Thoughts on Dragon*Con

I am certain I have liberally thrown around the term “adventure” when talking about our con trips. Ah, but never has the word been more appropriate than in reference to Dragon*Con.

The eight hour drive passed quickly. Sure – because I wasn’t driving & the magic of portable DVD has made thinking autonomously unnecessary. Yeah, I’m a punk – I’ll admit I had it easy.

We drove in Thursday because my traveling companion, David & his friend Andie had been invited to Adam Hughes & Allison Sohn’s second annual house warming party. After a quick shower at the hotel & swinging by to pick up Andie we were off.

Allison was the perfect hostess & really outdid herself on the food – it was all fabulous. Next to the bar you also had the opportunity to spin the wheel of drinks & take your chance on what you got from the bartender. I played it safe & opted to try a highly recommended “Pineapple Upside-Down Cake” & was not disappointed.

Many had gathered in the living room to play an X-box game that involved creating a car crash. The bigger the pile-ups, destruction & mayhem caused – the bigger the score. It was hysterical to watch them play.

After the real gamers had taken their turns even I tried it out. This is where you must know an important fact – the last game I had any mastery of was Centipede, so we are looking at a near 20 year gap in my gaming experience. Plus I’ve never even held an X-box controller. As you might well image I sucked in epic proportions. It didn’t diminish my fun though.

But mostly I engaged in my favorite party activity – I met and chatted with lots of very friendly folks. I had a great time & I’m sure I could go on – but I’m here to talk about Dragon Con, so I’d better get right to it.

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Day One

We arrived early – David was hell-bent on meeting the cast of Serenity. After making the rounds to offer warm hellos to some of the vendors with whom I’ve become acquainted we went to wait for Serenity cast members to arrive.

I’d call myself a Firefly fan (and a Joss Whedon Freak), but in general I’m not a wait-in-line-$20-a-signature fan. I can’t explain it, but the comic book artists (and creators) just get me more fluttery than the actors do.

For all the crush of people we made it through very quickly. I snapped digital pictures of David with the stars which we would later print out & bring back for signing. Of all the cast – meeting Ron Glass had to have been the most enjoyable.

He was so pleasant. I passed by his table repeatedly throughout the weekend & he always looked relaxed & happy. He took his time with everyone & seemed very down-to-earth.

After the Serenity tables, we proceeded on to the Star Trek row because David wanted to get his picture with the guy who plays Tripp on Star Trek: Enterprise. Again, I’m a Star Trek fan, but I never got into Enterprise, so I stayed on the periphery.

Okay, pausing for evil, snarky girl moment. Down the row Marina Sirtis (Troi from ST:TNG) was setting up her table. The top she was wearing was so wide open in the front David & I both Literally jumped when she turned around. But that’s not the snarky part. Disclaimer: This is pure gossip & I should be ashamed of myself. I have nothing more to base this on other than the fact I am a large busted woman over the age of 30. But believe me when I tell you – those are new. ‘Nuff said.

Finally I had a chance to roam around & check out all the tables. There was so much cool stuff for sale.

For the uninitiated (which up until a week ago included me) Dragon*con is an enormous con that takes place in three adjacent hotels. It is not so much a “comic book” convention. In fact I remember thinking as I drifted off to sleep after the first day that I needed to check to see if there were even any vendors selling comics, because I didn’t remember specifically seeing any. (I did find a few tables on Saturday.)

I’m not sure I’d label it Sci-fi either – maybe “Fantasy” is the right word. There were comic books, science fiction stars, a teeny-tiny artist’s alley & role playing card games, but the vendors were heavy on costuming.

And costumes were the big thing. Not only were there an abundance of fictional characters being portrayed by con guests, but I have never in my life seen more corsets & bustiers in one place at one time.

Sidebar – just so you fellas know; pulling that off all day is no picnic. A tight bustier is difficult enough to manage, but those lace-up corsets – yeesh! Who wants to breathe or digest food anyway? I overhead a corset wearing gal in the bathroom groaning that the salad she had just eaten was about to cripple her. All right, back on topic…

The costumes cut a wide swath across genres, media & personal proclivities. There were superheroes, movie & television characters, literary characters, period costumes, fairies & fantasy – I could go on all day. It’s practically useless to describe – it’s something you need to see. I hope Jeff will be able to post some of the pictures we brought back.

At the end of the day Friday we stayed in the lobby & took pictures of the endless parade of costumed & otherwise lavishing dressed (& undressed) con patrons. We re-grouped later with a bunch of friends in the hotel restaurant. We commandeered a large corner table overlooking the lobby where costumed con attendees had gathered. We ate, drank, talked & watched the parade pass by. I am a people watching junkie. It was nearly 1 am when we left but the throng of people in the lobby still packed the area end to end.

Day Two

We got a later start on Saturday. After getting nice 8×10 glossies of yesterday’s photos printed we returned to the con. I left David on his own to get his signatures. The area where they had the celebrity signings was a zoo. It was packed, movement was limited & it was HOT. I preferred to get out & prowl around on my own.

The dealers were amazing. I was fascinated with all the headdresses, jewelry, cloaks, ornate dresses, replicas of TV & movie costumes, etc. I’m telling you if I had money to set on fire I would have been coming home with bags of that stuff. A lot of it was hand crafted & the workmanship was exquisite.

I got to spend more time in artist’s alley too. I said “hi” to Adam & offered him a granola bar. He’s always working so hard I think he doesn’t get to eat sometimes – it makes me go maternal. Then I headed around the corner. They had Andy Lee, Stuart Sayger & David Mack all lined up in a row. All that cuteness, all in one spot – it’s almost more than a poor fan-girl can take.

Oh & I picked up Stuart’s new sketchbook that weekend too. I love it! My gosh, he is so good! Great news too – my Wolverine is in this edition. I never got it into the scanner before I got it framed. Now those who possess the sketchbook can all reflect back to my earlier essay about my love affair with this picture & see how completely right I was.

The rest of the day passed in a nanosecond. Suddenly we were out to dinner with one of David’s friends, and then it was party time. This seems to be another proud Dragon*con tradition – there is a heck of a night life attached to this con.

The first party had kind of a weird vibe. It was an invitation only suite party. They had the door roped off & bouncers & everything – I know, could I possibly sound like more of a yokel? I didn’t know a soul there, but I’m pretty gregarious so I did make an effort to communicate but it was challenging.

I think I was talking to Peter David & I think I unwittingly referred to someone who may have been related to him as surly. Yeah, that got things off on the right foot. It was definitely an interesting setting but as soon as we felt safe that our next party was underway we moved on.

Next was the Linsner post-Dawn Contest party. We hooked back up with a couple more friends & took a lovely white-knuckled glass elevator ride way, WAY up to his suite. I’m not that bad with heights, but boy did we have a bunch of people crammed into that little elevator.

This was much more relaxed & social party. I still didn’t know anyone other than the folks I came with, but this time I had no trouble finding interesting conversation (which is the equivalent of Nirvana to me). This again reaffirms my belief that the creator & con community is very friendly as a whole. Plus I think you have to be a little brighter than average to appreciate comic books – but that’s a whole different essay.

We headed back to the hotel late & left early the next day.

Overall Impressions

In a nutshell – Dragon*con is a blast, a non-stop, free-spirited party. The convention itself has more to look at & do that you can get to in a weekend. I could see attending all three days & not getting bored. If I’d had more time or had gone on my own I may have sought out more panels. They had quite a few that looked interesting. I hear the “Buffy Track” had speed dating – how cool is that? Oh & there was music too & I missed out on all of that, maybe next year.

What set this con apart for me is the social scene. The only things I bought were Stuart’s sketchbook & a couple souvenirs for my kids & my Dad – everything else was about people. It doesn’t end when the exhibitors’ doors close for the day. There are things do around the clock.

This gets a big recommendation from me – pffft! Like anybody cares what I think. *laughing*

My plans for Baltimore fell through so my next convention will be Mid-Ohio – back to where it all started. So I’ve been on the con circuit almost a year now & every trip I learn new stuff. Maybe after that show I’ll take a minute & figure out just what it is I learned. Until then – thanks for listening!


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