I was expecting to be overwhelmed and overjoyed going to my first DragonCon, and boy did DragonCon deliver! DragonCon has been nicknamed NerdiGras, and it is certainly a name they’ve earned. But DragonCon is also one of the most family friendly cons (before 8pm).
After a long arduous series of hoops and hurdles over the past few months, I got an AirBNB locked in and was happy to arrive in Atlanta, my first time ever to the city, and get safely to my AirBNB without incident. Showing up and not having a place to sleep for five days was my biggest worry going in to DragonCon weekend.
I arrived on Thursday evening, quickly unpacked my things and then headed into downtown Atlanta to pick up my badge. The first thing I noticed when arriving at the con hotels were these awesome signs. Each hotel had a sign telling you where you were, what things were located there and what was at each of the other hotels. DragonCon is very maze-like, and these were extremely helpful!
I then headed to Find Chief Episode 2 with Aaron Douglas. Find Chief Episode 1 was in Seattle several weeks ago and was a blast, so I couldn’t wait to do round 2. Though I spent a little time being the local guide for Aaron in Seattle, I wasn’t sure he’d remember me. Aaron is such a great guy though that I shouldn’t have doubted him. Not only did he remember me, but he took a selfie with me on his phone to send to his wife (she was in Seattle with him, and we’d met and talked as well.) She remembered me too! This was the perfect start to DragonCon.
As the night wore on at Tin Lizzy’s, Edward James Olmos showed up, and we had margaritas together. I also met his wonderful assistant. He and his assistant are both really great, friendly people. It’s always a pleasure to meet your idols and find that they are really down to earth people.
We then moved on to the last stop on the Find Chief tour. Jamie Bamber, Michael Trucco, and Richard Hatch all showed up and had a private dinner while Aaron did his raffle, charity, fund-raising thing. Somehow I got enlisted to be security for the BSG table. It was too loud in the bar to be a fly on the wall but they had a great time, and I did get to get them some drinks and briefly sit with them before the night ended. I headed home to my AirBNB very late and very not sober. As I crashed in to bed, I silently dreaded the probable hangover and my early morning interview with Felicia Day.
I woke up Friday morning with a slight hangover (thanks, Chief), got ready in a rush and raced downtown to get to the Felicia Day press conference. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately due to how I was feeling, it turned out that I had put it into my calendar incorrectly and it wasn’t until Saturday. The bright side was that I had time to attend the DragonCon New Reporter Tour. It was very helpful in getting oriented a bit as far as the layouts of the hotels. I also spied the MechaCorps, mech pods during the tour that I vowed to try out later (alas, I never got a chance to do so.) We even got to hear about the fundraising DragonCon does–DragonCon matches $50,000 of funds raised to a specific charity each year. As of the last day of DragonCon, $100,000 had been raised for the Lymphoma Research Foundation and a final tally is still pending!
After the press tour and a big cup of coffee, I was feeling normal and headed over to a press conference with Aaron Douglas, Michael Trucco, Edward James Olmos, and Jamie Bamber. They seemed slightly better off than I had been, but they are professionals. Details of their press conference will be in a follow-up post!
After some wandering around the show (that’s something I did a lot by the way–wandering and taking photos) I attended the Battlestar Galactica: All Along the Watchtower panel. Tricia Helfer, who couldn’t make it out to Find Chief, was in attendance along with Trucco, Douglas, and Bamber. They shared some great stories about working on the show. IF you ever get a chance to attend a panel with any of the cast, do so. They are all great people with a great love for each other, and they have amazing stories.
I then headed over to the Kaleidoscope track room to attend the Growing Up Steampunk panel. The Kaleidoscope track is an all ages, family friendly track of various programming. The panel talked about introducing and raising kids with not only steampunk but other types of punk as well (cyber, diesel, bio, etc.)
As a big fan of both Captain Marvel and everything else Kelly Sue DeConnick does, I then headed over to the Carol Corps Meetup panel. Kelly Sue talked about her leaving Captain Marvel and wanting this to be the last Carol Corps panel she attended to give the new creative team her support. In a turn of events, fans had planned a special event for DeConnick as well. They had gathered personal notes from hundreds of fans and collected them in a book. Then, everyone cosplaying as Captain Marvel stood in the front of the panel and saluted her. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and DeConnick “yelled” at everyone for making her cry.
My last even of Friday was attending the Science of The Martian panel. Kishore Hari, one of my fellow GeekDads was on the panel, and it was really fun listening to him, along with three other scientists, discuss how feasible and realistic the science in The Martian actually is. In summary, most of it is very close to being possible, but some of it is a little far-fetched. That being said, they unanimously love the book.
Not to be left out of all the DragonCon cosplay fun, I donned the first of my two cosplays–Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. Both of my cosplays were re-wears as I, unfortunately, didn’t have time to get anything new ready for DragonCon. That being said, I’m already hard at work on a brand new cosplay for Emerald City Comic Con.
My first stop of the day, after getting coffee, was the Felicia Day press conference. Miraculously, the press conference ended up just being myself and one other reporter (I think everyone else went to the parade) which made it a very cool and chill chat. Full details on the interview will be coming in another article shortly! For now I’ll just say that she is as nice and cool as I expected!
I killed a little bit of time by walking around before heading to my Scott Adsit press conference. Even more strange, I was the only one to show up, so Adsit and I had a nice one on one interview. The full details of the interview will be coming soon in another article. Unfortunately due to circumstances outside of our control, our interview was cut short, but I will say that, at least when it comes to Marvel comics, Adsit is a bigger geek than I.
Next, I headed over to the live Sword and Laser podcast panel featuring Cherie Priest. Cherie Priest is not only the author of my favorite Steampunk book series, but she is also the author of a new series featuring Lizzie Borden. She was on to discuss, among other things, the second book of the series, Chapelwood, which just released earlier this month. It was a treat to watch the podcast live.
I then headed over to my second live podcast panel–Inquiring Minds. Inquiring Minds features GeekDad’s own Kishore Hari and Indre Viskontas. This episode also featured Lucky Yates, the voice of Dr. Krieger on Archer. Hari and Viskontas decided to cosplay as Kreiger and his virtual girlfriend, Mitsuko. Hari lost a bet and so he was Mitsuko while Viskontas was Krieger. This panel was a blast even someone who’s never watched Archer (that would be me). Thanks to the panel Archer is now on my must watch list.
We finished Saturday night off by going to the Gonzoroo III: A Musical Quizodyssey. It was a lot of fun with music and comedy from The Doubleclicks, Molly Lewis, Mike Phirman, and Paul and Storm. Thanks to Hari, we actually got to go backstage afterwards and meet everyone. We had a blast and it was great getting to talk to some other geeks and geek parents.
I started Sunday of by donning my steampunk cosplay. Nothing too fancy, just some fun light cosplay.
I then went to a press conference with Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal–voice actors extraordinaire. More details of the press conference will be coming in a future article, but they talked about voice acting in general, their upcoming movie Topsy McGee V Space Pirates (a steampunk film), and a book in the works called Zartana both of which I will also be covering here on GeekDad as they progress.
Next attended a Voice Acting Q&A panel featuring Platt and Lowenthal along with Dave Fennoy, Michael McConnohie, and Courtenay Taylor. Voice actor panels are always some of my favorites because they always have great advice, great stories, and inevitably do some character voices.
I decided to take a break from the main hotels to check out the dealer room. The dealer room took up two floors and featured a ton of dealers. Unfortunately, nothing caught my eye enough for me to purchase a souvenir to take home with me.
Because I hadn’t had enough of Platt and Lowenthal, I went to the Bringing Steampunk to the Screen panel featuring the two of them along with Trip Hope. They discussed steampunk in general along with their own vision on bringing steampunk to the screen (of all sizes). I can’t wait to see more from all of them.
I finished off Sunday by attending the Gonzo Quiz Show IX: That Darn Cat. In addition to The Doubleclicks, Aaron Fever, Doc Hammer, Mike Phirman, Ken Plume, and Joseph Scrimshaw all participated. I think The banana costume and cape Aubrey and Angela were wearing should have given them extra points and that they should have won, but it was great fun anyway!
Monday was the last and shortest day since I had to check out and catch a flight back home, but I had time for two last panels.
I needed one more BSG fix so I went to the Battlestar Galactica: So Say We All! panel. In addition to all the cast members I’d already met, James Callis and Grace Park were on the panel. The panel was great of course with more stories from the show and filming and more evidence of the family these actors have actually built.
My final panel of DragonCon was Cosplay Construction Breakdown with Yaya Han. My introduction to Yaya Han was watching Heroes of Cosplay, and she, along with the others on the show, really inspired me to start cosplaying. Some of the tips and tricks she mentioned in her panel are being put to immediate use in my current cosplay project.
There was so much cosplay at DragonCon. Unlike most cons, I’d say about 80% or more of attendees were doing cosplay. This gallery features some of my favorites that I saw. The Morpheus Sandman gets my vote for best of the show.
There were also plenty of kids and families cosplaying. These were some of the best cosplays at DragonCon because mini versions are always better for some reason.
In closing, I do want to reiterate that DragonCon is super family friendly. There were tons of families there, and I can’t wait to bring my son. There is even a whole family friendly track called Kaleidoscope. In addition to panels, they even have an all ages dance party as an alternative to the adults only dance parties that go on all night at DragonCon. The only word of caution is that the kids should be in your room by 7 or 8 pm because that’s about when things start getting very adult. I can’t wait to attend again!