Dragon Con: How The Stories We Love Shape Us

(Photo Credit: Thom Stanley)

Editor’s Note: We take a step into this past summer to geek out over our love of  all things nerd, especially tv, thanks to K.M. Cone.

I’ve likened attending Dragon Con to visiting Hogwarts. It’s a magical experience and a little surreal. My first sighting upon arrival was Hellboy and Abe Sapien or rather two people cosplaying said characters and looking remarkably like their film counterparts. The entire weekend I feasted my eyes on various costume creations, including a Castiel with black wings, Sherlock with his blue scarf, Harry Potter Puppet Pal versions of Snape and Voldemort, and various female Bilbo Bagginses and Lokis.

JurassicParkCosplayI began to understand the draw of Dragon Con. All of us came because we loved something – we loved a story or a character so much that we created costumes in order to be in those stories just for a few days. We came to talk about the stories with actors, authors, and fans, to take pictures of others in dazzling outfits, and to show off our love of stories through various merchandise, art, music, and dedication (milling about waiting for the “official line” to start forming for a panel, anyone?)

Hearing people talk during the four day weekend was eye-opening. They traveled from all over the world. People brought their families and friends. Marriage proposals were frequent (I saw two personally). Even the actors and panelists appeared to enjoy Dragon Con. Several have compared it positively against ComicCon, which seems to be more focused on marketing.

Dragon Con, on the other hand, is for people who love stories. These stories have become a part of us, have changed our lives. Eddie McClintock, from Warehouse 13, attended this year along with Jaime Murray, CCH Pounder, and Ganelle Williams to host a few panels. The crowd was massive, and while we expressed our disappointment at having to say goodbye to the show, Eddie was even more heartbroken. He grew emotional talking about how much he would miss attending conventions, although if he’d been able to talk to the actors in the Star Trek, Buffy and Dollhouse panels, they would have assured him that he will always have a place there.

Picture 1Actors in the panels I went to talked about their favorite stories, whether Shakespeare, current TV shows, or movies. Actors love stories perhaps even more than we do, coming at it from an artistic angle with an understanding of the crafting of a good story.  The panelists from Once Upon A Time, Dollhouse, and Continuum especially talked about the importance of story in their own lives, from music (Miracle Laurie used music to play a particular sad episode as Mellie) to TV shows to theatre to books.

I met people who were part of only one fandom, or a few, or, as in my case, who loved several. We swapped stories in line, quoting our favorite bits of dialogue, specifying the themes that meant so much to us, and how many people we’d talked into watching our show(s).

What really blew me away was the height of creativity when it came to non-canon story material. I saw the Timey Wimey Puppet Show, from a man who had his own YouTube channel and made his own puppets out of everyday materials, I saw the Dr. Horrible Picture Show where Dragon Con volunteers re-enacted the story as it played on the big screen, a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hundreds of people gathered to sing along, quote lines, and of course curse Joss for killing off another beloved character.

The Yule Ball was probably the best party I’ve ever been to – the wrock (wizard rock) band The Blibbering Humdingers performed, and when the DJ arrived, I spotted Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort slow dancing in a corner, while Alf and Spiderman got in a dance-off in the middle of the crowd. Later, we used Darth Maul’s lightsaber to play limbo. We drank “Polyjuice Potion” and cheered as girls from Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor danced to Thriller.

Picture 2Everywhere I turned at Dragon Con, there was a story. We heard personal stories from the actors (Luvia Petersen talked about how if she could time travel, she’d go back to meet her dad who died young), anecdotes about being on set (Tahmoh Penikett goofed his first line on Dollhouse and Eliza Dushku told the story during the Dollhouse panel), and whenever I had an encounter with a stranger, there were more stories. I met a girl who was getting her picture taken with John Barrowman and she’d bought him some superhero underwear (Green Lantern).

These actors tell stories for a living, but we are also influenced by their personal stories. They, in turn, are sometimes influenced by ours. Miracle Laurie met a girl the day before the Dollhouse panel and hugged her as she cried and then remembered her name the next day. Lovely little moments like that were sprinkled throughout such as one of the wedding proposals; Jaime Murray was asked to propose for a girl to her partner as the last part of the Warehouse 13 panel. We all got to be there to be part of their story.

If you ever get a chance to go to Dragon Con, it’s worth the four days of shuffling through corridors in a line, heavy costumes, heat, and general craziness. To be able to live for four days in a world of 60,000 people who love stories just as much as you do is a beautiful thing. Don’t think about going home (which I’ve compared to Harry having to leave Hogwarts to go stay with the Dursleys), just allow it to whisk you off your feet and be prepared for an amazing ride.

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