DragonCon invaded Atlanta from August 29 to September 1st, 2003. It is the largest annual science fiction, gaming, art, fantasy, and cult media convention in the world. I love sci-fi, comics, and the gothic genre, and dabble in gaming, which made this convention very exciting!
I attended the convention with Kathy who (sadly) hasn’t even seen Star Wars but recognized that the people-watching opportunities were very enticing. There is just so much to see and do at this festival of sorts, and this review will enlighten you to the 2003 convention.
How It Works
DragonCon is a huge gathering and covers a vast array of unique interests from Sci-Fi TV and movies to customizable card game tournaments to Doctor Who panel discussions to art exhibits to Playboy bunnies. To make it easier for the fans to get around, the convention is divided in ‘traks’ based on specific interests. For example, the Star Trek Trak involves an hourly schedule of events just for Star Trek fans that runs over the entire course of the show. This year it ended with sexy Chase Masterson of Deep Space 9 fame (the last Star Trek Trak event which I was unfortunately unable to attend… DOH!).
There are hundreds of celebrities that appear at this convention. With 20,000 fans in attendance, there is someone for everyone! For Star Trek fans, George Takei (Sulu from the original series) was the guest of honor this year.
Overall, there were just too many celebrities to mention in detail (see list below) but if you are a sci-fi fan and wanted to chat with your favorite stars, they were there! Among the numerous guests, Buffy characters Spike (James Marsters) and Kennedy (Iyari Limon) were particularly popular, as were Ray Park and Peter Mayhew (Chebacca!) from Star Wars fame. I was elated to see that numerous actors from Babylon 5 arrived at the show in this century! Babylon Fivers included Ivanova (Claudia Christian – who left early due to illness), Ambassador Delenn (Mira Furlan), Centauri Vir Cotto (Stephen Furst), renegade telepath Byron (Robin Atkin Downes), and a bunch of others. Actually, almost the entire B5 cast was there! Awesome! One of my favorite comic book writers, Peter David, was greeting fans, as were other comic book artists and writers.
The celebrities typically sold 8×10 pictures of themselves for about $10 and would gladly autograph them. They would also pose for pctures with you. Other stars such as comic book artists brought their original works and were offering those for sale, many of which were about $75-100.
I chatted with Robin Atkin Downes for a while and he was loving the convention. Aside from making some extra cash, a lot of these actors become more popular as more fans get to see who they are and learn more about the roles they played on various shows and in the movies.
You could meet some of the guests by waiting in line to get their autograph and then having a brief exchange with them. With so many fans, the stars couldn’t devote too much time to any one visitor, which is understandable.
There were also some ‘famous’ people who came as exhibitors (meaning they paid to be there as opposed to being invited) and signed autographs for fans.
One panel discussion that I attended was the Trek Trak meeting about the first two seasons of ‘Enterprise’ (see picture below). Now, I must admit that when one of the panel members exclaimed ‘kaplah!’ (A Klingon term meaning success) and everyone cracked up. Ok, so that was the single most episode of geekdom that I have ever engaged in, but it was fun!!
The five members of the panel each gave their own 2 cents about the show and then fans asked questions. At the end of that particular panel, someone stood up and accused the panel members of providing generic information that would not damage their relationship to the show and keep them employed. I loved the small-time anarchy that followed! The truth is, as interesting as the discussion was, this fan was right on in that they didn’t fairly address the negative aspects of the show but repeatedly asked everyone to wait for the next season to watch for major changes.
A Dragon*Con Trek Trak panel discussing the first two seasons of the show ‘Enterprise.’ It featured J. G. Herztler, Chris Jones, Arne Starr, Brian Sussman, and Vaughn Armstrong.
Halloween Arrives Early!
A large number of fans who attended the show came dressed up. This was one of the best parts of the convention! Check out the pictures on this page just to get a small sample of the amazing costumes that people were wearing.
Strangely enough, Kathy noted that that there were a lot of people dressed as peasants. Yes, peasants! They looked like they came out of an episode of Xena or Hercules or from the Lord of the Rings movies! In any case, there were plenty of Lara Croft and Matrix look-alikes, Star Wars Storm Troopers, and Marvel and DC super heroes (Spider-man, Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Poison Ivy, Green Lantern, Robin and the list goes on!) to keep everyone interested in their fellow fans!
A Typical Day
There is a lot to do at a giant convention like this. It can be simultaneoulsy exciting and overwhelming. A day at the show can consist of walking around, meeting people (fans, celebrities, artists), attending panel discussions, and checking out and buying tons of paraphernalia ( comic books, video games, ‘working’ lightsabres, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s weapon of choice: the wood slaying stake, S and M domination gear, posters, clothes, costumes, and so on).
On the other hand, if the large masses of people becomes too overwhelming, you can escape to the all-day movie marathons, watch costume competitions, or escape to your hotel room for a brief break since thousands of guests checked into the hotels in which the convention took place.
After Dark Entertainment
This convention attracted a lot of people in the goth crowd. Kathy dubbed it ‘Goth fest!’ Popular gothic band the CruxShadows played a show on Saturday night and the band had set up a booth for fans to meet them. There was also a showing of the classic movie the Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with actors performing in the room as you watched the movie.
DragonCon raises funds and awareness for the Georgia chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America and sponsors the Robet A. Heinlein 2003 Blood Drive. A DragonCon charity auction is held each year to support these causes.
Cons to the Con
If you didn’t buy your ticket online, you easily waited in line for 30-60 minutes to get your ticket and name tag. The organizers could have made this go faster by having more ticketmaster and registration booths. In contrast to the convention program which was decently organized, a lot of the areas at the show were very poorly marked. There needs to be larger and more local and centralized signs to help people get around. I would have also liked to see people in ‘staff’ shirts who could easily help you when you were lost. In any case, once you figured out where things were, you pretty much got around with relative ease.
One final point about the guests in attendance. While there were tons of them, many were second rate. There were a number of guests who would explain who they were as “I was the guy who had that one in line in that movie like 25 years ago…” We need more big name stars!! Although to be fair, there were a lot of awesome guests!
Was it worth it?
People want to know if a gathering of this kind is worth the price. I must say that it is very worth it. Prices ranged from $30/day to $75/multi-day pass. It should be noted that you can walk around and see a lot without even paying simply because many of the exhibits and booths are in free areas. Also, people are everywhere and constantly walking around so you get a general feel for the show. However, if you want to really get in on the action, just pay the fair price and check it out!
There are other annual conventions for the different areas of this one. For example, Star Trek has its own conventions and the gaming people run their own major tournaments and so on. The difference is that at DragonCon, all of these are brought together which makes for a great experience.
Expanded DragonCon Pictures Section!
Check out the DragonCon pictures of Lara Croft, Goth Model Diana Knight, Spiderman, Supergirl, and more! This is an expanded pics section. Enjoy!
The next DragonCon is scheduled for Atlanta, Georgia, Friday September 3rd to Monday September 6th, 2004. I strongly recommend a visit if you’re a fan of sci-fi, comics, art, customizable card games, fantasy and horror, computer gaming, animation, science, music, science fiction tv and movies. Book now… you won’t regret it! For more of Dragon*Con, visit the website.
Attention Star Wars Fans!
Check out this Citynet Magazine Exclusive Interview!
Miss May 2004 is Orli Shoshan… Jedi Master Shaak Ti from Star Wars Episode 2 & 3
DragonCon 2003 Celebrities
| Deborah AbbottPeter Abrahamson
Aaron A. Acevedo
Steven R. Addlesee
Beth Allen – The Tribe actress
Kevin J. Anderson
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
Stephen Austin – Pak Ma Ra Babylon 5
Ray Bradbury – The Legend himself!
The Brobdingnagian Bards
Julie Caitlin Brown – Natoth on Bab 5 + ST: TNG
Cats From Saturn
Stephen Euin Cobb
Stephen B. Combs
Ann C. Crispin
The Crossed Swords
The Cruxshadows – Goth Band
Kathleen O’Shea David
Sohma G. Dawling
John A. De Vito
Robin Atkin Downes – Babylon 5 – Byron
Lou Ferrigno – Incredible Hulk TV Show
G. W. Fisher
Peter H. Friedman
Mira Furlan – Babylon 5 – Ambassador Delenn
Stephen Furst – Babylon 5 – Vir
Ghost of the Robot
The Green Goblyn Project
| Bill HolbrookDr. Stephen D. Howe
Herb Jefferson, Jr.
Sarah A. Hoyt
Gary Kim Hayes
Richard Hatch – Battlestar Galactica
Caitlin R. Kiernan
Michael John Kimball
Scott “Raven” Levy
Iyari Limon – Buffy – Kennedy
Joseph Michael Linsner – Artist of Dawn
Lips Down on Dixie
The Lost Boys
James Marsters – Buffy – Spike
Chase Masterson – ST: DS9 – Dabo girl
Peter Mayhew – Star Wars – Chewbacca
David G. McDaniel
Garry W. McKee II
James Moffet III
James A. Moore
Monte Michael Moore
Bill Mumy – Babylon 5 – Minbari Lenier
| Philip NutmanJody Lynn Nye
Ray Park – Star Wars – Darth Maul
Luke Perry – ‘90210’ and sci-fi flicks
Rowdy Roddy Piper – Wrestler
Kariann and Gary Raisor
Fred Olen Ray
William Alan Ritch
Philip Paul Sacco
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Donald R. Schmitt
Randal L. Schwartz
Lisa Marie Scott
Sins of Lust
Michael Wesley Smith
Dr. Kris Sperry
J. David Spurlock
The Last Dance
Lani John Tupu
Ethan Van Sciver
J. Shanon Weaver
Michael Jai White