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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dragon*Con 2015

DragonCon 2015 Report by Shrine Convention Correspondents Darrin and Ruth Sutherland

Event: DragonCon (www.dragoncon.org)
Location: Atlanta, GA
Dates: September 4-7, 2015
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 overtime to $150 at the door
Years: Began in 1987
Attendance: 65,000+
Type: Multimedia Convention
Guests: 300+ guests including film and TV actors, comic writers and artists, musicians, and novelists.

Overview: Labor Day weekend each year means it's time for DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. While the convention officially runs four days from Friday - Monday, thousands of attendees arrive on Thursday to get registration out of the way and get the convention off to an early start.

DragonCon is divided into various programming tracks including Comics, Sci-Fi Classics, Star TrekStar WarsMiddle Earth, Fantasy Literature, Anime, Horror, Steampunk, Podcasting, and Video Gaming. Attendees can choose to focus on a single track such as Comics or they can choose to attend events from a variety of tracks. Either way, there are always too many events going on around the clock at DragonCon to take in everything.

Events this year included 50th anniversary celebrations for both The Wild Wild West and Lost in Space. Kier Dullea and Gary Lockwood were on hand to talk about the making of2001: A Space Odyssey. Carroll Spinney, Steve Whitmire, and other puppeteers held panels throughout the weekend about the Muppets. Following up on Terry Gilliam's two previous appearances, this year fans were treated to fellow Monty Python alum Terry Jones who answered questions and performed classic skits with audience volunteers.

Television shows based on comics were well represented with Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Matt Nabel, and John Barrowman from Arrow along with Robbie Amell and Danielle Panabaker from The Flash. Comic fans could also attend panels featuring George Perez and Andy Runton's Owly while Peter David and Jim Steranko were on hand in Artist Alley for autographs.

Many other films and television shows were represented by guests including Dean O'Gorman, Peter Hambleton, and Stephen Hunter from The Hobbit, Karen Gillan from Doctor Who, Richard Hatch and Terry Carter from Battlestar Galactica, virtually the entire cast of Lost Girl, and Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, and John Noble from Sleepy Hollow, which had been filmed in our home state of North Carolina during its first two seasons, but is now filmed in Atlanta.

While the panels generally end about 11:00 PM each day, the con doesn’t stop that early. In the evenings cosplayers pack the lobbies of each of the main hotels for fun conversations and lots of photo opportunities well into the night. As the con gets larger each year, finding space to snap a good photo becomes ever more challenging. However, it's worth the effort with great and varied costumes including the traditional BatmanSupermanWonder WomanSpiderman, and Captain America, which this year were joined by many iterations of Agent Carter and Constantine.

Aquaman and Mera were both on hand, though in smaller numbers than last year. Sadly a problem with our camera left the section of photos that included our beloved hero and heroine unusable.

Cosplay doesn't end with comics however. Sci-Fi in film and television was well represented with many Star Wars and Star Trek costumes and a great group cosplaying as the entire crew on Farscape. There were Anime costumes based on the works of Hayao Miyazaki and dozens of video game costumes. Even British comedies such as The Hitchhikers Guide to the GalaxyThe IT Crowd, and even Absolutely Fabulous were on hand.

A unique feature 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. News outlets report more than 75,000 spectators turn out to watch the nearly two-hour event featuring more than 3,000 participants in cosplay. This year the city had closed down two additional city blocks to accommodate the increasing number of spectators.

A highlight of our weekend was the opportunity to meet Laurie Sutton, a fellow Aquaman fan and long time follower of the Aquaman Shrine. She is a writer and former editor at DC, who has worked with Mike Grell, Ron Randall, and many others. We enjoyed learning about how she got her first job in the comics industry, what it was like to work at the Comics Code Authority, and how exacting proof reading comics can be. She currently writes the "You Choose" series of children's books featuring several DC characters as well as Scooby-Doo. The books are perfect for young readers, so keep them in mind for presents as Christmas approaches.

Another highlight was meeting George Perez, who was very enthusiastic and happy to meet his fans. We took two books for him to autograph, and he drew an original sketch in each. In the Wonder Woman Omnibus he drew an elaborate profile of Diana racing into action. We asked for something unique in our copy of The Art of George Perez and he drew a sketch of Mercy St. Clair from our favorite sci-fi series Trekker by Ron Randall. Both pieces were stunning and it was great to meet someone who appreciates his fans so much.

We had hoped to once again meet up with the Irredeemable Shagg during the weekend, as we did last year, but sadly our schedules never matched up. Hopefully we can rectify that next year.

And so DragonCon comes to an end for another year, but that's a good thing as our wallets need time to recover!


Joseph Brian Scott said...

Very well done reportage! Loved the pic with Aquaman. I never tire of looking at cosplay. :)

KJ Sampson said...

I need to share some of the Aqua-pics I got at the con. What's the best way?

Darrin said...

Hi Joseph and very happy to hear you enjoyed the con report and the cosplay photos. It's a consistently fun con every year. The Aquaman cosplayer was thrilled to find other fans who wanted to take his photo. A very enthusiastic fan.

Darrin said...

Hi KJ, Would love to see your Aqua-pics from the con. We had at least two more Aquaman cosplays and two Mera cosplays, but we had some camera issues and they didn't turn out. Very disappointing. I'll let rob! tell you the best way to share them. Thanks for your interest.

Laurie S. Sutton said...

It was so great to finally meet Darrin & Ruth! A year in the making. (I told D&R that they would recognize me by the turquoise and coral necklace I'd be wearing -- coral in honor of the Sea King.)

The picture of George Perez is so completely typical of his enthusiastic personality. I saw him in my hotel lobby late Thursday afternoon, yelled "Hi!", and he raced over to give me the biggest, warmest hug! (Well, I HAVE known the guy for 30 years, but he's always been just as generous with his fans.)

I found a couple of Aquaman items at the convention, which I'll post on Twitter (@LaurieSutton).

See you at DragonCon next year, D&S. You, too, Shagg!

KJ Sampson said...

I'm going to try posting my pics on the FB site.

KJ Sampson said...

It's so funny, though...I'm so used to great cosplay at DragonCon that I was half-convinced that was just a great George Perez stand-in at the DC shoot rather than the real deal! [I'd never met him before.]