As August tripped into September, the citizens of Atlanta could not help but be flummoxed and fandangoed by the wandering horde of scifi geeks last week. You didn’t hear? DragonCon, my friends, in all its glory and pageantry, sundered the peace of downtown ATL in five—five!—hotels for four days. I was happy to be there amongst the aliens, Master Chiefs, lego Han Solos, and Black Widows. I left tired and inspired, and I’m here to bring back truth from the mountaintop.
If you go next year, don’t miss the Saturday morning parade. Almost entirely filled by guests just like you, the costumes dazzled with their inventiveness and attention to detail. I pity the uber-nerd in the Chewbacca get-up since it was still Hot-lanta, but the tribe persevered. You can see some of the best outfits (dancing no less) in multiple videos at YouTube under “DragonCon 2012”. Here’s one:
You can spend the entire con gaming, or going to writing panels as I did, or waiting in line to catch a glimpse of the hot new star on the hot new show, but leave time to absorb the ambient awesomeness. Find the fully functioning R2D2s. Frolic amongst the pokemon and the undead. Take pictures of the witty old, and the busty young, the steampunk families and the industrious loners, and all the men and women dressed as Loki.
While weapons rules and nudity laws remain in effect, the nasty-kinky undergarments get flung about after dark. Burlesques, dances, masquerades and the many bands feed the need to get funky. And it was quite possible to wander into a lightsaber duel.
One huge room was packed with celebs from today’s shows and the hits of yesteryear. Normally, I resist autographs but when Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering are in the same room … I shelled out the bucks. Erin Gray also taught a tai chi class. I’m here to report that it is working. Gil Gerard should have taken the class. I saw an old, pudgy guy from behind and asked him if “Buck” was coming back. Of course, the man was Buck himself. Flustered, I handed him Wilma’s picture. “That uniform never fit me,” he said, eyes twinkling. I had not expected to be there and was $3 short. I promised to come back. It took me all the next day to make it back. He smiled easily. “Thanks. It makes an impression.” The ScribbleNinja holds up the geek honor. For the most part, the actors we see on the screen are waaaay smaller in real life. With the exception of Lou Ferrigno, everyone looked all too human. With the exception of Burt Ward (1960’s campy Robin), everyone was gracious. Burt refused to sign as I’d asked and overcharged me. Ah, well. Maybe I funded his Medicare. He took quite a few Pows to the chin back in the day.
Do budget for the wondrous swag, but go hit the many vendors when something popular is also going on, or it will be like spawning time in the salmon creek except all the fish are bug-eyed monsters. Funny t-shirts, wings, horns, steampunk goggles, lightsabers, figurines, dice, jewelry, costumes, and fabulous artwork.
I’ll do a separate post for just the writing lessons I gathered from known scifi
luminaries to newcomers on the scene.
To conclude, it’s crowded. It’s hot. Some lines are long. Be gracious. Represent your tribe. Thank some of the relentlessly cheerful staff. They welcomed us from the airport banner to the constant requests for direction (the skybridges were confusing as hell). Appreciate the diversity in race, age, gender, disability and vampire affiliation. You CAN be a Browncoat and a Jedi, dammit! I went home floating on phlogiston, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that I could order Dragonfire Salmon in the airport. The scifi gods were happy, and I was too.