DragonCon 2014 – Day 1

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Another year, another DragonCon.  That makes it sound like it’s a routine obstacle of sorts, but it’s not.  It’s become a marker for annual passage as meaningful, say, as Jan. 1st, and it holds a promise (by way of pre-paid memberships purchased for the next year) that another is forthcoming. 

By the end of each Con, I’m always pretty worn out with the press of crowds, the smell of Atlanta’s sewers, the wet bathroom floors, people who are flowing with the crowd who suddenly stop, and the aggravation of missing panels that share time slots with others in which I have an interest.  And then, one day later, after sleeping in, I’m rested and counting down to next year.

This year lacked the number of “must see’s” that I’ve found in recent years, but there were still panels of interest throughout the three days.   That said, it was more of a “hit and miss” experience than in the past 6 years I’ve attended.

First up was Arrow, a series I’ve watched and enjoyed a great deal.  Absent was the title actor, but present were Caity Lotz (Canary), Paul Blackthorne (Detective Lance), David Nykl (Anatoly Knyazev) and Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance) – also the daughter of the Partridge Family’s David Cassidy.


Overall, it was a fine panel, well attended, but without the great reveals, the behind the scenes looks, or anything, really, to form a bonding moment with the crowd.  The Q&A’s were fine, there was good humor, and it was worth the time, but it was still a disappointing start, which I’ll explain shortly.

Quickly hurrying to the Marriott, we realized that the “Fans of Land of the Lost” was, as advertised, a fan discussion, rather than one hosting the related guest celebrities (Will, Holly, and Chaka) who were at the Con this year.  One friend stayed; I left to go find food...

... and get in line for Karl Urban.  My observation is that there are three types of “celebrity” panels.  One includes an actor or actors who approach the occasion as being accessible to fans and through which appreciation is expressed both ways.  For the fans, there’s a certain “cool” factor at seeing and hearing people who play characters with which they’re very familiar.  It’s informative and entertaining.  The Arrow panel falls into this category.

The second would be a intelligent discourse that creates increasing respect for actors who think deeply and can express their opinions absent a script.  Edward James Olmos and Sir Patrick Stewart are good examples here.  The fan is left with a more insightful regard for the actor.

The third variety involves actors who come to entertain.  They may talk about very similar things as those in the other two categories, but they do so within a performance.  These are usually more informative than the second variety, because they’re quick.  Quick to respond, quick to make it funny, and quick to engage the individuals who ask the questions at a more personal level.   Nathan Fillion, James Marsters, William Shatner, Alice Cooper, Adam Baldwin (when he’s solo), Ernest Borgnine to the extent of which he was capable... they own the stage and their personality shines through – whether true or concocted.  You might say they’re full of themselves, but in a good way.

Karl Urban falls into that latter category.  I wasn’t aware of all the work that he has been in.  It only recently dawned on me that the guy who played Dr. McCoy on the Star Trek reboot was the same as Kennex on the questionably cancelled series Almost Human.  Gee, he looks familiar...

He entered with sunglasses, and offered a greeting in voices of Judge Dredd, McCoy, and Kennex, and owned the crowd from the start.


Particularly entertaining was his periodic dialogue with a kid in the front who was recording the program but not paying close attention to it.  “Are you going to post this on YouTube?”  “No, my mom will just watch it for hours.”  Insightful, funny, quick, engaging... this was the highlight of the day, which I wouldn’t have expected.  The next Star Trek movie is in pre-production, by the way, and there’s no chance Almost Human will be revived.  I’m sure someone will post portions of this on YouTube at some point, if you’re a fan.

Next was Mike Grell, a DC Comics writer and artist who worked on several of my childhood favorites, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and Green Lantern/Green Arrow among them.


D*Con has a “Comics” track of programming, and like Al Bellman the previous year, the “insider’s” view of the comics world is interesting... even if I’m not attuned to its trivia, either from the business end or the comic characters’ storylines.  I read comics when I was a kid to enjoy them, not to remember them.  That’s a nice way of saying my memory stinks, because I read a lot of comics, and then re-read them.  In any case, it was an interesting story of a guy with a dream who promptly fell into a career where he was a major talent.  Good stuff, but he spoke to a much more knowledgeable audience.

The final panel for the day was Falling Skies, a show that my wife watches regularly.  I’ve seen some of it, and maybe even a whole episode.  The panel started with Colin Cunningham (John Pope) and Drew Roy (Hal Mason), who were later joined by Scarlett Byrne (Lexi).  After watching (a part of) the season finale Sunday, it was remarkable how opposite Colin is compared to his character, who never smiles or seems to have a good day. 



Colin and Roy showed a lot of appreciation for their audience and their show, with good humor.   Aaron Sagers, who in my mind is D*Con’s best moderator, did a splendid job of moving things along in an informed, fun, and fluid manner.

Other than that... we toured the zoo known as the Vendor’s area.  The only notable finding this year was... bathrobes!


Huh.  I’d have to think a stormtrooper bathrobe should be chosen carefully, re: Princess Leia’s “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”   Other than that, we paid the usual attention to what was new in the way of clever T-shirts and looked a little more closely at table top games.



African Americans continue to increase their participation – and costumed participation, in D*Con.  And, larger people also find unique ways to make the most out of natural traits.  Rock on, dude.


Anyone remember Conan the Barbarian?  and James Earl Jones?  Race and girth work together here:


There are so many characters in the “fandom” universe, I really have no idea where they all come from, and many are probably original ideas.  But these were very happy to be photographed.


This one is so new I almost missed it:  Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy.  No, not the guy.  Look at his hand.   It had dancing moves and everything.  I should have asked how it was made – Due to the movie’s rather surprising popularity, I doubt China would have manufactured anything so clever so quickly.


The lobby of the Hyatt tends to attract people with mega-size costumes.  It’s not quite as crowded as the Marriott lobby and allows some space around which the crowd flows.  I didn’t see this lady set up her tent, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a child wander in the front door.  A very clever costume.


And, lastly, what’s a D*Con without Indy?


1 comment :

  1. Very nice! Wish I was there for Urban, but I chose a different path this year. Thanks for sharing!