Spent the weekend at what might be my last Dragon*con in Atlanta. If you're a geek and you've never been to this convention, you really don't understand what you're missing. This is 50,000 SF and Fantasy fans crammed into central Atlanta for a four day orgy of nerdiness. In fact, judging from the fact that many of the costumes consist of nothing but tape and body paint, it looks like many people are showing up for an orgy, period.
It's worth going just to look at the costumes, but there are excellent programming tracks as well, and dealer rooms that offer everything a fanboy heart might desire, rare comics, obscure games, black tee-shirts with clever captions, and steam-punk paraphenalia of all flavors.
This was my fourth or fifth visit to the con, but also possibly my last. The con is about as well organized as I can imagine, but there are just certain realities to packing so many people into a limited space. Walking from one side of the lobby to another can be an insane challenge, because everyone's stopping randomly to take pictures of costumed individuals who come to a halt in the middle of walkways because people ask to take their picture. At one point, I was trying to meet Cheryl in time for a panel, and it took me a half hour to travel from one hotel to the adjacent one. Again, I think the organizers do all they can, and there are lots of signs up saying not to stop in walkways for photos, but some of these people obviously spend all year working on thier costumes, and, by god, all their work pays off when people ask for their photos. I'm in no way being critical; I completely understand, and have even engaged in a bit of costuming myself. Still, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
Moving through the dealer's rooms on Saturday is a bit like getting pushed along a cattle chute. I found myself thinking about how different things were from my early days of collecting comic books. Back in the late seventies and early eighties, I had to dig through boxes at a dozen flea markets if I wanted to put together a collection of some out of print series. Collecting was a challenge because comics weren't very popular, and old comics were generally left to rot in basements if they weren't outright used to line bird cages. There was a shortage of product because these things were only valuable to a few wierdos like myself. Now, rare comics are pretty much manufactured via limited print runs and treated like they are objects of solid gold. But, if you want one, the only real barrier is how much you are willing to pay. There are hundreds of people eager to sell you anything you desire. It's removed the thrill of the hunt from the game.
But, I'm probably just worn out. Dragon*con takes a lot out of me. Give me a few months and I'll forget the crowds and once again remember the sheer energy that comes from being surrounded by so many creative, smart people. Perhaps the lure will prove to be too strong in the end.
Scene from the tenth floor of the Marriot, looking down at lobby on Sunday afternoon during a lull in the crowds.
Lot's of Venture Bros costumes this year. From an obscure cult classic, it seems ready to really break out into the mainstream of geekdom. I predict a big budget VB movie before the end of the decade.
Hands down my favorite costumes. The little peanut shaped cutouts they stood on really sold this.