Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dragon Con 2011 Debriefing/Postmortem Part 1

I've decided that Dragon Con is a mini quest, sort of along a geek/freaky hero's journey with many trials and rewards along the way.  My friend and author, Brian K. Ladd, found an apt metaphor for the first trial which requires standing in a ticket line as it circles and snakes around the Sheraton Hotel in order to start the adventure.  The first treasure -  a valuable 2011 Dragon Con 25th anniversary pass. When he called the line an ouroroboros, I should have realized we were in for major character building adventures and mishaps, despite the rush of getting that pass.
I was graciously invited  by Megan and Brian to join them at the con. Brian was presenting a panel for the Academic Track on how women were depicted on comic book covers by three companies, so our first mission was for Brian and I to set off in search of the academic lunch at at Ted's Montana Grill. This proved to be quite interesting in many ways and I met a variety of presenters and their significant others and we shared rambling conversations. The man who started the entire concept of the academic track is the well known Professor Awesome who regaled us with stories and by the entire evening asked about purchasing the entire catalog of Shadow Archer Press books for a second publishing line he's developing.  Alas, this is probably not in the stars, because I don't own the copyrights, I just obtain one time rights and then they revert back to the poets and authors. But it was an amazing offer and a very good omen. And something totally unexpected.

After lunch we set off again on another trek. Megan, who chillaxed at the hotel was our personal oracle looking up directions etc. A great help since I'm a first time Dragon Con novice and Brian had only been once.  
Dragon Con is 50% trudging, along with 40,000 to 65,000 other people during the four days, spread over 5 hotels and 4 downtown Atlanta blocks. At this largest Sc Fi/Fantasy Con in the world, there are numerous subcultures and genres trudging up and down hills, around, in, between, over and under hotels, up and down escalators and elevators and staircases, out the wrong door, back in, channeled through the airwalks, burrowing into the lower levels, all while suffering dehydration nourishment. Dragon Con is heat and sweat, the din of 40,000 excited or exhausted voices punctuated by a spectacle like none other on earth - a freak show extraordinaire and a test of your senses so complete, you're in sensory overload within one minute after stepping into the lobby of the Hilton, Hyatt or Marquee. (The Sheraton and Westin being more staid and peaceful, until the Sheraton staff decides to perform their dance routines).
My first impression is the costumes, of course and the first hour or so of walking is spent in a sort of trance looking this way and that simply following Brian through the labyrinth of lobbies, hallways, and vendor rooms. I learned getting lost, many times for hours, (I heard of one person lost for 4 hours)  is a common initiation stage for the novice. All due to watching costumes and not which entrance to which hotel I had started at. The glassed over airwalks where you shuffle in a congested but polite line over the roads, gives you a better view of the scope of your mobius strip journey, but offers few clues on how to avoid getting lost. 
Being late is another initiation ritual. Finding that panel or fellow traveler (frequently dislocated as if they'd been kidnapped by the wooden Tardis stationed in a corner of the Brit room) is part of the gauntlet flung at your aching feet.  Suffering, travail and at times, panic, are prerequisites before you can be fully assimilated into the Dragon Con mindset and able to appreciate the full smorgasbord of freaks, monsters, scantily clad women, steampunkers, super heroes, Dr. Whos, Darth Vaders, Transformers, mechanical creatures, cutsey and villains.

It occurred to me, thanks to a valuable discussion with Brian and the night before on comics and graphic novels, how these creations are similar to myths, and the acting out a passion for discovery of all creatures, human and otherwise is part of our own journeys, even to the point of acting it out.  When Brian explained to me that Joseph Campbell was one of George Lucas' professors, it started to all make sense.  As a student of Carl Jung, I knew how the various archetypes are always lurking just below the surface in our subconscious awaiting recognition and release. In the Bacchanalia/All Souls/Dragon Con Disco/ there are times they erupt. We must respect their oddities, quirkiness or terrifying appearances as sublimated parts of the human psyche.
Every culture has held festivals of a sort to let these creatures run free, or even amok, lest they harm or control us the remainder of the year. So is it any wonder, that the only photo of me from the con is one I begged from Darth Vader?  Anyone who has worked with me on Fissure or Shadow Archer Press, would not be surprised.

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