Dragon Con often gets compared to San Diego Comic Con. Both events feature thousands of fans, many in costume, they both feature giant dealer rooms, and stars of the big and small screen promoting current and previous projects. The big difference between the two events is that Comic Con has become basically a trade show and Dragon Con remains primarily a fan event. 40,000 fans converge on downtown Atlanta to meet the stars of comics, film, and TV, to party all night, and to be a part of a wide range of programming and special events. Comic con seems
The programming has always been great at Dragon Con, but this year featured some of the best panels in years including actors from Battlestar Galactica discussing the upcoming film titled The Plan and the new series Caprica and Bonita Friedericy (General Diane Beckman) talking all things Chuck and even a little True Blood because her husband just happens to be John Billingsley (Mike Spencer) from that show. Along with large panels covering these current shows, there were panels featuring stars from now ended shows such as Babylon 5, Farscape, and Mystery Science Theater 3000.
As far as big announcements regarding shows like Caprica and Chuck, those were made at other events earlier in the year, but the actors that are appearing in those shows do still manage to drop some hints about what we can expect about these shows as they are currently in production. Bonita Friedericy was left to handle a Chuck panel all on her own so her husband John Billingsley came along to take the mic into the audience for questions and to provide some comedy relief. Most of the questions from the audience were of a general nature but she did share a couple of tidbits. Regarding her character, she mentioned that she would get to appear in an episode of the upcoming season from behind her desk and interacting with characters in person rather than via a video screen which is the common way she appears on the show. She wouldn’t say much other than that her appearances featuring her full body rather than chest up shots will take place in another country and her character will for some reason have a bull horn. A more interesting bit of information is that a fan favorite character from season one will appear on this season as well. She wouldn’t share the name of the character or the actress but she said that the actress is good friends with the actor who plays Eric on True Blood. A good guess from season one is Rachel Bilson as Lou, a short term love interest for Chuck from that season. This isn’t confirmed but it’s interesting to speculate. Bonita and John basically put on an extremely high energy vaudeville act between questions from the audience making the panel one of the most genuinely fun of the entire weekend. At the end of the panel, a group of folks all dressed in Chuck costumes assembled for photos and Bonita and John jumped into the pictures before leaving the panel. These types of fan/celebrity interactions are what set Dragon Con apart from San Diego Comic Con.
During the Battlestar Galactica panel, the focus was on that fantastic television series. Michael Hogan and a few others on the panel that are in The Plan, the feature film set to air on SyFy in October, were extremely tight lipped about the upcoming film. Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh) even mentioned that he didn’t want to take any chances and accidentally say something he shouldn’t because much of the work he did on The Plan runs together in his mind with the shooting of the BSG series finale. He did discuss how interesting it was to go back to sets that they had already shot on during the regular series. This film will take place between season one and two of BSG. The big announcement came from Luciana Carro who played “Kat” on BSG. You may remember her as the pilot that constantly challenged “Starbuck” and ended up getting addicted to Stims (a BSG drug) before her character was dramatically killed off. During the panel, she announced that she in fact will be in the upcoming BSG prequel Caprica. The only detail about her role that she was willing to share is that she is definitely not playing “Kat” or “Kat’s” grandmother. Her character in Caprica is completely unrelated to the one she played on Battlestar Galactica. This announcement is surprising since producer Ron Moore seems to really be trying to build continuity between BSG and Caprica. Bringing in a familiar face from BSG to play a different character on Caprica could easily muddy the waters a bit. This panel, along with Michael Hogan and Luciana Carro, featured Mary McDonnell (President Roslin), Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Gaeta), Kandyse McClure (Officer Dualla), Michael Trucco (Sam Anders), Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh), and Richard Hatch (Tom Zarek),
Other than the Hollywood panels, there were multiple costume contests, bands, the must see Ms. Klingon Beauty Contest, and of course Klingon Karaoke. The comic book section of Dragon Con featured authors such as Peter David doing signings and panels and classic comic book artist/writer George Perez was on hand to speak on panels and do $20 sketches in support of the Hero Initiative, a nonprofit that supports aging comic book industry folks that were never afforded a pension or insurance that they so desperately need in their later years. One thing that did appear to plague the convention was a couple of companies that represented many of the celebrities appearing to bilk fans with overpriced photo opportunities. This kind of problem is something common to other conventions that are ran like businesses rather than fan events and it’s a real shame to see it creeping into one of the country’s best fan events.
Overall Dragon Con 2009 was a great success. Fans are still given a real chance to interact with the creators of TV shows, film, books, games, and more that they love. With big stars often come marketing reps, but more often than not the stars that come to Dragon Con are there because they want to truly meet the fans and that’s an experience that’s hard to match at other events around the country.