events they attend. That is our approach and why we always need a vacation after DragonCon!

Events this year included 80 years of Flash Gordon from comics to film, 40+ years of Kolchak the Night Stalker, and 40 years of Land of the Lost featuring guests Wesley Eure, Kathleen Coleman, and Philip Paley. There was a RoboCop reunion with Peter Weller and Nancy Allen and several panels focused on The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings with guests Billy Boyd, Craig Parker, Adam Brown, and Jed Brophy. Terry Gilliam was in attendance to talk about his many memorable films and fans of Cary Elwes overflowed every panel he attended to hear him talk about his varied career. The BritTrack featured the expected focus on Doctor Who including guest Colin Baker as well as panels celebrating The IT Crowd, Red Dwarf, and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Comic related events included the traditional artist alley, art show, lots of comic vendors, and panels for Batman's 75th anniversary, comic to film adaptations, and trivia.  There was even a solar telescope setup for spectacular...and safe...views of the sun. Every facet of fandom is at DragonCon.
The Arrow TV series was well represented with five stars from the show and classic Green Arrow writer and artist Mike Grell in attendance. Grell's version of the character influenced the TV series and he has been involved with the show including drawing the "police sketch" used in the first season and writing and illustrating several issues of the digital comic based on the series. Aquaman fans should be familiar with Mike Grell whose first work at DC was on Aquaman. A great interview with him is featured here on the Shrine.

While the panels are packed from about 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM each day, the con doesn't end at night. In the evenings cosplayers pack the lobbies of each of the main hotels for fun conversations and lots of photo opportunities. This year was no exception with some truly amazing costumes from film, TV, comics, and games. The evenings also feature costume contests, dances, and parties such as this year's Atlantis Pool Side Party...no Aquaman or Mera in sight though.

The most unique part of DragonCon is the Saturday morning parade when the city closes the streets of downtown Atlanta for one of the largest parades on the east coast.  More than 75,000 spectators turn out to watch the nearly two-hour event featuring more than 3,000 participants...most in cosplay...and numerous vehicles including the classic 1960s Batmobile, the Back to the Future Delorean, the Ghostbusters Ecto-1, and Speed Racer's Mach 5.

If you have never attended DragonCon, give it a closer look. Of the many conventions we've attended, it remains our favorite!


Laurie S. Sutton said...

I attend DragonCon every year and it is the best. The costuming is incredible. I saw an Aquaman & Mera couple in the parade, but never saw them again during the convention because I was always rushing to a panel! DragonConTV (available on a special channel in the official convention hotel rooms) had an interview with a fabulous Aquaman at the Georgia Aquarium (natch!), where DragonCon hosts a party on Saturday. I also attended the Mike Grell panel. I was his editor on Warlord and I knew he would be talking about the characters. Aquaman scribe Peter David was at DragonCon as well. He attends every year. If you have a chance to go to DragonCon, GO!

KJ Sampson said...

Wow. I was there and I didn't see ANY of those Aquaman/Mera cosplays! I'll be sending you some of my own shots shortly.

Darrin and Ruth said...

It is great to hear from other DragonCon devotees. It was also nice to see a few other Aquaman and Mera photos on the Shrine today. It is impossible to see them all. We also saw the Aquaman and Mera in the parade but our photo wasn't quite good enough for publication. We also snapped a photo of a great "water hand" era Aquaman, but later noticed the flash didn't work so it was just too dark to include :-(

Darrin and Ruth said...

Hi Laurie! Mike Grell was the highlight of the convention for us. His panel was great and talking to him at his table was tons of fun. Ruth got me some original illustrations by him during the weekend for my birthday. Warlord is a favorite of ours and it is great to "meet" his editor from that excellent series.

Darrin and Ruth said...

Next year we need to arrange an Aquaman Shrine / Firestorm Fan meet up at DragonCon!

Laurie S. Sutton said...

Darrin & Ruth: that's a great idea for an Aquaman Shrine meet up at next year's DragonCon. Let's exchange info through Rob!

Mike Grell and I have remained friends all these years. I've always liked the connection he made with Atlantis in Warlord, and that Atlantis connection contributed to my bringing in Arion: Lord of Atlantis by Paul Kupperberg & Jan Duursema as a backup feature. Warlord was "Sword & Sorcery", so I wanted a "Sorcery & Swords" feature in the backup slot. If I had been able to work in an Aquaman/Atlantis connection in either feature, I would have!

Darrin and Ruth said...

Hi again Laurie,
Sorry for the delay in my reply. We've been out of town the last few days. We covered the Baltimore Comic Con for the Shrine. A great Black Manta cosplayer, but unfortunately no Aquaman.
Yes, let's exchange info through Rob. I will let him know to give you my personal contact email.
We will definitey plan a Dragon Con meet up next year!