Note: I have a ton to say about DragonCon, but I haven't had much time to write it all down. The below is what I wrote Tuesday night in the airport while waiting to board the plane. I'm hoping to spend some more time writing at some point today...
6th September 2011
DragonCon! Fabulous time. I’m sitting in the airport now, waiting to go home, and felt the need to decompress. I kind of wish I’d brought my paper journal, but I guess I’ve been moving more and more away from that for a few years now… everything is so digitalized now. Oh well. I guess this means I can post this on LJ when I get internet access again.
DragonCon turned out to be very dragon-y for me, which I didn’t expect. I knew it was a big nerd convention, and had a lot of sci-fi stuff, but I didn’t expect there to be a ton of fantasy. It initially seemed that, despite the name, there weren’t really going to be very many dragons at DragonCon. I was happily very wrong. First off, there is an Anne McCaffrey track (tracks are just little individualized sets of scheduling for the weekend of the con; each track has a theme and its own schedule, and con-goers can either stick mostly with one track or pick and choose and go to lots of little elements from a wide variety of tracks. I went for the latter approach), which had a number of interesting panels (I went to three). Second, the art show was fabulous and was very heavy on fantasy and dragon art. Michael Whelan was there, which I hadn’t expected. I mean, I hadn’t even known beforehand there was an art show, and was originally not at all interested in it. But Barb recommended it to us, so I went through it Friday with Amy and her husband, and was floored. The art was beautiful, and at one point I came around a corner and came face to face with a large painting of Ruth. It’s actually the original painting of the book cover of All The Weyrs of Pern, which features the white dragon Ruth in the foreground. I almost fell over – it’s an iconic painting and one I knew immediately and recognized on a visceral level. Until that moment I hadn’t realized how deep in my psyche the Anne McCaffrey books are located.
I walked into the booth featuring the Ruth painting and found a large selection of Michael Whelan’s work, including prints of the All The Weyrs of Pern cover and the The White Dragon cover, which also featured Ruth. I bought the pair (they were offering a discount if you got both, and I desperately wanted both), and then the woman working the booth (who I later realized was Michael Whelan’s wife) told me I could get Michael to sign them if I liked. She pointed to a man in the corner of the booth and it dawned on me that this was the actual artist. For some reason I’d thought the workers were hired, or volunteers, so I was shocked to realize this absolutely famous and iconic dragon painter was working his own booth and interacting one on one with customers. Michael turned out to be extremely friendly, and chatted with me while we opened the packaging on my prints and pulled them apart so he could sign them, then held them apart while the signatures dried. I was surprised at how engaged he was in our conversation; it didn’t seem at all like he was bored or put upon to be speaking to a lowly fan.
I took my (signed!) art out of the booth, thanking Michael profusely, walked around the side of the booth, and burst into tears. The interaction had been so shocking and so incredible, and so positive, that I just couldn’t process all my emotions at once.
After a few moments I recovered and was able to walk around the rest of the art show. I ended up buying a small shoulder dragon made out of wire and ribbon, thinking I’d regret the purchase, but having my own little fire-lizard on my shoulder turned out to be a fabulous experience, and she immediately grew on me. She also turned out to be quite the head-turner, as I got tons of comments on her as I wandered the rest of the con over the next couple days, and most people asked where they could get their own. I hear that booth sold out of shoulder dragons the same day I got mine.
The dragon-ness of the con continued, as I wore the shoulder dragon again Saturday and gathered more comments. Jim had joined us by then, and we met up with Alma to watch the con parade. When the Weyrfest section went by, they invited me to join them, so I got a few quick pictures with them before returning to my seat on the sidewalk with my friends. I think next year I actually might join them, since I kind of wished I had after they’d gone out of sight.
Later that afternoon Jim and I stopped at an ATM (for the second time that day) and I got into a conversation with the girl in front of us (who was visiting the states from Australia and was having a blast at her first DragonCon!). She was also a huge Pern fan, and told me about Western Weyr and Hold, a community on proboards that’s been role-playing for god knows how long. She invited me to check it out, so I jotted down the name. It sounds fascinating.
Sunday I wore my brand-new corset and Jim and I went through the art show again (as he hadn’t seen it yet). We bought several more pieces of dragon art from several different artists, and I got a giant henna tattoo of a dragon over my left breast. I’m beginning to think that if I ever get a permanent tattoo I’m going to want a dragon. I mean, I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before. It’s so logical
. If I had a patronus or a familiar, it would undoubtedly be a dragon or a fire-lizard. I think maybe I’ll try out the Western Weyr thing and see if the role-playing sticks, and see which dragon I end up with (I’m guessing a green, hmmm. not sure how I feel about that.). Then maybe I’d get a tattoo based on that.
Anyway. Sunday I also went to a couple McCaffrey-themed panels. First there was one about the bad girls of Pern, the ones with gold dragons. We talked about Kylara mostly. It wasn’t a particularly impressive panel, but it was interesting to interact with other members of the fandom for the first time. They were… ha. They were almost like the nerd rejects of the nerd reject world. They were very socially awkward, and the panel itself was in a very small room in the basement of one of the hotels, hidden away through twisting and turning hallways. It was like the whole fandom had been outcast.
(That was as far as I got before the plane started boarding. From here on is stuff I'm trying to remember now, 8th Sept 11, Thursday.)
The second McCaffrey-themed panel I went to Sunday was one featuring Michael Whelan, talking about the cover art to The White Dragon and how it helped launch both his and Anne McCaffrey's careers. I can't remember any particular comments at this point, but the hour was overall very interesting and I was glad I went (even though it meant I ended up missing the Buffy panel featuring James Marsters).
Monday morning there was a panel about the Pern movie. The featured speakers were Todd McCaffrey and Anne McCaffrey's lawyer, and they spent most of the hour talking about the history of the rights to the movie. At the very very end they said they have a new person on the project now, and there is a script, and there is talk of doing a script arc for three movies covering the first three books. Everyone got really excited about that. I'm hopeful that the CGI dragons will look "right" and the actors will be decent... if they screw up Pern I'm gonna be really, really upset.
Anyway, it ended up being a very dragon-filled weekend. I'm having a hard time now readjusting to real life and letting go of the happy dragon feelings from the con, but we do have a ton of dragon art to put up on our walls, and I've been looking at roleplaying Weyr communities online, so hopefully I can drag out the happiness a while.
There is a ton more to say about the con, but I think I should start a new entry...