There is nothing quite like Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA. It is described as “The largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film in the universe.” Every Labor Day weekend tens of thousands of people from all other the world converge on downtown Atlanta to celebrate whatever it is that makes them nerd out. Let’s face it, everyone has a thing (or several things), that they are a total fan boy/girl for. Chances are you can find that thing at Dragon Con. It is a massive and crowded convention, you may not be able to do everything on your schedule, but there is so much happening that you would be hard-pressed not to find something to do at any time of the day.
Some of my favorite moments of the weekend happened from just wandering around and people watching. I had a loose schedule of parties and panels in the Dragon Con app that I planned on seeing and I think I attended about 40% of them. With my packed out schedule that wasn’t too bad. I tried to focus mainly on horror related content to cover this year but with so many various fandoms represented, I wound up all over the place.
The Convention officially starts on Thursday and I headed straight there after work. Thursday is very low key compared to the rest of the weekend, but it gets bigger every year. I was wearing my “Bob The Goon” costume from 1989’s Batman, and it was a big hit. I headed to the lobby of the incredibly themed Hilton with some friends. The host hotel was transformed into “Hilton World” and filled with Dinosaurs and Jurassic Park inspired decor, and it was incredible. Seeing a bunch of superheros and fantasy characters dancing to 80’s music surrounded by velociraptors wasn’t how I planned to spend my Thursday night, but it was an unforgettable experience.
Friday was much busier. I started off the day at the Apocalypse Rising track to see the Zombie Makeup panel. It was hosted by “Son of Celluloid” Nathan Hamilton, and he had an incredible soundtrack of zombie themed songs to set the mood. The makeup looked great all around, but I had to bail to speak at an Iron Maiden fan panel on the Horror Track. We discussed the band, Eddie, and the art of Iron Maiden and how it relates to horror. It was a good time and it was followed by an incredible fan panel about Night of The Living Dead. It was a lively discussion that brought up some really interesting things that I had somehow missed in my multiple viewings of the film. The night ended at the Zombie Prom, hosted by the Apocalypse Rising track and emceed by Nathan Hamilton. Overall I had fun, but that may have been due to the fact that I was in great company. The event itself was a bit of a let down. In years past the room was decorated like a high school prom, the majority of attendees wore prom attire and the music would span from classic 80s and 90s prom music, to zombie themed music, to modern dance and club music. There was no prom theming and very minimal zombie theming, and there was absolutely no variety to the type of music played.
Saturday at Dragon Con is the big one. The streets are filled to capacity first thing in the morning for the Dragon Con Parade. I totally understand why. It is a must see event, especially if this is your first year attending. I was on an early panel during the day called “Video Game Hall of Fame” which turned out to be a great time. It was a packed house and the crowd had a blast either cheering or booing our nominations for “Best Video Game Character”. I didn’t come close to winning but I got a couple of laughs in. After that we hit the vendors, artist alley and the walk of fame. They were all packed, but the lines were surprisingly quick. It really seemed like the crowd control was on point this year. Later that night I helped with “The Big Damn Game Show”. It was a hysterical tribute to classic game shows, nerd culture and horror films. It was put together by the Needless Things Podcast host Dave West. My favorite game of the night was the “Evil Dead” Inspired game “Put That Bitch In The Cellar”. After the game show we packed up and went to see the band “Cybertronic Spree”. These guys played 80s action movie hits and somehow put on an incredibly energetic show dressed in full Transformers costumes. It was as crazy as it sounds.
As a horror/comic/SCIFI nerd, there is very little not to love about Dragon Con. The costumes are incredible, the guests are fantastic, and parties last all night! If you are in the Atlanta, GA area, or you are willing to travel I highly suggest giving it a shot. There aren’t many conventions that are so fan centric and fun. Visit www.dragoncon.org for upcoming info for next year’s con!