Monday, July 30, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 Preview


Odin’s Beard! Can Dragon*Con truly be a mere 31 days away!?!
Yes, it’s that time of year. Time to really start getting excited about the world’s greatest collection of dorkery, geekery, and nerdery. The event that is a party the likes of which you could not possibly experience anywhere else. A party that runs non-stop from 9 AM Friday morning all the way through 5 PM on Monday.
            There will be bands, movie screenings, art, costuming, panels on every subject you can imagine, and parties. Oh, the parties.
There will be actors, writers, artists, scientists, perverts, drunkards, and that one guy that is everywhere you go. You know – that one dude that you see all weekend long, even though after Con you’ll see all these pictures of rad costumes you never saw. You’ll see pics of panels you didn’t know about. You’ll see portions of the hotel you never knew existed. But that one guy – you’ll see him over and over and over again.
There will be moms, dads, kids, grandmas, and granddads. People of every shape and size - from gangly, bespectacled girls to portly dudes to women so staggeringly gorgeous you’d lop off your pinky toe just to see them get on all fours and scrub some blood up off the floor.
There will be Drow Elves, Cimmerian barbarians, Klingons, robots, wizards, zombies, Jedi, monarchs of Westeros, starship pilots, Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Victorian explorers with astonishing contraptions. Also, regular folks in t-shirts and jeans.
This is Nerdi Gras. If you’re the right kind of person it will be the most fun you have all year long, and I am certainly that kind of person. At no other time and place can you drink for three days straight and be surrounded by the absolute greatest people in the world. Well, most of them, anyway.
Today, as I do every year, I will be covering the Dragon*Con Progress Report. It arrived in comic shops about a week ago, mailboxes a few days ago, and the .pdf version went up online this past Saturday. This Progress Report is your best tool for having a great time at Dragon*Con. Yes – obviously you’re going to need the maps and programs offered at Con. And I highly recommend you download the app whenever it becomes available. It was brilliant and indispensable last year. But this Progress Report lets you get a head start on planning out your weekend and as ridiculous as it may sound, if you don’t have at least an outline of a schedule going into Dragon*Con you just are not making the most of your weekend.
I used to be one of those that just sort of floated around the Con with no real agenda, trying to look at the program at the last minute to figure out who was where and what I wanted to do. I ended up doing a whole lot of nothing. But now I know how to utilize the tools that Dragon*Con is good enough to provide every year to maximize my experience. I’m not saying you have to do this, but pros have a lot more fun than amateurs. Want proof? Find me at Con midpoint - 2 AM on Saturday - and let’s compare.
Last year Dragon*Con instituted a new system for picking up your badges. It revolved around the barcode you might have noticed on the card you got in the mail if you’ve already registered. I still wish they’d just mail badges out, but I suppose that could present an equal number of possible hassles. As it is, we will still be standing in line. In 2011 I just happened to show up when the machines were down and not reading barcodes. My experience was not improved. I still stood in line for three hours. I hoep this year will go better, as most of the people I know didn’t have my shit luck and got through their lines quickly at different times than me.
I’d like to point out that the inner cover of the 2012 Progress Report features the likeness of a certain celebrity that pretty much owned last year’s Con:
That’s awesome. Watch for Bob & Carl: Sci-Fi Janitors on Dragon*Con TV, which will be playing in your hotel rooms and on screens all over the Con. You’ll find no better humor all weekend, except maybe at the Late Night Puppet Slam, but we’ll get to that.
So the Progress Report is here and represents pretty much what you can expect from Dragon*Con this year. There may be a couple of last-minute guests or performers, but this thing lays out as much as you need to know to start your plan. There’s no schedule, but this is your pre-emptive strike at making yours. Once you know who and what, you’ll be better prepared to figure out your whens.
This year’s guide opens with a few notes, the most interesting of which is probably Dragon*Con’s partnership with Delta Airlines:

This year, Dragon*Con has partnered with Delta Air Lines to offer attendees a 2%– 10% discount on airfares to the convention. Reservations must be booked for travel between August 28, 2012 and September 6, 2012.
In order to take advantage of this opportunity, please visit Delta Air Lines (delta.com) and enter meeting/event code NM8S7 for domestic travel into Atlanta or NM8SR for international travel. Reservations can also be made over the phone at 800-328-1111 Monday–Friday, 7:00 am–7:00 pm CDT, however a direct ticketing fee will apply.

Pretty cool for the out-of-towners.
There’s also a page detailing a few key pieces of Dragon*Con merchandise that will be available this year. Personally, I want the parade shirt that is the front cover of the Progress Report and the image at the top of this post..
The guide splits the guests into “Featured Guests” and “Additional Featured Guests”. I’m doing the same here because it’s easier that way. Also keep in mind that this is all the stuff I am interested in. If you want the amazingly full list of guests, performers, merchants, and professionals; visit one of the many Atlanta-area comic shops for a free copy or go and download yours now.

Featured Guests
  • Kevin J. Anderson – One of the key architects of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Anderson is one of my favorite authors of licensed works. I wish I had some kind of hardcover for him to sign. But that’s what the Dealer Rooms are for, right?
  • Adam Baldwin – Best known for un-self-consciously wearing a very stupid-looking hat on Joss Whedon’s superlative space cowboy show Firefly. Also known for cancelling his Dragon*Con appearance every year. If he actually shows up I’m going to have to get a picture with the guy just to commemorate his presence.
  • John Barrowman – I may not be a fan of Torchwood, but I am definitely a fan of Captain Jack Harkness and the man that portrayed him on that show and on Doctor Who. Every time I have seen Barrowman outside of his Captain Jack role he has been hugely entertaining, so I can’t wait to see him on a panel or meet him in person.
  • Amber Benson – I’m not sure if Ms. Benson has been to Dragon*Con before or not, but it’s always nice to have a different face in the Buffy panels. She’s also done a huge amount of stuff outside of Buffy, including movies, comics, and animation. I’ve got a Willow and Tara 2-pack I’d like to have her sign.
  • Levar Burton – I am going to see a Star Trek: The Next Generation panel this year. I loved that show when it was on and just haven’t ever gone to one of the Dragon*Con panels. Mr. Burton holds a special place of esteem with me because I always liked La Forge and obviously because of Reading Rainbow.
  • Dean Cain – Easily the best Superman whose last name isn’t Reeve. Cain was eminently likeable on The Adventures of Lois & Clark and then went on to host the revival of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, which could have easily been a bust but went on to become a fascinating and worthy television show. I’m not sure if I necessarily want a picture with the guy, but if his table is clear I might do it.
  • The Cast of The Guild (Vincent Caso, Felicia Day, Jeff Lewis, Amy Okuda, Sandeep Parikh, Robin Thorsen) – I converted to being a fan of Felicia Day and her webseries last year. For whatever reason I doubted her nerd cred. That was incredibly stupid of me, because The Guild is one of the cleverest, funniest things I have seen and I felt ashamed of myself for waiting so long to check it out. I will be attending the panel this year. Also, you should really check out the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel if you haven’t already.
  • Coop – Yes, that Coop. I had a twenty-year-old television adorned with Coop stickers that only recently dies. I need some new ones. A print would be nice as well. Maybe even one of his art books. Ideally I’d get a Phantom Troublemaker sketch from him, but I can’t imagine I’d be willing to pay whatever he charges. Heck, I don’t even know that he’ll be doing sketches.
  • Jane Espenson – For some reason the announcement of the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer really surprised me. Aside from the deplorable “Doublemeat Palace”, Espenson was one of the best writers on the show. Now her work includes writing for Game of Thrones and creating Once Upon a Time. I’d like to meet her, but I really don’t have anything for her to sign.
  • Colin Ferguson – This time last year I had only seen about half of the first season of Eureka! Now I’ve made it halfway through the fourth season. I just didn’t like the big change. I feel like the show got too oriented on the relationships between the characters and strayed away from the science fiction and adventure that made me like it in the first place. But I still like Colin Ferguson a whole lot and will definitely pick one of his panels to see.
  • Josh Gates – Destination Truth and Fact or Faked are the only “hunt for bullshit” shows on SyFy I can stand to watch. Mr. Gates is most of the reason I enjoy the former. He’s a funny guy that seems to understand the nature of what he is doing and it makes the show much more palatable than ones featuring people jumping and yelling every time a curtain blows in the wind.
  • Chris Gore – I just want to buy this guy a beer.
  • Juliet Landau – I do believe she was quite hungover on the last Buffy panel I saw her on, but still entertaining. She’s a good guest and I’m glad she’s back.
  • James Marsters – I mention Spike from Buffy every year he’s a t Dragon*Con, and with good reason – he’s one of the best entertainers there. Any panel he is on will be good. I guarantee it.
  • Rose McGowan – I just want to see what she looks like in person.
  • Eve Myles – It’s funny, as much as I like every character on Torchwood, I really just hated the show. I’ll definitely go to a panel if they have one.
  • Dustin Nguyen – A fantastic artist that rocked Detective Comics and Batgirl last year before DC fucked everything up launched the New 52. I’ve got several comics I’d like to have him sign and I’s love a Troublemaker sketch. I’ll have to see about his pricing, though.
  • Jaime Paglia – The creator of Eureka! For some reason I can’t remember if he’s been to Dragon*Con before or not, but I definitely want to check out one of his panels.
  • Craig Parker – This guy was Glaber on Spartacus. Spoiler Alert! - He got totally murederized last season.
  • J. August Richards – Another guy that might be a newcomer to Dragon*Con. I liked his character, Gunn, on Angel a lot and I’m curious to see how he does on a panel.
  • Chandler Riggs – I’m going to get him to sign a picture of me with “Get out of here, Phantom!”
  • Saul Rubinek – I got him to sign something a couple of years ago but missed his panel because I couldn’t shake off my hangover had a scheduling conflict. I’d like to see one with Saul and Eddie McClintock this year.
  • Tim Sale – He’s responsible for the picture on the header up there. It needs updating badly. I might get another sketch from him.
  • Burt Ward – Television’s Robin! Seriously – I really want a picture of me and Lil’ Troublemaker with Adam West and Burt Ward. But Lil’ T won’t be able to make it out this year.
  • Adam West – And this is the other half of that equation. I just wish the various licensors had gotten their shit together sooner so I’d have something for the Dynamic Duo to sign. I guess I could bring my die-cast Batmobile.
Additional Featured Guests
  • Aaron Allston – Another excellent author of Star Wars Expanded Universe material. I need to get caught up with the Fate of the Jedi series. I’ve got two books sitting at home I haven’t even cracked yet because we can’t read at work anymore. I used to get through about a book a night.
  • Cheeks – I don’t know who “Cheeks” is, but I am going to make some bold guesses:
-A portly, dancing cat
-The world’s premiere designer of chaps
-An ass ventriloquist act
  • Michael Gordon – Co-host of both the Earth Station One and Earth Station Who podcasts. Ask him who his favorite co-host is. He had better say me. I think he writes comics or something, too. You should buy one from him if he does. I dunno – he might write commercial jingles. I’m not sure.
  • Lloyd Kaufman – Huh. I’m just surprised that the much-lauded president and creator of Troma Films is a “Featured Guest”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Bobby Nash – An author of comic books, short stories and novels. Also the co-host of the Earth Station One podcast and occasional co-host on Earth Station Who.
  • Andy Runton – You should visit him and get an Owly sketch. He’ll do Owly as whatever character you want.
This list is accurate as of June 1st, and a lot more guests have been added since then; but we’ll get to them during Dragon*Con Week – the week before the Con when I’ll post nothing but D*C-related articles and post my personal schedule on Thursday. I haven’t highlighted as many of the guests this year as I did for 2011. Believe me – there are more than enough. I’ll be plenty occupied. But it seems like there aren’t as many that are in my area of interest. As a matter of fact, I don’t think there are any horror guests this year. I wonder if Days of the Dead being in Atlanta now has anything to do with that. Interesting.
But the various guests are hardly the only attraction at Dragon*Con. As a matter of fact, they’re not even the main attraction. That would be the partying that goes on after hours.
Every year at Dragon*Con there are multiple bands, performers, and DJs scheduled every night until early in the morning. This is the time that I really look forward to. Copious amounts of booze, half-naked girls all over the place, and costumes as far as the eye can see. Fuck. Yes.
This year has a much stronger lineup than last year, even if half of the bands have the word “Gypsy” in the description and the other half have the word “Electronic”. The reason 2012’s list of performers is stronger? One word:
  • CALABRESE – This is a cheat because Calabrese was not actually announced in time for the Progress Report, but they will be at Dragon*Con. I’ve been hoping for the past three years that they would come back because I missed most of their set last time and ended up buying every single piece of music they have released afterward. And a couple of t-shirts. And some stickers. And buttons. I like Calabrese a lot. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say they are one of my favorite bands.

    They posted a link on Facebook a month or so ago saying that they had submitted a performer application to Dragon*Con and to let the D*C staff know we wanted Calabrese there. I was stoked. I clicked on the link and sent a brief e-mail about why Dragon*Con needed Calabrese and got a reply saying that there was a different address for that sort of thing. I went back to Calabrese’s page and put up the link and posted it a couple more times on my own page. I don’t know if my efforts had any effect, but a couple of weeks ago the World’s Greatest Horror Rock Band was added to the Performers page.

    If you see one band at Dragon*Con this year, I highly recommend you make it Calabrese. They’re awesome:
And I suppose I should mention
  • Crüxshadows – Possibly the official mascot band of Dragon*Con. I always end up at their show and never remember anything about it.
The website has already announced a ton more bands, but again – I’ll save those for my final pre-Con report.
Then there’s the listings for the huge variety of Programming Tracks. If you don’t know, the Tracks basically divide up the different forms of fandom into manageable departments. Sci-Fi, Horror, Gaming, Costuming, and many other passions of the dorks of the world are all split into many different Tracks. Check out the Progress Report for a full list.
It is worth noting that there are two new Tracks this year – Puppetry and Video Games. I strongly recommend you attend the Late Night Puppet Slam (probably on Sunday). The team that is behind the Puppetry Track is a crack squad of complete and utter lunatics who will do anything to entertain you. I promise that you have never seen anything like the Late Night Puppet Slam. But get there way early, because last year’s performance left hundreds of people stuck outside, hoping to get in. There was filth, violence, and even nudity. A wanton display of hedonistic perversions. It was by far the most entertaining thing at the Con.
The Video Game Track will probably be neat, too. I dunno. I don’t follow video games like I used to.
Special Events
  • 11th Annual Dragon*Con Parade – If you have never seen the parade, you absolutely have to. It is one of the most amazing things I have seen. To see so many nerds in so many costumes marching through the streets of Atlanta is nothing short of breathtaking. I love the parade and I love every single person who puts on rubber ears, tights, or body paint to do it.
    Having said all of that, I’m not going this year. I think I’m going to take a couple of years off because last year was just kind of miserable. I didn’t like the spot I was in and I had watched the previous two years parades. If you have seen the Dragon*Con parade it’s pretty much more of the same with each passing year. By which I mean MORE; as in, each category grows larger every year and the parade gets longer and longer. It’s growing exponentially. By 2035 it won’t end until early Monday afternoon.
  • Art Show and Print Shop – This is easy to forget because it is enclosed and adjacent to Artists’ Alley. But try to remember to check it out because there is no better place to see some awesome, genre art.
  • Autograph Sessions – These are scheduled sessions for the professionals who don’t have tables. You have to show up in the designated place at the designated time, so keep track of these when they are published in the final Program.
  • Buffy Horror Picture Show – This is where a live cast perform the songs from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode “Once More, With Feeling”. I attended a few years ago, really wanting it to be good. It was not. But it might be better now. If it doesn’t conflict with Dragon*Con Wrestling I might give it another chance.
  • Celebrity Photo Opportunities – Some of the Guests at Dragon*Con do all of their photo ops through a professional service rather than just taking pictures at their tables. You definitely need to know who does what beforehand. You can either pay in advance through links on the Dragon*Con website or try to schedule at the show. If there’s somebody in there that you absolutely, positively have to get your picture with, I’d say go ahead and pay in advance. I would, but Alexandra Breckenridge isn’t attending.
  • Comics & Pop Art – You know what? I’m not even entirely sure what this encompasses. There’s usually a small display of something or other in the Artists’ Alley, but I don’t think that’s what this is. More details later, I guess.
  • Dragon*Con TV – This is one of my favorite parts of the Con. All weekend long you can catch hilarious, original content in the form of sketches, shorts, and puppetry on the huge screens in panel rooms as well as on television in the host hotels. Featured panels will also be broadcast so if you’re extra-busy you can watch the Warehouse 13 panel in the mirror while you’re pooping. I mean… um… hypothetically.
  • Dragon*Con Burlesque – I would imagine this is going to be like all those cool, dorkery-oriented burlesque show they have out on the West Coast that we don’t get here. Like, strippers exotic dancers entertainers dressed up as C-3P0 and stuff. I’m still not sure how I feel about sexy C-3P0.
  • Late Night Puppet Slam – This is what I was talking about earlier. Trust me and go. But like I said, get there EARLY.
  • Walk of Fame – This is where the celebrities hang out. They aren’t all there all the time, and a lot of them leave on Sunday, so if you see your favorite performer you had better go ahead and get that signature or photo or whatever.
  • DRAGON*CON WRESTLING – This is, of course, the Main Event. Friday night at Dragon*Con brings the best fucking wrestling show you’ll ever see in your life – DC FUCKING W! See the very best professional wrestlers from all over the Southeast beat the living shit out of one another in an environment that is even more wild and unusual than their normal habitats. This is the very best thing that happens at Dragon*Con by far, and everything that happens at Dragon*Con is pretty damn awesome.
Workshops
  • Okay, this is weird. I’ve never even noticed these before. There are all kinds of Guest-led workshops for everything from acting to astronomy to paranormal investigation. You pay to do them, which is probably why I’ve never even known about them. Check out the full list in the Progress Report. I’m not running it down here. I felt it was worth mentioning, but I don’t care enough to write any more about them.
Gaming
  • Gaming is a huge part of Dragon*Con that I’ve never participated in. Just not my thing. My attention span isn’t good enough to play a tabletop RPG. But I highly recommend you at least make a loop through the Gaming Rooms. Keep your mouth shut and be respectful, but it’s an impressive sight to see these guys doing what they do. We ran through a couple of years ago looking for somebody (Money Ham, maybe?) and I was honestly kind of awe-struck.
That’s it for now, kids. Dragon*Con is only 31 days away, so I hope you’ve got your costume finished, you finances planned, and your room booked. It can be the best time ever with just a little bit of preparation. Every year I find I have more fun because I learned a little something new the previous year. If I can get it together, I might even do a post of Dragon*Con Tips From Uncle Troublemaker.
More in August!
-Phantom

6 comments:

  1. You have to make it to a TNG panel! I was at the one where Jonathan Frakes pissed off Denise Crosby to the point that she walked off stage - prime entertainment my friend.

    I missed out on the Puppetry Slam last year because for the dumbest reason possible - I did not think enough people would go for it to be full. This time I'm going to go back to my tried and true 45min-1hr early wait time. Sucks but I want to see Bob and Carl in person!

    My last pick this year (besides the burlesque show) was something else mentioned in the preview - a Pinups Pool Party! I have no idea what that's going to amount to and I might end up annoyed but I have a retro bathing suit and I'm at least going to give it a try.

    Great post and overview of Dragon*Con - I can't wait to get there!

    --Dana
    Good Red Herring

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    1. You HAVE to make the Puppet Slam. Have to.

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  2. Thanks for the mention, PT. Much appreciated. I don't have a table, but will be doing panels and signings around. As soon as my schedule gets niled down I'll post it at www.bobbynash.com.

    See you there.

    Bobby

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    1. Can't wait to do some live ESO stuff on site! Should be rad.

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  3. That TNG panel was crazy. i was there, and Frakes was being such a dick. ruined my childhood really, i loved his character!

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    1. Man, I hate to hear that about Frakes. I've liked pretty much everything that guy has done. Now I REALLY want to see a TNG panel.

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