If you can only make it to one day of DragonCon, make it Saturday.
During the newbie tour on Saturday, someone mentioned that attendees always seem to hold their best cosplays for Saturday. That seems to be the case for the rest of the scheduled events as well: between the parade and some amazing panels, Saturday seemed to bring my DragonCon experience to its peak.
I started the day with the parade, an impressive event showcasing some incredible cosplay and great organizations attending DragonCon together. The route is just under a mile, and as we crept closer to the 10:00 AM parade kickoff, every inch of available sidewalk along the entire route seemed to be packed with spectators. But the parade participants make sure it’s an event worth dealing with the crowds and traffic for — there’s a little something for everyone, from the Bluesmobile to an impressively large thresher maw. Zombies, faeries, a squadron of sprinting Deadpools; no matter your fandom, you’ll spot a cosplayer portraying someone you love. And with this year’s parade led by Grand Marshal Nichelle Nichols (the original Star Trek’s Uhura) it was the can’t miss event of the entire weekend.
As fun as it is, the parade can be exhausting for new attendees who might have trouble with crowds. It’s worth seeing, but if you’re uncertain, scope out higher spots so you can stay in the back and duck out easily if you get overwhelmed. Better yet, if you know someone with a hotel on the route like the Hyatt, see if you can watch from their balcony. Plenty of enterprising congoers got a bird’s eye view without the hassle from their hotel room. Bring water, and don’t forget sunscreen — it’s still hot and sunny in the south, and you don’t want dehydration or a sunburn bringing down the rest of your weekend.
I retreated to my hotel for a break afterwards, steeling myself for my next con first: a panel line. Most of my panels had been well-attended but not so crowded it seemed like latecomers wouldn’t be able to get in. The “Fire, Ice, and a Lotta Street Smarts” panel for the Flash gave me my first real sense of how jam-packed con panels can get. I grabbed lunch and waltzed over to the Marriot Atrium ballroom about an hour and a half early, expecting a crowd but nothing unmanageable. I found the line for the earlier Game of Thrones panel, and then a line queued up for the chance to start the Flash line once the Game of Thrones attendees were allowed inside.
Kudos to the DragonCon volunteer team for getting the line under control quickly as the line for Game of Thrones began to shrink. By a rough estimate, there were over a hundred people already waiting to line up for the Flash. After some brief confusion (both about who was currently being allowed in the room, whether the panel was Flash or Arrow as they had been swapped, and whether we were allowed to queue up yet) a volunteer got us set up in an orderly line that wrapped around the outside of the building. I later heard it extended out towards the Suntrust building. DCTV fans were out in full force.
The wait was long, but the panel was worth it. I got a seat about a third of the way in, pondered Colton Haynes’ career choices with fellow attendees, and got a livetweet under way as moderator Marc Lee introduced the morning’s panelists: John Wesley Shipp, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, and Robbie Amell. It was an incredible hour full of both fun and insightful questions about behind the scenes shenanigans and how the cast developed their characters and relationships for the show. I made my way back into an orderly question line, and had the chance to ask about any news we might get of the West family in season two.
Turns out, there was some pretty big news: Candice revealed we would learn quite a bit about Joe and Iris this season, including the introduction of Iris’ mother early in the season. Vanessa A. Williams (of Melrose Place, Soul Food, and Lincoln Heights - not Vanessa L. Williams, the singer) is joining the cast as Mom West, and Candice reiterated her excitement for the casting of Keiynan Lonsdale as another iconic speedster, Iris’ nephew Wally West. Check out my Storify of the livetweet for more info.
After the panel I headed back to the Walk of Fame, where I very shamelessly queued up in an overflow line for Candice’s booth and got a selfie (a tip: if you want to grab a selfie, give yourself some time to get cute again and don’t go right after a panel you spent an hour in line for). Everyone seemed to have great stories about meeting their favorite celebrities on the Walk — it can be a little pricey, but as with the Froggy’s photos experience, it can be worth it for a fun memory.
After another Froggy’s photo line (featuring an Awkward Family Photo moment with Nicole Beharie, the talented and sweet star of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow) and a break for dinner, I made my way to the Hyatt to queue up for my last panel of the evening. The Roundtable on Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Comics was one of my favorite of the night, and cemented the fact that the DragonCon Academics track will likely be one of my favorites going forward. The panel included Kelly Sue DeConnick, Laurenn McCubbin, and scholars Daniel Amrhein, John Flowers, Kari Storia, and Tini Howard (whose work is also featured in the Oath Anthology Tyler wrote about for Geeks with Wives earlier this week).
It’s impossible to do justice to a panel like this in a few words. If you’re attending DragonCon and you care about making comics as a medium more diverse in both content and content creators, you should attend at least one panel from the Comics and Popular Arts Conference. The panelists and moderators are astute and well-informed, with very adept moderators like yesterday’s Damien Williams doing a skillful job of keeping the conversations going in positive and productive directions. As someone with a soft spot for this sort of scholarly conversation, I never expected the amount or quality of conversation at at a place like DragonCon. CPAC panels will definitely be the first things I put on my schedule for my next DragonCon outing, and I hope to write them up in greater detail next week.
After a lively panel, Kelly Sue was kind enough to stay and chat with panelgoers. A family emergency was drawing her and husband Matt Fraction away from the con, but it truly speaks to both of their loves for their fans that they stayed after their last panels of the weekend to sign books, chat, and in Kelly Sue’s case, snap a few famous duck safe selfies. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the chance to chat with her for a moment, and I know their fans’ hearts are with them this weekend.
I made it back to the hotel around midnight, and promptly decided to lighten up my Sunday schedule in an effort to catch up on some sleep. This is an exhausting experience, but in the best way — I knew I’d have a little fun, but worried my anxiety or nerves would get the best of me. Instead, this has been one of the most exciting and fun weekends of my life, and I’m thrilled to get to share it with you here at Geeks with Wives.
*Up next for Sunday: the final photo line, a flashback to the past with a John Wesley Shipp panel, and exploring “The New Gotham” with some of my favorite DC creators.
Follow CK’s Flash Panel Coverage HERE.