Debrief: ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022

Debrief: ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022
Atlanta, GA – March 18 through March 20, 2022
ACCFandemic

Atlanta Comic Con was (shall we say?) interesting.

As mentioned in my announcement post, Atlanta Comic Con joined up with the Fandemic World Tour to create an earlier and larger event. It’s typically been a smaller affair with various celebrities and fan panels, but linking up with Fandemic brought a bit more star power to bear.

Honestly, I think that it dampened some of the spirit. More on that in a minute.

I teamed up with Mike Faber and Michael Gordon of The ESO Network for three panels – Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Podcasting 101 – and took some time around those events to take in what this new convention experience had to offer. In fact, that’s what Fandemic offers on their website: Fandemic Tour – A New Comic Convention Experience.

ACC 2022 Panels

The panels were pretty awesome. The Podcasting 101 panel was very interactive and well-attended for the size of this convention. We had a lot of input from the audience and spent some time afterward chatting with people who wanted to learn more.

Mike Faber and I have been doing these 101-style panels and classes for a while, and my metric for success has always been that if even one person learns something new, then we’ve done our jobs well. The Atlanta Comic Con panel went above and beyond that measure.

The Doctor Who panel was also pretty engaging with a lot of questions and speculation, and the hour pretty much flew by. The MCU panel was quite a bit less engaging, and a lot of that can be attributed to the timing. When we did a similar panel at Atlanta Comic Con, it was right after Infinity War so there was a lot to talk about. If we had done this in July as planned, we’d also have a lot to talk about, but doing this panel right now leaves us in the infancy of the MCU’s Phase Four with a whole lot of questions and not much else.

But, overall, the panels were fun.

So, the rest of the convention…

The rest of the convention is where I feel like the spirit of Atlanta Comic Con has been lost. Fandemic is geared toward the fans and genre of The Walking Dead, and that does not lend itself to a general sci-fi/fantasy kind of event like Atlanta Comic Con has been.

The vendor booths were geared more toward the genre and toward the general fan. There were very few comic and book booths and very few specialized toy booths. There were a lot of vendors who specialize in Funko Pops, but even the offering they brought leaned heavily into the Fandemic genre. In fact, it’s disappointing to note that I wasn’t tempted by a lot of the offerings.

There were a handful of artists with tables, but they weren’t engaged with attendees. In fact, one interaction that I saw was telling: The artist physically walked someone through his portfolio because the name was familar in passing but the attendee had no idea who he was beyond that.

This felt like a convention for people at the 30,000-foot view. Fans who have a general idea of what’s out there, but aren’t specific on any one thing. Don’t get me wrong: That level of fandom is perfectly okay, but it didn’t feel like there was much engagement for anyone on a deeper level.

It’s also a celebrity-heavy event with a ton of space dedicated to photos and autographs, but only for the genre. Lines for photos and signatures were packed, which is good for fans who dig that, but I certainly missed the old-school/retro caliber of guests that Atlanta Comic Con used to attract. 2019’s show brought a variety of actors and talent – Cam Clarke, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, Rob Paulsen, James Arnold Taylor, and Bonnie Wright, just to name a few – and I expected this variety to be mixed into the Fandemic attractions a bit more. Instead, it was all pretty much Walking Dead and similar.

It felt like Atlanta Comic Con was completely replaced by Fandemic.

The entrance fees for normal attendees were a bit shocking: $50 or $60 per day on the weekend and $85 for a three-day pass. That’s not something that attracts someone who’s interested for the day. I don’t have historic information for Atlanta’s show, but the similar convention in Tampa Bay runs $20-30 per day with a $45 three-day pass, and that’s with guest lists similar to Atlanta Comic Con’s previous offerings.

I was also surprised that there was no program of events being distributed. Atlanta Comic Con used to offer a poster with a schedule of events. On that note, the schedule of events wasn’t even solidified until a couple of days before the show, which is something I’d expect from an extremely large five-day event like Dragon Con, but not from a three-day lightly attended event like this.

I don’t want to see Atlanta Comic Con become absorbed into something else.

With the loss of so many smaller conventions in the area due to money and staffing concerns, we need conventions and events for people who want to get together and celebrate pop culture.  If this was truly a merger instead of a takeover, I’m hoping that 2022 was simply growing pains leading to something bigger and better.

I don’t want to lose Atlanta Comic Con’s unique voice in the process.

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ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022

ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022
Atlanta, GA – March 18 through March 20, 2022
ACCFandemic

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a few years since I have visited Atlanta Comic Con. It’s one of Atlanta’s smaller conventions but it’s also a fun escape in the middle of the summer before Dragon Con rolls in.

This year, Atlanta Comic Con changed course, moving from their typical mid-July schedule to something a little closer to the Vernal Equinox.

Hey ATL friends,
July was too far away and we couldn’t wait that long to see all our amazing ATL Comic Convention attendees, so we joined forces with our friends at Fandemic World Tour Atlanta to bring you an even BIGGER and BETTER show! Fandemic is happening March 18-20, 2022 at the Georgia World Congress Center Building B.

So, next week, you can find me at the Georgia World Congress Center on the Saturday and Sunday of the event. I don’t have a definite schedule yet, but I plan to be there on panels with Mike Faber and Michael Gordon of The ESO Network as we talk about Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Podcasting 101.

UPDATE (3/18/22): The tentative programming schedule has been added to the website. 

So You Want to Start a Podcast? – Saturday 1:30PM – 2:15PM, Room B203

Doctor Who: Out With the Old, In With the New – Sunday 12:30PM – 1:15PM, B203 [Recorded for Earth Station Who]

The MCU: What Now? – Sunday 2:30PM – 3:15PM, B203 [Recorded for Earth Station One]

The convention will also have quite a few celebrity guests, including Sebastian Stan, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, James Marsters, John Barrowman, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Pom Klementieff, and more. More information, including ticketing information, can be found on their website.

I hope to see you there!

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Debrief: Dragon Con 2021

Debrief: Dragon Con 2021
Atlanta, GA – September 2 through September 6, 2021

Just like that, Dragon Con 2021 is in the books! And, wow, it was a weird year.

Attendance was reported at 42,000 and you could definitely feel it. Thanks to the pandemic precautions – proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test along with a 100 percent masking requirement – and attendance caps (including limits on daily sales), the crowds were significantly thinner. Let me tell you, though, I could get used to an attendance cap at Dragon Con. Maybe 65,000 to 70,000 in normal times?

Despite the smaller crowds, we did a lot of good work this year for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, raising $120,000 for that charity. That’s $10,000 more than we pulled together in 2019 with just over double the weekend crowd.

It was also a getaway that I really needed. With everything that’s been going on recently, I needed to see the geek family and get my mind orbiting around a lot of fun and creative things. I mean, let’s face it, I’ve missed these people.

It’s important to note that the Marriott and Hyatt were flooded with partiers at night who weren’t wearing face masks. It seemed that, once the sun went down, enforcement went out the window. Since I’m seeing several reports of attendees popping positive for COVID-19, panelists who refused to wear masks on panels, and vendors who went unmasked at their booths, I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone get tested for COVID-19 (both rapid and PCR if you can) and limit the spread as much as possible in the meantime.

There were a lot of naked respiratory orifices at Dragon Con 2021. Far. Too. Many.

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Dragon Con 2021

Dragon Con 2021
Atlanta, GA – September 2 through September 6, 2021

Logo_no_background

Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me. It’s also a family reunion of sorts as I catch up with dear friends from around the world. This year will be my twelfth time attending (counting last year’s virtual events) and my sixth year as an attending professional.

If you plan to be there, you can find me at various over Labor Day weekend according to the schedule below. This year is a bit lighter than normal due to the continued pandemic – the COVID-19 coronavirus is neither joke nor hoax, and I fully support masking and vaccination until it is eliminated – but I’ll still be around having fun. I won’t be attending any parties or large gatherings, and I will be adhering to Dragon Con policies to combat the pandemic.

The convention app is available now – look for Dragon Con by Core-apps in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store – and will have the schedule of events soon. The list of confirmed guests, performers, artists, and attending professionals is available on the official Dragon Con site.

Dragon Con itself takes place in downtown Atlanta spanning five hotels (Sheraton Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, and Westin Peachtree Plaza) and the AmericasMart Atlanta exhibition center. The convention draws approximately 70,000 to 80,000 attendees annually and showcases one of the city’s most popular parades on Saturday morning at 10am. This year, the attendance numbers will be lower due to COVID-19 and the parade is supposed to be closed to the public. It’s gonna be an interesting con in that regard.

Dragon Con prides itself on contributions to charity and the community. You can find more information about those efforts on their webpage. Each year, the convention partners with a local charity organization and this year’s partner is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.

If you’re new to the convention, consider stopping by the Dragon Con Newbies group on Facebook. It is run by Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony, and me, and is an in-depth community resource for information about this massive (and sometimes overwhelming) event. Memberships (tickets) for this year’s convention are available, however, due to the pandemic, memberships are limited.

Along with the attendance caps, all attendees are required to wear masks that adhere to CDC guidelines. The other preventative measures taken by the con this year can be found on their website.

If you want a printable copy of my schedule, I have a convenient PDF.

Note: All Dragon Con schedules are tentative until the convention ends on Monday. Even then, things are a bit suspect. As things change before the convention, I’ll update this post.

Revision History:

    • Rev 0 – 20 Aug 2021: Initial post.

The Schedule

I will be around starting Thursday to check in to the hotel, pick up my badge and Hard Rock Dragon Con gear, and get the ball rolling.

12:00p-4:00p: Dragon Con Newbies Walking and Rolling Tours (4 hours)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
Want to get a ‘lay of the land’ and find your way around the hotels? Did you know there’s a food court? Meet others new to Dragon Con and get a tour with some veteran con-goers. Last tours will leave approximately 3:30pm.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

5:30p-6:30p: Dragon Con Newbies Q&A (1 hour)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share tips and tricks.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

10:00a: Dragon Con Newbies 101 (1 hour)
Main Programming
Hyatt, Regency V
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share their tip and tricks for making your experience an awesome one.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

1:00p: Getting Started with Digital Media: The Ups & Downs (1 hour)
Digital Media
Hilton, Galleria 7
Have you always wanted to podcast? A group of experienced podcasters will help with ideas on how to get started & making it past the dreaded pod-burnout. Topics include picking a subject for your show, equipment to record with, how to get an audience, & more. For beginners & vets alike.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Tyra A. Burton, Matthew Charles Malis

2:30p: Disney Afternoon: Rescue Rangers & More Goofiness! (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
A tribute to chipmunks dressed like Magnum PI & Indiana Jones, & other Disney excellence.
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether, Bethany Kesler 

4:00p: Disney Afternoon: All-Duck Edition (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We celebrate the afternoon cartoons that solved mysteries & rewrote history.
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether, Bethany Kesler

10:00p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Lock-In: Howard the Duck (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We lock you in with a crowd of semi-willing participants to celebrate Marvel’s infamous – and very first – theatrical movie. The only way to escape: donate to the Dragon Con charity!
Panelists include: No one else? Don’t make me do this alone!

[It’s worth noting here that there won’t be a parade flood this year. Saturday one-day passes are not being sold and the parade is for badged attendees only.]

11:30a: ESW Presents Doctor Who: The Movie 25th Anniversary!
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
In 1996, Doctor Who returned to our televisions in the classic TV Movie. The Earth Station Who team will delve deep into this unique production & the uphill battle bringing it to life.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, Sue Kisenwether

1:00p: Classic Series Doctor Who (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
With the release of the entire classic series on Britbox, there has never been better access to the bulk of Doctor Who history. We will discuss this, the release of The Faceless Ones animation, & the expanding worlds of Classic Who on audio.
Panelists include: Davey Beauchamp, Dr. Scott Viguié, R Alan Siler

5:30p: …And You Will Obey Me: Doctor Who‘s the Master at 50 (Pre-Recorded Virtual Panel)
BritTrack
BritTrack YouTube Channel
Yes, the Doctor’s best enemy, the Master, is turning 50 this year, & we have some big discussions ahead of us. Except, of course, until the Master uses his Tissue Compression Eliminator on them. Say something nice!
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether, Dr. Scott Viguié, Rob Levy

7:00p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Lockdown: Mac & Me and More (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Will we watch Mac & Me, the movie that plunged off the cliff & into our hearts forever? The only way to escape is by donating to the Dragon Con charity.
Panelists include: JC De La Torre, Rita De La Torre

1:00p: Rising from the Shark: Re-invent the Team! (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M301
It happens for any number of reasons, ratings, licensing, actors, but teams change up. We’ve seen it in on the big screen & small with Arrow, Legends, Flash, The Boys, & many others. We’ll look back at when it works or doesn’t. The lost & found members that we miss, or are thrilled to see.
Panelists include: M. Haynes

2:30p: Collectors Panel: Toys & Merchandising in MSFM (1 hour)
Military Sci-Fi Media
Chastain DE – Westin
MSFM is more than just the moving pictures on your screen. From action figures & collectibles to board games to comics to apparel, come discuss & take a look at all the ways you can bring your fandom directly into your home!
Panelists include: Van Allen Plexico, John Hudgens

4:00p: Black Widow: Shadow of the Red Room (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
Long overdue from COVID & gender politics, Nat Romanoff finally gets to share her story. A spy thriller with considerations of family & identity. There are new heroes & villains, & all the usual MCU Easter eggs. Aren’t pockets great?
Panelists include: None specified at this time

8:30p: When Was Star Trek Ever Subtle? (1 hour)
Trek Track
Hilton Galleria 2-3
Star Trek has always been ripe with political & social commentary, but was it really more subtle during the TOS era? This panel will take a look back at several examples throughout the franchise and then ask: What’s changed, Star Trek or what we expect of it?
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether

Nothing scheduled at this time.

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Debrief: Pop Pop Con Con

Pop Pop Con Con
October 16 through October 18, 2020

Pop_Pop_Con_Con

Last weekend was Pop Pop Con Con, a free virtual convention hosted by Shaun and Laura Rosado of PopCycled Baubles.

Three days of geeky discussions helped to fill the gap of conventions cancelled by the global pandemic, and it was a really fun event overall.

All of the weekend’s panels can be found on the PopCycled Baubles YouTube channel, and the videos from the panels I participated in can be found below.

I want to thank the Rosados and all of the panelists for a great weekend, and for experimenting with the path forward for events like this in the future. The entirety of the convention was hosted and run on Streamyard, including the transitions between discussion panels, video bumpers, and scrolling chyron banners. It was very well crafted.

I keep saying that this is the way new and smaller conventions should be run. There’s no need for renting physical space with this, and it would certainly help to build an audience and get the convention on its feet in the first few years.


The New Normal – VOD

1984

Far Beyond the Stars

D&D Tips and Tricks (Player Edition)

NuTrek

Sci Fi Westerns

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Pop Pop Con Con

Pop Pop Con Con
October 16 through October 18, 2020

Pop_Pop_Con_Con

I’ll be contributing to another genre convention this year.

With the global pandemic, so many fan conventions have been cancelled. The fun of great conversation and hanging out with friends is something that I miss. In an effort to help fill that gap, Pop Pop Con Con will be happening over the weekend of October 16-18, 2020.

Pop Pop Con Con is absolutely free, and will assemble fans of anime, movies, comics, TTRPGs, and more. We’re going to be discussing a ton of fun topics with a laid back atmosphere.

The event is being hosted by Shaun and Laura Rosado, longtime fans and owners of PopCycled Baubles. Along with putting on this show, they’re also celebrating the re-opening of their online store.

The event will be hosted online on the PopCycled Baubles Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Twitch channel.

The schedule of events can be found on the PopCycled Baubles website, and the specific panels that I am sitting are listed below.

Friday, October 16th

PPCC-1-VOD9:30pm – New Normal VOD
Premium Movie Rentals: COVID-19 has changed how we do a lot of things, even going to the movies. Will Premium VOD become the new normal? What does the movie industry look like after COVID?
Panelists include Nathan Laws, Gary Mitchel, and Jenna Busch

PPCC-2-198411:00pm – 1984
It’s been argued that 1984 was one of the single best years in the history of movies. Is it true? Why? Let’s find out.
Panelists include Kristen Nedopak, Eric Ratcliffe, Gary Mitchel, and Calvin Watts

Saturday, October 17th

PPCC-3-DS93:00pm – Far Beyond the Stars
Deep Space Nine was a groundbreaking moment in Star Trek and in TV history. We’re going to talk about the best Star Trek series you’ve never seen and how it changed the world.
Panelists include Sue Kisenwether, Nathan Laws, Kimi Hughes, Michael Williams, and Will Nguyen

PPCC-4-DnDPE8:00pm – D&D Tips and Tricks (Player Edition)
Being a player can be tricky and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. We’re going to talk about the best tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of your TTRPG experience (can be used for any Tabletop RPG).
Panelists include Dodger, Jeff Mueller, Nathan Laws, and Michael Williams

Sunday, October 18th

PPCC-6-NuTrek6:00pm – NuTrek
Trek has entered a new golden age of content. With Picard, Discovery, The Lower Decks and new movies on the horizon, the world of The Federation has grown by leaps and bounds. What hit? What missed? What’s next? Let’s talk.
Panelists include Sue Kisenwether, Callie Wright, Nathan Laws,  Michael Williams, and Calvin Watts

PPCC-5-Western7:30pm – Sci Fi Westerns
In the last 20 years, the Sci-Fi Western has become a regular staple and the cornerstone of a genre that tends to produce excellence. From The Mandalorian, Firefly, Westworld and Wynonna Earp, we’re going to talk about the Sci-Fi Western.
Panelists include Corrine Vitek, Bethany Kesler, Donald Maher and Brandy Roatsey

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Debrief: Dragon Con 2020

Debrief: Dragon Con 2020
September 3 through September 7, 2020

 

 

Dragon Con 2020 is done.

Obviously, it wasn’t the situation that we wanted, but the Dragon Con social media team did phenomenal work to develop a platform that could deliver the convention experience at home. Alongside the convention staff, several track directors and their respective staffs were fantastic in both building content and stoking the fires throughout the weekend.

This convention gave me a chance to get comfortable with video content at home, and it gives me plenty of ideas going forward to develop ideas and content going forward. It was also good to touch base with my geek family, and even though it wasn’t in person, it still offered me the chance to catch up with them in an era when so many of us are isolated.

 

Thursday

Typically, Thursday would include breakfast at the local Waffle House, picking up our badges for the weekend, and introducing hundreds of newcomers to the convention via the Dragon Con Newbies events.

Instead, the convention got started here with a Zoom recording with the irregulars from the American Sci-Fi Classics Track. In what was scheduled as a one-hour event, we sat much longer and swapped tales of our various shenanigans and favorite memories from the convention.

It was a good way to catch up and almost feel home again.

 

Friday

Friday started with some browsing of the Dragon Con Goes Virtual channels before settling in for a chat about the second season of Lost in Space on the American SF & Fantasy Media Track.

The panel was moderated by my long-time friend Lindy Keelan, who I met during our time at The Scapecast. We were joined by Kevin Eldridge of The Flopcast and Nathan Laws of The 42Cast, and the panel was a great discussion about the season, the series so far, and what might be ahead for the family Robinson.

The next panel for Friday was one that I recorded before the convention with the BritTrack and the crew of Earth Station Who. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, Mary Ogle, and I joined Caro and Rob to talk about where to get started in Doctor Who.

It’s a large topic to tackle, especially since the franchise has been around since 1963 in so many various ways, but this was a fun and informative discussion and I hope that newcomers and long-time fans find it useful.

 

Saturday

Saturday started with a bit more Dragon channel surfing and a trip at 88 miles per hour with the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future.

I teamed up with Michael Williams, Shaun Rosado, James Palmer, and Joe and Gary to talk about this film, its franchise, and the legacy that they still maintain in science fiction. It got deep at times and was really fun.

Later that night, I popped back into the Classics Track for a look back at the Marvel films that preceded the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Michael Bailey, Jessa Phillips, and Keith R.A. DeCandido also joined the party as we tried to cover the history of Blade to Iron Man in one hour. We needed so much more time.

 

Sunday

Sunday brought me back to my podcasting roots on the Digital Media Track with a topic that Mike Faber and I have been talking to people about for quite a while: How to get started in digital media.

The video is available on the track’s Twitch channel, and (with Mike and myself) included Matthew Malis, Sean Weiland, Tyra Burton, and podcasting newbie Channing Sherman. The goal now is to get Channing to record a podcast. Because he really needs to get his content and character on the airwaves.

 

Monday

Monday brought three more events to round out the weekend.

First up was a pre-recorded panel about Doctor Who that is similar in style to the classic Roll-a-Panel.

With Sue Kisenwether, Jm Tuffley, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Keith DeCandido, and me, Caro spun the wheel and let fortune drive the discussion through the universe of Doctor Who.

The second panel was a discussion on mathematics in science fiction.

I joined Darin Bush, Deanna Toxopeus, Sue Kisenwether, Gary, and Joe on a journey through how our favorite genre uses and abuses one of our favorite technical topics. This is another one that could easily spawn multiple discussion panels.

Finally, the convention came to a close for me with the Dragon Con Newbies team and a quick discussion on Dragon Con TV about coming to the con in person next year.

I joined Kevin Bachelder, Kim McGibony, and Sue to cover some of the basics. We also invite anyone interested in Dragon Con to visit both the website and the Facebook group to get information from a group of helpful convention veterans.

 

General Notes

As I mentioned before, the biggest benefit to going virtual was that we could have some semblance of a convention this year. That’s key in a time where we’re all siloed and unable to physically convene in celebration of our favorite works.

The other benefit that really stands out is two-fold and focused on the fan tracks: First is ingenuity and creativity, and second is continued access.

Each of the fan tracks had to decide how to best present themselves this year to a virtual audience, and many of the ones that I was able to follow this year did so through widely available platforms like YouTube. Using Zoom or Streamyard, these tracks were able to bring experts and fans together and stream their panels to the world. Those panels remain available for as long as YouTube stores them, and they remain an example of both creative problem solving and what the track has to offer for newcomers.

It’s a win-win.

That path was forged by Joe and Gary with the “quarantine panels” that they have done for months leading into this event. Search this site for “Quarantine Con” or visit their YouTube channel and see. In my estimation, those two are the MVPs of this event.

I’m not just trumpeting that to, as Michael Bailey would say, “wax their car”. It’s absolutely true.

 

And that brings me to the things that would improve this system going forward.

First, there was too much divergence on where content was available, and that was confusing for the man-on-the-street who just happened to wander in. My perspective on this comes from the fact that I have a Roku device, an XBox, and a television that can run apps. That means that I can stream YouTube and Vimeo from my couch.

I could literally attend Dragon Con this year from my couch.

The convention’s core programming (Dragon Con Main, Dragon Con Fan Tracks, and Dragon Con Classics) was available in one location (dragoncon.tv/virtual). Those streams were hosted on Vimeo and mirrored to a Roku app, but that app was broken for the first day and did not transmit the Fan Track channel.

If it hadn’t been for the broken code, the Roku app would have been perfect for that intent. But, it also limited who could simply switch on and watch since not everyone has a Roku. Ideally, going forward, a Dragon Con streaming app should be available on multiple platforms for more universal access.

A contributing factor was each track’s individual programming. Some tracks used YouTube, which is universally available for anyone who can click a link. Others were limited to Facebook and Twitch, which are fine for attendees who were on their computers or could use one of the streaming sticks (Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, etc) to mirror the computer to the television. But Facebook and Twitch are not available on the Roku, and that was a deciding factor in which Dragon Con Goes Virtual content I chose to partake from.

An argument of “well, you wouldn’t have watched anyway” won’t fly here because I have watched several other panels this year that I usually don’t have the time to watch at a live event. One that stands out is the Star Wars droid-building presentation. Others were puppetry panels, including interviews and a Puppetry 101 discussion, and Michael Bailey’s presentation on Green Lantern and The Flash.

I also have a long list that I want to see because they’re now stored on YouTube for the foreseeable future.

An easy solution to that hurdle is to require every streaming track to have a YouTube channel. It’s not that far of a reach since everyone was using Streamyard and Zoom to broadcast, and those tools have the built-in capability to stream to YouTube.

If a track director has a question on how to do it, we obviously have several experts available to share that knowledge. I’m sure that we also have experts who could tie those YouTube videos into the apps (like the Roku one) to make one-stop-shops for people.

The second big stumbling block was the schedule. The main schedule for the three Dragon Con TV channels was available in the Quick Start Guide and on the Eventeny site for the con. The fan tracks, on the other hand, were buried behind a link hidden in plain sight in the Quick Start Guide. That schedule was a Google Sheets file which was not formatted well.

The schedule should have been more accessible and legible. So much content for this con was hard to find because of this stumbling block.

And, again, ingenuity and ease of access, I’ll point to an example: Kelley at the American SF & Fantasy Media track set up all of her panels ahead of time. She sent emails in advance to the panelists with their links to join the Streamyard recording, and she set up each YouTube livestream in advance so anyone subscribed to her track’s channel would have a ready list of what was going on at what time.

All anyone had to do was select the video and wait for it to start. Joe and Gary did the same on Classics, but I noticed it first from Kelley.

Both of these issues popped up while the con was in motion. Fixing them going forward would greatly improve the experience in the future.

 

Wait. Going forward?

Yes. Because there is some serious potential here for “off-season” programming and contingency planning for the future. Each of these tracks can literally produce panels at any time with this infrastructure, thereby keeping the interest alive throughout the year outside of Facebook groups and localized meetups.

Joe and Gary have a huge library of material to choose from – Dragon Con defines a sci-fi classic as any genre property over ten years old that is not taken by another track – and they have proven that there is interest beyond the scope of their mandate with panels on representation, social issues, and more.

Classics, SF & Fantasy Media, BritTrack, Digital Media, Star Wars, TrekTrack, Space, Science, Skeptics, Animation, Puppetry, the literature tracks… that’s just off the top of my head. All of these tracks have an evergreen presence because there’s so much to talk about. Doing panels year-round (even on a monthly basis) baits the hook for people who might want to come to contribute in person.

The potential is nearly endless.

 

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed Dragon Con Goes Virtual, and I applaud the teams that made it happen. This wasn’t an easy choice, I’m sure, but they did fantastic work under the circumstances.

My deepest gratitude goes out to the staff, the directors, the pros and guests, the volunteers, and the attendees for this event. As one of the local news stations reported, the programming was accessed over 600,000 times by fans from over 49 nations.

That’s not insignificant.

You’ve done good work, gang. Congratulations.

I’m looking forward to see you in person next year.

359 days to go until next Dragon Con.

 

Until then…

Dragon Con 2020: Gone Virtual

Dragon Con 2020
September 3 through September 7, 2020

 

Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me, but thanks to COVID-19, it’s not going to be in person. And, as someone who personally has risk factors for the infection and lives with people who have risk factors, I’m okay with that. It sucks, but it’s understandable.

Dragon Con is going virtual, including three official video channels – Main Programming, selected programming from the fan tracks, and a classics track of panels from past years – as well as copious amounts of fan-generated content from the various tracks.

And all of it is free. No badges, no memberships… just tune in and get a taste of what Dragon Con does every year.

 

This year will be my twelfth time attending and my fifth year as an attending professional. I have done some work already with pre-recorded content, and I’ll also be on some live panels as well.

The main schedule is available in the 2020 Quick Start Guide. The Quick Start Guide is the overall guide to the convention that is given to each attendee every year. It includes a link to the large scheduling spreadsheet of fan panels, which points you to the channels where that video content will be hosted.

 

Note: All Dragon Con schedules are tentative until the convention ends on Monday. Even then, things are a bit suspect. As things change before the convention, I’ll update this post.
Revision History:

    • Rev 0 – 03 Sep 2020: Initial post.
    • Rev 1 – 04 Sep 2020: Added Doctor Who and available videos for Friday
    • Rev 2 – 07 Sep 2020: Added available videos for the weekend
    • Rev 3 – 11 Sep 2020: Added the Thursday video

 

9:00p: Shenanigans and Tails of Dragon Con! (4 hours)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Streaming live on Facebook (Event)
It’s here! It’s here! 2020 tried to stop us, but it couldn’t as Dragon Con Goes Virtual! As always, the American Sci-Fi Classics Track starts off on Thursday, because why wait for Friday? To kick things off, Joe, Gary, and a gaggle of the Classic Track Irregulars gather to tell the untold tales of Dragon Cons past. Well, untold until now. Now they’ll be totally told. So get your virtual con badge, an over-priced slice of pizza, settle in for the silliness, and remember to let Streamyard have permission to use your name, so the panel can see your name on your comments!

 

12:00p: Lost in Space – Season 2 Revisited (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Live on YouTube
Trials and tribulations finally bring the Jupiter Two and the Robinsons back to the Resolute only to deal with robot slavery, mutinies, and all the mixed up trouble that only ‘Dr. Smith’ could get into.

2:00p: Doctor Who: Where to Get Started with the Earth Station Who Podcast (1 hour)
BritTrack
Pre-recorded on YouTube
Earth Station Who Podcast joins the BritTrack to chat about where new fans can get started with the Classic Doctor Who Series, New Series, novels, comics, and audios!

 

2:30p: Back to the Future 35th Anniversary (1 hour)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Streaming live on Facebook
The Avengers were wrong! This movie is awesome, and scientifically accurate, of course.

8:30p: Pre-Dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (1 hour)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Streaming live on Facebook
We look at Blade, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and more.

 

3:00p: Getting Started With Digital Media: The Ups & Downs (1 hour)
Digital Media
Live on Twitch
This panel will help newcomers and veterans alike find the ins and outs of creating both audio and video podcasts, on multiple platforms.

Video available at Twitch.tv

 

10:00a: Doctor Who Potpourri (1 hour)
BritTrack
Pre-recorded on YouTube
Similar to “roll-a-panel,” Doctor Who panelists spin a wheel and get a topic with only five minutes to answer!

11:30a: Making Sci-Fi Add Up: Math in Classic Sci-Fi (1 hour)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Pre-recorded on Facebook
All slide rules must be peace bonded for this panel.

2:00p: Dragon Con 101 (1 hour)
Dragon Con Facebook and Instagram channels
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share their tips and tricks for making your experience an awesome one.

 

Culture on My Mind – WHOlanta’s Virtual TARDIS

Culture on My Mind
May 18, 2020

 

This week starts with news of a virtual convention.

This year was supposed to be our hiatus year from Wholanta. But current lockdown situation has provided a way for us to have a con after all! And basically, I have a slight problem and have had a difficult time letting this thing go. So another Wholanta is born!

WHOlanta, the Atlanta-area Doctor Who-centric convention, hung up the scarf and bow tie last year after their annual celebration of all things wibbly-wobbly and timey-wimey. But, as R. Alan Siler said, there was an opportunity so he jumped on it.

The convention will be hosting a virtual event on Saturday, May 30th from noon to 8:00pm EST. So far, they have character/creature actor Jon Davey, actress Sophie Aldred (who portrayed Ace), revival era director Rachel Talalay, and series composer Dominic Glynn. They also promise more guest announcements to come.

For the celebrity panels, there will be streaming Q&As where attendees can post their questions in the chat. They’ll also be supporting a virtual dealer room and cosplayers.

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more information.

 

Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Debrief: Dragon Con 2019

Debrief: Dragon Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – August 29 through September 2, 2019

 

 

Dragon Con 2019 is in the books! I had a better time this year despite the larger crowd numbers. It’s hard to predict how the crowds are going to ebb and flow from year to year, but you could feel the 85,000 attendees like the pulse of the con this year.

We also did tons of good works this year for the Atlanta chapter of the American Heart Association. $110,000 is a lot of money, and I hope it goes a long way to helping a good charity with a good mission.Read More »