Dragon Con 101: What the Heck Is It?

If you been wondering about Dragon Con, but were afraid to ask... fear not. We're here to help.
  • Dragon Con means lots of soldiers from the future. But don't worry―these are good guys.
    Dragon Con means lots of soldiers from the future. But don't worry―these are good guys.
  • If you are confused about Dragon Con, you can always ask a friendly Stormtrooper.
    If you are confused about Dragon Con, you can always ask a friendly Stormtrooper.
  • You'll enjoy the Dragon Con parade no matter where (or when) you're from.
    You'll enjoy the Dragon Con parade no matter where (or when) you're from.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, gamers, science fiction superheroes and comic book characters never met or had a chance to mingle. But in 1987 three entrepreneurs rounded up some friends for the first Dragon Con — and 1,200 fans showed up to meet science fiction luminaries Michael Moorcock and Robert Asprin, gaming royalty Richard Garriott and Gary Gygax -- and Eric Bloom, the lead singer for Blue Oyster Cult, jammed on stage.

Today, Dragon Con is an international phenomenon with more than 85,000 people expected to attend during the five-day Labor Day weekend with activities spread across five host hotels — the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree and the Sheraton Atlanta — plus AmericasMart Buildings One and Two. It is the largest multimedia, popular culture convention that focuses on science fiction and fantasy, comics, literature, art, music and film — not only in this country —but the whole universe. There are literally thousands of hours of activities.

Dragon Con will welcome more than 400 guests — not just celebrities but also authors, artists and other creators and experts — from across the fields of science, science fiction, and fantasy. Some of the guests work in costuming, prop building, fight choreography, script writing and other technical behind-the-scenes roles. Among the celebrity guests are Christine Adams, Alfie Allen, Evangeline Lilly, Gil Gerard, Caten Matarazzo, Gina Torres, Jennifer Morrison, Jon Heder, Lou Ferrigno, Pom Klementieff and Mike Colter.

In honor of the 80th anniversary of "Superman," two actors who were faster than a speeding bullet — "Smallville’"s Tom Welling and "Superman Returns'" Brandon Routh — will be on hand. But watch out! Michael Rosenbaum, who played arch-villain Lex Luthor, will also be at the convention to meet fans, lead discussions and sign autographs.

In honor of the "Sesame Street" 50th anniversary on television, Carrol Spinney (the Muppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch), plus actors Bob McGrath (Bob); Emilio Delgado (Luis); and Roscoe Orman (Gordon) will attend.

In addition to workshops, autograph signings, gaming, contests, walk of fame, and comic and pop artist alley, the highlight of Dragon Con, for participants and Atlantans alike, is the Dragon Con Parade. The parade will take place Saturday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m. It will start at the corner of Peachtree Street and Lindon Avenue (about a block south of North Avenue) and wend along Peachtree Street and end in front of the Marriott Marquis.

An added bonus is that Dragon Con will offer more than 140,000 square feet of gaming, making it one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation. From latest video games to the most popular tabletop games, plus Japanese and classic American arcade games, such activities are free to Dragon Con members. Let’s game around the clock.

But, don’t think that Dragon Con is all fun and games. Its official charity, Atlanta-based Literacy Action, will be the beneficiary of auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $100,000 from Dragon Con. Last year, the event raised $110,000 for the Special Olympics Georgia.

Journalist Mary Welch writes lifestyle and business stories for national and local publications.

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