2017 marked my eighth year as an attendee at Atlanta’s DragonCon. For the uninitiated, DragonCon is one of the biggest pop-culture conventions of the year. Most people have heard of Comic-Con, and this is kind of like that — but it covers so much more. It started as a celebration of fantasy culture (hence the name) over 25 years ago. At some point, the content expanded to cover everything in the geek/nerd world: television, anime, comics, puppetry, science, writing, art, cosplay, and so much more. The convention itself became a chapter in the book of pop culture. No matter what your nerdy heart is passionate about, you’ll find a family at DragonCon.
That’s what brings me back every year: family. It’s interesting to look back and see how things have changed in my life since that first, somewhat spur-of-the-moment road trip I took in 2010. Six of us piled into my friend Brad’s van and we drove overnight from Oklahoma to Georgia for the festivities. Our traveling group has fluctuated through the years, but there’s always been a friend from home that has joined me for the journey. The Con itself, though, just continues to grow. The crowd estimates from my first year were about 35-40k. This year they estimated over 80,000 people descended on downtown Atlanta. Some days, just walking from A to B is a challenge.
My Con family also continues to expand. I spend most of my time each year wandering the halls of the host hotels, snapping photos of people in costume and being a part of some of the best conversations. There are many familiar faces now, some of which I don’t know by name. We know each other by sight (and sometimes, by costume.) We light up, say hello, & talk about how life has been over the last twelve months. We talk about our fandoms and remark to one another about the amazing craftsmanship on display from the heavy-duty costume creators. It’s the largest family reunion you’ve ever heard of.
Most years, I don’t go to any panels. There are always celebrities that attend and host Q&A panels, but it’s rare that I’m so excited about one that I’m willing to sacrifice hours in line just to see them in person. With many, I’m able to visit the Walk of Fame (the autograph room) and just chat for a minute during a slow time. And, if I am wandering at the right place at the right time, I may just run into someone in one of the many lobby areas. That’s how I’ve met Walter Koenig, Richard Hatch, David Warner, Carol Spinney, and others. Those names may not mean anything to some people, but to the fans of their particular genres these names are well known.
So, I wandered. I visited with old friends and took the time to make new ones. As you can imagine, I took hundreds of photographs over the four day event. I’ve embedded a few of my favorites at the end of this post. The entire photo set is uploaded to my Flickr account here:
To my Con friends: thanks for the good times and I’ll see you all again next year.