Dragon Con 2017 Recap

Dragon Con always feels a bit like coming home. Even when the numbers of attendees keep going up and up, even when more hotels are added, and even when we take over more and more of downtown, there is just something about Dragon Con that makes it feel different. Long before Georgia became Hollywood South, this was the place for those actors on the shows and movies we all loved would come by for a visit. They would gather us all around and tell their stories to all who would listen.

And for a little while, the gulf between our lives and their lives disappeared.

I hadn’t thought about it much before Friday night, but I’ve been coming to Dragon Con since 1993 when Chad Shonk’s father dropped us off at the entrance to the hotel and we made our way to see Todd McFarlane.

I still have my signed Amazing Spider-Man 300.

It was my first convention. Heck, it was pretty much my first idea that such things even existed. You mean creators of the Funny Books I love to read are coming to my town? I’m sold.

About 10 years ago I convinced my wife to come to Dragon Con for a day. Serenity either had just come out or was coming out, so virtually the entire cast was going to be there. She went, had a great time, and while it took a couple of years before she would be a regular, it has become our little vacation in the city for Labor Day Weekend.

2017

My big take aways for this year were:

  • Standing in lines is not a lot of fun.
  • Standing in lines and not getting into the panel you wanted is really no fun.
  • Being in the overflow room for a panel and then having the feed cut out is just right out.
  • Avoid the dealer’s room on Saturday if at all possible.
  • There are a lot of people in Downtown Atlanta on Labor Day weekend!
  • It never gets old to see the people coming in for the Chic-fil-a Kickoff Classic (college football game for those who don’t know) have confused looks on their faces at the various costumes running around.
  • The costumes continue to impress me year after year. I stand in awe to those people’s dedication to their craft.
  • I love listening to the actors when they are passionate about their work.
  • Catching up with friends might be the single best part.

This year took a different turn when the day before we were to go downtown, Courtney found a hotel room available within 2 blocks of the Hyatt. And we could get it for only Friday and Saturday night. Since we normally don’t go down until Friday and almost never go on Monday, this worked out perfectly.

Throughout the course of the weekend, we’re always amazed at the level of costumes and the creativity everyone has. Whether it is the Zoltar machine from the movie BIG to a robot controlled Stewie from Family Guy, people continue to push the boundaries for the next cool thing. Which is awesome to see, even if I don’t envy the amount of time it might take them to create.

Friday

Somehow on Friday morning, even after getting there at 9:30 for a 10:00 panel, we were forced to the overflow for Nathan Fillion. No biggie. He’s honestly entertaining enough that after a few minutes I mostly forgot he wasn’t in the room… until the Feed cut out for about 10 minutes, and then when they got the audio back, it was probably another 5 before we got the visual. Not anything crushing, but not the way we want to start things off. After seeing him, I realized we’re not doing our due diligence having not seen Con Men (though it was on this weekend, so I have them recorded).

After an aborted attempt to see Wallace Shawn (Inconceivable!) and a decision not to try to fight my way into the Stan Lee panel (they started lining up 2+ hours early), we decided to venture over to the dealer’s room in an attempt to see the wares before the craziness of the weekend really kicked into gear. Last year there was a line to get in by about 2:30, so we made sure we showed up closer to when it opened at 1.

Here’s the thing about the Dealer’s room that I’ll never understand: why is it people stand in the middle of the aisles and talk to each other? I don’t mean the “hey, let’s go this way” but full conversations. Given how packed the room gets, I’d think you’d want to do such things in an area where you wouldn’t be obstructing traffic.

While Friday’s trip was more about identifying potential buys on Sunday, Egg had put me on the look out for Kevin Hearne‘s Iron Druid Chronicles which my wife pointed out after about 2 minutes in the room. I ended up speaking with Kevin for a few minutes and grabbed a couple of copies of the comic.

The final panel attempt on Friday was one for the Gilmore Girls featuring Sean Gunn. Apparently, a room which holds 350 people is not enough by about 50 people and superfan that my wife is – was shut out.

I feel like this is the second time we’ve missed out on a Gilmore Girls/Sean Gunn panel… but maybe it’s just a false feeling of Deja vu?

We dropped in on TesseraGuild’s own Amanda Makepeace (and daughter) who was busy holding down her table in the art area. Prints were flying off her table and, spoiler alert, she ended up winning the “Best Space Scene” at the Dragon Con Art Show!

War for Jupiter

Saturday

Waking up on Saturday with an extra hour of sleep (due to not having to drive into downtown) was nice. I also realized that the 10 AM panels don’t necessarily fill up (unless you’re Nathan Fillion, I guess). There was no line, the Con could let you right into the room.

John Cusack was interesting as he’d never been to Dragon Con before, but he also wasn’t there to actively promote a project. So it really became a series of questions from the audience about all of his movies. I wasn’t sure if he just wasn’t as comfortable in such a setting or what. You could tell when he was really engaged with a question based solely on the length of his responses. Possibly because he’d answered the question a million time previously, some of his answers ended up being slightly longer Yes/No responses.

Though, I don’t want it to seem like it was a bad panel, far from it. Just that many times on these type question/answer sessions the worry is always “how many questions can we get them to answer?” and this was a bit more like “I’m going to get through all the questions.”

The highlight question was:

“Do you ever get stopped in real life by someone who wants 2 dollars?”

A laugh. “Every day… every day.”

The Flash panel reminded me that it is beyond cool that John Wesley Shipp is a part of the cast. To have that link to the old show and to see how much he respects these actors and the work they put in… it’s amazing. Danielle Panabaker was definitely the star of the panel as the majority of the questions went to her (many with the questions centered around her Killer Frost alter-ego).

The highlight of the evening was supposed to be The Barrowman Show. As soon as we saw such a thing existed we were set ongoing. Apparently, everyone else at Dragon Con had the same idea and it filled up completely. I can only imagine the craziness that went on behind closed doors.

Sunday

On Sunday, we began with another DC Universe panel: Arrow.

One thing about the highly entertaining Arrow panel or as it came to be called: Game of Arrow. Thea (Willa Holland) was/is clearly obsessed with the show. She had theories, she had thoughts about the end of the season. It was hilarious how she’d get going on a rant before the moderator tried to steer things back to Arrow. And then one of the others would push her to keep talking about it.

She says she wants to guest on a podcast to talk about it. I think you could do far worse than her. Plus she clearly knows her stuff. At the very least she’d bring a passion about the show!

Then it was onto a fan run panel about LEGION. If you haven’t seen the show, you can check out my review here. Lots of theories and thoughts were thrown out. I even supplied my own thoughts about the show – how maybe the reason we’re not sure of when exactly takes place is that just like any memories you have – we’re always wrong about when they take place. I mean, how many times have you thought a movie was only 5 years old when it came out over a decade ago?

In what has become a staple at Dragon Con over the last few years, I end up closing out things in the Venture Bros panel. Regardless of whether the show has a season ongoing or about to come out or nowhere near debuting… things are going to be funny and weird. This year the panel was made up of many of the voices from the show (including Dr. Venture and Wide Whale). Sadly, Doc Hammer and Jackson Public weren’t able to be there – apparently hard at work on the next season!

So I suppose I forgive them.

They showed off a book of artwork, sketches, character designs, etc. coming out in late Fall from Dark Horse which looked very cool (and something I need to add to the old wishlist). The trailer is here.

We capped off the evening with dinner with a couple of friends where we occupied that poor server’s table for far too long, but it had been far too long since we’d seen John and Jeane, so we didn’t have much of a choice!

I also attended a writing workshop session (as well as another writing related panel – at this point I couldn’t tell you what days they were actually held!) run by Michael Stackpole: 21 Days to a Novel. I still need to transcribe my notes, but I’m interested in giving the technique a proper try on my next project.

As we made our drive back, a little of the con depression began to creep in, but considering my month of Gen Con and then this convention that might have been exhaustion more than anything else.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Dragoncon 2016 – The Good and Other Thoughts

Last week I talked a lot about the bad stuff that went down at Dragon Con this year. These are obviously not crazy problems, and I completely understand that. More it was as much about having that moment where you just say “this is going to be one of those weekends” and it happened to be this particular one.

That said, I do have some thoughts about the convention below that occurred to me as I was waiting in the fabulous Line Ride(s).

south-park-line-ride

But first, The Good

On Saturday we saw the Legends of Tomorrow panel where I got to see a man dance like he might have been Michael Jackson in a previous life. Considering he plays Hawkman, a character whose whole gimmick is reincarnation, it was somewhat fitting. I discovered that the man who plays Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) might actually be Vandal Savage in real life (or more to the point, just frickin’ owns the role!). I realized that the cast realized they might have a drinking game on their hands with the number of times Kendra (Hawkgirl) says “But I was a barista only 3 weeks ago!” Something Robert had brought up the day before (that I hadn’t really noticed).

legendsheader

Oh, and the complaint about not getting the line in quick enough from last week? Apparently that was not a problem for this panel as we got moving 15 minutes before the panel started and were seated by the time things got started.

Maybe it is a hotel thing?

I sat in a number of writing panels where I either learned something or it helped to reinforce some things I knew, but haven’t yet put into proper practice. I like to think of those panels as a nice way to get recharged for the rest of the year. You have all these people who just want to get their ideas out there, tell their stories, and hope someone enjoys them.

It’s refreshing.

Even on Sunday, we had no problems getting into the vendor’s room, and the extra floor really helped to let things breathe a little bit more. That’s probably the single best thing from the convention expanding into the America’s Mart buildings these last couple of years.

Like I said before, while it might have started out rough, we came home on Sunday with smiles on our faces, already looking forward to next year.

The OTHER

I do have a couple of thoughts about Dragon Con and where it might need to go eventually. Again, I’ve been going to Dragon Con virtually every year since 1993. And I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but during those moments when you can’t move due to the sheer amount of bodies in a building, where you can’t get into a panel without having to wait an hour plus in a line, and where there is even discussion about what a Fire Marshall might require.. it might be that Dragon Con is TOO BIG.

Dragon Con 2016

I’m not sure of the attendance numbers, I do feel that Dragon Con has gotten bigger and bigger over the last 4 or 5 years. When it gets unpleasant for people to be there, that’s not really the goal, is it?

Maybe they should consider a couple of things:

Capping attendance. Not sure if that is through only having pre-sale 4 day passes or something. I know they want to be able to serve everyone who wants to come, but enough is enough.

Or maybe this Con needs to move to a bigger venue. Yes, we all love that it’s in the hotels. It means that when you are sore and tired (and have a room), you can go upstairs and take a rest. But one of the things hotels create are choke-points. The sky bridges are natural choke points. Everyone is in costume, and it’s awesome, but I can’t move from one building to another because there is no flow. So many times it becomes salmon swimming upstream.

This year we were lucky to not have rain most of the weekend. When it rains no one walks the streets and the hotels cannot handle it. It becomes a complete mess.

Now used to be, before the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game didn’t exist, I thought “Hey, move to the World Congress Center, we’d have the space and everything would be in ONE BUILDING (effectively)”. Currently the Con is now in 6 buildings over like 5-6 blocks.

SIX BUILDINGS!

Come on. That is far too many.

Now that the football game exists, I don’t think being over there would be the best idea. We’d be on top of the football tailgaters. And while I love the looks on the people from out-of-town as they gawk at the cosplayers, we’d just be over crowed somewhere else.

So my solution, assuming the World Congress Center would work otherwise, is to move the date of Dragon Con. It’s not unprecedented. Used to be it was in mid-July. If you moved it, you’d be asking people to take that Monday off (instead of having the built-in holiday), but I’m not sure that would really be the issue. Monday is kind of hit or miss most years (we normally use that day to recover, but maybe we’re in the minority). Find that weekend where you are the only BIG THING in town.

Now maybe that would mean a slight dip in attendance, but I’m saying that may not be a bad thing. If there were 5-10% fewer people there… just something to think about.

And there is another benefit, more hotels available for the con goers. You wouldn’t be competing with the football people for rooms. Heck, could it be possible the prices might drop slightly (probably not, but I can dream).

Note, this is not me dreaming of the “good old days”, just trying to make it a little better before it becomes too big (an odd statement to be sure).

Again, maybe I’m just being grumpy. It’s always possible.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Dragoncon 2016 – The Bad

This year I think I’m playing the Grumpy Old Man.

That’s how I felt on Friday of Dragon Con. The little things adding up to just annoy and bother me. I’d like to think it was just a combination of things, but regardless of the individual pieces there was still enough there to last me until about 4:30 on Saturday. Luckily it all turned around shortly after that, and I was left with a positive taste in my mouth after the weekend was done.

But let’s start from the beginning…

Actually, let’s start about two week’s earlier, because that’s when I tweaked my ankle, aggravating an old Achilles strain. Come Dragon Con, it was still hurting. Good thing I wasn’t going to have to do much walking or anything!

But, I digress…

Friday morning we gathered the last of what we’d need for the trip to downtown Atlanta for the day. I had a couple of copies of my books and comics just in case (in case of exactly what, who knows, but I need to have them on hand more than I normally do). I go to the drawer in our desk where every other year I’ve placed the postcards Dragon Con mails out (effectively your ticket).

Not there.

I checked another drawer and then another and then another. At some point I could only say, “I’m starting to panic here, Courtney.”

After another 30 minutes of looking with no luck, I checked the web to see what the procedure was, and while it wasn’t on the FAQ, it was on a Reddit thread from like two years ago (just present your Driver’s Licence and you’re good to go). So we drive down, find a parking spot, and then go over to Registration… where they can’t find that we’ve paid.

Eh?

So now we have to go to the far side of the room where it seems one of the places didn’t turn in their registration forms last year. We don’t have a receipt because we’ve never needed to have a receipt. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe we didn’t preregister last year…

A minute later we have our badges and it is off to the Vendor’s hall.

Except, we get stopped about 8 people from being able to get in. It seems that they were already experiencing, at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, capacity issues and don’t want the Fire Marshall to shut them down, so we have to wait. Now this isn’t a big deal except that the Vendor’s room has been open for only 1 1/2 hours and they are having this issue. On Friday.

We make the pack not to bother to come this way on Saturday as I could only imagine how long the line to get in might have been.

30 minutes later we get in, do a quick walk through of one floor of the vendor’s room, before we have to go upstairs to the CDC Panel that I’m actually a part of (second time I’ve been on any kind of Dragon Con panel!). The panel was focused on the motion comic web series I helped write KABI Chronicles (check out all 7 episodes!).

(I plan on doing a full post about that whole experience soon.)

As to the panel, other than wishing more people had turned out, it went well enough. And afterwards we did another pass of the vendor’s room before heading out to eat.

All these people coming to Atlanta during Labor Day Weekend!

Now, here’s the thing. In Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, you have tens of thousands of people descending on downtown due to Dragon Con, the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Football game, AC-DC had played on Thursday night, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. So normally getting into a restaurant can be a bit of a pain. But not this night. Somewhere, the convention gods smiled down on us and said that Hooters would get us seated in about 15 minutes.

And then 45 minutes later we had to inform a manager type person that we still hadn’t gotten our food.

Why didn’t we tell the waitress? Oh, that could be because she’d disappeared for most of that time. And then, after the manager offered us free deserts to smooth things over, she tried to charge us for those as well!

That was enough for us, so Court and headed home, where I began to realize that I wished we’d actually had a room downtown so that I didn’t have to make that 40 minute drive again.

Saturday started fine, but nearly the last straw was trying to get into the Flash/Arrow panel. We decided not to try to play the epic game of “where does this line actually begin” but instead just wait until those people got inside, and then if there was room we’d go in (not wanting to screw anyone over here).

Dragon Con 2016

The problem is that Dragon Con puts these panels 30 minutes apart. But instead of loading the room as soon as the previous one is cleared, they waited until 5 minutes before the panel’s start time to start letting people in. By minute 20 of the panel people in that line still hadn’t finished entering.

What the fuck!?!

Had I actually been in the line and missed a third of the panel because of incompetence, I might have lost it on someone. As it was, we opted to go and check out something else for a little while.

Oh, and to the lady who was taking her time walking in the line… not hobbled or anything, just acting like she’s got all the time in the world – you’re not only holding up the rest of the line, but you are going to see a panel featuring stars from the FLASH, not slow-poke Magoo! Pick up the pace!

Then things took a turn for the better…

But that is a story for next week.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Digital Painting: From Sketch to Finish

Dragon Con is fast approaching. Before I’m lost to the rush of art show preparations, I thought I’d share some facts about the panel I’ll be hosting this year.

Panel: Digital Painting – From Sketch to Finish

Day: Mon. 9/5 | Time: 2:30 | Grand Hall C

A detailed look into the process behind a digital painting. Gathering reference, models, the final sketch, using textures, painting techniques, and the myriad of decisions that go into a large painting. Slideshow presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

The painting I’ll be using for this presentation is Forest Dreams. I’ll be delving much further into the process than this GIF below. You’ll get to see all the reference I used, learn where I find models, hear me gripe about the challenges I faced and so much more. I might even show everyone the hideous first sketch I made for the idea of the painting.

If you’re not attending, I will be converting this to a video presentation after Dragon Con. It will be available first to Patrons and later on Youtube.

Two Years Later

Dragon Con 2016Two years ago, around this same time, I was preparing for my first convention as an artist. I’m doing the same now, for the same convention–Dragon Con. Genre art (fantasy, science fiction, horror) for me at the time was still a relatively new venture. I grew up on late 70’s and 80’s genre films. As a teenager I was consumed by Stephen King and other speculative fiction authors. You’d think this would be reflected in my art, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began letting myself explore. A wall in my psyche came down and my art evolved. Two years later I was at Dragon Con and now another two years later I’m returning. In that time, I’ve continued to explore, evolve and learn.

I began thinking about what I truly wanted. What did I want to create with my art? What did I want to say? Did I need to say anything? That introspection gave birth to Renascentia. She is the first painting I felt connected to on a deeper level and I realized I need that connection. It reminds me of this quote I heard recently:

If you don’t feel anything for the painting your working on, your viewers won’t either.

When I brought Renascentia to Jordan Con in 2015, I realized the truth of these words. However, I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted. The vision in my head was still veiled in mist. It took nearly another year for me to begin piecing together what I now call Earth Rituals. I’m creating a body of work around this idea of connecting with the earth, but it’s not the only art I plan to make. I will continue to make purely nature art, delve into Sci-Fi, and whatever else catches my fancy.

Dusk OwlBut what have I done and learned over the last two years?

  1. I learned how to create art from direction.
  2. I ran a successful kickstarter and printed a book.
  3. I won Judge’s Choice from Todd Lockwood. O_O
  4. I signed my first contract with a small games publisher.
  5. I knew this already, but it was reaffirmed–true friends are invaluable.
  6. I will break my no dancing rule if you give me mixed drinks.
  7. I learned I don’t really enjoy game illustration.
  8. I learned you can be a part of a large community and still feel utterly alone.
  9. I learned there’s an art to using Instagram.
  10. I enjoy licensing art for book covers more than custom commissions.
  11. I learned I just want to create my own art, on my own terms.
  12. I guided my daughter through her last year of high school and into her first year of college.
  13. I was invited to be a member of Changeling Artist Collective.
  14. I launched a Patreon campaign that’s still going.
  15. I rediscovered my love of graphite and drawing.
  16. I’ve had a taste of being an art director (large project in progress now).

Ultimately, I’ve realized I’m not an illustrator, nor do I really want to be. Sure, there may be some overlap occasionally. If a project fits my vision and my style I might jump on board. But at the end of the day, I’m an artist. I think my art will always hover between fine art and the fantastic. In some cases it will sway back and forth between the two. That’s okay.

Forest Dreams WIP

From my current work in progress, Forest Dreams.

Never Happy

We’re never happy. I read this article today and now am resigned to actively root against my favorite books, favorite comics, old movies, old novels – because I’m contributing to the downfall of my way of life…

Or something like that.

Instead I’m here to say: enjoy it while it lasts. Instead of looking forward to a time when superhero movies don’t make billions at the box office, just find a way to be happy. I waited twenty years to see Spider-man actually look good on the big screen. I read Avengers comics and never thought I’d ever see any of those characters up there. That the gifts from my youth would become things that could bridge the generations of old fans to new ones.

Nostalgia is not seen as a good thing. That’s the refrain of many. The proliferation of it means that it makes money… that it is no longer done for the “love of the game” so to speak.

records-143468_1280

But it doesn’t have to be.

We’re nostalgic for the old things. Yet we forget the bad in there, when we were called names because of what we liked.

Woo hoo! Good times!

Yeah, I don’t think so.

We want to be nostalgic and then get angry when someone co-ops that passion. We want to stand off to the side and be apart and talk about how you liked something more BEFORE.. back in the day.

Why?

Hey man, movies used to mean something. Movies used to make you think. Hey man, books used to mean something. Hey man, music used to mean something.

Hey man…

Shut up. Stop whining.

Yes, money helps to trigger all of this. If Iron Man flopped we probably don’t get the Avengers movie (and we definitely don’t ever see a Guardians of the Galaxy grace our screens). For every Pixels which feats on those old ideas (video games) we love, but apparently fails to connect with an audience – we also get a novel like Ready Player One which embraces it and forces you to embrace it and remember how much you loved the same things.

How many comic TV shows are too many?

I don’t know, but let’s f-ing find out!

How many video game related items from the 80s can be referenced in something. Who cares? I love them all?

footloose

Hey, let’s redo Footloose!

Ok, maybe they’ve gone too far.

A friend of mine and I lament that Game of Thrones hasn’t launched a thousand fantasy things (comics, movies, tv shows, etc.). We both cut our teeth on Dungeons and Dragons so we enjoy those type things, but so far it hasn’t penetrated as far as I would like. However, if in 5 years everyone is doing THEIR fantasy story… well, that will be great. Why should I be upset with that? The bad ones will get weeded out, and the good ones will be consumed and enjoyed.

I think we trick ourselves into believing that things were always better “back when”. Oh yeah, it was awesome to go to the library and stumble through pages upon pages of text before finding that nugget of information for that report I’m doing. Yeah, that’s ole’ internet just is garbage compared to that, eh?

Everything is cyclical. You need to enjoy it while it lasts. Hollywood knows that better than most. And while today it’s superheroes or geek culture, but before that were the musicals and the westerns and the war movies and gangster movies and the epics and the 80’s action movies and the slasher films and the…

You see what I mean?

And I’m not without my own biases. I wish there was more rock out there that I liked. I wish MTV hadn’t strayed so far from it over the last twenty years. But I also know that if I tried hard enough, I could still find a thing or two to like.

Much hand wring and teeth gnashing is done because we are only seeing things that have been done before. People cry out “where are the new ideas?” But we forget about all the good things which do make it to the screen (or to the bookstore or to the… you get the point). Straight out of Compton. Ex Machina. It Follows. And hopefully The Martian (a movie based on an “Indy” book). We only want to lament that… “ugh, everyone likes everything I like. It’s not mine anymore to enjoy.”

Isn’t that what we wanted? Isn’t this thing we like becoming more popular (which means MORE of it) what we’ve been waiting for?

Dragon Con 2014

This weekend thousands of people will descend upon Atlanta, Georgia for Dragon Con (and others will be here for the start of college football and have really odd looks on their faces at those of us at Dragon Con). While I’m certainly not a fan of long lines and fighting people to get a look at dealer’s booths this is the price I pay for OUR geek stuff finally getting its due. Yes, we could crawl back into the basement spending our time organizing our comics and watching thrice-dubbed imports or we can embrace the idea that while we will need to feed the machine, we also will get more voices out there to help make up the slack. The other refrain is that it has never before been easier to “Create”. Anything you want: movies, tv shows, podcasts, books, comics, stand-up, music, poetry.

bunker-554239_1280

Do you want to go back into the darkness? Really?

 

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

Except, it doesn’t need to be the worst.

Stop focusing on the BAD… ALL OF THE TIME.

Just stop!

Things change. Eventually the times will change and all the Eyores will wonder – “why don’t people like X thing? Remember when everyone liked that thing? It was awesome. I wish we could go back to then.”

This is THEN. This is NOW. Embrace it. Love it.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Dragon Con Review

Last week I talked about heading down to Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend. This weekend I tried to make some new memories.

The first thing that always occurs to me is how big the con has gotten since I first went down to it so many years ago. I will say that I believe Atlanta has scheduled a few too many things for Labor Day weekend (maybe). Since we weren’t staying on site (something we’ll hopefully remedy next year), it meant that trying to get into that 10 AM panel presented not only some highway issues…

atlanta traffic

But also actually making our way to that early panel in light of the parade. The sidewalks packed with people, we struggled to reach the Whedonverse panel over at the Westin, only to find it packed.

Boooo!

No problem, we’ll just go to our back-up TruBlood panel… across the street… across a sea of bodies in costumes.

Hmmm.

Which brings us to our first real story. We’re pushing through the mob, but are unsure how we’ll actually get to the Hyatt when behind us we hear a guy asking to get through… carrying a young woman in his arms, passed out from overheating. Of course we make room, as do many of the others lined up on the sidewalk. As they pass, she lifts her head and smiles before resuming her previous “unconscious” state.

Though, Karma is a thing, because the parade was over less than a minute later, so all their deceit got them nothing.

Terminus Media had a panel on Saturday night at 10 PM to discuss the motion comics we’d been working on for the CDC, and to talk about the motion comics side of things in general. Myself and Robert Jeffrey II (a contributor to Tessera) were a part of the panel. About 15 people showed up, and even though there was no real rehearsal, I think we acquitted ourselves pretty well.

It is always weird to see something you had a hand in creating being shown on a screen for others to see (in a good way). Hopefully we did a decent enough job that Dragon Con will invite us to do more next year.

Ran into (literally in couple of cases) a few friends I had not seen in a while. As I touched on last week, that’s one of the biggest and best things about the con – reconnecting. Finding out how everyone is doing. This year I also got to show a complete con newbie around. And she enjoyed it enough that she went ahead and got her 4 day pass for next year.

Aside from not being able to get into the Whedonverse panel (luckily we did get into the Agents of Shield panel on Sunday which had plenty of Whedon love) and not being able to see Cary Elwes (another capped line), there was one big “problem”. The Dealers room is a bit of a nightmare to deal with. I know they are expanding again next year, but there were multiple times that people couldn’t get into the building or into a room because it had reached capacity. If Dragon Con is going to keep getting bigger, they need to figure out a way to handle that.

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Expand, DCon, expand.

Second story of the con – We are ready to leave for the night. It is about 11:45 Saturday evening. I am finished with the Terminus panel and am looking forward to getting home, to bed, and then back again the next day for more fun. We only have to get down the outside stairs of the Hyatt, which for some reason the DCON staff decided to block (with their bodies) so as to allow a line for one of the late night panels to move through.

Now, I don’t have a problem with this if it takes a minute or two. When it takes 10 minutes then maybe you need to pause that line and let the queue of people on the stairs out to where they might be able to get to meeting spots, late dinners, gaming, or home (in our case). What kills me is that they finally did have to pause that line because I think we were about to storm through them. Not the best way to end the night.

Oh, and I did have one huge regret.

C. Thomas Howell had a panel (along with Cary Elwes) and not only did I not know about it, I didn’t know he was there at all. Those that know me know of my fierce love of 80s movies that include C-Tom (as I like to call him).

Yes, they know about it even if they don’t understand it!

Anyway, I just wanted to let him know that he still holds the distinction of being in the greatest volleyball movie of ALL TIME – SideOut.

Sideout

Summer did, in fact, get hotter!

A bold statement, for sure, but one I stand by. Regardless of the fact that I’m not sure there are other volleyball movies!

So that was a bit of my Dragon Con for the year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!

 

Come Find Me at Dragon Con 2014

I’m leaving for Atlanta this afternoon, to check-in and setup for Dragon Con 2014!! The Art Show opens the doors at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, August 29th. Click on the map below and right-click to download. The arrows indicate where you can find my art in this year’s Art Show.

Dragon Con 2014 Art Show Floor

The Alchemist ACEOsDragon Con has a great page about the Art Show: opening/closing times, buying art, the auction, etc. Did you know that convention attendees can vote on their favorites? The categories are: Best Warrior, Best Dragon, Best Spaceship or Space scene, Best Amazon/Fairy, Best Alien, Best Horror and Most Humorous. Winners for these and other categories judged by the Guest Judges are announced during the Art Show Awards Ceremony.

Reminder: My panel on Digital Painting in Photoshop is Saturday, Aug. 30th at 10 a.m. in the Hyatt, Hanover G.

Lastly… If you do see me and you like free art, I’m bringing with me 8 ACEOs of my steampunk fox, The Alchemist. To get one, all you have to do is ask me for one.

 

 

Dragon Con Memories

We’re days away from another year of Dragon Con. As you may or may not know, I’ll be at the Terminus Media panel on Saturday night at 8pm. I’m not 100% on what we’ll be discussing, but it should be a fun time to mix it up and talk with some of the local independent comic people around Atlanta.

Dragon Con 2014

Dragon Con is this weird thing for me because it has always been there. I believe the very first time I went I was 15 or 16 and Chad’s dad dropped us off and then picked us up some time later. It is where I first realized that there were these comic book conventions, and where I got my very first comic autographed (issue 300 of Amazing Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane). We were only there for a few hours, but my mind was blown, and I resolved to come back again the following year.

ASM-300

Of course that promise was blown away the very next year when family commitments meant I couldn’t attend and ended up missing a DnD session run by Tracy Hickman (of Dragonlance fame). For the weeks afterward my friends all made sure to let me know what I missed out on.

A year later the Magic the Gathering frenzy had taken over. You had to wake up early, stand in line for some crazy amount of time, and if you were lucky you would get 1 pack of Legends. Now I know that must sound crazy to think that the current set could not be bought at any random comic store, but it was the world we were living in.

The years went by and most of the time I tried to ensure I’d go at least two of the three days. And then when it became a four-day con, I pretty much stuck to  the two days anyway. At the time it felt like they were expanding just to do it… I mean, I could see 90% of what I wanted in 2 days, why bother with 3.

But then a curious thing happened… friends began to move away or maybe they lost interest into going. And soon that group of 10 or so that made it where no matter what panel you wanted to go see or what deal was going on in the Dealer’s room – you’d know about it and have someone to share in the experience. I don’t know about you, but doing things by myself means there is no one to nudge when you see that “cool thing”.

And not long after that, I was the only one going to con… and it became strictly a 1 day thing for me.

I carried the flag for those “dark” years for my group of friends. Sure, I might see a couple of people I knew, but that old core group was nowhere to be found… and it lessened things a bit.

Then came Firefly and Serenity.

ImageDayFireflyMotivational

For most of this time my wife avoided Dragon Con. It was something I think that amused her from a distance. That “thing” John did around Labor Day. Every year I’d ask and nudge and hint that I thought she’d have a great time if she just did 1 day with me.

And she always put it off. Maybe next year. Maybe next year.

Then came Firefly and Serenity. And a panel at Dragon Con with pretty much the whole damn cast.

And I had her.

And she came to Con, and saw the panel, and then saw that Charlene Harris and TruBlood was there and sat in on another panel. And we spent the evening watching the costume contest with some good friends in their room on closed circuit enjoying room service.

That’s all it took.

And suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. I had my best friend to nudge and point at a cool costume and to experience things with and just enjoy this piece of my own life with her.

Soon enough some of the other friends have drifted back (here and there) to the con. And I get to meet up with newer friends as well… guys and gals I may not have seen in months.

It’s glorious.

At the end of Dragon Con I’m always hit with a slight melancholy. No matter how much I enjoyed myself or even on those years I was bummed out about being by myself… I would still get it. That idea of all these people who shared some passions with me… all these people who said fuck it, I want to enjoy what I want to enjoy and not worry if I look or act silly during these 4 days. I love that about Dragon Con. I love people watching. I love going to panels and seeing tv and movie stars talk about their projects and getting excited about the next big thing. I love going to writing panels in an effort to glean as much information from people in the “know” as possible.

sad panda

It makes me feel not so alone. Because, for a long time there us nerds were out in the wilderness. It wasn’t cool to say that you played DnD or Magic or read comics or liked Anime or played computer games. And for 4 days Dragon Con offered an oasis for those of us who wanted to feel apart of something bigger than just us.

So yeah, at the end of the day on Sunday (most likely I will not be down there on Monday – we’re using it to recover) I’ll get that funny feeling in my stomach that another one of these has ended, and it will be another year before I get the chance to do it again. I’ll be tired, my feet may hurt, and my wallet will likely be lighter, but even with that slight sadness I know that it is only a matter of a little time before we get to do it again.

Hope to see you this weekend!

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!

Will you be Attending Dragon Con 2014?

Dragon Con 2014 is one week away! Are you going? Are you excited? We are! John McGuire, J Edward Neill and I, along with Robert Jeffrey II, will be attending this year’s event. Here are some official blurbs about where you can find us:

Amanda Makepeace

Amanda is a Dragon Con 2014 Art Show Participant. You can see her Fantasy paintings in the Main Gallery of the Art Show, in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Selected artworks will be available to purchase as prints in the Art Show Print Shop.

Saturday, August 30th Amanda will be leading a panel on the Basics of Digital Painting in the Hyatt, room Hanover G. You can download the full schedule here:

2014 Art Show Programming

 

Like her Facebook Page, or let her know you’re attending via the Event below, for more details leading up to this year’s convention.

 

John McGuire

Author of The Dark that Follows and creator of The Guilded Age comic, John McGuire will be attending Dragon Con this year. John and Tessera guest blogger, Robert Jeffrey II, will be at the Terminus panel at 8 p.m. on Saturday Aug 30th. In addition, they will be around the Terminus Media table (please see the guide for the exact location) at various times throughout the weekend, so if you have a minute or two stop by and say hey.

 

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead series and co-author of the upcoming serial novel Hollow Empire will be pit-stopping at Dragon Con. He’ll have free bookmarks, car magnets, and free books to dish out. He hasn’t been to D-Con since 1995, during which he stepped on Glenn Danzig’s foot, saved his friend from drowning in a bathtub of vomit, and cruised the open streets while searching for bottles of Captain Morgan.

So please be gentle…

Like J Edward’s Facebook page here. Shamble after him on Twitter here.

And to check out his ghoul-tastic website, click the Orb of Souls.

TheOrbOfSoulsSliderBizCard

 

 

Conventions: Panels, Art, Books and Leather

Dragon Con & ACE 1995I attended my first Science Fiction & Fantasy convention, Dragon Con, back in the 1990’s. It felt like an endless maze of art, comics, books, jewelry, games, etc. If you brought a wad of cash with you it was the best weekend ever. They first opened their doors in 1987 and for several years it was called Dragon Con and Atlanta Comics Expo. In 1996 they became merely Dragon Con. The Atlanta summer convention has grown and swelled, especially so in recent years. In some ways this is great, it means the convention is doing well but it’s also frustrating when the dealer room is so cramped you can’t reach the booths. That’s what happened last year. Still, it’s one of my favorite yearly events and it has everything.

Some people attend just for the Cosplay, while others are there for their favorite fan track. There are parties and performances, gaming rooms, photo ops with the stars, television/film panels, publisher booths, comics and toys, dealers selling everything under the sun and so much more. Love Star Wars, LOTR, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Anime, Steampunk, Horror? They’ve got you covered.

And yes, there’s a lot of leather. Leather costumes, leather armor, leather corsets, leather accessories and more.

I love all of those things, but what I look forward to most are the educational opportunities and of course, the Art Show. I know. How boring, right? Learning at a SciFi/Fantasy convention?? Yes. Conventions are a great resource for writers, artists and comic creators. First you have the face-to-face networking with others in the field, including editors. Second, you have workshops and panels. I’ve attended a few of the writer/editor/publishing panels. They are top notch. You’re learning from successful, well-known individuals in their fields. The same is true of the Art Show Programming. This year I’m giving a panel on the Basics of Digital Painting in Photoshop. Anyone who’s ever been curious about how to get stared using Adobe Photoshop to paint will have the opportunity to see it in action. I think that beats reading it in a book any day. Here are some other great panels at this year’s convention:

 

Making Art into a Career

Panel of pro artists debate the nitty gritty of the business of art. Not for the faint of heart, real world advice will be given on how to make it!


Anatomy In Action

How the human figure looks with muscles contracting during action. Live models, suitably dressed, demonstrating &
holding poses. Bring your sketchbook.

SkullThe Art of Prepainting, the Unseen Hours Before the Brush Hits the Canvas

For fans and artists alike, join Michael C. Hayes for a glimpse into the work that occurs prior to the actual painting of a narrative illustration.

Open Studio for Art Show Artists

Workshop focuses on the importance of classical figure drawing. Draw from a live model. Bring your own supplies. Sign up with Michael Budzisz-Art Show.

That’s just a taste of the amazing panels scheduled for Dragon Con 2014. You’ve paid for the weekend, if you’re a writer or artist shouldn’t you also take advantage of furthering your career?

You can download the full 2014 Art Show Programming below. Oh, and don’t mind the fact that they have me down as Amanda Makepiece. It’s an easy mistake to make!

Dragon Con Art Show Programming 2014