Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dragon*Con 2007: Yee-HAH!

For the first time at Dragon*Con, I decided to cosplay. Although I'd tried out the character at San Diego Comic-Con, and gotten a good response, I was not all that noticed at the Dragon venues.

Part of the reason was, I was surrounded by many good costumes. One that passed by - without me or anyone getting a picture of him - was a guy naked, except for a very slim flesh-colored Speedo. He was covering his crotch and dodging from one corner to another, honestly making himself look nekked and running for cover.

And against female flesh I have no allure. Bustiers, corsets, push-up bras, everything is used by all kinds of women - if they have even reasonable breasts, they always emphasize and reveal as much as possible. One even used the line (I think a Billy Connolly line) written across her half-exposed breasts, "HUUUGE Tracts of Land!"

This day, I stayed in much of the morning. I finally got out about 10:30 and dared to approach the Exhibitor and Dealer Rooms. The distinction escaped me until I saw them. The Exhibitors had large booths and specific lines of goods. One of the traditional Dragon*Con dealers is the Utilikilt people. These are similar to Scottish kilts, intended for men, except made of durable denim in various colors with pockets and equipment loops. They are very popular among the techies - and no, they do NOT wear them traditionally, they don't want to lose anything.

Before I knew it - and before I could find anything to buy - it was time for me to head back for my premier panel, Pre-Sweetened Playhouse. I was quite pleased that the room had the best turnout I've had in years - about 35-40 people. They also laughed - a lot - at this year's show, called "Fantastic S'mores." It included an episode of Filmation's Fantastic Voyage, the ancient Krantz cartoon Rocket Robin Hood, and the episode I first created for the Orlando PSP, the Hanna-Barbara Fantastic Four cartoon episode "Galactus."

This last had my "improvements" centered around the many gay/phallic references in the cartoon. Throughout the show the laughs grew and grew. It was very, very pleasing.

That afternoon saw a concert by The Great Luke Ski on an open venue, a large walkway in the Hyatt. It was before this show that I saw the greatest costumes yet - Dark Helmet and Barf from Mel Brooks's original movie Spaceballs. The Dark Helmet one had been promised for years, but this guy pulled it off beautifully, donning the glasses when someone commented he was not completely authentic.

The guy playing Barf said "It's a pity John Candy isn't around to do the new animated series." I said, "Yeah, but you have one advantage; you're alive." He shrugged and said, "Yeah, I didn't die in bed with a pizza by my side, but that's the way I want to go." I didn't want to tell him that I'd like to die in the midst of sex with...well, that would be telling.

Well, that evening, after I changed into Opie Ron (to little acclaim, as mentioned) I saw the first Dragon*Con concert by Carrie Dahlby, the lovely lady in pink - along with her new boyfriend, who is not pictured here - and a show by Grant Baciocco.

Grant, as we may have mentioned, is the only member of the four-man band Throwing Toasters, he's one of the brains behind the kid-friendly and very cartoony The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd, and he has recently been given work at The Jim Henson Company - in what aspect I don't know and wasn't told, but it has made him very happy.

And then, the most unusual animation panel I attended so far. It was entitled "The Disney Curse." Rory Gordon, a pleasant presence at my PSP panel earlier, did this one as an exposition. Almost the reading of a term paper. His thesis was that Disney, through its success, dominated and defined the way animation was accepted in the United States, and that's why we don't have serious dramatic animation - and why animation is still considered kid stuff.

Frankly, although his research into the subject was full of data, he didn't convince me and he didn't convince much of the audience. Most of us were ready to argue the moment we entered the room. The comments he got from many people - including me, still in Redneck Jedi gear but speaking in my normal Midwestern voice - showed that instead of coming to this conclusion, he built his panel by justifying a premise, a hard way to make a point.

Disney has been considered the premiere animation studio, but Mr. Gordon didn't really delve into why. I believe it was that Disney gave the public what they wanted - even if they didn't realize they wanted it, or if Disney didn't use intellectual means to discover those desired elements. In fact, throughout the panel Gordon was forced to concede that Disney had done a great deal of good in animation.

I have found fault with certain things at Disney, but I would be a cad to say they had "cursed" American animation. One of the most expected items, the diffident promotion and release of the Miazaki films, didn't get much attention. Gordon had a lot of good things to say about some controversial and "artistic" animators such as Ralph Bakshi, but was forced to concede that those films weren't financial successes - or that they often weren't artistic successes either.

Still, people stayed, argued and talked. This is a good thing. It means that people in Atlanta care about animation. And as I said the previous night, if people seek out and recommend good animation, and recommend animation and anime programming at Dragon*Con and other conventions, it will improve.

Some time tomorrow I'll make my last post, since this Internet is simply too costly and I'll be checked out of my room Monday.

(Note: the picture below has Rory Gordon on the left, with Kevin McKeever of Harmony Gold, from my panel yesterday.)