Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011 Preview

Believe it or not, this year’s Dragon*Con is just over a month away.
The approach of Dragon*Con brings forth all kinds of things – a feeling of excitement, remembering past years, thinking about this year’s guests and events and that weird pre-post-con letdown that I get when I look at the events that are happening on Monday and already feel a little bummed about the time when Dragon*Con will be over when it hasn’t even started yet. Most importantly, though, is the planning that you should be doing.

By now your costume(s) should be done or pretty darn close. You should have your budget planned and be sitting on that Con fund. As far as lodging, well – if you didn’t have that covered back in January you’d better have a friend with a room that you’re pretty cozy with because the host hotels are long past sold out and it will only take one year of staying somewhere other than the Hilton, Marriot or Hyatt to decide you don’t want to do that again. Even the nearby Sheraton will add a good thirty minutes travel time to anything you need to do. I tried that last year and ended up missing a couple of panels because I didn’t realize just how much that extra distance would throw me off.
So this year I got my host hotel reservation in early, my money is saved, my last costume should be done by the end of this week and I mostly know who I’m going to be hanging with and when. I know I’m not going to waste a whole lot of time and money hunting down sketches this year. I’m almost done with my list for the Dealer’s Room (I’ll put that up closer to the Con).
What we need to take a look at today is the Progress Report that just went up on the website the other day.
I gave whoever runs Dragon*Con’sFacebook page a little hell last year because they didn’t have the Progress Report done on time. This year, I have to give the Persons Responsible some credit. We may not have a working schedule yet, but what was published does include all of the guests to date, tracks, dealers, exhibitors and more. What’s more, it is presented in a far more appealing and patron-friendly package than we’ve ever seen before. I believe the daughter of the Dragon*Con originators is running the show now, and this year she is making her mark by creating a much more appealing presentation than we’ve seen in the past. The best thing about the changes is that everything is still very familiar, just with more… pizzazz. And I do enjoy some pizzazz.
It’s worth noting that Dragon*Con is instituting a new system for picking up your badges this year. It revolves around the barcode you might have noticed on the card you got in the mail if you’ve already registered. I still don’t quite get why they can send out that card and not just send your badge. I’d pay more for the convenience of having my badge delivered rather than spending my Thursday evening standing in line for three hours. But maybe – just maybe – that won’t happen this year.
The booklet kicks off with a humorous retrospective of the last twenty-five years since this is Dragon*Con’s 25th anniversary. This is one of those nice little touches from the new management and I think it sets a good and different mood for the whole thing. Dragon*Con has never been without personality, but these kinds of things really bring you into it more.
So now that we’ve got the Progress Report we’ve got a pretty good idea of where things stand. A few more guests or another musical act may be added last-minute, but this is likely a fair representation of what we’ll have Labor day weekend. Let’s take a look at that guest list first and single out who you’ll be able to find ol’ Phantom slobbering over come September.
The guide splits the guests into “Featured Guests” and “Additional Featured Guests”; which I suppose is a nice way of saying “All the Rest”. Normally I wouldn’t divide ‘em up in my list, but for convenience sake I’m going to adhere to D*C’s format. This isn’t the full list, just the ones I’m interested in.
Featured Guests”
  • Ralph Bakshi – One of the greatest and most innovative animators to ever paint a cell. Bakshi is second only to Chuck Jones in my book. The quality of his work isn’t always consistent, but he has done things with the medium that nobody else ever would have imagined. No one else has done more for the idea that cartoons can be more than just children’s entertainment. Street Fight remains one of the most affecting films I have ever seen. I don’t have anything specific for the man to sign, but I’d love to find a cell reproduction from that or Wizards.
  • Adam Baldwin – A couple of years ago I probably wouldn’t have given Baldwin much thought. Now that I finally understand the magic of Firefly I am a devoted fan – even following his politically-oriented Twitter feed. I’d like to get a picture with this guy.
  • Jim Beaver – Bobby is easily the best character on Supernatural. A picture would be cool, but I’ll take a signed 8x10 if the cost is too high or if he’s not doing the picture thing. Hopefully we’ll get a Supernatural panel, though I’m not sure I’m ready to sit in a room with that many slash fiction authors.
  • Julie Benz – Ah, how times change. A few years ago I felt bad for this lady because she was relegated to the third-string section and barely participated in the Buffy panel I sat in on. One massively successful show about a serial killer later and she’s a Featured Guest. Because I’m pretty sure it’s Dexter and not No Ordinary Family that earned her the “Featured” spot. I’ll have to dig up a Darla figure for her to sign. I would imagine she’ll be on the requisite Buffy panel.
  • Ernest Borgnine – Obviously no sane person would turn down a photo opportunity with Mermaid Man, but what I really want is a Borgnine panel. The guy is nuts.
  • Nicholas Brendon – Another Buffy alum. I can’t remember him ever being at Dragon*Con before. I’ve got a Sideshow Xander Harris I want to get signed. I still think this guy should play young Ash in my idea for Evil Dead 4. I’m very curious to see Brendan speak, as I haven’t read or heard many interviews with the guy.
  • Misha Collins – I know I just said Jim Beaver plays the best character on Supernatural, but Castiel is the best sometimes, too. Collins is another guy well worth following on Twitter if you don’t. His posts are so notable that they were a feature of one of the many meta-heavy episodes of the show. This is another picture or 8x10 guy and hopefully will also be on a Supernatural panel.
  • Elvira – The Mistress of the Dark is one of the few guests that I’m going to pay the price for a picture regardless of what it is. She was responsible for a lot of my early experiences with horror and camp. And boners.
  • Robert Englund – I already got Englund to sign a Sideshow Fred Krueger a couple of years ago, but the guy’s so darn nice I know I’ll end up getting something else this year. Damn. I just realized Kane Hodder isn’t listed for this year. I wanted another family portrait with that guy.
  • Colin Ferguson – I’ve seen several episodes of Eureka, but we’ve only recently started watching in earnest on Netflix. I’ve caught a couple of panels featuring Ferguson on DC*TV and he’s always a hoot and a holler. I might go to a live one this year if scheduling permits.
  • Carrie Fisher – I’m going to deviate from the norm here and have her sign a copy of Postcards From the Edge – the only chick book I’ve ever read. Okay, no – I’ll probably just have her sign my 12” Slave Leia. I hope she doesn’t hit me with it.
  • Cully Hamner – I’ll have to stop by and thank him for the fucking awful new costumes he helped design for the DC reboot. Maybe he’ll have some advance copies of Deathstroke to sign. Blech.
  • Lance Henriksen – Who doesn’t like Lance Henriksen? There is a tragic lack of Henriksen-based toys in the world, but my wall needs an 8x10 of Bishop.
  • Georges Jeanty – I always pick up the Buffy artists’ latest print.
  • Clare Kramer – She’s there pretty much every year, but I always forget to bring my Glory figure for her to sign. I’m not sure if I can remember her being on one of the Buffy panels, either.
  • Stan Lee – I’m going to have him sign one of his terrible Just Imagine… DC comics. Seriously. See if I don’t.
  • Christopher Lloyd – I’m bringing that Diamond Select Delorean for him to sign.
  • Gareth David-Lloyd – I want to get a picture with the former Torchwood star. Ideally, he’d be standing there looking uncomfortable – his signature look from the show. I’m sure it’ll work that way – that’s how most celebrities look in pictures with me for some reason.
  • Michael Madsen – I’m staying the fuck away from this loony.
  • James Marsters – I’m not paying whatever ridiculous amount of money he wants for an autograph, but I’ll go to any panel he’s on.
  • Leonard Nimoy – Along with William Shatner, Nimoy was half of the best panel I’ve ever seen. I want to see them live this time. I’m also going to pay whatever the cost to get a picture with these two. I passed on it last time and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.
  • Norman Reedus – This guy was in some music video. I think he might be an Irish zombie or something, too.
  • Michael Rosenbaum – Being the only good thing about a television show for ten years is no small feat. Especially when you weren’t even on it for about three of those years. I’d like to see him speak; either on a panel or blitzed at the Marriot Saturday night.
  • Katey Sagal – I just thought she was worth a mention because I’m pretty sure she hasn’t ever done Dragon*Con before like the rest of the Futurama cast has. Except for this year, of course. We’ll never get those people in the same room. Never mind – she cancelled.
  • WILLIAM SHATNER – See Nimoy above. Add to that my burning desire to get my copy of “Has Been” signed. I won’t because I’m not paying fifty bucks for an autograph after whatever ungodly amount I’m going to end up paying for the photo; but I thought it was worth mentioning.
  • Mark A. Sheppard – This man provides the coolest supporting roles ever. From Firefly to Supernatural to Doctor Who, Sheppard has been on just about every show Mrs. Troublemaker and I bother to watch. He’s like a mini-legend in the Troublemaker house. We named our dwarf hamster after him. Not really, but if we got a dwarf hamster someday we would definitely do that. Hopefully he’ll be on a Supernatural panel with Jim Beaver and Misha Collins.
  • Tony Todd – I’ve been a big fan of Tony Todd since the first time I saw Candyman. I even watched more than one episode of that wretched piece of shit The Event just because he was on it. I’d like a picture with and a signed 8x10 from Mr. Todd.
  • James Urbaniak – The voice of Rusty Venture. I’ll get him to sign the figure. I just noticed Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick aren’t listed in this thing, but Hammer is on the website and I can’t imagine Publick won’t make it. The Venture Bros. panel is always one of the best. Unless you’re suffering from a weird case of guilt.
  • Boris Vallejo – I don’t own a van for him to paint, but I’m sure he’ll have prints or something to buy.
  • Laura Vandervoort – I liked her portrayal of Supergirl on Smallville. She’ll probably be on a panel with Rosenbaum; which is why I mention her here.
  • Garrett Wang – He has the best name of any Dragon*Con guest, every single year.
  • Bernie Wrightson – He was at Heroes Con but I never found him. Maybe I will this time.
  • Timothy Zahn – As much as I love Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books, I can’t imagine I’ll ever stand in the prohibitively long line it would take to get him to sign my books. But maybe.
Additional Featured Guests”
  • J. Scott Campbell – There’s no way I’ll ever feel comfortable spending what he commands for a sketch, but I’m sure I’ll buy a sketchbook or a print or something.
  • Steve Dillon – I’ll be bringing some copies of Preacher for him to sign. I might even bring that box set of PVC figures.
  • Tom Feister – One of the nicest guys I’ve talked to. I still need those last two GI Joe prints. I might get a sketch from him since he’s always been so cool.
  • Andy Runton – Well, I’ll probably get a sketch from him, too. I never did get that Owly Troublemaker last year.
  • Brian Stelfreeze – I always buy a print from Mr. Stelfreeze. Mrs. Troublemaker’s going to have to ask him about the sketch this year, though.
  • Koi Turnbull – I talked to him at Heroes Con and he was really cool. Supposedly Chris Walker of Headhunta’ Studios got him to do a sketch for me.
  • Sam Witwer – I still want to get him to sign my copy of force Unleashed.
I guess that’s it. I published this list with the full knowledge that I’ll probably never even see half of these people, let alone interact with them in any way. All to often I am too hung over or too busy to bother with anybody. The people I find Friday are likely going to be it for the weekend unless I happen to run into somebody at night like I did with J. Scott Campbell last year:
Speaking of how I love the nightlife and how I like to boogie, there are always musical performances in the evenings if you need somewhere incredibly loud and flashy to hang out.
2011 seems to be incredibly pathetic on the music front. I don’t know what happened, but there isn’t a single band I want to see this year. There is one artist worth noting, however:
  • Jonathan Coulton – I am not familiar with him in the least, but the Progress Report claims his newest album was (is being?) produced by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. That makes him worth checking out if he happens to be playing when there is nothing else going on.
And I suppose I should mention
  • Crüxshadows – I have seen Crüxshadows at least thirty-seven times in my life and I still have no idea what kind of music they play or what they look like on stage. I conclude from this that they must make excellent music to listen to when you are diabolically shit-faced.
  • Jefferson Starship – This really will be the performance of the weekend. Half the people will be there because they think Jefferson Starship is awesome. The other half will be there to laugh at that first half. And Jefferson Starship. I do have a feeling that if I go it’s going to be one of those deals where they’re completely awesome and I feel like a jerk for saying they suck beforehand. But I’ll risk it – Jefferson Starship fucking sucks.
That about does it for now. My next Dragon*Con posts will be the week before the Con and that’s when I’ll cover the stuff I want to buy, the costumes I want to see and my schedule so you can track me down and buy me a beer. Or stab me if you’re a disgruntled smoker. Maybe I shouldn’t publish my schedule…
Until next time, stay creepy


  1. The Late Night Puppet Slam at DragonCon hosted by The Sci-Fi Janitors! Sunday Night 11:30 Hyatt International South!

  2. If I'm sober enough to remember I'll be there!