MomoCon Costume Contest Sponsored by Dragon Con

February 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Convention News, Cosplay, Georgia

Press Release:

Get your sewing machine ready! MomoCon’s awesome partner convention Dragon Con will sponsor the MomoCon Craftsmanship Costume contest, with the Best Masters (Overall) winner receiving a prize pack including two Dragon Con weekend memberships and a weekend stay (Friday-Monday) at the Marriott Marquis during the Labor Day event!

This prize is in addition to current prizing, and we will have many more announcements coming your way about contests, guests, prizing, tournaments, and so much more!

Full rules and requirements for the Craftsmanship and Closet Costume contests are available at: momocon.com/contests, entries are limited and signups are on site only, starting 2pm Friday.

RSVP on Facebook!

Have you registered for MomoCon 2018 yet?  Register as soon as possible to get the best rate on your 4-day membership for MomoCon 2018. Right now it is the early bird rate of $55, before the rate increase on January 1st. Be sure to register today and save!

About MomoCon   

Founded in 2004 by Jessica Merriman and Chris Stuckey, then students at Georgia Tech, MomoCon has grown from a 700 person on campus event to the largest event in the southeast United States for fans of video games, animation, cosplay, comics and tabletop games.

With 28,300 unique and over 71,000 turnstile attendance in 2016, MomoCon is one of the fastest growing all ages conventions in the country. Fans of Japanese Anime, American Animation, Comics, Video Games, and Tabletop Games come together to celebrate their passion by costuming / cosplay, browsing the huge exhibitors hall, meeting celebrity voice talent, designers, and writers behind their favorite shows, games, and comics and much much more over this 4 day event.

DragonCon 2017 Report (Including Interview with Jai Nitz)!

Before I saw Suicide Squad, I knew nothing about Chato Santana, who is the alter ego of El Diablo, the pyrokinetic gangbanger from East LA. After seeing the movie, he quickly became my favorite comic book character and one of my all time favorite characters in any medium. The reason I personally enjoy him is because he’s relatable. Everyone has their own regrets and every person wishes they could redeem themselves for something they’ve done in their past. Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Harley Quinn all seem to revel in their villainy, while Chato seems reluctant to even talk about it. He thinks of himself as a monster and attempts to control himself which is a direct contrast to, say, Harley’s defense of stealing from a department store: “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.”

So, I was stoked when I realized that Jai Nitz, the creator of my anti-hero, would be at the very convention I was reporting on. This was my second year at DragonCon, and any of my loyal readers (thanks mom and dad!) would remember that last year I accidentally interviewed Nolan North, the voice of Deadpool and Desmond Miles from Assassin’s Creed. This year, however, I got an agreed interview that wasn’t illegal! Jai Nitz is what anyone would imagine the creator of a Latino Robin Hood would be… badass, intelligent, willing to sell all his stuff for $100. (These are all jokes, please don’t sue me). Reader beware, spoilers and ruined headcanons await!

How did you come up with the idea of Chato?

Chato is not a real name, it actually means butch, thick, beefy. The idea is that he would have had a real name at some point, it would have been Jaime or Guadalupe or something. He was always a big guy, so everyone would call him Chato. That was after my dad. They called my dad butch because there were seven kids in his grade with the same name as him. Everyone was called a nickname instead of just “Jerry.” That was kind of a nod to my dad, and the idea of who Chato was came from my cousin, Jaime. He’s my age, growing up close to the border in a culture that is 95% Hispanic. Drugs and human trafficking are not a thing on the news, they are a way of life. There are people who are dealing drugs and moving humans. They are not villains, they are Robin Hoods. They are sticking it to the man, instead of doing this nefarious, horrible crime to be on television, that’s not who they are. Not that my cousin is doing that, but I saw him in a situation where he was dealing with a lot of different stuff than I did. What would I have been if I had been in the same situation? In East Los Angeles where Chato was from, it is very much the same thing. There are neighborhoods that are closed off to the police because in 1992 only 10% of the Los Angeles police force was Latino. Today it’s 60%. Then, no one spoke Spanish. No one knew what to do if you got stuck in a Spanish speaking neighborhood. David Ayer, the director of Suicide Squad, his movie, End of Watch, is about a lot of that. It’s a lot about dealing with a culture that is alien to your own, and in the original El Diablo series, he was a gang lord. He was the Robin Hood of his neighborhood. He was the guy you would go to if you had a local problem that the police wouldn’t help you with. It was trying to show that just because you commit crimes doesn’t make you a bad guy, and just because you do bad stuff doesn’t make you a villain, and just because you save people doesn’t make you a hero. It was very much blurring the lines and I don’t think anybody was ready for that when I wrote it.

I think I fell in love with him when I first saw him.

If you meet Jay [Hernandez, actor for Chato in Suicide Squad] in real life, you will fall in love again because he is stupid good-looking.

How did you get your start in comics?

I got my start by self-publishing right out of college. As a new writer, the best way to make it in comics was to make your own comics. So I wrote my own comics and I found artists to work with. That was on the creative side, then you had to put on your business hat and you had to learn to make the files available to a printer, how to send them to be scanned by a scanning place because you didn’t have a scanner big enough, how to get those books printed and distributed, how to take them to conventions and sell them. Then that was my business card. I handed that out and said “please hire me.” It’s much easier for an editor to read a comic book than it is to read an idea on a piece of paper. Then once they trust you, they will read your ideas, but not until they believe in you as a writer. The best way to make them believe in you as a writer is to show something that you’ve written. If you want to write a comic book then write a comic book to hand out. So that’s what I did and I did it every couple of years until I finally started getting regular work. After about eleven years of trying, self-publishing, doing independant stuff, I got enough work at big publishers to go full-time freelance.

Did El Diablo actually die at the end of the movie?

He can’t die. HE CAN’T DIE! His powers dictate that the devil that possesses him. This is explained in the first series, and in the new series it is explained that, every time he dies, the devil just brings him back and takes more of his soul, so he gets more evil each time he dies. I was explaining this to David Ayer at the premiere of the movie. We were walking out of the movie, and he said, “How do we bring him back?” and I said, “You don’t have to. He can’t die. Every time he dies, the devil takes more of his soul and brings him back, so he comes back more evil, so if people like him in this movie, the next time he comes back, he’ll be worse, and the next time he comes back, he’ll be even worse. In your movie continuity, he says, ‘I was born with the devil’s gift,’ and the idea is that he was stillborn and the devil took him then, and every time he has died since then, the devil has taken more of his soul as he has brought him back every time.’”

If he drinks alcohol, will he just explode?

Not at all. His powers are magical in nature, which is the other reason you can just bring him back, because there is no science in how he throws fire, just as there is no science in how [Captain Boomerang] throws a boomerang, there is no science in how [Slipknot] uses ropes to climb stuff, there is no science in how [Deadshot] is the best shot in the world. He is made of demonic magical fire.

The reason I ask is because there is a deleted scene in the bar where Harley asks everyone what they want, he says, “Water,” and she says, “That’s a good idea, honey.”

That was definitely a great character moment. That was that character recognizing, “Me losing control is not good for anybody.” Because he knows what’s inside him, even though no one else does. The other thing is, it’s not really in the movie universe, but it would be the kind of thing I would explore. Nobody really believes him. Nobody really believes that there is a devil inside him. There are people who can fly, there are people who dress up like bats, there are people with magic power rings, but nobody believes he is possessed, and then you see it, and it’s a different animal.

I like how, in the movie, the other characters are afraid of him.

There’s a lot of really good subtle storytelling in the film that gets lost. They had re-shoots, and they had to change this, and they had to move scenes around, and stuff like that, to where there is some stuff that makes no sense. I’ve seen the movie so many times it isn’t funny. But then there is some stuff that is subtle like that, where even Deadshot realizes, this guy could kill us aaaaaaall. And nobody pays attention until it comes to that.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a book called Suicide Squad Black that has El Diablo as the leader of a Suicide Squad team. It was supposed to come out last month, but it’s been delayed, so hopefully it will come out in 2018.

 

Going into this interview, I was expecting just to talk about comics, not to get a lecture on race relations and the social economics of East Los Angeles. But I’m glad Jai discussed those topics. I admire how he puts his background in his work. It helps him maintain his passion, which was evident when I talked to him.

And I’m definitely buying Suicide Squad Black when it comes out. Who’s with me?

 

Jai with a really cool El Diablo cosplayer

 

Cover of El Diablo #1 (2008)

DragonCon 2017 Report!

Each year, I start checking the guest list on the DragonCon web site in December. Call it my Christmas tradition. I check it once a month until, say, May, then once a week until summer’s midpoint. After that, I’m checking it pretty much daily until that pre-Labor Day Thursday, when the convention opens.

The web site has a full guest list and a featured list. The featured list is where the major authors  and actors appear. It is the only list I check because, unless you are self-published or have ten or fewer Twitter followers, that is the list you are usually on.

Except this year. This year, Wallace Shawn was too obscure to make the featured list, which is . . . wait for it . . . inconceivable. And Jerry Pournelle. Jerry wrote or edited 43 books. He won the Heinlein Society Award, the Prometheus Award, and the John W. Campbell Award. He was the president of SWFA and one of sci-fi’s leading lights. How was Jerry effing Pournelle left off the featured list?

(Don’t tell me they were added too late to make both lists. Arthur Darvill was on both despite being added the day before the con opened).

I had never met Jerry Pournelle at any convention, despite being a bibliophile and science fiction fan. Thus, there was a hole in my collection where his autograph belonged. Fortunately, I saw him on the web site before leaving home, so I grabbed my first edition of New Voices in Science Fiction: Stories by Campbell Award Nominees (1977). The book contains Jerry’s story “Silent Leges,” a masterpiece of military sci-fi. My copy was signed by George R.R. Martin. I wanted Jerry to sign it, too.

He was scheduled to be on a panel Friday afternoon. I got there early. Snagged a front row seat. The other panelists were milling, talking to fans, signing a book here or there. Then I heard someone say, “There’s Jerry.” Turning around, I expected to see the tuxedoed impresario on his Wikipedia page. Shuffling toward me instead was a gaunt man of many years being helped toward the stage. He used a walker. Settling into his chair, he sighed, the weight of a world (not this one, surely; one of his creation) on his shoulders.

I hate being the first to ask for an autograph, and as the panel was starting in ten minutes, I needed someone else to step up. And someone did. I was at the table next, passing Jerry my book and asking if I could have “a quick signature.” He turned the book in his hands like a rare gem.

“Am I in this?” he asked weakly.

“Yes sir,” I said, opening to the title page and handing him my pen.

“Am I a co-editor of this?” I was about to demur, but he answered himself: “No, that was George.” The pen I had given him was a felt tip Expresso, the only pen I can use without smearing the ink. He tried to sign his looping J and poked a hole in the page. I winced. He got it right the second time, though the signature was eroded-looking, like Sumerian clay tablets.

There. Target acquired. I needed to get my book back lest it suffer more damage, like a cracked spine. (Burt Ward did this at DragonCon 2012, opening my book so wide I heard the binding let go like a gunshot.) Inexplicably, I turned to the table of contents. “See? There’s your story,” I said. He smiled. “Oh yes,” he said. “That story.” Then he signed again, forgetting, I suppose, that he had already obliged me.

I don’t mean to ridicule. In fact, I admire Jerry for coming out to DragonCon. He was clearly unwell. Things got worse the following week, and he passed away on September 8. According to the New York Times, he “contracted a cold and flu on the trip.” I was getting over some sickness the day I met him. Did he contract my cold? Did I kill Jerry Pournelle?

I hope not. The memory of a once-vibrant writer hobbling down an aisle is haunting enough. It is hard seeing your heroes reduced by time. When I saw Adam West in 2013, he walked with a cane. William Shatner has put on a few cheb’a’. For some people, going to conventions is like going to a class reunion: they want to see who is still a geek or jock, who succeeded and who flopped, and who got old. I go to pay my respects. Knowing I was among the last people to see Jerry Pournelle alive is a sobering thought, one that has made me realize my responsibility as a fan: to treat celebrities with dignity. They show up for our entertainment; we show up for their actualization. Puts things in perspective, don’t you think?

Attendance at this year’s DragonCon was a record-setting 80,000-plus, which most people attributed to two factors: (1) Stan Lee, who had not been to DragonCon since 2012; and (2) a Doctor Who contingent of Billie Piper, Karen Gillan (who cancelled last year), Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston–and Matt Smith. I heard that Matt was the first post-2005 Doctor to attend DragonCon, and he was terrific, humble and funny, though he wouldn’t shake my hand, offering the fist bump instead. Karen limited herself to the fist bump too. Alex and Billie shook hands and hugged people. Different strokes, I guess.

All the Brits were in one room, sitting at a row of tables. It would have made sense to have a single line, and if you had autograph tickets for, say, only two of the five, you would simply skip the ones you didn’t have tickets for. Instead, once you got, say, Matt’s autograph, you were directed into a separate line for someone else, and if you wanted a third autograph, you had to trudge to a third line, and so on. Bit of a nutter way to do things, if you ask me. Also daft was the fact that Billie Piper was there only one day, but when I bought autograph tickets on Friday, I was told she was there all weekend. I didn’t learn she was Sunday only until I showed up on Saturday. DragonCon is staffed by volunteers, and it is bedlam from start to finish, but I don’t think I’m out of bounds to ask the autograph ticket sellers to know when the autographers will be available.

Lines are a fact of convention life, and with more attendees than all but four NFL stadiums hold, I expected some lines to be interminable. What I didn’t expect, though maybe I should have, was a line to get into a building. Vendors and artists occupy three floors of Americas Mart 2, and last year, the fire marshall shut down the building one day because it was at capacity. To prevent that this year, DragonCon staffers were funneling people into a line outside, letting them in a few at a time. It was a workable but maddening solution. One vendor told me that, next year, the artists will be moved to the fourth floor of Americas Mart, which is an excellent idea. Spreading out attendees over more of the building should curb the overcrowding problem.

After being unable to interview guests last year, I was scheduled for two this year: Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes. Remembering that only one of my two interviews in 2015 took place, I was cautiously optimistic. Turns out the caution was warranted, as was naked fury, because both Marina and Jonathan cancelled. Another reporter told me she had an interview with Gates McFadden, who simply didn’t show up.

To all DragonCon celebs: I know conventions aren’t your vacations. You are working while you’re there. I am working too, and I can’t do my work if you blow off a media session. Remember when you were young actors, struggling to make your way? People helped you, right? So pay that forward–help us. We’re not Nightline anchors. We need the exposure your interviews give us. I can’t speak for all reporters, but I make my interviews short and anodyne, possibly enjoyable. So if you agree to an interview, please keep it. That’s all we–I–ask.

This year was my seventh DragonCon, and despite my cavils, I love it. The show gets better every year. If you have the chance to attend, do it. Don’t say you’ll think about it. Don’t say you want to read more of my reviews first. Just go. But keep reading my reviews. And take a look at the pictures below. Talk to you soon.

Me with my colleague, Michaela McPherson. Check out her interview with Jai Nitz, creator of Suicide Squad’s El Diablo, on Convention Scene.

 

Cool board, bro.

 

Where’s Harley Quinn when you need her?

 

Never seen Marry Poppins and Bert cosplayers before. Excellent!

 

Excuse me, sir. Why is your suitcase wiggling?

 

Believe it or not, this is the first year I’ve seen a dragon at DragonCon.

 

When Michaela wanted to enter the armory, I told her she was axing for trouble.

 

When the rum is gone, you can buy more in the hotel bars . . . or from this guy.

 

Me Grimlock say, “Rawr.”

 

This guy is most definitely not a member of Hair Club for Men.

 

Before and after

 

DragonCon hoststhe Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive, which reached a milestone this year: 25,000 donors since 2002.

The Crystal Ball Fantasy Masquerade

January 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Convention News, Cosplay, Georgia

Dragon Con and MomoCon present a night of fun and fantasy at The Crystal Ball, a formal event at the world famous Georgia Aquarium Oceans Ballroom on February 25th, 2017 at 7:00 PM!

The night will be alive with hosts of costumed fairies and fae in their best formal attire, framed by the gentle creatures of the deep from all sides, dancing the evening away to orchestral favorites and some secret gems. Each woodland faun and goblin king will be dining on heirloom greens with the cursed blood oranges, toasted pecans, and roquefort, the finest of stewed ovine (or braised short ribs) or vegetarian option for our elven friends, finished with the legendary lemon souffle tart, which opens it’s delicate pastry only once every thousand years for a chosen few.

For the dwarves of the party, a cash bar is available for the evening with brew, ale, wine, and assorted cocktails. The night will come alive with the orchestral stylings of the most popular of entertainment, including ballroom arrangements from The Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, Miyazaki movies, and many many more, with a full dance floor on which to take your favorite necromancer or lamia for a swinging good time!

VIP access is available, including a special VIP gift bag with custom event artisan-etched glassware, commemorative cloisonne pin, drink ticket, and special reserved seating.

Dinner consists of a three course meal, with the main dish featuring beef (vegan and vegetarian options are available). Dinner will begin at 8:30pm. VIP exclusive hors d’oeuvres are available at 7:00 PM.

Tickets available now while supplies last

DragonCon 2015 Report (with an Interview with Caroll Spinney)!

Comments Off on DragonCon 2015 Report (with an Interview with Caroll Spinney)!

DragonCon log
It started with my friend John, whom you may remember as my sometime convention companion. He was with me at Minneapolis Wizard World and at Spooky Empire in Orlando, where we discussed the popularity of horror movies while waiting to meet Tobin Bell.

Back in 2011, John sent me an email that read, “Son, look at this.” John and I have called each other “son” for twenty years. It’s our oldest invention, the stone tools of our friendship. His email included a link to a convention called DragonCon, which I was unfamiliar with. “We should go to this to watch all the freaks,” he went on. “We’d have the time of our lives!”

We went to DragonCon that year, plus the next two. In 2014, John was unavailable, so I took my wife and daughter, who went with me again this year, marking my fifth Labor Day weekend spent in Atlanta, Georgia.

* * *

DragonCon has been held in the Dogwood City since 1986, when it was started by a science fiction and gaming group, the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players (DAGR). From the outset, it was different. In an era when most conventions focused on a single universe (Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who) or medium (comics, games, science fiction), DragonCon was founded as a multi-genre convention, and it has remained one ever since.

That first gathering drew 1,400 fans and featured some surprisingly renowned guests: Robert Asprin, Lynn Abbey, Michael Moorcock, and the band Blue Öyster Cult. Attendance grew every year, doubling in some years. By 1995, it was at 14,000. It topped 40,000 in 2010, and in 2015, just five years later, over 65,000 were expected. Heck, there are now more volunteers (2,300+) than inaugural attendees!

Most gatherings of that size take place in convention centers, but DragonCon is still hotel-based. Initially confined to the Piedmont Plaza, it now swamps five four-star venues: the Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis, Sheraton, and Westin. Vendor booths are located in a sixth building, the AmericasMart. Over 3,000 hours of programming are spread among those hotels, divided into fortysomething tracks. Tracks such as comics and Tolkien are the DNA of DragonCon. Others like podcasting, Whedon Universe, and filking are newer. The curriculum is always changing, always improving, according to Dan Carroll, DragonCon’s director of media. The alternate history track, for example, was added seven years ago when a panel on the topic was planned for 400 people. Over 3,000 showed up.

I went to one panel this year. Cacophonously titled “Legendary SW Authors Talk Mythos,” it featured four writers—Rebecca Moesta, Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, and Kevin J. Anderson—who have totaled no fewer than 50 Star Wars novels. To call these authors “legendary” carries a double meaning, as their works, like others of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, are no longer canon thanks to a 2014 Lucasfilm decree. (This article describes the new continuity in detail.)

The authors talked about this decision, not to bellyache but to explain that it isn’t the degradation most fans seem to think. They knew from the start that they were scribblers, hired to tell tales from someone else’s world. They didn’t feel betrayed; they felt lucky for the opportunities. After all, it isn’t just any world—it is Star Wars, one of the best worlds in this, or any, universe. Besides, there is nothing to stop Lucasfilm from taking their work—say, Michael Stackpole’s X-Wing books—and turning it into a separate movie or TV series, a possibility hinted at during last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

The panelists discussed other topics, including their tastes in stories (westerns, Doc Savage, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and fortuitously, romances like Gone with the Wind), what influenced them as writers, and how they collaborate. It was a fascinating colloquy despite the feebleness of the moderator, a supposed Star Wars blogger whose questions were rambling and confused the panelists. One question had already been answered by Stackpole, and after the moderator asked it, Kevin J. Anderson said, “Mike, you want to run through that again?” The moderator smiled, turned to the audience, and said, “Never mind. We’ll take your questions now.”

* * *

One of the biggest attractions of DragonCon is the Walk of Fame, where all the TV, movie, gaming, and other guests interact with fans. Over 400 guests attended this year, a few of them household names: Stephen Amell, John Barrowman, Katie Cassidy, Karen Gillan, Nichelle Nichols, and Edward James Olmos. I wanted to interview some guests, a process DragonCon manages better than most conventions. Reporters who are granted press passes must be separately approved for interviews. These approvals are based on the size of their media outlets. Once I got my approval, I could request interviews with up to ten guests.

With over 500 interview requests for 114 slots (according to Samantha Douglas, the interview coordinator), not every reporter approved for interviews actually gets one. Imagine my surprise when I was offered two: one with Sylvester McCoy, who played the Seventh Doctor on Dr. Who, and one with Caroll Spinney, who played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street. The interviews were actually press conferences held in one of the Marriott meeting rooms. About twelve reporters were at each one. Most represented nerd-news sites like ConventionScene, though I also saw CNN and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Through no fault of DragonCon, the press conferences were disasters. After we waited thirty minutes for Sylvester McCoy, someone came in to say that he was cancelling. His panel had run long, and because he was leaving that afternoon, there was no time to reschedule. Carol Spinney was over an hour late (he simply forgot) and stayed only about ten minutes. Here is a bit of what he had to say:

Reporter: I heard in other interviews that you based Big Bird on a four-year-old child. Over the years, have you had to adjust your characterization of that four-year-old child version of Big Bird based on the generations?

Spinney: Actually, initially, since I decided Big Bird could not read or write, he was four-and-a-half. Then I had to go up to six. And now he has been six for years. He is a precocious child of six. He travels by himself with a dog. And he went to China, somehow. I don’t know how he got tickets. I think it’s just fun playing him as a kind of wide-eyed child. I get letters all the time from children saying, “Big Bird, you’re my best friend. Please come and play with me.” One said, “How about next Thursday?”

Reporter: When the movie [Follow That Bird, 1985] came out, Big Bird had already been around for a while, and a whole generation of children had been watching him and relating to him as a friend, and kids really felt that their friend had been kidnapped. Were you expecting Big Bird to connect to a whole country of children at that deep of a level?

Spinney: I didn’t really know what to expect. When Jim Henson hired me, we were both puppeteers. I would do whatever characters needed performing, but by the third year, with Big Bird, I was so busy. They tried to have me continue doing the incidental stuff too, but one day, Big Bird was in almost all the scenes, and I had to keep taking a taxi up and down Broadway [performing as different characters in different scenes], so one day I said, “Let’s not play this game anymore.” On the fourth year, I said I was busy enough that we needed more puppeteers. So we got some more.

Reporter: I saw that you visited the Center for Puppetry Arts yesterday. Can you talk about what you saw and did there?

Spinney: Well, the museum is going to open by November. They have so many things to display. I saw the place where they are building and repairing puppets, a lot of the Henson puppets that are worn-out. Some of the material has decayed. It has turned to powder. The only puppet I ever created myself is one that has gone to pieces. It was Bruno, who carried Oscar’s trash can around. There were fake arms going to Bruno’s shoulders, and my hands were inside. Oscar would come up and try to boss him around, but Bruno would not be bossed. I designed Bruno so that my head was in his head. I could see out through where the bags under his eyes would be. He looked like a Bert-type puppet. That way, we could get Oscar out on stage for concert tours. I asked a couple of years ago why we don’t use Bruno in shows anymore. He doesn’t exist. He has turned to powder. I asked why they don’t make a new one. It would cost $20,000, so good-bye, Bruno.

Reporter: You are an animator as well. Are you planning on making any future animations?

Spinney: Not really. After four years of doing it in Boston, I kind of got tired of it. I was glad it didn’t have to be my permanent career. I was hired by Disney Studios to be an animator, though I didn’t take the job. This was 1957, and the pay was only $56 a week for the first two years. I decided I’d try for something different, so I did. Walt [Disney] actually walked into the room during my interview. I never actually got to speak to him. I had always had a bucket list of three people I would like to meet: Andrew Wyeth, who I spent an afternoon with once and his son Jamie; Walt Disney—at least I was in the same room with him, and I turned his company down; and the other one was Jim Henson, who personally hired me. So I guess I accomplished all those.

Spinney
Caroll Spinney in the interview room

* * *

Suppose you are thinking of going to DragonCon in 2016, which will be its 30th anniversary. What do you need to know?

  •  Book early. Tickets are plentiful, but the hotels fill up fast. The marketing manager at the Hyatt told me that it takes fifteen minutes to sell his 1,250 guest rooms for DragonCon weekend.
  • Prepare to wait. You will wait for autographs. You will wait for panels. You will wait for the Heroes & Villains ball or the DragonCon Burlesque or panels with the biggest celebrities. Heck, you will wait for an elevator or a restroom. Get used to it.
  • Pay in cash. I have a dream that someday the DragonCon decision-makers will realize they need to mail pre-paid badges. What’s the point of buying online when you have to pick them up in-person? This means 65,000 people standing in line. Yes, registration starts on Thursday, but this benefits only those who buy a weekend pass. Those who want a one-day pass on Saturday can only buy it on Saturday and must pick it up on-site, even if they paid online. You may as well pay for a one-day on-site, and if you do, pay cash. The cash line is terribly shorter and faster than the credit card line.
  •  Account for the parade. A highlight of the weekend is the Saturday parade, which starts at 10:00am and stretches through downtown. Over 80,000 people show up to watch, making it the second largest parade in the state of Georgia (the first is the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade). Along the parade route, every inch of sidewalk bears a geeky gawker. It’s like a Marvel mosh pit, so plan accordingly. I heard one woman complaining that she had missed her Saturday morning photo op (which she had paid for) because she could not reach the hotel through the throng.
  •  Schedules are bunk. The program you are handed at registration contains a detailed schedule for the entire weekend. It is outdated the moment it is printed. There is a smartphone app that is kept current, but even it is not omniscient. For example, when I entered the Walk of Fame on Saturday, I saw a handwritten sign taped above Karen Gillan’s booth announcing that she would arrive on Sunday. DC Comics luminary George Perez left at 1:00pm on Saturday, and that was announced only when his signing line was cut off at noon. And I’ve already mentioned the press conference bloopers. Bottom line: No one can manage a convention of this heft flawlessly, so be flexible. Don’t have a meltdown when something goes awry.
  • Take care of yourself. Dan Carroll calls DragonCon an “immersive experience.” This can be dreadful if you don’t manage it. He told me about an attendee some years back, a diabetic, who fainted during a session in the gaming room. She told the EMT who restored her that she hadn’t eaten in two hours. “When did you last eat?” the EMT asked. “Around 2:00,” the woman answered. The EMT looked at her and said, “Honey, it’s now 11:00.”

Six buildings. 65,000 attendees. 2,400 volunteers. A $55 million economic impact. You may have attended conventions in the past, but none compares to DragonCon, one of the United States’ largest and most venerable. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cosplays, which are more sumptuous than those you’ll see anywhere. Check them out for yourself below. Maybe I’ll see you there next year, when I plan to be dressed like this.

* * *

twenties DC

Gotham City’s underworld, circa 1925

Big Trouble

I didn’t want trouble, but these guys brought it. Big trouble.

Star Wars

George Lucas’s first casting attempt

Toucan

Here’s Sam. Where’s Dean?

Surfer

It’s always hot in Georgia in early September. Some people respond by practically going nude.

Scooby gang

Who you gonna call? Sorry, wrong ghostbusters.

scooby villains

Maybe Mystery Inc. was looking for these guys. I found them instead.

Barbie

I went to DragonCon looking for a life-size Barbie doll. Here it is.

Steampunk ood

This was a ood cosplay . . . I mean, a good cosplay.

Kermit & Piggy

An impromptu Muppet Show breaks out.

Hangover

I found a baby once. Then this guy took him from me.

Deadpool

Preach it, Deadpool. Preach it.

crowd

Want to know what 3,000+ cosplayers in a parade look like? Here’s a glimpse.

Wife and daughter

Want to know what happens when my wife and daughter spend an entire weekend together? Here’s a glimpse.

Scene on the Web Weekly: October 14-20, 2013

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Animate Miami and The Walking Dead get documentaries, SDCC gets a convention expansion, Superman gets a 75th anniversary short, and what do you get? A whole lot more in this week’s Scene on the Web. 

Scene on the Web Weekly: October 7-13, 2013

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Tom Hiddleston provides us with an interpretation of Owen Wilson as Loki, the “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” leaves patrons in shock, Hulk Hogan has a message for the fans at New York Comic Con, and we get a look at the “Cosplay of the DC Multiverse” from Dragon Con.

Scene on the Web Weekly: September 16-22, 2013

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The cast of The Walking Dead are headed to New York Comic Con, Lady Sif gets a poster, and the costume party that is Dragon Con continues via video in this edition of Scene on the Web.

Scene on the Web Weekly: September 9-15, 2013

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A brief Scene on the Web this week, but NYCC adds Gillian Anderson and John Romita, Jr., Harry Potter gets a spin-off movie, and we round up some great Dragon Con videos for you including the JLA taking on the Avengers!

Scene on the Web Weekly: September 2-8, 2013

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New York Comic Con adds George Perez, Florida Supercon adds a ton of comic guests, Robocop gets a trailer, and lots more in the latest Scene on the Web Weekly.

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