Our first glimpse of Colorado came with the Rockies where what appeared to be the Lonely Mountain peeked out of the cloud-cover. As the three of us travelling together (my sister, Fili, and our mother “Dis”) are known by Dwarven names, we took this as a good omen. After all, the people of Colorado are mountain folk.
Upon descending on our eagles, we took some time to adjust to the lay of the land before the start of the convention. Having only really experienced the 150k strong crowds at San Diego Comic Con, we didn’t know what to expect from DCC. As it was, the massive line waiting to get in on Friday morning was intimidating. However, upon seeing a Gandalf among the cosplayers, our nerves were set to rest. We were among our people. Our mom even made up her own Dwarven costume for Dis!
We joined up with Bofur (Justin!) and hosted our first panel of the day that discussed the history of TheOneRing.net. Given that this year is the site’s 15th anniversary, there was a lot to cover! Many of the folks who attended enjoyed reminiscing about the old days of anonymous set reports that often spurred fan rage online. With time comes perspective, and it was fascinating to look at the response Arwen’s intended presence at Helm’s Deep received vs. the introduction of Tauriel in the new Hobbit films.
Shortly after the TORn panel was our very first Happy Hobbit panel! We weren’t expecting a big crowd, so when the room filled up even more than it had for the History of TORn, we grew nervous! I won’t lie – I even accidentally spilled ice all over the table then froze as everyone stared. We took a poll of the audience and found that, as we suspected, most of the folks there hadn’t yet heard of our show. After a brief summary of who we are and what we do, I opened the floor up not only to a Q&A, but a discussion. After all, we had a room full of Tolkien fans! Many people came up to us afterwards, thanking us for hosting the discussion which was something they’d never experienced at a con before. To us it was quite like one of our live chats, only with the benefit of being able to see and hear everyone else! We made a lot of friends which is the benefit of a smaller (than SDCC, at least!) con because you actually have time to get to know each other.
That night was our TORn “moot” or meet-up/party at the Best Western Southwest’s Hotel, better known as the Dino Hotel for its paleo theme. As a big dinosaur nerd, I felt right at home and delighted in the castings of skulls and skeletons all around. During the party, they reminded us of dragons! Dinosaurs make ALL of us look like hobbits!
There was plenty of good food and drink, and we were pleasantly surprised when none other than our friends at Weta Workshop stopped by to join in the merriment. Fili and I hosted trivia, after which we had a costume contest. Everyone was having such a great time, and Tolkien fans have such passion, creativity and knowledge, that we asked anyone who had anything to share to come up to the mic. As such, an impromptu “Middle-earth Open Mic” started. We had fans recite passages in Elvish, perform impressions of characters, talk about what fandom means to them, share their Tolkien-related projects, and of course, singing! An elf in armor led us in the most beautiful and haunting experience of the night: singing the “Misty Mountains” song. It was an incredible evening where everyone felt comfortable and supported enough to be their geeky selves. It was easily the best moment of the con for us!
The following day started with Fili and I selling and signing posters at our temporary Happy Hobbit booth then getting a chance to chat with our friends at Weta. Cons, especially when you’re on multiple panels, are hectic, and you learn to take advantage of every free moment that you can! Seeing my book Darkling for sale on Weta’s shelves was an honor and a privilege for which I am very thankful.
Next up was the highly anticipated dinosaur-Tolkien cross-over panel: “Is Smaug Real? Middle-earth Creatures.” Justin of TORn joined dino expert Greg Tally and paleontologists Matt Mossbrucker and Dr. Robert Bakker in exploring the fossil record and examining what not only could have been scientifically possible in Middle-earth, but also what information Tolkien would’ve had exposure to at the time of writing his epics. The room was full to capacity and the audience let out a collective groan when the panel had to come to an end. This topic definitely needs to be revisited!
There was no rest for the weary, and shortly afterwards we hosted none other than Sylvester McCoy (Radagast the Brown) on our panel previewing The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Needless to say, the room was also packed, and though Mr. McCoy was tight-lipped about the film, he was a witty, entertaining conversationalist and quite the charmer!
Watch the video of the full panel below:
Immediately following was a panel on my Fantasy book, Darkling, which kicked off my participation in several writing panels the following afternoon. Both focused on the importance of strong female characters and women in writing and touched on such issues as the invention of Tauriel. I had to remind myself that, unlike our other panels, I couldn’t just assume that everyone in the audience was a part of the Tolkien fandom, but had an excellent time with my fellow authors. I even met two readers who knew me completely outside of TORn and Happy Hobbit, so I was as excited to meet them as they were to meet me!
In-between my writing panels was our introduction to a project Justin, Quickbeam and I have been working on for some time behind the scenes with help from several talented people. We are making a follow up to the documentary Ringers, except this time, we’re focusing on the current driving force of the market: Fangirls!
Alas, the end of the con came all too quickly, and we soon found ourselves hugging new friends goodbye as we were forced to part ways. We immediately delved into helping Weta tear down their booth, which is always full of lots of work, hijinks, and camaraderie. While we’ll see several of our Weta friends in San Diego in a month, there was still a handkerchief waved in bittersweet farewell by our good friend David Tremont.
Our eagles were due to take flight the following evening, so in the daylight hours of Monday, we rejoined with our dinosaur friends and toured not only the Morrison Natural History Museum, but the beautiful Red Rock country. Matt let us hold a 300 million year old Allosaurus tooth and a piece of Dimetrodon bone, which was the experience of a lifetime. I was one of those five-year olds who could’ve told you anything about dinosaurs, so this was really a dream come true. Our faithful guide Greg (“Barliman Butterbur,” owner of the Dino Hotel) was an amazing host and we were all sad that we didn’t have more time to spend in Colorado.
We are so thankful to everyone who made this such a wonderful experience and are so blessed to have had it. BIG thank you to our friends at Dino Hotel Best Western Denver Southwest for helping make this a most memorable convention, and to our mom Dis and our faithful “Frodo” for helping with all of the filming and social media.
We have lots of fun footage so keep your eyes peeled in the coming days for plenty of Happy Hobbit videos! Please also check out our Facebook page for photos from our adventures in Denver and subscribe on YouTube to be alerted when the next episode is posted.
Oh, and our next convention may be sooner than you think… prepare yourself, Salt Lake City!
Until our next episode: Namárië!