Zombies and Wizards and Trolls, Oh My!

Casey H.

Staff Writer

There are few places that can claim hundreds of Harry Potters, zombie costumes right out of a horror movie, and ninjas in full black costume. Originally created for role-playing games before expanding to include  video games, books, and movies, the Dragon Con convention is one of those places.  It is one of the largest conventions in the southeastern United States, hosting pop culture conferences since its start in 1987 and drawing crowds of over 52,000 in 2012. Now it is time for everyone to grab their comic books and cosplay (costumes of fictional characters); Dragon Con is this weekend, and as sophomore Alissa Beckett says about last year’s convention, “The coolest part was seeing all the people there genuinely enjoying the experience – people walking around, proud of their cosplay, as they should be.”

This year, Dragon Con 2013 will take place during Labor Day weekend from August 30th to September 2nd. The convention will encompass much of downtown Atlanta, with events in the Hyatt Regency, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, and Westin Peachtree Hotel. In addition, Saturday Atlanta traffic will be even more nightmarish than usual when the Dragon Con parade will take over the streets. This tradition involves cosplayers- fans dressed up as their favorite characters from books, video games, etc.- and guests of honor strutting around while other con-goers cheer from the sidewalks. This event is even more heavily attended than the convention since it is free and showcases all the benefits of the convention itself. Ms. Krista Webb, who takes her nephew to the parade every year, says, “I like to see all the people dressed up, and my nephew likes science and the sci-fi.” This year the parade will include something special: a wedding, with the bride and groom dressing up as male and female Darth Vaders while a steampunk Bobo Fett officiates.

Dragon Con was created to be a mixture of a literary, video game, anime, fantasy, and science fiction convention. This way, it includes just about every fandom (fan base), and no one feels left out. One of Dragon Con’s signatures is its many tracks, a series of panels (discussions amongst fans and professionals in certain fandoms) and events. Song writers might enjoy the Filk Singing track, which focuses on music written by con-goers (often for certain fandoms), while younger con-goers often follow the Kaleidoscope and Young Adult Literature track, which include panels for books and TV shows that are aimed at a younger generation.

However, the singers and children from the aforementioned tracks aren’t the only ones who find a paradise in Dragon Con; the con prides itself on including elements of science, art, and engineering. One year, a high-power telescope was brought to Atlanta and placed in front of one of the hosting hotels so that con-goers could observe solar flares. There are multiple tracks for game and online programming, even robot construction. Art events include concerts, puppet shows, and the annual Dragon Con Art Show and Comic and Pop Artist Alley, which feature works by famous comic book artists and illustrators from around the country. This does not even include the tracks and workshops on writing, graphic design, movie-making, puppetry, and the all-important costuming.

For those who spend hundreds of dollars and hours perfecting their costumes for the con, it only makes sense that they would want important people to see it. This makes Dragon Con cosplayers fortunate; many famous guests attend the con almost every year. Among this year’s featured guests are William Shatner (Star Trek and that guy from the Priceline commercials); Melissa Hutchison (the voice of Clementine, heralded as the most beloved video game character of 2012); Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage (Mythbusters); Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, and Olivia Olson (Adventure Time with Finn and Jake); and John Barrowman and Peter Davison (Dr. Who). In addition to these eye-catching guests, numerous writers, filmmakers, SyFy stars, make-up artists, actors, costumers, puppeteers, and illustrators will also be at the convention, ready to talk to con-goers about what they do.

As Ms. Pati Olton, Woodstock’s media specialist, says, “[Dragon Con’s] a convention where everyone who likes movies, comic books, Star Wars goes, and they spend a great deal of time and money dressing up as characters and talking the minutia” of their fandom. “Talking the minutia” indeed; Dragon Con is not for the faint-hearted. It is for people who legitimately love their own fandom or science or hobby, and as sophomore Lauren Zinney says, “It is a lovely experience all you nerds can enjoy!”

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