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As a person who attends several pop-culture conventions a year, it's been my goal to try and attend at least one show I haven't been to before. I already did that twice this year with
Emerald City Comicon and GeekGirlCon but I figured, what the heck, why not make it a trilogy? So I went to Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. I'd heard it was crazy. I'd heard it was cosplay central. I wasn't prepared for either. Read on for details about the trip as well as tons of photos!
What can I say about the costumes at Dragon*Con?
They were different.
I'd seen loads of pictures from cons past but I really wasn't prepared, not just for the level of cosplay, but the extreme randomness of it. It felt like every time I turned around there was another new, completely surprising cosplayer. Huge kudos to everyone who puts in work year-round for the event.
Of course there were lots of Lady Loki costumes to be had. Lots of Lady X,Y,Z in fact, which was really great to see but I hate to say it, I didn't fall in love with Dragon*Con like a lot of people thought I would.
I like a good party and I love to cosplay but for some reason, Dragon*Con was too much for me. Too much visually and certainly too many people. I'm not prone to anxiety issues but I was feeling a lot of that at Dragon*Con. I was staying with people I knew but I spent most of the con alone, so maybe that had something to do with it, but I just felt out of place.
Dragon*Con doesn't pull Comic-Con International numbers but I always felt I was in someone else's way or everyone else was in mine. I use a motorized scooter to get around and that can be tricky in the best conditions but when you're in a massive crowd where people are only looking straight ahead, that can be a bigger issue.
The other huge problem for me (and lots of other attendees, in wheelchairs and out) were the elevators. Dragon*Con is spread out between five different hotels and between several floors in those hotels. Getting from point A to point B took a lot longer than it should have because everyone and their grandmother was using the elevators.
I attended the show as press but I'm thankful now I didn't have any specific obligations, like interviews, because I probably would have missed all of them.
Because of my travel woes, I only ended up at two panels the entire time I was there. Thankfully, those were really fun.
The first was
The Guild panel with Felicia Day, Vincent Caso, Jeff Lewis, Amy Okuda, Sandeep Parikh, and Robin Thorsen. They are all awesome folks who have a lot of fun when they're together and they made their fans join in. There was even a fantastic Rule 63 Guild cosplay group in the audience!
Here's my friend Kara, who took part in an all-Amy Pond cosplay group, as pregnant Amy from the Season 5 episode, "Amy's Choice." And yes, she really is pregnant!
In case you were wondering, I did partake in some cosplay myself at Dragon*Con although I didn't go all out. This was my Classy Yellow Lantern (from DC's Green Lantern universe) outfit. I've done
the entire Lantern spectrum with some friends twice now but I did this con on relatively short notice so I figured I'd just fly solo.
Just before this photo was taken, I ran into
Anthony Michael Hall and had a really nice conversation with him. When I called my mom to tell her she asked if I told him about the Breakfast Club poster I still have hanging up on my wall. No, mom, no I did not.
Nighttime at Dragon*Con is when things really get crazy both in terms of partying and cosplay. I'd always seen tons of cosplay that seemed to be taking place in a party atmosphere but I didn't realize costumes were a bigger deal at night. Some cosplayers don't even put on their costumes
until it gets dark. This blew me away as I'm usually dying to get out of costume and into normal clothes once the show is over for the day.
It was actually at these after hours hang outs I felt the most anxiety. There were SO many people and it seemed like everyone kept moving. At one point I backed myself into a corner and just sat there trying to calm down and take it all in.
I will say this though, even in the massive crowds and chaos, there were still nice people who stopped to say hello!
Dragon*Con has had issues in the past few years with non-attendees sharing space with con goers. While I did see several individuals who had somehow snuck in, there was a big presence of people checking badges when entering buildings and I think that made a big difference.
Why yes, that is Doctor Mary Poppins, complete with a bigger-on-the-inside TARDIS bag! I saw this wonderful lady right before some epic karaoke. And we'll leave it at that.
My second panel of the weekend was "A Wizard, a Dwarf, a Hobbit and an Elf, Oh My!" with actors
Billy Boyd, John Rhys-Davies, Sylvester McCoy and Craig Parker. I sat behind a Dumbledore. It was awesome.
Did I have a normal photo of McCoy? I sure did but this one fits his antics at the panel much better. This was the first time I got to hear the
Doctor Who/Hobbit actor speak and I was pleasantly entertained by his wit. And maybe a tiny bit grossed out.
It's things like this that make you proud to be a geek, no?
On the way out of the
Lord of the Rings panel I ran into artist George Pérez! He could not have been sweeter. And yes, that's my second costume of the con you see there - original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Kristy Swanson ( more on that costume here).
My last day at Dragon*Con was spent "off-campus" for a secret project (which I can hopefully let you know about soon) so I didn't get to see much that day. I also had a huge roadblock trying to get to the airport as what is apparently the only cab company with handicap accessible taxis didn't have any of their handicap accessible drivers working that day! At least the man recorded for their hold music sounded like Cave Johnson from
Would I return to Dragon*Con? Maybe, but probably not next year and I'd do it very differently if i did. My expectations going into the show were in comparison to other conventions I've attended and Dragon*Con is totally different than any of them. The thought that kept running through my head was simply, "this just isn't my kind of con." And that's not to say it's a bad con, not at all, it's just differently focused than most.
One of the things I'll take away from Dragon*Con was just how much there was to look at. My eyes were on overload most of the weekend and I'm pretty sure at one point there were more attendees in costume than out. If only I
had more eyes...
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(All photos © Jill Pantozzi, please credit TheMarySue.com if reposting.)
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