The thing that I love most about Dragon*Con is that it is a convention for fans by fans. It isn’t an industry event. While we are more than happy to have the industry support us, they don’t guide the programming or run the panels, and I know personally that we’ve left money on the table rather than allow someone else dictate have more control than we were willing to give.
And the fans make the con. Seeing people who love stuff loving that stuff is incredible. There is no better feeling that being at the front of a room, looking out at a sea of faces and knowing that they love what you are giving them because you love it too.
But more than just sitting in panels and listening to the guests and staff talk about stuff, Dragon*Con also hosts a number of workshops that an attendee can sign up for (at additional cost – we have to pay the instructors something for their time). I’ve personally done one of the 2 day writing workshops and it was well worth the price.
Some years I don’t pay much attention to the workshops when I know I won’t have time, but this year I just happened on the page and noticed they’ve got some really cool stuff.
- Acting Workshop – Writer, director and actor Amber Benson is doing 2 days of classes about the business of active, improv, character building, and scene breakdown.
- Artist Workshops – David A. Cherry is doing a series of 2 and 3 hour classes on acrylic painting, life drawing, photoshop for illustration & game art, and game asset creation in 3D Studio Max. He’s also doing a smaller personal project review of illustration & game art.
- Astronomy Workshop – 2 days of astronomy fundamentals, stars, planets, common science fiction science issues, misconceptions, jargon and more, presented by a panel of astronomy and education professionals.
- Benjamin Radford Scientific Investigation Workshop – 2.5 hours of Ben Radford explaining in detail how to investigate mysteries and miracles.
- Belly Dancing with Phoenicia Workshop – 4 sessions to teach you to belly dance. (This one is free with your con admission.)
- Tai Chi Workshop with Erin Gray – A 1 hour introduction to the theory and practice of Tai Chi and Chi Kung.
- Virginia Hey Meditation Workshop – An hour of discussion followed by an hour of guided meditation.
- Writer’s Hourly Workshop with Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston – 15 one hour sessions covering many topics in the world of writing.
- Writer’s Two Day Intensive Workshop with Jody Lynn Nye – 2 days with one teacher, covering many aspects of crafting stories, ending with a personal critic of material you submit prior to the workshop. (This is the one I did, but back when Ann C. Crispin was teaching it.)
It’s just cool to me that this kind of stuff goes on. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the things a lot of panels cover. The costuming track alone does so many on crafting costumes…
I’ve never been to Comic Con, and one day I might just to see the spectacle, but it seems to me it’s the sort of con where you go to see your favorite stars and maybe get an autograph. Dragon*Con, to me, has always been a con where you go to hang out with other people who love the same stuff (or different stuff) that you love and maybe run into one of your favorite stars who have come to hang out too.