DragonCon 2016 logo

DragonCon 2016: an urban fantasy author’s recap


Last Labor Day weekend, cosplayers and geek aficionados swarmed downtown Atlanta for DragonCon 2016. Yours truly, author of the “Shadowdance” action/ urban fantasy saga, was among them. Here’s a recap of some of the sights and things I learned while at the con’s 30th anniversary.

A heads-up: those looking for cosplay pics may want to Google/ Bing that. I was more about panels for writers and urban fantasy and buying stuff, which is what I’ll talk about here.

What is DragonCon 2016?

dragoncon-2016-badgeDragonCon is a convention that features comic books but is more focused on the worlds of fantasy.

Hence, the “dragon” in “DragonCon.”

Besides the sheer excitement of seeing so many lovers of geekdom (the 2015 con had 70,000 people crammed into five hotels and a building with convention space), there are the usual dealer rooms, art exhibits, artist alley, and autograph sessions with stars of TV and film.

The thing I heard most whispered in the hallways was that DragonCon was more fan friendly than the granddaddy of all cons, the San Diego Comic Con. SDCC ‘s been co-opted by Hollywood as the must-see place to reveal new stuff. DragonCon is just about the fan interaction without the too obvious “let me sell you something!”

What attracts me to DragonCon are the various panel tracks. They’ve got panels on not only the usual stuff like the Whedonverse, Star Wars, and Star Trek but also specific tracks on horror, hacking, cosplay, anime…

You name it: if it’s geekdom, they probably had a series of panels for it.

The Dealer Room Haul

My haul of half-priced graphic novels

My haul of half-price graphic novels and other books

I’m a sucker for half priced graphic novels, so one of the first places I go is the America’s Mart building #2. The Dealer Rooms take up two floors of convention space in the building. As DragonCon is more about fantasy than comics, I was hard pressed to find some books.

There was one dealer, Junior’s Comics out of Austin, Texas. He actually remembered me from the previous two years, which I guess happens when you buy a hundred dollars worth of books in one pop.

Packaging single issues into a complete series seems the new thing among the comic book dealers of the world. Which is cool, because it turns out IDW only published a trade of the first “Scarface” series. Hell, who knew there was a “Scarface” series anyway?

I also picked up writer Raven Gregory’s disturbing prequel series to “Seven,” which explains how John Doe set up the murders in the movie.

Also picked up Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Dark Horse’s “Ghost,” some Grendel books and continued my “Saga” collection. Probably should actually read them now.

Artist Alley and Congressman John Lewis

Signed copy of "March"

Signed copy of “March”

A third floor houses all of Artist Alley. It got bumped over here from the Hyatt as the art exhibit got too big.

I’m pretty pleased they went for more artist space instead of cramming them together. Allows for more interaction with the likes of Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, legendary Jim Steranko and others getting their foothold into the industry.

I’m pretty pleased they went for more artist space instead of cramming them together. Allows for more interaction with the likes of Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, legendary Jim Steranko and others getting their foothold into the industry.

Side note: did you know that Amanda Conner was illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz’s model for Elektra in “Elektra: Assassin?” It’s a fact.

The highlight for my Artist Alley experience was meeting Civil Rights leader John Lewis. He was there promoting the final chapter of his graphic novel series “March.” The series chronicles his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, from his time as a young man through Selma, all the way to the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell were also on hand. Great people all. Congressman Lewis even invited me up to visit him on the Hill, which I think I’ll take him up on if the opportunity presents itself.

The Old Neighborhood

While in Atlanta, I also take the time to explore the old neighborhood. I lived in the ATL back in the late eighties, early nineties. I made trips to the Oxford Comic Shop and Dr. No’s Comics, where I first got the love of comics and graphic novels. Picked up “Judge Dredd: America” at the Doc.

Picked up “Judge Dredd: America” at the Doc. Man, is that book an omen for today! I’ll have to do a piece on it later.

Fun fact: the magazine “Comic Shop News” was started out of Dr. No’s back in the day.

Also did my annual meeting with my buddies George and Dan, who I toured with back in my youth.

There’s so much more to DragonCon that I couldn’t see all of it. Circle back this and next week for posts on panels featuring authors Peter David, Christopher Golden, Jim Butcher and anime legend Shinji Aramaki.

Leave a Reply