Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

On September 2nd 1864 the forces of Union General William T. Sherman marched  into Atlanta, Georgia, one day after the Confederates evacuate the city. Exactly 147 years later, the people of Atlanta stood aside as a 40,000+ force of fans of Science Fiction, Fantasy, TV shows, Games, Comic Books and Movies descended on downtown Atlanta and literally became an occupying force of five of the largest hotel complexes I've ever been in.
The crowds before rush hour. Photo by Mark Twomey, used with permission.

It was Bruce Russell who demanded that Mark and I fly to Atlanta to join him and his buddies, Jer and Sean, at the 25th annual Dragon*Con. We were joined by Constance who helped us navigate the colossal space invaded by thousands of people just like ourselves. The experience was an assault on the senses, hundreds of attendees, many dressed in sometimes elaborate costumes from all aspects of popular culture from fully armoured Imperial Stormtroopers to scantily clad Anime girls, moved as a crowd like a river of colour through the hotel lobbies, skywalks and convention centres on their way to get their own experiences.

In the Navy! Yes this bloke likes G.I.Joe even more than I. Photo by Mark Twomey

Many celebrities wandered amongst us, themselves seeking hero worship on their way to a panel or a fast buck from autographing pictures. We spotted the muscular Lou The Incredible Hulk Ferrigno riding an escalator, Laura Smallville Vandervoort, who really is as pretty as she is on screen, was walking about with V co-star Joel Taken Gretsch [who is also William Shatner's son-in-law]. A wide-eyed Robert Nightmare on Elm Street Englund and a haggard-looking Lance Aliens Henrickson took a wrong turning out a door into a sea of people and were promptly ushered through another door by quick thinking staff before the stars were too mobbed.

Some less-than-iconic stars like flame haired Felicia The Guild Day and a newly lean David Stargate: Universe Blue mingled after hours in the party-like atmosphere that formed each evening in all locations. There was as much to see at night as there was by day. Drink flowed from many locations catering for thousands, it was even served from an automated BAR-2-D-2 droid. Goth and Steampunk themed bands put on concerts for those who wished to dance the night away - lightsabers in the air. Some retired early however, regenerating themselves for the next hectic day of adventure.

Well holding up cigarette lighters would be a fire hazard.

Several dealers rooms were established where companies and individuals gathered and set up stalls to hawk their much-sought wares. Literally everything imaginable was available; from Superhero belt-buckles to Star Trek costumes, real metal fantasy and anime-themed swords and blades, valuable comic books and graphic novels, DVDs of almost forgotten yet beloved cartoons, trading cards, patches, badges, action-figures, posters, t-shirts and games. There was also an abundance of hand-made unique goods such as corsets, leather-ware, steampunk devices, jewelery and even kilts!

One room, "The Hall of Fame" was set up where you could go to meet the stars present and get a personalised autograph. I met Sean Patrick Young Indiana Jones Flanery, Eddie Warehouse 13 McClintock and the fascinating Richard Battlestar Galactica Hatch. I myself sought only two autographs - those of Michael Battlestar Galactia Hogan who scribbled "Frak Em All" on a Colonel Tigh picture for me and of course Erin Buck Rogers Grey who still looks stunning at 61 and whom I hope I didn't scare with my nervous dribbling. One true gentleman whom I must mention is Tahmoh Battlestar Galactica Penikett who waived his autograph fee on a picture for a friend of Constance who survived cancer.

Bill Shatner having fun. Photo via Dragon*Con

Finally it was the panels themselves that were of most interest. One may have to queue for an hour in the blistering 36°C heat to get a good seat, or what we did was to wait in relative comfort until the queue had dissipated and one could simply sit in the back and listen to the fascinating tales and memories recounted by the likes of William Star Trek Shatner and Carrie Star Wars Fisher. Shatner is doing well for a man of 80 and had some fascinating insight into his work. He also told us that he has discovered that most people in attendance had not come to the con to see him, but to see each other and that he was glad to be a part of that. Carrie Fisher was equally fascinating and a lot more R-rated in her speech than Shatner. She is conscious that her battles with her weight and drug abuse have taken their toll on her star, but she has made it her mission to educate people on such pitfalls.

G.I.Joe / Iron Man artist Tom Feister's panel got way out of hand.

All in all it was a fascinating worthwhile experience and an excellent primer before I dare brave the San Diego Comic Con at some point in the future. I will however look forward to returning to Dragon*Con and to Bruce and the boys in a few years for even more adventures.


Constance said...

Ah, yes. Mr. Penikett was an absolute darling. He did not merely "waive" his autograph fee, both he and his handler INSISTED that I have my choice of any photograph.

I skipped over ones with other ladies and chose the shot of him in his BSG uniform. Who doesn't love a man in uniform? Out of uniform is also good...

Bruce Russell said...

Stirring. Now post the pic of me and Shat. ;)

vaughan said...

on that photograph of the colonel with shipwreck all I could think was "Hmmmmm the relaunch of the village people isn't working out as planned!"

Lieutenant General Creedon said...

@ Constance: ;-)

@ Bruce: Bruce it's like this. I showed it to a few folks and they said it kinda reminded them of a photo that would be taken by a family member of Johnny with "Uncle Bob" who was in an old folks home just waiting to die and hopefully leave you all his cash as opposed to leaving it to his cat. But here it is for all to make up their own mind.

So long as you're happy Bruce, that's all that matters.

@ Vaughan: Well now that the dream of them getting back together has been shattered by the recent lawsuit - it's up to me to somehow form a new group.

Constance said...

OH MY GOD!!! Bruce, you do look adorably boyish next to The Shat. I like how he chose to wear a white shirt so his black pen would show through.

Colonel, this is an awesome shot and I don't know why you didn't put it front and center!

Mr. V, it really does look like Shipwreck is ready to get romantic with the Whopper. Although I must say that I've never been any other place where I've been so openly "appreciated" and fondled by such a variety of people.

Thankfully, Skivilian Overseer is too busy with the miracle of life that is his new baby girl to rake any of us over the coals.

vaughan said...


I'm so glad you got a chance to meet the "Shat" but i have to tell you I am one of those people who mentioned the fact you do look like you're just waiting for "Uncle Bob" to die
"Who are You ?Is it time for my Raisin bran yet!"
"Just smile at the'll show the courts how happy you were, than you can have your Raisin Bran!"
"Yayyy Raisin Bran!"