Every year since 2006, I have driven to Atlanta for Labor Day weekend to cover a phenomenal event for the PRIDE family of papers. In those thirteen years, I have seen the event grow from 25,000 people attending each year to 85,000. Dragon Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe. With over thirty-five fan based tracks, 3500 hours of panels, workshops, gaming, a parade down Peachtree, film festivals, art show, comics and pop art, nightly concerts and parties, bands and DJs, tons of costume contests, dealers, and exhibitors, all squeezed into four short days, Dragon Con is non-stop fun.
Last year was the inaugural year for the new Diversity in Speculative Fiction & Literature Fandom Track, headed by Nashvillian Jarvis Sheffield. “Realizing the dream of diverse science fiction and fantasy” is their theme.
“The dream of diverse science fiction and fantasy has been in the minds of many since childhood. Watching science fiction movies and television shows such as Buck Rogers, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek, but with a wider spectrum of representation, has been a long-term aspiration. It is essential that fandom is represented positively, diversely, and fairly. An important part of understanding diversity is that it includes similarities, as well as differences. Understanding that we have similar interests or beliefs can encourage cooperation and cohesion within our community.”
Diversity encompasses complex differences and similarities in perspectives, identities, and points of view among members of groups as well as among individuals who make up the wider community. Diversity includes important and interrelated dimensions of human identity such as race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, nationality, citizenship, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and age.
Diversity enhances the intellectual, emotional, economic, moral, and spiritual life of the community. Achieving a more diverse environment is a way to improve the Dragon Con experience for all while promoting respect for each of us as individuals. This track offers all of this while covering animation, art, books, comics, cosplay, games, movies, and more.
Convention co-chair Rachel Reeves says “Overall, we will have some 400 guests – not just celebrities, but also actors, authors, artists, and other creators and experts – from across science, science fiction and fantasy worlds, comic books, gaming, and digital media.”
Guests from Star Trek, Star Wars, Gotham, Shazam!, The Orville, Doctor Who, and other top television shows and movies will meet their fans at Dragon Con. William Shatner, George Takei, Lana Parrilla, and David Tennant lead a long list of celebrity guests including Zachary Levi, Catherine Tate, Freema Agyeman, and D.B. Woodside. Four actors from Fox’s hit series, Gotham, including Sean Pertwee (Alfred), Robin Lord Taylor (Penguin), Maggie Geha (Ivy) and David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne) take a bow after this spring’s series finale.
Star Trek fans can debate the various merits of CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery versus Fox’s The Orville. Anson Mount, Discovery’s Captain Pike, Shazad Latif, Emily Coutts, and Ethan Peck, as well as a crew of Orville cast members – Mark Jackson, Peter Macon, Chad Coleman, and J. Lee will be on hand to meet with fans, sign autographs, and lead panels about these space exploration fan favorites. Black Lightning castmates Christine Adams and Nafessa Williams return this year, and bring star Cress Williams this time.
Dragon Con will host seven cast members from CW’s Supernatural, Mark Sheppard, Samantha Smith, Osric Chau, Ruth Connell, DJ Qualls, and Ty Olsson. Farscape’s Lani John Tupo, Anthony Simcoe, Rebecca Riggs, and fan favorite Gigi Edgley. Robert Englund, Freddy Kreuger from The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise will be joined by his V castmates Jane Badler and Marc Singer, who also starred in 1982’s The Beastmaster.
This year’s convention will also feature main cast members from some of the most popular sci-fi, fantasy, and alternative historical fiction television shows including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, iZombie, Legends of Tomorrow, Lucifer, The Man in the High Castle, the Stargate franchise, Warehouse 13, and Wynonna Earp, plus the pop duo Aly & AJ.
One of the hallmarks of Dragon Con is that late-night nerd party scene, with these events included in your membership: Thursday’s Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Black Hat Ball, Endgame Neon Party, Bunny Hutch, Stranger Things Prom, and 8-bit Bash; Friday’s Temporal Formal Dance, A Silver Screen Soiree, K-pop Dance Party, Zombie Prom, Evening in Bree, Toon Age Sock Hop, and the Can’t Stop the Signal Dance Party (Firefly); Saturday’s Spectrum Party (Celebrating LGBTQ Geeks & Allies), Bond & Cocktails (Shaken Not Stirred), 10 Forward Party, The Last Party on Alderaan, The North Remembers How to Party, and the Heroes and Villains Ball (VGT); and Sunday’s Costuming 15 Anniversary Party, Yule Ball, Doctor Who Ball, and Mechanical Masquerade: Revolution!
While in Atlanta this weekend, check out the two new Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beerias, at 1016 Howell Mill Rd and at 581 Metropolitan Pkwy. And Sunday, Sept. 1, if you are an HBCU football fan, check out the MEAC / SWAC Challenge as Bethune- Cookman plays Jackson State in the Georgia State Stadium at 3:00 pm EDT.