DragonCon 2019

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I guess I feel obliged to post something to document the annual pilgrimage to Atlanta's DragonCon.  I took pictures, right?  A record 85,000 attending the 33rd annual convention over what is now considered a five day convention.  (It's really a 3 day convention that spills over to each side).


A slow day, but one that included touring the Art Show, junk hall, and Comics Alley.  In terms of panels, there was

Heroes of High Fantasy, featuring fantasy/sci-fi authors Aleron Kong, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson and Marie Brennan.  Much wit abounded as well as insights into what makes good stories and good characters.  Other than the condescension of Brennan, it was an enjoyable panel.

And I later had several books signed by Sanderson.  He writes a lot, so it's hard to keep up.


I skipped the hordes at the DragonCon parade, and settled in for a little WWII history.

U-505, a Uniquely Unlucky Submarine - This was presented by Capt. Mark McDonagh - a physicist and retired Navy submarine Captain.

This particular U-boat, launched on 5/24/1941, which he had researched extensively, suffered from a deteriorating home port in Lorient, France (due to Allied attacks), bad leadership (one captain ordered the crew to abandon ship but they ignored it and saved it anyway, one captain shot himself while being depth charged but did not die so the crew smothered him when they found him), bad decisions, sabotage by French workers (such as battery acid poured on valve seals, small hole drilled in an oil bunker), and was eventually spotted by Wildcat aircraft, depth charged, and abandoned without scuttling.  U-505 was the first foreign man of war captured on the high seas by the US Navy since the War of 1812.  The captain of the Navy ship was focused on getting the Enigma cryptography device, unaware that the Allies already had it.  McDonagh covered each mission and each failed attempt to leave port without mishaps, in great detail.  He also has been an instructor at the Naval War College, and he and others hold mini sessions each year at DragonCon to highlight a hot spot around the world and try politically, economically and militarily (I think) means that might be brought to mitigate "it."

"The Expanse" cast:

One of my favorite book series was also a Syfy series and is being continued by Amazon.  Four of their cast were present last year, and another four this year.  Good comaraderie and laughs.  Two (Holden and Amos) had read the series before they were even asked to audition.  Their harts are in it.

Steven Strait (Jim Holden), Wes Chatham (Amos), and Chad Coleman (Fred Johnson)

Meanwhile, costumes abound.

Indiana Jones generations
Daenerys Targaryen

And food trucks are scare.  A corn dog for $7 from a convention hall vendor?  Bad price and over-fried! Blech.

And the Marriott caved to political correctness, where a former men's room (half urinals, half stalls) is now open to women.  Men are pigs.  You don't want this.

Roy Thomas - Comic writer:  Another of the legendary authors, artists, letters, etc. that enjoy speaking of the golden days of comics ($0.35 per issue or less, in my view). Thomas was the first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics after Stan Lee.  He created Wolverine, the Vision, Iron Fist, Carol Danvers (Mar-Vell), Luke Cage and Ultron among others. 

Disney purchased Marvel is now trying to figure out who created what as royalties are due.  Thomas indicated that contracts were written on the back of checks in the early days, and much of the documentation has been lost.  By the 70's, everything was work for hire with no rights, and it was evident that creators weren't getting paid as they should for heroes, so he started focusing on creating minimal villains until heroes were worthwhile.  He's not bitter about his career, which spanned many comic publishers, but wants the credit where it belongs and the checks that come with it.  

In a side note, he left DC comics after a week to work at Marvel, which was clearly a step down.  But when DC went to $0.25 per issue and 48 pages, Marvel surged.  Trivia point:  Martin Goodman, the founding publisher of Marvel Comics, almost died in the Hindenberg on a return trip from their honeymoon.  They had tickets but couldn't find seats together, sot hey chose to take a plane instead.

Roy Thomas

Based on A True Story

I have vague memories of this panel.  It was attended by a lot of people who were very familiar with details of real murders, but there was generally doubt about the real events, rather than movies portrayed them. It was good to sit for an hour.

How Technology Shapes Star Trek: In which three very smart brothers discuss Star Trek technology, the same who participate broadly in skepticism regarding magic and religion.  Made up science, though... It was interesting, and they seemed to know their science.  I just need to take notes on some of these things.

Match Game in the 20th Century - hosted by Gil Gerard (known as Buck Rogers in the '79-'81 series).  This was an evening panel, and I have yet to hit one that was truly worthwhile.  Humor was attempted, at least.  But, like the TV game show, it always turns to sex. Panelists included actors from Farscape, Stargate Atlantis and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  That's Buck with the microphone, an perennial attendee at DCon.

William Shatner:

Hot off a win in a horse carriage race (for which I could not find a reference, but try this), Shatner was, as everyone hoped, full of himself for DragonCon.  Everyone by now should understand that he is a ham, and that equates to a great audience experience.  Two of the takeaways this year, if you're asking him a question, use proper grammar.  "Me and my wife were wondering.." [interupted by Shatner] "My wife and I."  "Oh, my wife and I were wondering..."

And, after a number of fairly lengthy and often tangential responses to audience questions (who line up at microphones), he might catch someone walking back to their seat when he pauses for a breath. "Wait, I'm done yet!"  And, the person comes back to the microphone.  Oh, and a brief reenactment of his gremlin-on-the-wing scene in The Twilight Zone was hysterical.

Zachery Levi:  What a difference a couple of years makes... and one hit movie, Shazam.  Last time, he was wanting a better world, lamenting the fan experience at conventions and generally an open heart.  This time, it was a celebrity event, full on entertaining and engaging the audience.  He still has a big heart; good to see that things are picking up for Chuck.

Star Trek Discovery cast panel:  I watched the first season.  A friend points out that it's too action oriented.  Compared to past series, it certainly is, but I generally liked it, despite the technology and special effects that clearly eclipse the original show... when this is supposed to occur prior to that.

In any case, what a dud of a panel.  Season 2, which I haven't watched yet, is supposed to be better, and... there was no cast chemistry at all.  It's like they were called to Congress under subpoena.  Anson Mount, who plays Capt. Christopher Pike (to rave reviews), was often sitting with his head resting on his hand.  Fail.

It was overall an enjoyable weekend, a bit hit and miss, but there's still something for everyone.  Like, what if Dr. Otto Octavius (Spiderman nemesis) was Lady Doc Ock?

Yeah, the arms move.

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