Submitted by: Nora
Spending three days surrounded by 45,000 people in temperatures over 100 is usually not what you would call fun, but throw in celebrities and Stormtroopers and fun is exactly what you get. This past Labor Day Weekend, Atlanta played host to trekkies, steampunkers, and sci-fi fans alike for the 25th Anniversary Dragon*Con.
To a first-timer like me, Dragon*Con was pretty overwhelming. The huge event is spread out between five downtown Atlanta hotels and had non-stop events. Days at Dragon*Con are filled with panels ranging from Anime to Tolkien, and at night options include raves, costume balls, a night at the aquarium and even a superhero burlesque show! I spent the weeks prior to Dragon*Con carefully plotting my schedule, which turned out to be pretty useless! Once I was in the middle of the chaos that is D*Con, my schedule went out the window. I had 15 panels on my schedule, and ended up seeing only 5. I was okay with that because I was able to soak in all the costumes, check out all the vendors, and generally just be at the Con.
Speaking of costumes, costumes are second nature at Dragon*Con. It was nothing to see R2D2 roaming beside a Sookie cosplayer. The restaurants, bars and trains were filled with people in costumes that ranged from the extremely elaborate to the almost non-existent.. I saw a multitude of Merlotte’s waitresses, Captain Americas and there were Dalecks everywhere! Steampunk was also very popular, and they ranged from Steampunk Ghostbusters to even a Steampunk Dexter! Costume watching is definitely a fun part of Dragon*Con. To see a gallery of costumes from Dragon*Con 2011, go to http://www.flickr.com/groups/dragoncon2011/ .
Dragon*Con gives fans the possibility to run into their favorite celebrity . The #dragoncon twitter feed was full of fans that had just walked past or were sitting across from William Shatner, Wil Wheaton, Colin Ferguson, etc. For those of us that were not so lucky, there was the Walk of Fame, where fans could pay a small fee for an autograph and/or have a photo taken with any of the actors. Celebrities in attendance ranged from stars from Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy, and True Blood. I was totally star struck walking past James Marsters ( Spike, from Buffy and Angel) , and the stars of the highly popular web series, The Guild. It was surreal being in a room filled with people that I have seen on the small and big screens. Most of the fees were reasonable, $10 for picture, $35 for autograph. Some were higher, but for the most part, that was the average. Aside from Wil Wheaton and Tom Felton (Harry Potter), the lines to meet your favorite celebrity were short. I waited 10 min to meet Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood), and it was well worth it. She was so sweet and patient with the star-struck fans.
It wouldn’t be a Con if you weren’t standing in long lines and Dragon*Con was no exception. Standing outside for two hours waiting on a panel was not my favorite memory, but once seated inside for Q&A with Felicia Day and cast members of the Guild, it was worth it. It was a great way to meet new people, as we were all standing there for the same reason. At one point, one guy in line ran across the street and brought back an armful of ice cream for his fellow Con-goers.
Another thing that separates Dragon*Con from other cons is that most panels had several showings throughout the weekend. If you missed a panel one day, there was another chance to catch it. That really helped, because we tried to get in to the True Blood panel twice before getting in the last day. And that panel turned out to be my favorite part of Dragon*Con 2011!
My husband, my friends and I dragged our sleepy butts out 2 ½ hours before the panel started Sunday morning because we were not missing it this time! We waited for over 2 hours before they opened the door but once they did, the wait was absolutely worth it. We had perfect seats in the third row. The wait for the panel to begin was softened by the hilarious videos broadcast on the big screen. Dragon*Con TV was filled with parodies aimed at helping con-goers have a safe and fun time. You can check out these videos at http://web.dragoncontv.com/tag/2011/ .
Once the huge ballroom was full the moderator introduced the panelists: Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam), Jim Parrack (Hoyt), Joe Manganiello (Alcide), Denis O’Hare (Russell), and Charlaine Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse series). As Joe came onstage, he teased the audience by lifting up his shirt like he was going to take it off. The crowd went crazy and I’m sure if he did take off his shirt there would have been fangirls and boys falling out all over the place (I might have been among them!)
The moderator asked the panelists some questions and then opened the floor up to the audience. They were all very careful about spoilers, but did say the last couple of episodes would be crazy. They all seemed happy to be there and graciously answered all the questions.
Kristin and Jim seemed to be passing notes back and forth, which I thought was so cute! Every time Joe answered a question the hall exploded with screams and clapping like they couldn’t help it (I wouldn’t know anything about that )
I found Ms. Harris to be surprisingly charming and funny. One of the questions asked was how she thought the show stacks up to her books. Her response was that she thought her books “were perfect”. She did think that the addition of Jessica to the show was a good decision (I agree!). She liked that it gave Hoyt someone to love and gave Bill the opportunity to be parental, which she really enjoys.
One theme throughout the panel was morality. Kristin was asked about Pam’s loyalty to Eric and she said that she really struggled with the scene where Pam accidently betrayed Eric by telling Bill where he was. Kristin wanted to make sure that it was organic and really believable that she had just made a huge mistake because she knew that Pam would never betray her maker. She was also really happy to see the scene that followed showing how much pain it had caused her. Denis talked about how he felt his relationship to Talbot kept him grounded and showed him the lines of morality. When he was killed, those lines went away.
Joe talked about how growing up he was a lot like Alcide. He felt like he never fit in with any of the groups in school, like Alcide doesn’t really fit in with the wolf pack. He also said Alcide decided to give Debbie another shot because he thought Sookie was dead. Now that she is back, things are different. He said that we will see that a lot in the last couple of episodes.
We were all sad to see the panel come to an end and agreed that this was our favorite part of the con. We can’t wait to see them next year!
Overall, aside from the heat, I loved Dragon*Con. It still had a fan feel to it, despite how commercialized the world has become. It is a place where fans go to be together, have fun, possibly meet celebrities, and express their creativity with all kinds of cosplay. I have already purchased my badge and booked my hotel for Dragon*Con 2012 and plan on making this a yearly trip. I think every geek and/or fan of the genre should definitely make the trek to Atlanta. Where else can you see Darth Vader pushing a baby Yoda?
Here are more of Nora’s pics from the True Blood Panel: