Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Dragon Con 2016 – Phantom's Preview

The Con of the Dragon is drawing nigh, and I have yet to post my thoughts on the Report of Progress!
That’s because the Report of Progress has not yet made it to my box of mail or, apparently, the North of Atlanta. Try as I might I can’t seem to find a comic book shop that has the damn things. So it looks like I’m going to have to do this the new-fashioned way and use the internet. By which I mean
I usually cover announcements and things that are new and specific to the Progress Reports, but they don’t really have that sort of information on the website. If I can get a copy before this posts, I’ll add it in. If not, this will mainly be summaries of the Tracks, Performers, Guests, and maybe a few events that are confirmed.
This post is a way for me as both a performer and as an attendee to start getting my ducks in a row and planning for Con. I mean, I’ve been planning for months now, but this stage of planning is like in Altered Beast when the dude turns into the thunder weredragon. It’s serious.
I’ll be looking mostly at the things that interest me personally, but there will be plenty of general information, as well. Dragon Con is simply too massive for me to cover every Guest or detail.
As of right now I am scheduled for nine panels. If you don’t know, panels are simply presentations that take place at Con. They can be anything from fans dissecting a franchise to celebrities talking about their work to classrooms featuring professionals to game shows. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to drop two of my panels, but seven is still a healthy number for me and the most I’ve had so far. And I am very proud to announce that this year I will be a panelist for the Horror Track as well as for my homeboys in the American Sci-Fi Classics Track.
For now, pull out your Dragon Con Progress Report (possibly available at your Local Comic Book Shop but not online as of this writing) and follow along!
In case you’re not already familiar with it, Dragon Con takes place across five hotels – Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriot Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta, and the Westin Peachtree Plaza - within walking distance of one another in Downtown Atlanta. Because of this, you need to plan your schedule beforehand and allow at least thirty minutes of travel time between events. Also, buy a large water bottle and keep it with you at all times. Most hotels have water coolers scattered about, so you can stay filled up all day and night.
Phantom Tip: If you’re not peeing once an hour you’re getting dehydrated!
In order to plan your schedule, download the Dragon Con app from iTunes or the Play Store. You’re still going to want to have a hard copy of the trusty Pocket Program, but the app will make your life a whole lot easier, as it contains everything you need to know about Dragon Con and updates constantly throughout the weekend. You’ll even receive alerts if an event you have placed in your personal schedule is changed.
If you’re staying in a host hotel, be sure to find out what channel is carrying Dragon Con TV. This is the network run by a bunch of crazy Dragon Con volunteers. It provides original content, music videos, comedy sketches, short films, and also broadcasts many of the guest panels. It’s the best television channel I’ve ever seen and I look forward to seeing it every year. I just leave my TV tuned to it and on all weekend.
Track” is the term used in reference to all of the events involved in a particular genre or field of interest. For example, the Trek Track encompasses all things Star Trek. There are panels featuring celebrity guests, genre experts, and fans. There are also parties and events such as the Miss Star Trek Universe Pageant, which involves costuming as various species from the Star Trek universe. So to make things easy, you simply find the Track that represents your area (or areas) of interest and look for that schedule. Typically most or all of the events for one Track will take place in the same hotel and even the same general group of rooms. It all depends on the size of the Track.
Here are all of the Tracks, with notes for the ones that may not be totally self-explanatory:
Alternate History – Exploring themes of time travel, old world culture, Steampunk, and historical “what-ifs?”
American Sci-Fi and Fantasy Media – Modern and current genre programs and movies.
American Sci-Fi Classics – Celebrating science fiction movies and TV of the past. This is my Dragon Con family.
Apocalypse Rising – Media dealing with the many different ways that civilization could end, as well as what happens afterward.
Armory – Spotlighting the instruments of war and combat from history and pop culture.
BritTrack – This one focuses on the many genre and entertainment contributions of Great Britain.
Electronic Frontiers Forums – Internet, law, technology and their impact on society.
Fantasy Literature
Filk Singing – Folk music about genre topics.
Film Track – A track focused on filmmaking featuring screenings and panels.
Horror Track – I’ll be working here for the first time this year!
Kaleidoscope – Entertainment for kids and young teens.
LAN Gaming – Computers, consoles, and tournaments.
Main Programming – All of the biggest stuff happens here – contests, performances, the Parade; the stuff that encompasses the whole Con.
Military SciFi Media – This is a new Track for 2016 – your guess is as good as mine. It seems like it might have replaced the Stargate: Multiverse Track, which is no longer listed.
Podcasting and Media
Puppetry – Every year the Puppetry Track manages to grow and encompass more facets of the entertainment world. Puppetry is everywhere, and these folks are going to share that magic with Dragon Con.
Robotics and Maker Fan Track
Science Fiction Literature
Silk Road: Asian Cinema and Culture
Skeptics – A Track for critical thinkers and lovers of science
Star Wars Track – Business sure has picked up for these folks lately, huh?
Table Top Gaming– Either this one is new or my list last year was faulty.
Tolkien’s Middle-Earth
Trek Track
Urban Fantasy – I’m not sure how to describe this one, but some of the television shows it covers include Lost Girl, Being Human, Bitten, Supernatural, and my wife’s favorite – The Vampire Diaries.
Video Gaming
Whedonverse – About all of the works of the Nerd King, Joss Whedon
Writers’ Track – Where writers help writers
X Track – It seems like this track focuses on cryptozoology and the paranormal as they relate to conspiracy theory. Sort of. I believe it takes its name from The X-Files, so that should clue you in.
Young Adult Literature
That’s thirty-seven Tracks covering every major aspect of genre entertainment and some straightforward real-world subjects as well – Electronic Frontiers, Science, Space, and more. Every year Dragon Con looks at its Tracks and figures out where there is a need or not so much of a need anymore. The people in charge are very good at adjusting Dragon Con to its attendees’ interests year after year.
Today I can’t really do my Progress Report write-up, but I’ll poke around the Dragon Con website and see what kind of interesting information I can dig up.
For the full Progress Report, check or your Local Comic Book Shop. But call first, because none of mine have them.
Just a few things worth noting. Some are new, some are not.
You can read all of Dragon Con’s policies here. I felt that these paragraphs were particularly important:
If you feel you have been harassed please find the nearest Dragon Con volunteer. This year, all 2000 Dragon Con volunteers will be easily recognized by their bright tie dye lanyards. They will direct you to the security operation in the Marriott. If, at any time, you feel that your personal safety or the safety of others is in jeopardy, please contact the Atlanta Police Department in an emergency via 911. The Atlanta Police Department non-emergency phone number for Zone 5 is 404-658-7830.
You may also go directly to the security operation – room L405-L406 in the Marriott, on the Marquis level – to report an incident. We have set up a private screening area, staffed by an Atlanta Police Department officer to counsel individuals who feel they have been harassed. We will work closely with the APD to determine the best course of action.”
*If you already purchased your passes to Dragon Con, bring that postcard with the barcode on it that they sent you in the mail. It will make your badge pickup much faster. And if you didn’t receive it or lost it, let them know now. They can send you another one. I know this because last year I thought I hadn’t received one and I asked for another and they sent it and then after Con I found the first one.
*You will need your badge to get into the host hotels. Not just into panels and stuff – into the hotels. This policy started in earnest in 2013 and I approve one hundred percent. I invest a lot of time and money in Dragon Con and I don’t need any freeloading jackasses bringing down the tone.
*The Comics & Pop Art hall is being moved to the 3rd Floor of America’s Mart Building 2. Comics & Pop Art Programming will now be located one floor above on the 4th Floor! Refer to the maps in your Pocket Program or DC app.
*Remember - the Blood Drive is now in the Hilton Galleria.
This is simply my own personal list of Guests that I am super excited about; my highlights, if you will. Just because someone isn’t mentioned here doesn’t mean I’m not stoked they’re at Con. I just can’t write about everyone. This list is nowhere near compete. I’m using the website, which is the most current resource for Guest Announcements. Chances are even more will be announced between now and Con.
Featured Guests
Arthur Adams – One of my comic book heroes. He touched all of the X-books that I loved back in the day and raised the bar for my expectations for sequential art.
Scott Adsit – Adsit is both a Dragon Con and a personal favorite. I have a pipe dream that I can convince him to be a Celebrity Guest on The Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show.
David Anders – Your favorite villain from iZombie!
Gillian Anderson – I have had a crush on Gillian Anderson since The X-Files first debuted. I know that’s nothing original and I’m not the only one, but it’s exciting to know she’ll be at Con. I don’t know whether that means I should or shouldn’t bring my Scully/Guy Mann slash fic.
Jim Butcher – Someday I’ll go back and get caught up. I was deep into the Dresden Files and had just started the Codex Alera when our house got flooded in 2009. Unfortunately most of my Butcher books were in a stack on the floor, waiting to be read or shelved. I haven’t replaced them as of yet, but I absolutely loved both series.
Dave Chapman – One of the puppeteers behind BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but his career goes much further back than that. Chapman is a huge get for the Puppetry Track and the Star Wars Track.
Amanda Conner – One of the best artists working in sequential storytelling today. She and her husband, Jimmy, are ridiculously talented people.
Charlie Cox – Matt Murdock will be at Dragon Con! I loved the way Cox played Murdock and I can’t wait to see not only what he does next in Defenders, but what other roles he might show up in.
Brett Dalton – I’m no longer press at Dragon Con because I just have too much other stuff going on, but Dalton would be on my short list of interview requests. His performance as Grant Ward and Hive was excellent and, I think underrated. I don’t see people raving online about how he portrayed what were essentially three entirely different characters; possibly four if you count bland Grant at the very beginning of the show.
Peter David – A Dragon Con regular and one of my all-time favorite comic book writers.
Eliza Dushku – From Buffy to Dollhouse to Wrong Turn, I have liked he in everything I’ve seen her in. and I still have a Faith figure from a couple of years ago that I missed getting signed.
Larry Elmore – I was big into Dungeons and Dragons novels and art when I was in high school. Larry Elmore was THE name as far as I was concerned. Nobody does fantasy like he does.
Karen Gillan – I met her very, very briefly at Wizard World a few years ago. At the time I was a fan because of Amy Pond and had not yet seen her fantastic performances as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy or as Kaylie in Oculus. I think she’s great.
Jack Gleeson – Yeah, Ramsay Bolton is more recent, but I don’t think anyone on Game of Thrones was more truly deranged and despicable than Joffrey Lannister. And this guy played him incredibly well. I have a huge amount of respect for Gleeson.
Chris Gore – Chris Gore! Who doesn’t love Chris Gore? I met him a few Dragon Cons ago, but he was incoherent. I hope to someday have an actual conversation with him.
Burn Gorman – He’s one of those guys. One of those character actors that you can’t take your eyes off of and that when he shows up you go, “Ooh – it’s him!”
Erin Gray – She’s at Dragon Con almost every year. I always see her and she always looks great. I have never spoken to her because she was the first TV lady to give me Sexy Time Thoughts and that stays with you forever. It’s intense, man.
Larry Hama – As of right now I am scheduled to be on a panel with Larry Hama and I do believe I might faint. He is the father of GI Joe. He is the creator of one of the mythologies that shaped my fandom.
Doc Hammer – One of the creators of the Venture Bros., the finest show to ever grace our televisions. He scares the crap out of me, but has almost always been very nice to me when I have met him. Last year he left an elevator because me and Rad Ranger were getting on, but I think it was Rad Ranger’s fault. Me and Doc are cool.
Brian Henson – The caretaker of the Henson legacy. It is HUGE that he is going to be at Dragon Con.
Brian Herring – The other half of the BB-8 team, with an equally impressive résumé.
Sam J. Jones – FLASH. GORDON.
Rose McIver – She’s Liv Moore on iZombie and is incredible. She has to essentially portray entirely different characters at different times on the show. And also be funny.
Jimmy Palmiotti – A fantastic comic book writer. When he and his wife, Amanda, team up, greatness inevitably ensues.
Sean Pertwee – This gentleman is my destination Guest this year. I was actually a fan of his prior to loving his father as the Doctor, though Jon Pertwee was the first Doctor I ever saw. Event Horizon and later Dog Soldiers were the films that brought him to my attention, but his strong performances in many genre projects since then have made me a huge fan. He’s fantastic as Alfred on Gotham and was great as Holmes’ old partner on Elementary. I’m picking up an Alfred figure from Diamond Select Toys for him to sign.
Katee Sackhoff – Jen from Halloween: Resurrection! It’s a shame she never did anything else. She’s pretty great.
William Shatner – Walking, talking delight. I love this man.
William Stout – I have had the pleasure of sitting on three panels with Mr. Stout and he is truly awesome. He is kind and funny and has TONS of amazing Hollywood stories. Please track him down and check out his work.
Babs Tarr – The artist responsible for the recent Batgirl of Burnside. She’s great.
Robin Lord Taylor – Possibly the most intriguing villain on TV right now. His performance as Oswald Cobblepot is not what any of us were expecting, but has become the centerpiece of a show that was ostensibly about young Batman and James Gordon.
Karl Urban – He’s been great as Bones and other characters, but to me he’s always going to be Joe Dredd.
Carlos Valdes – If he’s half as entertaining as his character from The Flash, Cisco Ramon, his panels are going to be can’t-miss.
Timothy Zahn – Created my favorite Star Wars stories.
Crüxshadows – A staple of Dragon Con, I think there’d be a riot if they didn’t show up. Their shows are truly a spectacle to behold and are a cornerstone of the proper Con experience.
Here Come the Mummies – They’re back! I didn’t get to see them last year due to a scheduling conflict, maybe this year it will work out.
I:Scintilla – I’m almost positive I’ve seen them at Con, but once it gets past eleven or midnight my memory gets a little fuzzy for some reason.
Shooter Jennings – This year’s WTF guest. I definitely want to see him, but I bet he’ll be playing opposite The Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show.
Kirby Krackle – Nerd rock legends. On my list.
Nerf Herder – And then there’s these guys, who actually predated any sort of nerd rock scene. To me they’re just a pop punk band. And a very good one. That happened to play the theme song for one of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Qiet – I don’t know how to describe this, but I want to see it. Here’s the bio on Dragon Con’s site:
A balance of high-energy chaos and perfect order, Qiet's visceral performances will keep you dancing long after the concert's over. Combining the elegant excesses of 1920's jazz with the unpredictably of pure punk rock, what results is not just a show; it is an experience.”
DJ Spider – The greatest Con DJ of all time. As soon as wrestling is over Thursday night and I’ve observed midnight, I’m heading to wherever she’s working.
Aurelio Voltaire – It’s ridiculous, but I still haven’t seen him perform.
I feel like Dragon Con has a solid lineup this year. Unfortunately I’m probably going to miss most of these, but that’s the price I pay to entertain!
For the full list of guests and performers, go to
Obviously you can’t just base an event of this magnitude on guests. They’re important and all, but there has to be stuff going on. Dragon Con has more stuff going on than you would be able to do in a month, let alone in five days. Here’s just a little sample of the scheduled events (once again – the stuff I care about):
15th Annual Dragon Con Parade – If you’ve never seen the parade, you must see the parade. There’s just nothing else like it. No Hollywood movie can compare to the spectacle of hundreds of costumed nerds/dorks/geeks/superheroes/knights/wizards/ zombies/paranormal investigators/Hobbits/spacemen/etc. marching through downtown Atlanta. It’s breathtaking.
Dragon Con Burlesque: A Glamour Geek Revue – I always mean to go to this and there’s always a conflict.
National Puppet Slam – Once again, Dragon Con is teaming up with the Center for Puppetry Arts to bring the National Puppet Slam to Atlanta!
The Late Night Puppet Slam – This is the greatest and best thing at Dragon Con that isn’t wrestling or a game show hosted by me. I cannot possibly express to you how strongly I feel you should attend. They should build a Bob and Carl amphitheater behind the Hyatt just so that everybody at Dragon Con can attend the Puppet Slam.
And finally…
DC FRAKKIN’ W! – This year, for the first time ever, DCW kicks off Dragon Con! The Powers That Be wanted a strong opener for the first year of official Thursday night programming, and there’s no better way to start a party than with me and Dragon Con Wrestling! (I’m the announcer)
DCW features wrestlers from all over the world putting on the most fun and exciting matches every single year. There is no other wrestling show I would rather see live. There simply aren’t words for how hard these guys work and how electric the audience gets in the Hyatt Centennial Ballroom. This is the very best thing at Dragon Con (that isn’t a game show hosted by me and Miss Lady Flex that happens at 10 PM Saturday night in the Hyatt Regency V ballroom).
Art Show and Print Shop – The Art Show has a huge assortment of various types of handmade media. It’s really, really cool and I recommend you take the time to walk through. According to the website it’s still in the Grand Hall West of the Hyatt, but it also says that it’s still next to the Pop Art and Comics. Which is incorrect. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks!
Blood Drive – LifeSouth conducts an annual blood drive at Con where you can give blood and get a free t-shirt. This year it is located in the Hilton.
Celebrity Photos – This is kind of tricky. Some guests do photo ops, some don’t. Some guests charge for photos, some don’t. Some just do them at their table in the guest hall, some go through a complicated process that involves a third-party photographer. Sometimes there’s no indication of where the guest stands on any of this, so don’t be afraid to ask. Chances are if it’s a bigger name guest they are going through the photographer. So here’s the site where you can pre-pay for that (which I’ll admit is convenient):
Charity Auction – This year’s auctions are to benefit the ACSS – Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency.
In addition to all of that, Dragon Con has contests, pageants, and workshops on writing, dancing, self-defense and more.
Finally – though this is far from a comprehensive listing – there is the gaming.
I don’t do gaming, but it is at Dragon Con and it is huge and fucking intense. Me and the rest of the Hooligans make a point of walking through the gaming rooms every year and I can’t even comprehend what’s going on in there. There’s this whole other society that doesn’t give one tiny little fuck about the rest of Dragon Con. It’s like when the Fraggles went to the Doozer part of the Rock, except we don’t eat the Monster Manuals.
That’s it, folks. I strongly encourage you to visit, download the app, and go listen to all of the Earth Station One Dragon Con Reports for the best information available.
The Needless Things gang will start our official coverage of Dragon Con on August 22nd This coverage will continue daily until probably two weeks after Con, though it’s entirely possible the week directly following Con will be sparse. My schedule is pretty tricky around then and I may not have a whole lot of time to write. I’m looking at options.
And of course, the Needless Things Podcast will start the Dragon Connery with this Friday’s episode, when I talk to the Ambassador of Joy, Joshua Holden!

Be sure to join the Needless Things Podcast Facebook Group to get in on the fun and to find out when this year’s Needless Things Meet-Up will occur!


  1. You mention the app... Just wondering if you've heard when the update will be available? (Will it be an update or will there be a new, 2016 app to download?)


    1. It seems to be an all-new app, but the improvements are worth the overhaul. It's available now from the Google Play store and probably from iTunes, but there's still a lot of updating to be done. No schedule yet, but you can fill I'm your profile, add a pic, and find friends.

  2. My 2015 app upgraded to 2016 the other day. It seems that how it does this is different based on device. Mine kicked over as soon as it updated. Someone else had to use the "Exit to Show List" option and then enter the 2016 app updates by choosing the 2016 option there. It's not complete though. They haven't finalized everything, so some info isn't there yet.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up. I got a new phone, so I didn't have the 2015 app and wasn't sure.

    2. Yes the 2016 App is operational. Tis just basic framework at the mo, but it is there for updates as they come.