Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chris Brennaman Returns to Dragon Con

This past weekend I went to Dragon Con in Atlanta. I used to go all the time. Then I started to hate it so I stopped going. But then I realized maybe I was being more than a little cynical in my geekdom so I decided to go full immersion with the con in 2014. I bought a four day pass last year with plans to get there early day and leave as late as possible. I then doubled down and got involved in the comics programming, volunteering to moderate two panels. Then, a week before the show, I was asked to actually sit on a panel.

Ya know, just chillin' with Batman: The Long Halloween artist Tim Sale before a panel. No big whoop.

So. How was the convention?

It was fun, no doubt. I successfully managed to get there early every day, and I successfully managed to stay out until all hours. I ran into friends I hadn't seen in years and friends I'd only interacted with online. I even left with more than a few new friends to boot. I moderated panels with some of my favorite creators and, I'm happy to report, did not embarrass myself or my fellow participants during the panel I sat on (You've Seen the Movie, Now What?). Seriously, not one "fuck" was uttered.

But...

Goddamn, was the show way too crowded. Crowded in that way where zero movement happens. Saturday afternoon I found myself trapped on a skywalk for over 30 minutes, trying not to hyperventilate or scream "DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN DON'T LET THIS BE WHERE I DIE" over and and over again. Every year the show gets bigger and bigger but something's gotta give. I get Dragon Con is a for-profit con, and more people means more money, but unless someone magics up an even bigger venue, maybe it's time to start capping attendance.

Oh, and cosplayers? Yes, your costume is amazing. Yes, you very clearly spent all year carefully designing and creating that zombie Mario get-up. Yes, people want pictures taken with you. But perhaps stopping IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUSY WALKWAY WITH THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE BEHIND YOU TRYING TO PASS THROUGH isn't the place to stop and pose. Maybe?

Really, now that I think about it, those were the only two complaints I have about the show. I was able to actually not be cynical for most of three days. Some personal highlights include:

- Watching indie wrestling with a friend I'd only interacted with online (well, we'd met once in person for all of three minutes back in 1999) and thinking "damnit, why the hell am I just now hanging with this guy?"

- Hanging out with a good friend who just moved back into town and realizing how glad I was he was back.

- Getting to know the crew from GeekRex.com.

- Playing the game "Are You a Werewolf?" at the bottom of the Hyatt until past midnight with a group of complete and total strangers.

- Watching the craziness that was A Gameshow of Thrones.

- Hanging out in an empty ballroom with Kelly Sue Deconnick, cracking jokes before the start of a panel.

- Talking Doctor Who with artist Kelly Yates.

- Late night drinks at Trader Vic's.

- Making fun of a dear, dear friend (who wasn't at the con) with Tim Sale.

- Realizing I'd spent my entire discretionary budget for the show not on me, but on things for my unborn son.

Will I go back for 2015? Most likely, yeah, I will. The key, I realized, is to treat this one show as more geek party than actual con. Once I let go of the fact that I wasn't going to have the same experience as I would at, say, Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina, it was a lot easier to let go and enjoy Dragon Con for what it is: a celebration. A big, massive, over crowded, kind of expensive, fan-driven celebration.

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