Comics / Cult Favorite

Dragon Con 2013 Post-mortem

By Philip Schweier
September 11, 2013 - 11:03

Accompanying photos courtesy of Dr. Doug. For complete photos of Dragon Con 2013, click here.

Every year, roundabout mid-July, the anticipation starts. It’s the same feeling I would get as a kid at Thanksgiving, knowing that we’ve reached the official countdown to something special. As an adult, that something is Dragon*Con.

Many fans will lay claim that Comic Con is the big to-do, or Mega Con, or any of the many worthwhile conventions held throughout the year. I can’t argue, not having been to them. But Dragon*Con in Atlanta is certainly on their scale, and appeals to a broad spectrum of geek culture.

Men of War: Oddball, Kelly and Big Joe of 'Kelly's Heroes,' and Blackhawk

1. It’s Bigger Inside
One of the best features of Dragon*Con is the variety of costumes one will find. More than 50,000 people attend the four-day event, and perhaps 20,000 of them are in some sort of costume. The annual parade hosts battalions of stormtroopers, crews of Starfleet members, legions of super-heroes, as well as sub-sets of Time Lords, Browncoats, and fans of just about every genre-related TV show and movie.

I know I’ve raised this point before, but clearly, some have not gotten the message.

Most Original Costume: Forbidden Planet
Some people regretfully fail to grasp the impact their costume may have in terms of crowd control. A hand-sewn Queen of Hearts costume with a big hoop skirt is most impressive, but a crowded dealers’ room only invites disaster – for everyone. Even less ambitious outfits, such as a lengthy Jedi robe, can be problematic. I saw more than a few of those getting stepped on.

2. Flying Too Close to the Sun
Labor Day marks the end of summer, and in Atlanta, GA, one can generally expect the temperature to still be in the 80s. So why in the world would anyone wear a heavy, winter-centric Night Watch costume from Game of Thrones? I heartily recommend costumers think ahead of such factors as climate and temperature when planning next years’ outfit – maybe the Marshall family from Land of the Lost.

3. 1 + 2 = 3:
The above two points come together in an unpleasant combination that impacts other con attendees. It bothers me that I have to say this so publicly, but it’s such a basic rule of modern civilization, I find it unfathomable that some near-adults need to be told: TAKE A BATH!

Whether you’re at Dragon*Con or not, whether you’re part of the fan community or not, nothing – I repeat NOTHING – can substitute for basic daily hygiene. This is the 21st century, and there is no excuse for not taking a daily shower. Some might think patchouli is a viable option, but the truth is the stink from that is only slightly less offensive than that of the horse manure aroma emanating from some hardcore conventioneers who have yet to take their monthly bath.

4. No Longer Unique:
While many costumes I have seen over the years are unique and one-of-a-kind (Forbidden Planet comes to mind), others have become so common that what was once original and interesting has become commonplace and old hat. Examples would include steampunk or zombie versions of super-heroes, and female Dr. Who fans in Dalek dresses.

Trans-gendered characters also have lost all originality. Usually it’s a female dressed in a variation of a male character, sometimes in groups, sometimes in layers of mash-up. I once saw a group of female Batman villains in Victorian dresses. And I can’t count the number of female Lokis I saw this year. I can count the number of male Lokis I saw: 0.

Having said that, if a guy dresses as Wonder Woman, unless he’s a professional level female impersonator, it can be downright ugly.

Fully poseable action figures
Another uncommon twist that has become common is gangsta/pimp versions of costumes. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a stormtrooper wearing over-sized gold chains was mildly amusing. Now it’s just boring, like hearing the same punchline over and over again.

5. Overheard in the Walk of Fame:
“I’d give my right eye for Lee Majors’ autograph, but it costs an arm and two legs.”

6. When the Sh!t Hits the Fan:
I stepped onto an elevator to find it occupied by three people, politely nodding hello to the group collectively. Still, it was impossible to ignore that one of the three was a female celebrity guest. I will decline to identify her; let’s just call her Mrs. X. Next floor up, a couple in their 20s got on, and the male portion of the couple begins chatting up Mrs. X, making ignorant, backhanded comments on career choices and a general lack of status in showbiz, as well as personal issues with which she has struggled.

Mrs. X became visibly perturbed almost immediately, even going so far as to move away from the moron as much as a crowded elevator would permit. Sadly, he remained clueless until his running commentary was interrupted by another passenger.

"I just saw it in the window and had to have it." (no one under 40 got this costume).
“Please stop talking,” the man told him in a normal speaking voice.

Mr. Moron looked up, eyes wide. “Wha –?”

(At this point, I can only paraphrase the other passenger as much as my memory will allow, but the message remains the same.)

“Please stop talking,” the other passenger repeated calmly. “Your remarks are clearly making her uncomfortable. Please stop.”

After that, the moron was quiet. But only for a few moments. Clearly irritated, he turned to the other passenger and said, “I paid a lot of money to come to Dragon*Con. She didn’t pay anything. She’s here for free, and –”

And whatever half-assed argument he had in mind was lost when the other gentleman cut him off. “We’re ALL guests at Dragon*Con, celebrity or not, and we need to treat each other with courtesy and respect. No amount of money gives you the right to insult her and embarrass the rest of us.”

Mr. Moron was pretty angry at this point. Perhaps if there had been more room, he might have Hulked out, but his girl gripped his arm. “Let’s just get out of here,” she hissed, clearly angry and embarrassed.

At the next stop, they stepped off the elevator. The moron turned to the rest of us and cut loose with a string of profanity that lasted until the doors closed.

“Asshole,” someone muttered.

Otherwise we all road in silence to the top floor of the hotel. As we made our way off the elevator to the VIP lounge, Mrs. X spoke to her defender. I don’t know what was said, but I assume she was expressing her appreciation, maybe offering him a free autograph as a token of thanks.

What really saddens me about this whole episode is that people need to be reminded of the need to simply, “Play nice.” Any person who walks through the doors to an event – convention, football game, whatever – regardless of how much money they’ve paid or how far they traveled, is a guest of said event, and should behave as such. Whether they’re there as a fan, or in some professional capacity, we should treat one another with courtesy and respect.

Don't you wish your ghoulfriend was hot like me?
7. Overheard in the Artists’ Alley:

Famous Comic Book Artist, about to sign a commissioned drawing: “Who should I make this out to?”

Comic Book Fan: “Just make it out to ‘ebay winner.’”

8. Wooden Panels:
I realized this year that as I approach my mid-century mark, many of the so-called “experts” on some of the panels I go to have considerably less knowledge than I do. Not that I’m so smart, just that my advanced years have given me a greater opportunity to immerse myself in certain topics. That, or I have the advantage of having lived it.

For instance, I attended a Sherlock Holmes panel in which some of the panelists were still working their way through the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories for the first time. Another panel seemed thrown together, and the gentlemen who were expected to share their knowledge seemed out only vaguely familiar with the subject matter.

I find this disappointing, since I enjoy the smaller panels where I don’t have to wait in line for a couple of hours, only to end up watching the presentation on an overhead monitor. Smaller panel are more intimate, usually more interactive, as fans are expected to join in the discussion at hand. Such will be my plan for next year, as I have offered to provide another voice of long-time fandom.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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