There was something nice about the reduced attendance last year. It was like traveling back in time about a decade in regards to the number of people, but the footprint of the con still being similar to 2019. However, this year the even larger crowds were back which brought along with it wait times for getting into the Exhibitor area, badge pick-up, and I’m sure at many of the panels as well.
All that said, my wife and I had opted to wait to purchase tickets to Dragon Con as a “just in case” and missed early ticket sales where the costs are slightly reduced. On top of that, she’s hurt her back recently and wasn’t really going to be up for all the walking. I had a concert on Saturday night (Ghost), so I opted to just do a one-day on Friday.
Having to work in the morning, I didn’t arrive until 1:30 PM. Now missing out on some of the morning festivities is a bummer, but one benefit of showing up later was the Badge pick-up lines were non-existent. I’d heard horror stories, but I walked in and walked out in less than 2 minutes. It might be a new record. That, however, left me over-confident when going to America’s Mart (where the Exhibitors are located). The line to get in there was wrapped around the building and then back again. After 40 minutes of hanging out in the hot Atlanta sun, I managed to gain entry and made my way through the four floors of vendors, artists, etc.
Overall, the first floor is more geared to roleplaying and the 4th floor is for comics, but on the middle two floors, it becomes a real mix of clothing, dice, authors, comics, artists, anime, etc. I’ve often wondered if it would be better or worse if they more partitioned like-minded vendors together so that as a potential buyer I’d know where to find all the costuming stuff. But the more I thought about it as I walked the aisles, I realized there were so many which might not easily fit in any one category, and if you put them in the “wrong” place, they might get screwed over by an arbitrary placement. Better instead to have it just thrown together and let us go through the entire thing.
Really the Exhibitors area is something you could spend nearly a day going up and down the various aisles. In years past, we’ve normally scheduled panels throughout the days, so you might be able to catch an hour or two before you are on your way to see something else. For Friday, I only had one panel I needed to visit.
On my way there, I swung by the Artists Area (Alley?) to see Amanda Makepeace (of this very site) and got to chat a little bit with her before heading over to the Star Wars Panel – The Special Editions at 25 where my buddy (and a former contributor to Tessera) Chad Shonk was speaking. If you’ve ever met Chad, you know he is a walking Encyclopedia of Star Wars knowledge, so along with his co-hosts on the Execute Chapter 66 podcast, they broke down the various additions to the original movies by the Special Edition release. Some “debates” were a little more tongue in cheek with the majority agreeing on much of the following:
- Greedo didn’t shoot first.
- Jabba’s scene in A New Hope is unnecessary and undermines the character’s appearance in Jedi.
- Boba Fett mugging for the screen was too much. (Also learned that I missed the memo in Boba Fett suddenly being called “the worst bounty-hunter”. And from the comments around me, it didn’t seem to have too much to do with the Book of Boba Fett).
- Empire was pretty much all gold. No problems there.
- Both new songs in Return of the Jedi (Jedi Rocks and the one at the end which replace “Yub Nub”) are… not the best.
There were some other odd quibbles here or there, but everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and I thought the panel went really great.
After a bit of chit-chat to catch up, it was time to take these old bones home. Years ago, I would only do one day at the convention because I was flying solo. It was very odd to have that experience again (although, there were more than a couple of friends there this year to hang out with, so I wasn’t solo for long). Still, here’s hoping next year Courtney can join me!
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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