Dragon Con 2014: Panels, Panels, Panels

I probably spent the majority of my time at Dragon Con going to the ridiculous number of panels that they offered. My ultimate goal was to see as much as possible so I marked off which panels I was interested in on the Dragon Con app (regardless of time and location) in advance. If there were multiple panels I wanted to attend that were at the same time I would just go to the one that was closer. I also decided that I wouldn’t wait in any line for longer than 45 minutes. As I walked from hotel to hotel, I came across many lines that were over a block long and started to form well over an hour before the panel was set to begin—a huge waste of time, in my opinion. Luckily, there was only one panel that filled up before I could get in.

I was able to attend a total of nine panels during Dragon Con weekend. I had the opportunity to make a few more but there were times I needed to eat, just relax and of course people watch. Here are the Dragon Con panels I went to, in no particular order.

1. You’re Not Too Old For Cartoon Network
This panel focused on what shows on Cartoon Network could make people of all ages laugh. I can’t remember the name of the young lady that led the panel and it’s not listed on the Dragon Con app. She played different clips of shows that people may want to give a chance. She started with the new version of “Tom & Jerry” which had pretty much the same content as the old episodes. The main difference being that the animation and sound effects were much more up-to-date. She then showed us a Looney Tunes show that was setup like a sitcom. I must admit, the clip she showed was pretty funny. The next cartoon suggested was “Scooby Doo Mystery, Inc.” which seemed to be a much more serious version of the Scooby gang than we may remember. The show featured the same monster of the week mixed in with longer storylines for the characters.

Up next were “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show”, two popular cartoons I had never watched but that I always heard positive things about. She informed us that “Regular Show” had changed from its original incarnation to reach a more adult audience. “Teen Titans Go” was the next Cartoon Network show that was suggested for adults. That’s one that I have seen and while I’ve tried, just don’t like the new version of “Teen Titans.” “Total Drama” a fake cartoon reality show is also part of the adult lineup. I’m not a fan of most reality TV so I think that one was lost on me. One of the longer clips shown was for “The Amazing World of Gumball” and it was extremely funny. On the surface it seems like a show meant strictly for children based especially with it’s animation style. However, the humor was definitely meant for adults. Two cartoons that were mentioned but not shown were “Steven Universe” and “Clarence.” The panel ended by showing the film 2 in the AM PM which was a student film by the creators of “Regular Show.” The film was hilarious and did feature some of the characters of “Regular Show.” “You’re Not Too Old for Cartoon Network” was a great panel that I wasn’t super excited about initially but I was really happy I was able to make it.

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2. You’ve Seen The Movie, Now What?
This panel was basically what Casey Walsh does on the podcast “Geeks with Wives and Capes” after every comic movie is released. The guys at this panel wanted to give their advice on what comics to read if you are a fan of comic book movies that have been released in the last five to ten years. Some of the books I had heard of and even read while some were new to me. The only panelist listed in the Dragon Con app was Chris Brenneman but he was joined by three other comic guys. They wanted to give so many book choices I don’t think that they even got through half of the slides they prepared. Not only did they give the names of the books they recommended but also gave a brief synopsis of the story and why fans of the movie may like that particular comic.

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To no one’s surprise they started with “The Avengers”, and their recommendations are probably even better since the announcements of the Marvel movies for the next five years. Their recommendations were “New Avengers Vol. 1”, “The Ultimates Vol. 1”, “Infinity Gauntlet”, “The Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World”, and “New Avengers: Everything Dies.” The discussion about the Avengers lasted about 20 minutes, including dialogue about the different writers and stories on the various books. Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies were brought up next. The suggested books that I was familiar with were “Batman: Year One”, “The Long Halloween, The Dark Knight Returns”, “Knightfall”, and “Arkham Asylum.” “Gotham Central” and “Batman: The Cult” were stories that were completely foreign to me but I now plan to read them. The next movie the panel talked about was “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The books recommended were “The Winter Soldier”, “Death of Captain America”, “Winter Soldier: The Bitter March”, “Operation Rebirth”, and “The Life and Story of Bucky Barnes.” I have not read many Captain America comics so I learned a lot about Cap and Bucky during this discussion. Overall it was an informative panel with very interesting panelists.

3. Console Wars: The Next Generation
This panelists for this discussion were Ian Bogost (author and game designer), Mike Capps (Former president of Epic Games), and Alex Mayberry (Executive Producer for Cloud Imperium Games). This panel talked about PS4 vs. Xbox One because almost no one that attended the panel owned a Wii U or even cared to talk about it. The panelist all discussed what they viewed as positives and negatives of each of the console interfaces. Oddly, I’ve owned a lot of systems and the console interface has never really mattered to me. I may be one of the only people on the planet that didn’t care that the PS3 didn’t have in-game chat. The panel was structured like a Q&A session with attendees asking the panelist what they did or didn’t like about the new consoles.

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I really enjoyed their point of view because they had experience in the games industry and didn’t just answer questions from a fan’s perspective. They understood how much games and consoles needed to sell to be profitable and what level of profitability publishers were looking for. The attendees of the panel asked good questions and had a genuine interest in the panelists. There didn’t seem to be any fanboys/fangirls that were just looking to say something bad about the console they didn’t own. It was a great panel and my only complaint was that it was too short. I wish there was more time for questions.

4. Voice Actors of Mass Effect
I am a huge fan of “Mass Effect” and wanted to make sure I did not miss this panel so this is the one that I arrived 45 minutes early for. The actors that attended the panel were Kimberly Brooks, the voice of Ashley Williams, Tricia Helfer, the voice of EDI, Michael Hogan, the voice Commander Bailey, Mark Meer, the voice of Commander Shepard, and Courtenay Taylor, the voice of Jack. The panel was really laid back and consisted of all audience questions. The cast as a whole was very funny especially Michael Hogan. They all shared the story of how they got into voice acting, which was a hard road for everyone except Hogan and Helfer, who were offered roles after “Battlestar Galactica” ended.

I found it interesting that almost none of the cast had met in person until after the entire trilogy was completed. They talked about some of the other projects they had worked on besides Mass Effect. Examples included Meer in “Dragon Age”, Helfer in “Starcraft 2”, Brooks in “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City”, and Taylor in “Resident Evil” just to name a few. I really enjoyed this panel and learning that the people that voiced characters from some of my favorite games also had a part in other games I love and even shows I watch with my kids. The hour I spent in this room was definitely one of my favorite experiences of Dragon Con. That was as close as I was going to get to meeting those actors because I’m too damn cheap to pay for a picture with them.

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*Be sure to stay tuned to Geeks With Wives for more from Dragon Con 2014, but be sure to check out Shaun’s other experience from the show
here: http://geekswithwives.com/dragon-con-2014-wrap-part-1-tours/
and here: http://geekswithwives.com/dragon-con-2014-wrap-up-part-2-the-parade/

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