Well, as I write this we are packing up and getting ready to head home after a stellar weekend at our third comic convention of the year, and my personal favorite. Yes, we hit San Diego this year, but Atlanta's DragonCon remains my favorite. Here's why:
1. The costumes. For one thing, there are a ton of folks here dressed up as superheroes, and they are in costumes that show a love for the character. For the most part, you can tell a lot of time and effort went into this. Yes, there are those strange sword-fighting anime kittens and blood-drenched zombie accountants running around, but there are heroes that can sometimes catch you off guard. Despite their weak showing at SDCC, they ruled Atlanta.
2. The comics. Believe it or not, there were almost as many comic books available here as at SDCC. That's due mostly to the fact that the SDCC is covered with toy sellers, media presentation booths, and lots of other weird things. While I was only able to pick up one CGC comic this trip (I have a full post coming on CGC comics, so don't get me started), I bought it from Crazy Ed's Comics, and this guy actually gives you a reader comic of any CGC you buy, which I think is top notch all around. And the prices of the comics here are actually reasonable! There are dollar comic bins! These are things I missed at SDCC for the most part.
Unfortunately, the balance point is the lack of toy dealers. I was unable to get anywhere with my JLU figure collection (I didn't see a single one for sale here carded or loose), though there were a few goodies I was able to find tucked away between the fairy cosplay booths.
3. The celebrities. Another big wow factor here, but many of the celebrities from SDCC were here for autographs as well, and they were really nice and approachable for the most part. No, we didn't see Robert Downey, Jr. and none of the "Lost" folks gave us any clues for the upcoming season, but fans of older Sci-Fi shows were given a real treat. Malcolm McDowell, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and even William Shatner were here, so Star Trek fans could rejoice if no one else could. Battlestar Galactica (new and old), Smallville, Buffy, and a lot of others shows were represented with major stars, and the autographs were reasonable (and sometimes free!).
4. The artists. While those at the SDCC were charging $500 for sketch cards, these guys were charging $20 for custom drawings. Let me give you my highlight: George Perez, another of my favorite artists, sketched Galactus for me on a 10x6 card for $20! Want to wager a guess as to how much that would have cost me at SDCC from some of the guys there? Here's a hint: it would have involved 3 figures.
5. The lines. There were folks here complaining about the lines (and some events like the Leonard Nimoy/Patrick Stewart/William Shatner panel were blocks long) but for the most part everything was incredibly reasonable. If you needed to go to the bathroom, there was a stall open somewhere. If you wanted food, you could have it in your hands within 10 minutes (and still be paying mall prices for most of the food).
We waited two hours in one line for the "MST3K/Cinematic Titanic" panel, but that got us front row seats right in front of the panel (Trace Beaulieu, Mary Jo Pehl, and Frank Conniff). The highlight of the trip for me was easy to pick: Trace and Bill Corbett both signed my "Crow" statue from the MST3K 20th Anniversary set! That has now become my prize treasure of the trip (and I know that makes absolutely no sense to you if you're not a fan of MST3K and came here just for another comic book rant). It was well worth the time and effort.
If you're in the Southeastern part of the U.S., are a comic book fan, and aren't taking advantage of Dragon Con you really should. I heard several people saying they thought it would be slow this year because of the economy, but if anything there were more folks here this year than last year. Definitely a fun trip worth taking.
Next week, I blow the lid off a hot scandal of comics! Well, not really since there is no scandal, but we'll talk about it anyway. Put your deep thinking caps on for next week!