The Dragon*Con 2004 Report

Check out the Dragon*Con slideshow!
ConCam Footage still forthcoming!

Dragon*Con is one of the main staples of our convention schedule every year, and for good reason. It's the largest science fiction, fantasy, and pop culture convention in North America, with over 20,000 in attendance. They treat us like gold, and you guys always come out with a strong show of support. We've been going to D*C since 2000, and even in leaner times we do our best to make this con a must-stop on the GPF Road Show. This year, Dragon*Con was held on Labor Day weekend, September 3-6, 2004, in Atlanta, GA, USA, in the usual locations at the Atlanta Marriot Marquis and the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Day Zero: Thursday, September 2, 2004

As per our usual custom, we started out on Thursday with our drive. A straight drive from Burlington, NC, to Atlanta, GA, is about six hours, so we usually go half-way on Thursday and take our time. Then on Friday we can get up early and drive the rest of the way, so we'll arrive in Atlanta right as the con opens. The half-way point just happens to be Greenville, SC, which we got to know a bit when we went to visit a friend there a few years ago. The trip to Greenville was leisurely, and my wife got to shop when we stopped at several outlet malls en route.

The big concern, however, was Hurricane Frances. At the time we left, the path of Frances was largely unknown, but it was expected to hit Florida by Friday and work its way to Atlanta by Monday. Unfortunately, that's pretty much happened. Frances decimated a huge swath of Florida before creeping to into the Gulf of Mexico, then swinging north into Georgia. Did we make it out in time? Well, telling that now would be jumping ahead of things, now wouldn't it?

Day One: Friday, September 3, 2004

[Our Table]

We arrived in Atlanta around noon. (Of course, I never liked the traffic in Atlanta, but considering some of the other places I've driven, I suppose it isn't all that bad.) We were forced to park a block away from the hotel and make several trips back and forth to unload all our stuff, but we eventually got it down. We checked into the Marriott, trotted over to the Hyatt to get our registration, then back to the car to get the GPF merchandise. We made it down to Artists Alley by around 1PM or so, just in time for Bill Holbrook (Kevin & Kell) and John "the Gneech" Robey (Suburban Jungle) to show up.

[Mark signs the Con Shirt of Doom!]

As usual, I didn't get away from the table much. Of course, my primary goal at cons is to be available for fans, so that was to be expected. Fortunately, a lot of you found me. I got to meet a lot of new faces, as well as a number of old familiar ones. Pete Abrams (Sluggy Freelance) and his entourage eventually arrived after their 14-hour drive, and Rob Balder (PartiallyClips) wasn't far behind. Soon, even more online cartoonists started showing up, including Scott Kellogg (21st Century Fox) and the legendary Mark Stanley (Freefall). I've wanted to meet Mark for years now, and it was great to finally meet him in person. We even got him to sign the Con Shirt of Doom!

My wife got some great pictures from the Walk of Fame before Artists Alley closed for the day. After that, we went with Pete, Joe Sunday, and Sluggy minion Thyla for a quiet (yet hilarious) dinner at a local Indian restaurant. It was my first time to try Indian, and fortunately everyone humored me with my highly selective palette. We finally made our way back to the hotel, where I updated the con report and hopped into bed.

Day Two: Saturday, September 4, 2004


Saturday started off busy as usual. While I tried to stay close to the table, my wife captured a lot of pictures of interesting costumes. Costumes are always a big part of many cons, but for some reason Dragon*Con always seems to have the best costumes of any of them (including Comic-Con). There's plenty of interesting costume pics in the slideshow, so make sure to check them all out.

[Doctor Who?]

I made a big exception this year and made a concerted effort to go through the Walk of Fame. Hidden far in the back of the lower dealers room, the Walk of Fame was bustling with activity and always packed with people. While it was interesting to see some of the famous faces there, my real motive for going was to meet Peter Davison, probably best known to many of you as the fifth Doctor from "Doctor Who." I grew up cutting my sci-fi teeth on Davison's Doctor, as well as Jon Pertwee and especially Tom Baker. Mr. Davison was very kind to humor my drooling fanboyishness, and graciously accepted a complimentary signed copy of the first GPF book. He didn't immediately throw it in the trash, so I'll take that as a good sign.

[Webcomics Panel]

At 5:30 PM, the online comics panel, "Nuts and Bolts of Producing a Webcomic," started. I was unfortunately not invited to be on the panel this year, but I did manage to tape the vast majority of it for our GPFConCam feature. (Footage is still being edited, so I'll post it as soon as I can.) On the panel were Rob Balder, Pete Abrams, Kittyhawk (Sparkling Generation Valkrie Yuuki), Jennie Breeden (The Devil's Panties), Coy Powers, Mitch Calhoun, and Brad Taylor (all three of All Grown Up). There were a lot of interesting questions, although I'm afraid many people couldn't stand the sweltering heat and lack of air conditioning in the room.

After the panel, a number of us gathered for the second annual Official Unofficial Faultie Dinner, held again at the Steak & Ale just down the street from the con hotels. We had nine in attendence this year, which isn't bad considering how difficult it was to organize and get everyone together. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with everyone there, and I hope next year we can get even more people to come.

Day Three: Sunday, September 5, 2004

[Aw... isn't the little baby Predator so cute?]

Sunday proceeded much like a repeat of Saturday. I managed to get the Saturday pictures up here on the site in the morning, then headed down to Artists Alley. I spent the vast majority of the day there, meeting and greeting readers (and hopefully indoctrinating new ones). My wife got some more great pictures of costumes (click the kid Predator to the left to see those), as well as some more Walk of Fame pics.

[Stay Demented!]

Since I've told you my fanboy story, I might as well tell you hers. My wife is a big fan of Dr. Demento, the nationally-renowned wacky radio show host. Of course, it was Dr. Demento that gave "Weird Al" Yankovic his start, and we all know how she feels about Al. Anyway, she managed to track the good doctor down, even though he wasn't in the location he was meant to be. He signed a compilation CD that Demento put together and posed for the picture you see to the right.

By the end of Sunday, we were getting pretty exhausted. We went with Plan Nine over to Benihana for some Japanese hibachi, then back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Day Four: Monday, September 6, 2004

By the time we got up on Monday, the weather was starting to look iffy. The sky was overcast and a strong wind started to blow. Every so often, there was a sputtering of rain, but nothing sustained. It seemed Frances was slowly advancing toward us, and just as was predicted, it was going to hit on Monday. So it seemed (to me, at least) that Monday was partially a race between us and a dying hurricane and we needed to get out of Atlanta before it hit, but I wanted to spend as much time as possible at the table in case some fans wanted to see me. Life is always filled with quandaries....

We did as much as we could before Artists Alley opened. We packed up our personal stuff and hauled it to the car, then checked out of the hotel. We went down to Artists Alley and stayed for a good two hours, then hauled the rest of the merchandise to the car. After paying nearly $50 to ransom the car from the parking garage, it was time for the six hour race home before Frances overtook us.

But first we had to stop at Fry's. Yep, it turns out the West Coast electronics chain best known for it's massive selection and incredibly rude employees now has an Atlanta store, so we just had to check it out. Unfortunately, our stop gave Frances just enough time to play catch-up, and most of the drive through the rest of Georgia was race to dodge from thunderstorm to thunderstorm. We made it home without too much trouble, but Frances would later go on to drench the entire Eastern Seaboard and cause massive flooding from Georgia to New York.

Despite the hurricane, Dragon*Con was as always a blast. I've done so few cons this year, I was going through some serious withdraws, but D*C always helps me get my fix. It was great seeing all the fans and fellow cartoonists again, and I already can't wait until next year's con.

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