Dragon*Con is one of the largest pop-culture conventions in the world, with four days of events broken up into "tracks" of interest covering everything from science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comics, film, theatre, literature, and art to music, robotics, engineering, space exploration, and paranormal investigation. Held annually over Labor Day weekend in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, programing includes celebrity panels, autograph sessions, workshops, screenings, concerts, art shows, contests, beauty pageants, a film festival, a parade through downtown, a blood drive, and attempts to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
Dragon*Con hosted an estimated 52,000 attendees this past Labor Day weekend, drawing a massive contingent of fans to downtown Atlanta. Despite the additional warm bodies, the convention's second year using computerized registration was so successful that for the first time ever, there was zero wait for badges. It is almost impossible to choose highlights from the 250 guests in attendance, although several personal favorites included Dean Cain from Lois and Clark, Gillian Anderson from The X-Files, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Comic legend Stan Lee even attended the annual Marvel photoshoot, posing for photos with cosplayers and giving out free hugs, while Burt Ward and Adam West from Batman were given keys to the city and it was declared "Adam West Day" in Atlanta. 2012 also saw the return of the Firefly-themed "Mighty Fine Shindig" after a last year's hiatus and Dragon*Con's annual Night At The Georgia Aquarium was a must for many Saturday night attendees. As always, the programing was so varied and numerous there was plenty of activities to choose from.
Sketch and I flew down to Atlanta early Thursday, and for the first time ever, there was absolutely no line for pre-reg! We walked straight into the ballroom and waited a grand total of three and a half minutes to pick up our badges and walk out. Friday morning Sketch and I got into our Rowena Ravenclaw and Godric Gryffindor costumes and joined EllyStar and Iceman as the fouders of Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Carrying the house banners helped people recognize our characters and we had a blast awarding points every time we saw someone cosplaying from our house. Sketch’s niece and nephew found us to show off their kidsize Catwoman and Stealth Elf outfits which were super cute! That afternoon I got Michael Dorn’s autograph to add to my Star Trek: TNG poster before getting decked out in full Legends of the Hidden Temple Blue Barracudas regalia, complete with bloody bandages, mud covered helmet, football black, fake cuts and dirt covered skin. Sketch and I helped dirty up our Temple teammates, grabbed the Silver Monkey and headed out.
Right away we were stopped by a con attendee who had actually been ON the show as a kid and WAS a Green Monkey! We grabbed a quick dinner at the food court, and as we were leaving, one table shouted “Hidden Temple!” and we started cheering in response. That table then stood up and applauded, as did the table next to them, and the table next to them, and so on until we were given a standing ovation by the entire length of the food court. AMAZING. “I’m never sewing again,” EllyStar joked. “From now on I’ll just buy T-Shirts!” Back at the Marriott lobby, we had a blast drinking, assembling the monkey, and discovering that EVERYONE has their favorite Temple team. The highlight was Felicia Day from The Guild, who freaked out over our costumes and took our photo. I've never had so much fun and been so COMFORTABLE in costume!
Saturday morning we headed to the parade in our Doctor Who costumes; I had to literally run through the parade in Amy's wedding dress with Sketch as Rory screaming, “DOCTOR!!” after me to get to our spot. The parade was excellent, with many creative entries. The Avengers contingent even had marchers holding a huge sign reading “COLSON LIVES!” That afternoon I hit up the Gillian Anderson panel dressed as Scully. It was cool to see her and hang out with other X-Files fans, but the talk itself was lackluster as she was obviously nervous and couldn’t think of much to say. That night we mixed Hunger Games themed drinks and held an awesome room party before donning our Firefly costumes and heading to "It's a Mighty Fine Shindig." As soon as we got there I was dragged onstage for an Inara costume contest; I didn’t win, but it was cute how many in the audience were apparently outraged that I didn’t. However, I came for the dancing, and unfortunately, the Shindig was not able to get the folk band they had two years ago. When we first arrived, a DJ spun rock music which felt completely inappropriate for \the party, and they were followed by a Celtic a capella group who sang beautifully but were not upbeat. Slightly disappointed, we ditched the party and headed to Metro for a late dinner before bed.
Sunday I wore my Lebreau costume and Sketch strutted around as Rick Castle, complete with coffee from Starbucks. At the Walk of Fame I collected more signatures for my Trek poster from LeVar Burton, whom I thanked for his work on Reading Rainbow, and Jonathan Frakes, who is thus far the most enjoyable celebrity I’ve ever met. He addressed Sketch as Nathan Fillion, and laughed heartily when I joked Sketch was Fillion’s stunt double. It didn't hurt he said a genuine, “Wow, you look AMAZING!” to my outfit with that Riker twinkle in his eye, and he even got super excited when he unrolled my poster and thought his signature would complete it (unfortunately I still need Patrick Stewart). He took his time to chitchat with us and seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself rather than putting on a friendly face for our benefit.
That afternoon I fulfilled a cosplay dream as I got into my Rainbow Brite outfit; we had the entire cast and were crazy colorful and ridiculously cute. We took lots of awesome pictures and were filmed for the “Gundam Style” music video. We were literally childhood come to life! After dinner we hit up Brian Brushwood’s NFSW panel. The crew was hilarious as usual, pitting Carmen Sandiago in a dance-off against PacMan ghosts and borrowing “Slide Show Roulette” from Anime Unscripted. We hung around after the panel to say hi to Brian, and witnessed one of his fans propose to his girlfriend right in front of him. “You guys – that JUST HAPPENED!” he said to us after congratulating the couple. At that, Sketch grabbed my ring hand and said, “Oh yeah, look what happened since PortCon!” Brian broke out into a huge grin, “Oh my God, you guys, everyone’s getting married! GROUP HUG!” Monday we checked out the exhibitors before splitting up to head home.