ATLANTA – Exhausting. Exhilarating. Draining. Inspiring. Childish. Adult.
Mrcere writes: DragonCon in Atlanta is all of these and so much more. As one of the largest and most important genre conventions in the world, DragonCon is a red-letter event on any sci-fi or fantasy fan’s calendar and if it isn’t, it should be.
TheOneRing.net and KongIsKing.net were there again this year (first time officially for KiKn), pleased to get face time with fellow fans and pleased to help support the Tolkien contingent in Atlanta. Some assumed that fans of the Lord of the Rings would diminish as new interests cropped up and the pop-culture flavor of the month changed to something new but there was strong evidence that Tolkiendom isn’t going anywhere.
Fans from Atlanta and surrounding areas have formed a group that creates fellowship among Tolkien fans and builds the LOTR community along with the efforts of other groups like TORn and Allycatscratch.com/lotr/. Both of these groups had fan tables in the convention level of the Marriott – one of the two host hotels with a third set to join next year – where free tables can be reserved for fan organizations. The presence of three tables by LOTR fan groups shows that Tolkien’s followers aren’t going anywhere. Group leaders planned feeding times and events treated the entire community with respect and friendship. AOME was a particularly impressive host, especially considering the grass-roots flavor of the organization. Many of its individual members were generous with time and finances.
The ever-popular Bruce Hopkins and the regal John Noble both attended the event and were gracious with fans both on the convention’s “walk of fame” and as part of the Tolkien track of programming. Noble isn’t always a regular on the convention circuit but was a welcome sight by most fans. He was even kind enough to show up to an evening tradition of TORn’s, the annual karaoke night in one of the Marriott eateries, Champions. The bar and grill featured incredibly bad and indifferent service but the song-list was excellent.
TORn’s own Jincey is director of all the Tolkien programming – one of 27 tracks the convention features – and she was quick to give credit to helpers Sam and Balin, also part of the TORn family. Sideshow Collectibles was extremely generous to the Tolkien programming and sent a bundle of giveaway items. Kudos to Sideshow for providing yet another bright spot for many fans.
TORn and KiKn shared a fan table with the crew from “Ringers: Lord of the Fans” who used Dcon as the very last chance to get the word out about the expected November release of the film that in 97 minutes documents 50 years of Tolkien’s cultural impact on pop culture. “Ringers” will likely be available for presale soon in the U.S. and can be ordered now on Amazon’s UK site. The trailer for “Ringers” alternated play with the “King Kong” trailer on the fan table’s monitor. Each preview drew crowds and enthusiastic responses. Ringers also delivered three presentations informing attendees about different aspects of their film and DVD presentation. With the director (Carlene Cordova), writer (Cliff Broadway) and producer (Jeff Marchelletta) all on hand, attendees received a complete education and a dose of excitement for the pending DVD.
KongIsKing.net presented multi-media panels on both the site and the status of the film. Despite drawing the time slot on Friday when many of the guests are arriving and dealing with hotel check in and registration, the initial panel was packed. Sunday’s session in one of the bigger rooms in the convention was also filled to capacity and scores of people attending each of the panels made a point to visit the table and express delight with the prospects of the movie and the information from KiKn. With no official presence from Universal Pictures, the many fans of the classic King Kong used the panels and table as a base for discussion about films both old and new. With a show of hands, many at the panels were completely unaware of KiKn and many were delighted to find a way to track the progress of the film.
TORn and KiKn offered ball caps for the first time in many years as well as the usual shirts and even a few exclusive sweat shirts. Thanks to all the fans who supported the site with your purchases.
The track also featured a Friday night party with a costume contest at “A Night In Bree” featuring favorite folk band “Emerald Rose” who rocked the convention the whole of the weekend. The Georgia based band released its new album at the convention which sold extremely well. The costumes were excellent in both execution and in original thought. My personal favorite was the excellent Radaghast the Brown, complete with birds and their droppings.
TORn staffers Wee Tanya and Starlady were also at the convention and one of the best features of the event are the chance meetings of convention friends and the joy of simply hanging with people who love the same things. On the often-full elevators it was suggested that the convention is one of the only spots in the world where strangers on elevators actually talk to each other.
I happened to share a ride up one elevator with New Zealander Daniel Logan who played the young Boba Fett in the new Star Wars trilogy. We conversed a bit while waiting and when the doors opened a troop of fan Storm Troopers in full costume awaited us.
“Are you guys from Star Trek?” he asked them? When he received no response he continued to give them a friendly hard time while the two of us had a good laugh and while the troopers simply wondered who this outgoing and bold teen was. He sent each away with a farewell as they disembarked, “Good bye Star Trek”. With his humor in tact, we wish him happiness and a long career.
Dr. Anne “Just Anne” Petty was also part of the Tolkien track and was kind enough to join a group of us for dinner at the Hard Rock Café after the convention was winding down. I admit I was a bit chagrined that we were taking somebody I considered of grandmother age and who deserved respect as a genuine Tolkien scholar to such an undignified and loud joint. A short time into the meal it was discovered she is a closet hard rock / heavy metal fan who has toured around with Yngwie Malmsteen http://www.yngwie.org/ and considers herself a surrogate grandmother to the Swedish guitar virtuoso. She is extremely fond of Danzig, System of a Down, Ramstien and a gaggle of other just-as-unlikely bands. I joked that she probably knew Norweigen death-metal bands and she proceeded to name one that she likes. Consider her officially outed and look for her name in the “thank yous” on the Malmsteen disc. Those present urged her to use “Metal Mamma” as her TORn board and chat room handle.
The real experience of DragonCon lies in just the atmosphere of being around thousands of costumers – each more outrageous than the one before – and simply just being immersed in a culture of fans, unlike any other. I managed to snap some photos of many of the Tolkien costumers all gathered together at one time before the weekend was over. I snapped many, many other photos as well, but will post only the most interesting here to TORn.
Oddly, many find that when it ends, they miss the weekend, although surviving on little sleep and poor nutrition, the energy of thousands of folks sharing similar passions for genre culture is a unique event that is all at once exhausting, exhilarating, draining, inspiring, childish and adult but that really defies all description. It simply is DragonCon. Make plans to join us next year!