Dragon Con 2019

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

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Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me, and a family reunion of sorts as I catch up with dear friends from around the world. This year will be my eleventh time attending and my fourth year as an attending professional. If you plan to be there, these are the places where you will be able to find me over Labor Day weekend.

I have fifteen scheduled program events in five days, and I’m sure more will pop up over the course of the con. Come find me and say hi!

The convention app is available now – look for Dragon Con by Core-apps in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store – and contains the current schedule of events. 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.

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 Atlanta Affiliate of the American Heart Association. It’s a personal selection for the convention and the donations are in honor of long-time Comics Director Thom Trainor, who lost his battle with heart disease in July of 2018. Dragon Con will match all donations made this year up to $100,000.

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 also still available.

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 – 23 Aug 2019: Initial post.

I will be around starting Wednesday. Pretty much the standards of wandering the hotels, picking up my Hard Rock Dragon Con gear, and catching up with some friends.

1:00p-5:00p: 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. Groups leave every 30 minutes. Last tours will leave approximately 4pm.
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

Other Events of Interest
10:00p-12:00a: The ESO Network 2019 DragonCon Meet & Greet (2 hours)
Westin, Bar 210
Hosted by the ESO Network

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

2:30p: Captain Marvel: Blast from the Past (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
From her beginnings as a female foil to her own place in the MCU as a pre-eminent powerhouse, we’ll consider just how Carol Danvers and her story work in the MCU and her future as a stand-alone hero and Avenger.
Panelists include: Bethany Kesler, Casi Hamilton, Jenna Johnson, Kelley Harkins

5:30p: New Series Doctor Who (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Crystal Ballroom
With Series 11 over, this panel discusses what Chibnall did in his inaugural series as show-runner & the impact of the Doctor & her companions.
Panelists include: Angela Hartley, Robert Bowen, Allison Lane, JM Tuffley, Robert Lloyd

7:00p: Battlestar Galactica Anniversary Panel: The End…? (1 hour)
Military SciFi Media
Westin, Chastain DE
It’s the 15th anniversary of the start, and the 10th anniversary of the end of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica…are we ready to talk about it? What is the verdict? Where might a future reboot of BSG take us?
Panelists include: Andrew E.C. Gaska, Kevin R. Grazier, Van Allen Plexico

8:30p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Theater: Mac and Me (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Witness the 1988 kid-meets-alien movie that totally was not an, um, homage to E.T. It’s this year’s movie watch for charity — you have to donate to the Dragon Con charity TO GET OUT.
Panelists include: Darin Bush, Gary Mitchel, Joe Crowe, Chris Cummins

Other Events of Interest
11:30a-12:30p: David Tennant (1 hour)
Marriott, Atrium Ballroom

10:00a: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-a-Panel: Batman’s 80th Anniversary
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We can’t possibly cover all Batman movies & TV shows & cartoons in one panel. So we’re doing TWENTY in one hour, with audience members choosing the Bat-topics on our one-of-a-kind Bat-d20 (we auction it for charity at the end of the panel!)
Panelists include: The All-Star line-up from the American Science Fiction Classics Track

1:00p: Earth Station Who Presents: Deconstructing Doctor Who (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
What are the essential elements of one of the most popular science fiction series for over 50 years? The Earth Station Who crew lead an in-depth discussion on the what, why, and how of Who.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, Mary Ogle, Tara Newman

5:30p: Farscape Anniversary Fan Panel (1 hour)
Military SciFi Media
Westin, Chastain DE
Farscape was a monumental show for its weaving together of intricate stories, compelling characters, practical effects in puppetry, and strong visual storytelling. Come aboard Moya as we look back on 20 years of this fan favorite.
Panelists include: Amy J. Murphy, Amanda, James Henson

Other Events of Interest
12:00p: Doctor Who Trio
Epic Photos

2:30p-3:30p: David Tennant (1 hour)
Marriott, Atrium Ballroom

11:30a: Bond, James Bond 007, Anniversary Edition (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
The Bond Film Franchises has a number of anniversaries this year including the 50th Anniversary of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” the 40th of “Moonraker,” the 30th of “License to Kill,” and the 20th of “World is Not Enough.” This panel discusses these films and more.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, John L Flynn, Bob Nygaard, Caro McCully

4:00p: The Amazing Sci-Fi Worlds of Steven Spielberg (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Our tribute to the creator who took us from sharks to dinosaurs to flying bikes to the Temple of Doom and back.
Panelists include: Michael D. French, Sue Kisenwether, Jessa Phillips, Jonathan Williams, James Palmer, JC De La Torre

10:00p: UHF: 30-Year Anniversary Sponsored by Spatula City (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
See the epic Weird Al Yankovic movie — OR YOU GET THE FIREHOSE. Bring your own spatulas for a celebration where we don’t need no stinking badgers.
Panelists include: Kevin Eldridge, Shaun Rosado, Kevin Eldridge, Noel Wood, Beth Van Dusen, John Hudgens

Other Events of Interest
5:30p-6:30p: Catherine Tate (1 hour)
Epic, Imperial Ballroom

7:00p-8:00p: RetroBlasting Presents the Vehicles that Drove the 80s (1 hour)
Marriott, M103-M105

11:30a: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel: 1979 & 1999
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We have too many movies we want to celebrate and panels we want to have– so we’re doing 20 of them in one hour! It’s a lightning round crowd participation melee of geekiness that’s bigger than the Deep Blue Sea! This year we’re talking about sci-fi movies from 1979, and 10 movies from 1999, from Black Hole to Wild Wild West — Audience members roll a giant customized d20 to choose which movie we discuss, and then at the end of the panel, we auction the d20 off for Dragon Con’s charity.
Panelists include: The All-Star line-up from the American Science Fiction Classics Track

2:30p: Endgame: MCU (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
For the final panel of the con, we’ll look at the final film of this part of the MCU. There was a lot of fan love, and some crazy timey wimey stuff, and the sad loss of some of our favorites.
Panelists include: Bethany Kesler, Lisa Manifold, Alison Sky Richards, Jenna Johnson

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Debrief: Atlanta Comic Con 2019

Debrief: Atlanta Comic Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – July 12-14, 2019

 

 

Saturday night’s all right for geeking out! Atlanta Comic Con 2019 has come and gone and this year was a blast. My involvement was limited to the panels in one day, but it was a fun day to be there.

After a trip on MARTA and a short walk, everything started with a visit to DougPool7 who was lounging on a beach chair by the ticket lines. I have seen a lot of Deadpool cosplays over the years, but this one really made me laugh.

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Deadpool on Vacation! #AtlantaComicCon

A post shared by Michael Falkner (@womprat99) on

You can find some more of his vacation antics on his YouTube channel.

Most of my time and all of my panels for the day involved a Drop of Mikes, which you may remember after the Council of Michaels that we assembled at Dragon Con 2018. The first panel of the day was So You Want to Start a Podcast with Mike Faber and Michael “Howdy” Gordon.

We had a great discussion with the audience as we talked about how to start a podcast, why you’d want to in the first place, and the basics of Podcasting 101. Once again, I promoted Tee Morris and his fantastic reference book Podcasting for Dummies. We also fielded a simple question after mentioning that, in general, no one is going to get rich and famous as a podcaster: “Why bother?”

We were pretty unanimous with the answer: Podcasting is a hobby and a labor of love, and as long as it remains fun, it’s still a worthy pursuit.

All in all, the audience was content with our advice. We fielded a few questions and offered a few more tidbits after the panel was over, and then we joined up with Michael Bailey to walk the con floor for a bit.

The four of us reconvened for The MCU: What Now?, our panel on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We had a wonderful turnout for the panel, even after half a row left when we told them that we would be discussing the most recent Spider-Man film. It’s entirely fair that they left, but we knew that couldn’t have an authentic discussion about the future of Marvel in film without including the twists and turns in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

This panel was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a while. The questions were intelligent and engaging, especially from the kids in a pretty diverse audience. There was also a spirited discussion about whether or not Thanos could wield Mjolnir with was quite enlightening. They actually changed my mind after the panel.

From this point, we bid the Fabers adieu and settled in for the afternoon and evening. Mike Gordon, Michael Bailey, and I grabbed some lunch, caught up on all the events since the last time we had been together, and toured the show floor until it closed at 7pm. After that, we settled on a bench in the lobby area and waited for our 10:30pm panel.

It was fun to watch the cosplayers and chat about all things geek – Bailey’s expertise on all-things comics is helpful in filling the gaps in my knowledge – but we were certainly baffled about scheduling a Batman retrospective panel so late in the night.

Regardless, after the awesomeness that was this Black Adam cosplayer, it was time for Holy Pop Culture: Batman at 80.

The Batman panel was pretty fun. Based on the time, we were worried about having an audience, but fifteen diehard Bat-fans (and one dude who wanted a relatively quiet place to catch some shuteye) joined in the fun. Michael Bailey led the discussion from Batman’s origins in Detective Comics through his evolution and rise over the decades to the character’s unfathomable popularity today.

After that, it was time to head home.

I’d like to thank the staff at Atlanta Comic Con for their hospitality and hard work. I’m definitely looking forward to visiting (and hopefully participating) again in 2020. I also extend a huge thanks to the Michaels – Faber, Gordon, and Bailey – for a great day of camaraderie and geeky fun.

Atlanta Comic Con 2019

 

Atlanta Comic Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – July 12-14, 2019

 

 

I will be at Atlanta Comic Con this year! I have three panels on Saturday, so come find me and say hi!

 

The convention schedule is available now. The list of confirmed guests, performers, and artists is available on the official site.

Atlanta Comic Con takes place in downtown Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Note: All schedules are tentative until the convention ends.

 

Saturday 11:00a – So You Want to Start a Podcast (1 hour)
Room C109
Have you wanted to start a podcast, Or do you have one and just want to talk shop? Well this is the place that will talk about how to create a show, what kind of equipment you will need to start, and where to post your new shows. In this Q&A session we will hope to point you in the right direction.

Saturday 1:30p – The MCU: What Now? (1 hour)
Room C102
The Marvel Universe has been on the big screen now for over 10 successful years, but last year it all came crashing to a halt with a snap of a finger. Now one year later we have been introduced to Captain Marvel and have seen the results of Avengers Endgame, but what’s next? Join the crew from the Earth Station One Podcast as we talk about some possibilities for new directions for existing heroes and some new ones on the horizon. We will be recording this panel live for a future episode of our podcast.

Saturday 10:00p – Holy Pop Culture: Batman at 80 (1 hour)
Room C110
Batman turns 80 this year. Join us as we spend an hour talking about his evolution over eight decades as well as his influence on and presence in popular culture. Holy puns will be kept to a minimum.

 

 

 

Cleaning Up After the Storm: Reflections on Black Widow in the Age of Ultron

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This post contains spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron

 

Natasha Romanoff, better known as Black Widow, is a strong female character and role model in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

Throughout the movies so far, she has held her own as an agent of SHIELD and as an Avenger. She has capably stopped threats both on a planetary and galactic scale, ranging from Justin Hammer’s robot army and HYDRA to Loki and the Chitauri. In the aftermath of Avengers: Age of Ultron, her status remains unchanged.

Both critics and audiences have responded phenomenally to the newest installment in the record-breaking franchise, but complaints have still arisen about how Black Widow has been treated by marketing and the film itself. Chief among those grievances is the phenomenon of “Mommy Widow,” a claim that writers and directors are betraying the character by spotlighting her maternal instincts.

In the film, Romanoff and Bruce Banner (human alter-ego to the Incredible Hulk) have developed a relationship. During a peaceful interlude at Hawkeye’s pastoral farmhouse, Romanoff and Banner are discussing their future together, and Banner laments that they can’t have the life that the archer does: a happy nuclear family. The roadblock, he claims, is the Hulk, which is always one angry moment away and, in all likelihood, is now a genetic curse.

To defend her position – a woman who is proactively seeking companionship instead of being the lustful target of the male gaze – Romanoff shares the details of the backstory the audience discovered minutes before thanks to the induced hallucinations of the Scarlet Witch’s mental sorcery.

Natasha became the assassin she is today in a place called the Red Room. In the flashback, we see that her training was intense (to say the least), and that part of that training was taking human life. Romanoff’s graduation ceremony was her own mutilation.

“You know what my final test was in the Red Room? They sterilized me, said it was one less thing to worry about. You think you’re the only monster on the team?”

Romanoff wasn’t calling herself a monster because she couldn’t have children. She simply wasn’t. The agency behind the Red Room, presumably the KGB, cut her apart in an effort to create the perfect killing machine. As seen in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, Romanoff is trained to use her sexual allure as a weapon. One can assume that this makes KGB assassins similar to secret agents like James Bond, a man who is famous for having sex in every one of his nearly 25 films just to get to the target.

This is the origin of all that “red in the ledger” that Widow wants to erase. She’s not lamenting the loss of her motherhood, but rather the lack of free agency that chains her to her work. She considers herself a monster that was created the moment her freedom was taken away.

The “Mommy Widow” argument continues in a discussion of her role on the team. In Age of Ultron, she’s racing to the rescue and picks up Captain America’s discarded shield, stating, “I’m always picking up after you boys.”

That snarky line is more of a window to her role on the team than it seems. Since her debut in Iron Man 2, Romanoff has been saving the Avengers or delivering a critical hit in every film. In Iron Man 2, she pretty much single-handedly took out Justin Hammer’s guards and helped to shut down his robot army. In The Avengers, she brought Hawkeye back from his Loki-induced stupor and wielded the scepter to shut the Chitauri portal. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, she literally guided Captain America to not only avoid capture by Hydra but was also instrumental in stopping their genocidal plan. She is, in every sense of the phrase, always picking up after the team. She’s the deal closer.

From the very beginning, Romanoff and Coulson have been the guardians of the Avenger Initiative. They were the front line, courting and babysitting Tony Stark, pushing the right buttons to incorporate Banner, investigating Thor’s arrival, and integrating Captain Rogers to the current era. In essence, they were the parents of the movement, always working for and reporting directly back to Fury. That is a huge amount of development for two characters who started out as secondary non-solo-film roles. They may not have major leading roles, but they are the heart of this universe, and continue to be in their respective roles as team leaders in different branches of SHIELD.

Part of that character development comes back to the relationship with Banner, a pairing that critics claim is Mommy Widow’s arrival at motherhood with a bouncing baby Hulk to nurture.

In The Avengers, it was plainly obvious that Romanoff had only met Banner on paper. She respected the man and outright feared the power of The Other Guy. She set up a typical martial sting operation, complete with a strike team, to take Banner down if necessary. Admittedly, that’s a 180-degree spin from where they stand in Age of Ultron.

However, the film clearly establishes that the Avengers haven’t just been sitting around waiting for the next movie premiere since we saw them last. They explicitly mention that it has been a long hunt for Loki’s scepter, and that means that the team has been working together for a significant time off-screen. The Avengers have developed a great sense of teamwork, as evidenced in the film’s opening gambit at the Hydra base, as well as a way to tame the Hulk when they need him to “Code Green” against a threat.

This wasn’t the only development that occurred off-screen: Stark built more suits after he “Clean Slated” his entire line in Iron Man 3, and overcame his PTSD from the Battle of New York; Rogers and Stark developed a new uniform for the captain, including a short-range retrieval system for the iconic shield; Stark Industries built at least one new model Quinjet (since SHIELD no longer has the capability) and a series of automated armor-bots; the world has come to resent the Avengers and the havoc they wreak; and Hawkeye had a family.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is so vibrant and alive that it continues to breathe and evolve even though the cameras are off.

The fact that this team picked Romanoff, the character who feared the Hulk the most, to be his handler speaks volumes about her character and role on the team. It is reasonable that the Romanoff/Banner relationship has grown beyond Widow being petrified of the Big Guy because their lives have continued between the films. That makes Widow more than just a swooning love interest with mommy issues and even more than just an ass-kicking blunt instrument to deploy in battle.

Romanoff is three-dimensional, and therefore a truly strong, living and breathing female character instead of the typical comic book trope of a pair of absurdly large walking breasts in spandex waiting for a fridge to fall into.

Even without a solo film outing (which is no excuse for her not to have one), Natasha Romanoff’s status as a strong female character and respectable role model in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe remains intact and promises to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Cross-published to RevolutionSF on May 13, 2015