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DragonCon 2017 Roundup

If you’ve never been to DragonCon before, we’ll try to describe it – but know the the only way to truly get what DragonCon is all about is to attend it and immerse yourself in it. Preferably more than once. Briefly, it takes place in downtown Atlanta, Georgia in five host hotels over Labor Day weekend (the first weekend in September in North America).

It’s a convention that is organized around fans and the fan experience. That means that in addition to events you’d expect at any con, like panels with the casts of your favorite TV shows and movies, autograph sessions and photo ops, there is an enormous amount of fan-generated content (aka fan panels). There are also panels about being a writer, being a fan artist, cosplay, and any permutation of fandom you might be able to think of.

If you’re interested in attending DragonCon and want to know more about what to expect, we recommend the DragonCon Newbies Group, which is run by Kevin Bachelder.

Thursday, August 30

Fangirl Shirts’ DragonCon 2017 Experience™ started on Thursday night. We had a simple idea – let’s allow people who are attending DragonCon to place preorders for merchandise, and we would bring merch with us to the con. This was partially because we weren’t vending at DragonCon, partially because it would allow us to offer free shipping for people on special edition items, but mostly because we thought it would be fun to meet our customers face-to-face in an organized fashion. We created this DragonCon preorder page to help facilitate that.

Our original plan was to be at the Sheraton hotel bar, Fandangles, from 6-7pm on Thursday night. We thought we would sit there for an hour and meet about five people, and then be on our way. Well, that’s not what happened! We tweeted a few pictures, and then over the course of the evening, more and more people (mostly Earpers) started stopping by, and it organically turned into a meetup/hangout.

We kept putting more and more tables together until the bar manager told us we would violate the fire code by having such a large group in the middle of the room (violating the fire code is what WayHaughtLanta is all about!), and invited us to use one of their semiprivate rooms instead, complete with a privacy curtain. All in all, we spent about three hours there and it was a perfect pre-con way to kick back and relax and meet people.

Pay no attention to the fangirls behind the curtain.

This is something we will look into doing again at future cons that we attend – both preorders and meetups, so we can make sure everyone knows about it in advance and is invited.

Friday, September 1

The first event Sally attended was Megan Follows‘ Anne of Green Gables panel. You might wonder why Anne of Green Gables was a topic at DragonCon, since it’s not a fantasy or sci-fi show. The panel moderator addressed that topic, saying that since Megan Follows was attending DragonCon anyway for her other shows, he suggested/insisted that there be an Anne of Green Gables discussion because he loved the show so much.

Based on panel attendance and audience comments, this was a good call. There are a LOT of people who are big fans of Megan Follows’ portrayal of Anne Shirley and it seems like it was formative and inspiring for so many people in their childhoods and teenage years.

Beyond Anne as a character and her storyline, Megan Follows was an AWESOME speaker. She talked about her experience playing Anne, and also shared several insights about being an actor and now a director. She talked about what it’s like working in a field where women are working hard for more/better representation and leadership, both in stories and as creators. Part of the conversation turned toward empowered women characters being portrayed on Canadian TV who are also brought to us by kickass women, and Megan Follows name-checked Wynonna Earp as one such example. It was a fantastic panel and a great start to the con.

Cosplay at DragonCon is everywhere and makes getting from place to place a fun part of the con. Here’s one that was AWESOME.

Both Sally and Rebecca attended the Screenwriting:  How to Write Good Genre TV For Everyone with Emily Andras workshop, which was an awesome experience. The room was a mix of people who are pursuing careers in television screenwriting, and people like us who were there because we are fans of Emily’s work and wanted to have a fun experience. We learned about the structure of a scene, talked about genre tropes, and worked in small groups to break a scene using a scenario Emily gave us.

It was really interesting to hear about the breakdown and structure of an episode from a TV writer’s perspective. It gave us a whole new appreciation for the craft, and we think it will enhance our TV-watching experience. We encourage people to attend future workshops like this, both for fun and if you’re interested in a career in television writing.

There were some familiar faces helping out at the workshop – Carol and Coral, who you might know as the creative forces behind the Purgatory Softball Team shirt, and Ramsey, of the Lucy Lawless Tweet Heard Round The World.

Last on the schedule for Friday was the first of four Wynonna Earp cast panels that were scheduled for the entire weekend. One cast panel per day, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That’s how every day should be, don’t you think, spending an hour with the cast of Wynonna Earp? On the Friday panel were Emily Andras, Shamier Anderson, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, and Katherine Barrell.

Tim Rozon was pretty stylishly dressed, if Kira Beaudoin and we do say so ourselves.

Here’s the Periscope of the Friday Wynonna Earp Cast Panel (thank you, @legacymermaid Periscoping Earper Extraordinaire!)

At about 22:50 minutes in, a fan asked Emily Andras a question about how she handles fan pressure and expectations for storyline that come to her via social media, and balancing that with telling the story she wants to tell. Emily answered the question very well, and then also asked the rest of the cast to answer the question about handling social media pressure.

At about 25 minutes in, Katherine Barrell gave her answer. She talked about how the Earper fandom is great and fan enthusiasm is a huge part of what makes the Wynonna Earp fandom awesome and helps support the show. She also said that – while this hasn’t happened a lot – it is hard when someone attacks your personal life choices, and the fact that she’s not actually Nicole.

We aren’t going to put words in her mouth nor try to fangirl-splain what we think Katherine was alluding to, but we will say this:  Katherine Barrell plays a lesbian (not a unicorn), and she approaches this role with tremendous respect and an appreciation for what this representation on TV means to countless queer women across the world.

People should feel free and able to be openly themselves in their lives, and to be exactly who they are. That goes for LGBTQ people everywhere, and it goes for actors, too. Love is love.

If you haven’t already, check out Tales of the Black Badge Podcast #52, an interview with Katherine Barrell.

Saturday, September 2

Saturday was the Wynonna Earp Fan Panel, called “From Purgatory to Black Badge Division,” moderated by Kevin Bachelder. Sally was honored to join Annie Smith, Bonnie Ferrar, Bridget Liszewski, and Eric Asher to discuss Season 2, the fandom, T-shirts, and many other topics.

 

Here’s the audio recording of the fan panel on the Tales of the Black Badge podcast.

We did a surprise giveaway for panel attendees, hiding some goodie bags with our buttons and stickers inside under random chairs. Thank you to Carol Malcolm, Director of the Urban Fantasy Track for allowing us to do this!

After the fan panel, we went to the daily Wynonna Earp Cast Panel. On Saturday, the panelists were Emily Andras, Shamier Anderson, Michael Eklund, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell and Melanie Scrofano.

Here’s the Periscope for the Wynonna Earp Cast Panel on Saturday (thanks again, @legacymermaid!):

Next we attended the Killjoys Fan Panel, called “Hang Out At Your Favorite Mod Bar” to hear the panelists (including Kevin Bachelder and Bridget Liszewski) talk about Season 3 of Killjoys. Since the Season 3 finale had aired just the night before, the finale was off-limits, but it was an interesting discussion about all the great plot and character developments in the third season. We also got to celebrate the great news that Killjoys had been renewed for TWO more seasons!

Regrettably, we had to leave the panel early for a scheduled photo op. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ll just leave this here.

After our photo op, we rushed over to the ClexaCon Meetup, which we absolutely did not want to miss. On the way, we ran into a couple of dudes who looked familiar.

Holly from ClexaCon had arranged a meetup at Hardy Ivy Park, which was just a block away from the Hyatt. Though we were a little late, we still had a lovely time meeting and chatting with other ClexaCon fans. We can’t wait until 2018!

The capper for Saturday was a podcast panel called “5 Truths And A Lie LIVE!” on which Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Katherine Barrell appeared. The line for the panel was seriously long and snaked through the Marriott, which was already chock-a-block full with people doing other things or just hanging out.

While we were waiting in line, someone who got in line behind us asked “Why is this line so long? I’ve been coming to this panel for years and have never seen the line this long.” We said “Two of the actors from Wynonna Earp are on the panel.” The room was probably more than half full of Earpers.

The panel itself was HILARIOUS. Listen to the Periscope! There’s some language and talking about sharting and sex, but not at the same time, and…anyway, NSFW.

Sunday, September 3

Sunday morning we had a Fangirl Shirts business meeting. Here are the minutes:

Next was the Sunday Wynonna Earp cast panel featuring Emily Andras, Shamier Anderson, Michael Eklund, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell and Melanie Scrofano. We were extra excited for this panel, as our dear friend, Kevin Bachelder, was the moderator for Sunday’s panel. Kevin has been attending DragonCon for 13 years and has been involved in many panels and activities at Con, but we knew that this Wynonna cast panel held a very special importance for him and we were so happy that it was a huge success! Melanie had to leave mid-way through the panel to catch a flight home and you could see the disappointment on her face as she got up to leave. The cast really does love being there as much as we love having them there.

Here’s the Periscope for the Sunday Wynonna Earp Cast Panel:

In between the cast panel and the meetup scheduled for later that day, Rebecca went to check out the merch hall, which is in a completely separate building from the rest of the con buildings. The lineup wrapped around an entire city block just to get in, but fortunately it moved relatively steadily and it didn’t take too long. The merch hall is three floors of vendors, and it’s HUGE. There is something for everyone there, that’s for sure. It was lovely to meet the extremely talented Lora Innes, a series artist for the Wynonna Earp comics, and to give her her very own Peace Maker lanyard. We highly recommend stopping by her booth and saying hello if you’re ever at a con that she’s attending, and check out her amazing artwork online.

The Earper Meetup took place on Sunday evening, at the Westin hotel bar. It’s known as the “quiet little writer’s bar” during DragonCon, so you can imagine the surprise on the other patron’s, as well as the staff’s faces when about two hundred Earpers showed up to party together. Emily, Tim, Shamier and Michael all showed up, and spent so much time interacting with fans, meeting everyone, and taking photos. You could see the joy and amazement on all of the Earper’s faces, and everyone was so appreciative and polite. #PoliteNoChill is the Earper motto, after all. We topped the celebration off with a huge birthday cake and a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to celebrate Bridget’s birthday. Of course, because it was DragonCon, someone with a huge sword came by and used it to cut herself a slice of cake, and ate it right off the sword. These things happen at Con. Overall the Earper Meetup was a massive success and everyone had an Earptastic time.

Here are some tweets and Periscopes of the meetup to give you a flavor for it!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRIDGET!

Monday, September 4

The last day of DragonCon is much, much quieter than the previous three days. The Walk of Fame, where you can get autographs and take selfies with the guests, is much less crowded. The final Wynonna Earp Cast Panel was a little bit smaller too, the lineups weren’t quite as long as some Earpers had to return to real life. Emily Andras, Michael Eklund, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, and Katherine Barrell all spoke on the panel, and the director of the Urban Fantasy Track at DragonCon, Carol Malcolm, was the moderator. Shamier wasn’t able to be on the panel, because he needed to catch a flight, but he showed up in the audience right at the beginning and pretended to ask the cast a question.

It takes a village to generate all of the photos, video, periscopes, and tweets, and turn it into an interactive experience for both ComicCans and ComicCants. We were happy to jump in and help periscope panels whenever an extra set of hands were needed! Next time we’re totally bringing a selfie stick!

Here’s the Periscope for the Monday Wynonna Earp cast panel:

Closing Thoughts

Closing thoughts about DragonCon:  it’s really fun, and it’s easier the second time around since you’ve experienced the crowds, the waiting in lines, and the routine of the Walk Of Fame. To some extent, you’ll also remember how to get around.

Wearing Peace Maker lanyards was a great and mostly unintentional way to identify other Earpers and made for an easy way of “finding your people” and starting conversations.

Earpers are awesome.

Tacos are tasty.

What’s your favorite DragonCon memory, whether you experienced it in person or were a #ComicCant? Write a comment on this post, or tweet us @fangirlshirts!

Links To Other DragonCon recaps, blog posts, and summaries:

When we finally got home after so many days away, we had several orders to fulfill. So we did! At Fangirl Shirts, we’re always shipping something…

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