So, this weekend, I’ve decided to start what I think (hope) is a new weekly feature called Off Book, where I’ll highlight & review something else from the wide, great world of pop culture, such as video games, events, subscription boxes, TV shows, and/or movies. I figured it would be a fun way to write posts about other fandoms & bring some more of my own personality into it. If you like the idea, you’re welcome to participate as well, snag the photo, link back here in your post and feel free to add a link to yours in the comments. If a similar weekly event already exists, please let me know.
For my first Off-Book feature, I thought I would write about Dragon Con, a yearly science fiction and fantasy convention in Atlanta, GA, which I have attended about 4-5 times, and which I will continue to attend. This year, shows I watch or have watched that were represented included Dark Matter, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Warehouse 13 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there’s a ton more to it than just that. DragonCon is a huge convention. I believe in 2015 there were 75,000 attendees. It’s hosted mainly across 5 hotels in downtown Atlanta, and there’s SO much to do! It’s always hard for me to piece together my schedule of panels, while also leaving time for the dealer halls and Walk of Fame (read: autographs & opportunities to meet & greet with actors from favorite shows! Insert squeal here).
There’s so much to tell/review, I think I’ll just give you my recap of this year’s event (with commentary).
Technically, the con starts the Friday before Labor Day, with some events even occurring Thursday evening. Unfortunately, I can’t ever take that day off, and usually arrive around 9:30 Eastern time, after approximately 4 hours in my car. This year, I was too tired when I arrived to do anything, as were my compatriots, so we went ahead and watched a few episodes of Dark Matter in our hotel room before retiring to get up early enough in the morning to make our respective panels.
Saturday!!! Saturday is one of the biggest days of the con, simply because a lot of people buy single day passes for Saturday or double passes for Saturday & Sunday (I always go all in and buy a 4 day pass). After grabbing breakfast at the Peachtree Center (always crowded, but Caribou Coffee always has fun themed drinks), I initially thought I wanted to go to a panel on Dr. Who and cultural anthropology, but then I stopped by the Walk of Fame and ended up meeting Brett Dalton (Grant Ward, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), and that was a pretty amazing start to my day as Ward was (and still is) my favorite character of all time on that show. We took a photo, not my best, but he’s not ugly. He was super nice, great smile, and his panels were great fun.
After the Walk of Fame, I met my friend in the dealers area at the America Mart in order to purchase some much needed sheet protectors for the weekend’s autographs (I forget them every year, and this year, she did too!). After our sheet protector excursion, we headed to a Dark Matter cast panel, featuring Anthony Lemke (Three), Melissa O’Neil (Two), Roger Cross (Six), Jodelle Ferland (Five), and Zoie Palmer (Android). I admit I was surprised at the length of the line, but we did indeed get in and they did not disappoint. I wasn’t quite caught up with season 2 (I am now…look forward to next week’s Off Book post), so there were some spoilers, but the cast was entertaining as they discussed first acting jobs, fandoms (Jodelle Ferland loves David Tennant) and various other questions posed by the audience. Apparently one of the cast members was almost inadvertently in a porn movie. They’re a hugely fun and funny group of people. Dark Matter is a sci-fi show that I couldn’t quite get into at first, but was hooked after episode 5 and ended up watching the rest of season 1 in under a week. So good!
After that, we headed back to the Walk of Fame and got autographs from Roger Cross & Anthony Lemke, who were very kind. Roger Cross and I discussed my Nashville Batman t-shirt, and Anthony Lemke attempted to discuss hockey with me (which I was woefully uninformed on), apparently his team recently traded with us and he didn’t seem so happy, but was still very gracious and kind and honestly after his panels and our conversation, Three became my new favorite character on Dark Matter.
After that, we attended a panel for Warehouse 13, featuring Eddie McClintock (Pete) and Allison Scagliotti (Claudia). This show also aired on SyFy and was one of my favorites. A bit silly, but really fun, and it will always have a fond place in my heart. Before the panel started, I looked up at whoever was trying to walk the entire length of our row, and saw it was Eddie McClintock himself, who then attempted to hide in the audience. That panel was great fun, because Eddie McClintock is one of the most amazing human beings to ever live, though I’m starting to reach my limit on the number of artifacts related questions I can handle. I do find it amazing, though, that so many people continue to show up for the show’s panels, since it’s been off the air for so long.
This is getting lengthy, so I’m going to go with highlights for the rest of Saturday, and the biggest one was 5 Truths and a Lie, which is a podcast (see Twitter account here) in which 6 people tell stories based on a theme, but one of them is lying. The audience had to try and decide who. The actors on this panel were Anthony Lemke, Roger Cross & Melissa O’Neil (all from Dark Matter), Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13, Bones), Gigi Edgley, and Amber Nash. I really thought Roger Cross was lying, with some farfetched story about being mistaken for an athlete in Mexico and then having to jump off a truck filled with Mafia type guys, but hey, apparently he wasn’t. It was a really fun panel, which is also a yearly event, and I will be more than happy to attend from here on out. After that, we spent time at the Military Sci-Fi track ball, which was not a ball but a trivia night. We failed at winning, but still managed to make it fun.
Day 3 involved a lot of waiting in lines for me. If you didn’t already know, that’s a lot of the joy in a con. Waiting in line. A lot. This year, I was prepared. I brought my Kindle & Phase 10 for times I was waiting in line with friends or in case I made friends. First up, I waited in line for the Torchwood panel featuring Naoko Mori (Tosh), Gareth David Lloyd (Ianto), and James Marsters (Captain John Hart, also Spike on Buffy). It was a delightful panel in which they shared behind the scenes fun, especially at the expense of Eve Myles & Burn Gorman, who sadly had to back out at the last minute. Of course, there were also many mentions of John Barrowman, because there has to be. His presence is always felt, because he’s a large part of what made Torchwood so iconic to its fans. If you like Doctor Who, Torchwood is its adult-y spinoff, and one of the shows I can’t stop hoping for a new season of, despite the fact that it’s been off air for awhile.
After Torchwood, I headed over to a different hotel to wait in line for the Doctor Who panel featuring Alex Kingston (River Song) and Arthur Darvill (Rory). Also great fun, though they’re a little more muted than other celeb panels I’ve been to. Highlight? Alex Kingston ending the panel by saying the world “Spoilers”. It was magical.
After that, I went to…wait for it….WAIT IN LINE for Brett Dalton’s panel. He was an incredibly goofy guy, a ton of fun, who was not afraid to make dirty jokes based on a question asked by a 10 year old, but who also provided great insight into the many changes his character(s) went through over the course of the show. I will not detail those here in case you haven’t watched…but if you decide to, you need to give the show a chance and watch the entire first season before passing judgment. Also, he’s a great fan of puns. Especially on Ward’s name. All told, I waited in line for approximately 3 hours throughout Sunday. But each panel was totally WORTH IT.
Other highlights from Sunday included Whendonverse Family Feud, which was super fun, and much harder than I expected. We also attended the NeedCoffee.com Fun Fest from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. (I don’t sleep a lot on con weekend) and I participated in hijinks and won a Dracula poster. It was really fun, the folks from that website are always a good time.
Monday arrived. Monday is always kind of sad because everyone’s packing up to go home and back to the real world, where the sense of geek camaraderie we feel at DragonCon goes poof. The real world is way more boring than con-world. Monday panels are easier to get into, generally speaking, and are still really fun, just more intimate. I attended another Dark Matter fan panel, where Zoie Palmer soundly beat Anthony Lemke at arm wrestling (video posted here). I then attended Brett Dalton’s final panel, which was wonderful and ended with everyone doing an interpretive dance (FOR REAL), but sadly, his panel conflicted with the closing Warehouse 13 panel, so I missed out on that. I hit the Walk of Fame one last time, taking selfies with Roger Cross & Eddie McClintock (one of the best photos of me ever taken) & getting autographs from Naoko Mori (who is absolutely precious) and Adam Baldwin from Chuck & Firefly who is pretty much as stoic and quiet as one would expect.
So, essentially, DragonCon is the best fan convention ever and you should attend if you get the chance or are inclined. It has some of the best cosplay I’ve ever seen (I didn’t participate this year, but have plans for next year). Some of my favorites I saw this year were Zootopia, Dumbledore, and an Ood from Doctor Who with a fully functional Ood voice modulator. It also tends to book actors from shows I’m currently or have been addicted to. Even if none of the actors came, the fan panels are a great time, getting to discuss in depth topics such as women on Supernatural, the Sherlock series vs. the books, time travel in Continuum, and so much more. I also find the opportunity to closely interact with actors I love a nice addition, usually bonding me more tightly to a show and its fandom than I was before, which was certainly the case for Dark Matter this year. BUT, the most important aspect of Dragon Con that I love is being amongst my people, the geeky, the nerdy, and the obsessive for 4 days, where no one judges, people are rarely rude, and you can usually make at least 1 new friend. It’s a great community to be a part of. Also, many guests from shows say it’s the best con they’ve ever been to as well. And…if you aren’t in to the shows I mentioned, there are a ton of other tracks I’ve yet to frequent including a film festival, book tracks, physics/science tracks, tabletop gaming, video gaming, etc. There’s something for everyone!
Mentioned Panel Guests on Twitter
Have you ever been to DragonCon? What are your favorite fandoms? Let me know below!