Anime Weekend Atlanta was an absolute blast from start to finish, with so much amazing cosplay! This is just a small sampling of all the talented people spotted over the weekend.
Atlanta-area folks! Are you just now starting to kinda miss the fun and chaos of DragonCon? Never fear, because there’s a con that’s conveniently held right when you get your strength back from battling crowds. Anime Weekend Atlanta starts on September 24th this year, so you can experience the magic of waiting in an hour-long line again! Yay! As an avid gamer, it’s an important part of my geek calendar for the year.
Anime Weekend Atlanta, or AWA for short is one of the largest fan conventions in Atlanta with over 20,000 attendees in 2014. That’s nearly a third of a DragonCon, for those keeping score at home, aka a whole lot of people. Taking place in the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and Cobb Galleria Convention center, AWA is super convenient for geeks in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
AWA takes its name very seriously, making anime the #1 priority on its schedule.
That being said, I’m a very, very casual anime fan and I still manage to have an awesome time each year. The amount of programming put on at AWA is staggering, including topics such as crafting, cosplay, drawing, board gaming, video gaming, Jpop, dolls, toys, fashion, and plenty of subjects not typically covered by the DragonCon collection of tracks. My favorite programming is comedy-based, so I tend to look for panels with titles like “The Worst Anime”.
One big feature of the con is the SOUND. They take their sound systems seriously, and the amount of speakers wheeled in for the event is staggering. There are plenty of musical guests, so if you want to attend some of the most unique concerts around, now is your chance! At the very least, you’ll be able to hear the panelists from the back of a giant convention hall.
My favorite food at the con is supplied by the food trucks, so get yourself in line for a hotdog. If you can’t give up the food court experience, there’s always the Galleria Mall as well as the full-sized Cumberland Mall (especially handy if you forget to bring some crucial piece of cosplay).
There are plenty of late-night activities-if you’ve got some extra dough after visiting the dealers, there’s a formal ball on Friday ($35-$45 at the door). If you want to attend, bring your best black tie attire-they really, really won’t let you in if you aren’t in dress code. Saturday boasts the one big “party”, and I’ve heard rumors that the line is super short (no guarantees for this year, of course). I hope to make it to the Bebop lounge, which plays nothing but jazz music; it’s a welcome break after all those blaring anime themes. There are also “adult” panels which I hear get very entertaining. I mean, so I’ve heard…
This year at Dragon Con, the cast of Battlestar Galactica delighted its loyal fan base with a great turnout from our favorite crew. I had the pleasure of attending this year’s BSG panel on the final morning of the Con. Edward James Olmos, Tricia Helfer, Aaron Douglas, Grace Park, Jamie Bamber, James Callis and the great Richard Hatch entertained us for an hour with their very presence, even though half of them were hurting from the previous night’s party.
Considering BSG’s most recent run ended six years ago, the cast’s ability to draw a full crowd and even induce happy tears at a convention is impressive. Of course, BSG has become a classic – many fans still hold the characters and stories of the crew of the Battlestar Galactica dear to our hearts. But how does the cast surprise and enchant us, year after year?
1. The cast is a fixture on the Dragon Con scene.
Several of the cast members have been attending Dragon Con for years. No matter which actors show up in a given year, they are becoming a vital part of the convention’s core celebrity guest list. You can tell they’re comfortable interacting with congoers, and do so frequently and willingly.
2. They show up and they show out.
The actors don’t just make an appearance. They DO Dragon Con. They have a panel every day. They party with the people. They interact with the fans like no other cast.
3. They talk about things that matter.
At the panel I attended this year, Richard Hatch, Edward James Olmos and Grace Park wowed us with their insight and their graciousness towards their fans. We learned about James Callis and Jamie Bamber’s habit of late-night philosophizing.
BSG may have finished its run on TV for now, but as long as the cast continues to reach out to fans and keeps up its united front, the characters will live on.
SO SAY WE ALL!
Two weeks ago today, we were arriving in downtown Atlanta for one of GGI's favorite weekends of the year - DragonCon! It was an amazing weekend, filled with celebrity encounters, fabulous cosplay, and tremendous fun. But when the lines for the celeb panels are too long and crowds at the vendor hall and the art show are intimidating, what's a geek girl to do? That's when it's time to seek out some of DragonCon's hidden gems - the panels that might not be as crowded, but provide entertainment, education, and more!
The first year I attended DragonCon, I was overwhelmed by sheer size and scope of the event and nearly killed myself trying to do it all. At the end of my third day running from hotel to hotel and panel to panel, I found myself sitting in a panel I'd chosen for no other reason than a mention of my beloved Lovecraft. It was the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's presentation of one of Lovecraft's horrible tales, and it was amazing! I've made an effort to make it to one ARTC's performances every year since, and I've seen everything from original works to horror to this year's Bored of the Rings Tolkien spoof. I'm never disappointed in their performances, and there are several to choose from every year - so I encourage everyone to add them to your "can't miss" list for DragonCon 2016!
The Sheraton is home to the Trek Track, with plenty of panels to keep Star Trek fans entertained - but within its halls, you can also find the Paranormal Track, with everything from Ghost Hunters to cryptozoologists - and my personal favorite, serious paranormal investigators who are more interested in finding the truth than sensationalizing every they see or hear. This year, I saw several great panels by KyL Cobb and Richard Estep, two investigators with different backgrounds who share a deep interest in learning and presenting the truth about historical haunts, ghosts, and demons. I enjoyed their lectures so much that I purchased a book by each of them, and reading their tales has helped take the edge off my post-con blues.
DragonCon is always amazing, and the growing crowds mean we may have to stand in line even for some smaller panels - but it's worth it to go off the beaten path and find something different to add to your Con experience!
Whether you're a noob or just overwhelmed by how big things have gotten, we've got Con advice from the Geek Girls who've been there and done that. Check out these links for great tips, tricks, and information.
CONVENTION SURVIVAL TIPS
Alright everyone, this is it. GG Inc. is heading down to Dragon Con tomorrow!
OMG - HAVE SO MUCH TO DO STILL, SNACKS TO BUY, THINGS TO PACK, A COSTUME TO FINISH (AND 5 MEETINGS AT WORK TODAY BEFORE I CAN GO!) AAAAAAHHH /mental break down...
Let me take it down a notch before I hyperventilate.
I've had a crazy/goodish year. I got an awesome promotion, which comes with new stress and responsibilities. My husband and I bought our first house. My parents (whose health isn't great) have come to live with us. I've had pneumonia. AND I have this website we are trying to make a real 'thing' - in our spare time... It's a lot. I'm sure everyone has had some life drama this year they want a break from.
I look forward to Dragon Con as my one guaranteed 'vacation' just for me each year. Even though I live in the Atlanta area, my girlfriends and I get a room downtown and go to 'nerd sleep over camp' every Labor Day weekend and party down. As you can tell from the previous Con articles, many of them are VERY SERIOUS COSPLAYERS - and Dragon Con is very serious about its cosplay. The people watching is fantastic. I envy the artistry and dedication and time everyone puts into amazing costumes, both subtle and intricate, to demonstrate their love of something 'nerdy' in a place where everyone loves that stuff too.
There is No Wrong Way to do Dragon Con
This year, with the exception of one group costume I am doing with my meetup group Geek Girls of North Atlanta, I am going costume free this Dragon Con. I've been stressed about it - intimidated by the creativity and enthusiasm of my friends and their projects. My cosplaying friends, I salute you...
But, I realized something. There is no wrong way to do Dragon Con (as long as you aren't a douche canoe to other people.) This weekend is about the people and the geeky things I love. I have the right to have fun on my terms. I have the right to be comfortable. I have the right to cosplay or not. Lots of people don't cosplay, actually. You don't have to either!
I'll be rockin' my nerdy t-shirt collection and Chuck Taylors (with insoles for support, I'm not stupid!) This year I supported a bunch of celebrity charity efforts with represent t-shirt campaigns, which I will wear proudly. (I'm bummed Felicia's anti-bullying shirt isn't shipping in time for Con, or I'd be wearing that too!)
I also have a killer Tina Belcher shirt, and my 2014 GGNA shirt I designed which ultimately inspired me to start Geek Girls Inc. with my friends.
Getting Down to Some Business...
The other thing I am doing at Con this year is promoting the crap out of this website. I was inspired by Felicia Day's book where she talks about hustling book marks at cons to drum up an audience in the early days of The Guild. So, we are going to be talking to people, interviewing cosplayers, taking pictures, reviewing panels, and tweeting and instagraming until our phones die (which they always do - seriously pack a rapid charger and/or your cables and carry them with you!!) I hope you follow us! Tell your friends!
We have shirts for most of the GG staff to wear over the weekend - if you see one of us say hi - we just might have a surprise for you!
So dear reader, enjoy your Dragon Con. It is yours. That's the great thing about Dragon Con over other big conventions. It's not corporate. It's about the people. It's about the love. It's the best time you can have with 63,000 of your best friends you've maybe never met yet.
Whether you're flying solo, an introvert, or just bored---Convention Cosplay Bingo is the best way to spend your time in line and a great way to make new friends! Feel free to print one out for this weekend's Dragon Con panels!
Hope to see you in line and compete in BINGO this weekend!!!
Dragon Con is my biggest and most anticipated convention of the year. This will be my 15th year in attendance, and I have loved every minute of it. This year was somewhat abnormal as my schedule was packed for a couple of months leading up to Dragon Con which meant I had to plan well in advance of the actual weekend. My biggest concerns with Dragon Con are health and accessories. I know, I know - these things don’t seem to go together. But over the years both of these areas have been huge problems for me.
First, let’s deal with accessories. I have always been one to have a costume and forget to buy, or even if I buy, I’ll forget to pack my accessories. What I have learned over the years from my cosplay friends is that accessories are what can elevate a costume to the next level. Since I’m cheap at heart, and love to thrift for costumes, accessories tend to be what pull the costume together at the end. Once I have the completed look, I list out every piece of that costume, and it becomes my checklist when packing. In certain cases where there are a lot of small accessories that will only go with one costume, I will bag them in a Ziploc bag and tag them. This helps with organization during the actual weekend since I’m usually sharing a room, space is limited and I live out of my suitcase.
Here is an example of my accessories list:
The most important item to me during and after Dragon Con is to not come down with Con Crud. For the first 10 years attending Dragon Con, I was either sick right after or the last 1-2 days of Con. GGI did an article dealing with avoiding Con Crud here. I’ve come up with a system that works for me and most of what I do is listed in the article. I will say that I’ve managed to avoid the Con Crud for the last four years. I’ve used this same method during other conventions and when traveling for work with great success. There are a lot more people in the hotel room this Con, so I'm hoping this method still holds true.
My con count down preparation has begun. I can’t wait to hang out with my friends, see all the great costumes and attend some amazing panels! I hope to see you there this year!