My original plan was simple enough, go to sleep, get up early, get dressed, have a hearty breakfast that should last all day, get to Dragon*Con using the hotel’s shuttle service and have fun. Simple, right? WRONG! I was a fraking mess of nerves on Thursday night, unable to get sleep, sitting on a chair using my Dragon*Con iPhone application and perusing the Official Pocket Program trying to figure out my game plan for the next day. Why was I making such a big deal out of getting ready for day 1? Because to me this was a big deal.
You see Dragon*Con didn’t get its sterling reputation just for being another convention but because they have managed to cover virtually every field of geek interest through a very comprehensive initiative of all-encompassing convention programing. In simple terms if you are a geek and you are enthusiastic about a particular field (comic books, video games, cosplay to mention some), Dragon*Con probably has not just one activity but a set of activities related to your field of interest spread all over the 4 days the convention last. Let’s suppose you are going to Dragon*Con and that you like comic books. You like them so much that you not just read them but collect them, analyze their stories, grade their conditions, etc. Wouldn’t be nice to go to a convention that offered not just one but a series of comic book related events spread through its duration? Dragon*Con is that kind of convention because it has something called Fan Tracks which is the name they use when they refer to a whole set of activities that have a theme in common. In the case of comic books they call that set the Comics and Pop Art Fan Track. Dragon*Con has by my count 42 Fan Tracks that cover the gamut of all the currently relevant fields of geek interest. That means hundreds of hours of different kinds of activities all of them running simultaneously. You can see a complete list here.
That means hundreds of hours of different kinds of geek activities. I’m talking panels, workshops, contests, artistic presentations all of them running simultaneously, and I was stuck in the middle of the night trying to choose what to see and what to miss.
In the end I made the best personal schedule that I could, laid out the clothes that I was going to wear, went to bed and started watching Adult Swim until I got sleepy. I got 5 hours of sleep, got up, got ready, got a kick-ass buffet breakfast and got in the bus to Dragon*Con.
We got there around 8:00 AM on our way to the Marriott we went pass by the Sheraton and the registration line extended around the block. Thank goodness I planned ahead. By 8:05 AM I was in front of the Marriot and there were already people in costumes. My first photo of the day was that of a Hobbit and a Wizard sitting outside the hotel. I found it quite appropriate for a first photo. After that it was one photo after the other with each cosplay more awesome than the previous one.
My original plan was to go to an Adam West & Burt Ward panel at 10 AM, but that would mean standing in line for about an hour and there was simply too much to see and photograph all around me. As I kept walking around I took a wrong turn found myself in the middle of a Marvel Comics characters photo- shoot. But it wasn’t like any regular photo-shoot; it was an Avengers characters only photo-shoot with Stan Lee as a special surprise guest. Stan Lee, the closest thing to a god walking on geek earth. I saw him and my eyes did not melt, I heard his voice and my eardrums didn’t explode. As always he was all charm and charisma. After being greeted by the cosplayers he then proceeded to take part in the photo-shoot and once he finished his part he bid everybody a fond farewell, Excelsior and all and continued carrying his busy schedule for the convention. I stayed more time to take individual photos of the cosplayers; once I was done I resumed my original destination, Artist Alley.
If you are a comic book geek like me you will understand me when I tell you that Artist Alley was a must in this journey of mine. I met legends Neal Adams & Don Rosa for the first time, got reacquainted with old favorites from previous conventions like Peter David and George Pérez and met a whole bunch of artists from the independent comic book scene.
By 5:00 PM my feet were about to burst so I had to call it a day. I called the shuttle, got to my hotel and started to pay the price for not pacing myself during the day. On top of that I missed the night activities completely but tomorrow was another day and I still had 3 more days con Dragon*Con left.
I wish to dedicate this 5 part DRAGON*CON CHRONICLES to the amazing Jessica Paulding. The best Starbuck cosplayer I have had the good luck to meet. Live Long and Prosper Jessica.