Every Labour Day weekend approximately 50,000 people descend on downtown Atlanta for Dragon*Con, a truly massive multigenre convention that spans five different hotels. It’s big, intense and a ridiculous amount of fun. The convention is divided in to “tracks” that span everything from sci-fi and fantasy to anime, to comics to gaming and just about everything else geeky that you can imagine. This year for the first time a puppetry track was added to the line-up and it was a huge success.
The puppetry track’s guests of honour were Peter Linz, Leslie Carerra-Rudolph and Heather Henson, all of whom participated in panel discussions, performances and workshops. Also there were a number of other puppeteers from across the U.S. and Canada, including Ryan Dillon, Gordon Smuder, Allisa Hunnicutt, Honey Goodenough, Lucky Yates, Sam K. Hale and several other names that should be familiar to long-time PuppetVision readers.
There was so much to see and do that it’s practically impossible to participate in everything (or recap it!), but here are some highlights from the weekend, culled from a variety of sources…
Costumes and cosplay are a big part of Dragon*Con and so puppets seem to be too. Many fans like “Obi Shawn” like to combine the two.
Personally, I liked this one a lot.
Bob & Carl: The Sci-Fi Janitors are two hand puppet characters and Dragon*Con celebrities. They popped up in several places throughout Dragon*Con, including a surprise appearance in the opening of this video for the famous Dragon*Con Masquerade.
Did I mention that Bob and Carl are big at Dragon*Con? Because they’re really big at Dragon*Con. How big you ask? Well, just ask the fans who show up dressed like them.
Heather Henson’s Ibex Puppetry had a big presence at Dragon*Con, participating in several panels and displaying a beautiful collection of puppets in the Dragon*Con Art Exhibit.
I spent most of the weekend hanging out with the gang from Ibex and I was thrilled that Kevin McTurk won two Dragon*Con film festival awards (Best Animated Film and Best Animated Horror) for The Narrative of Victor Karloch, the latest commissioned film from the Handmade Puppet Dreams film series.
One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was the Late Night Puppet Slam on Sunday night, which has quickly become an insanely popular Dragon*Con event (it’s popularity is partially what inspired the entire puppetry track). Peter Linz, Leslie Carerra-Rudolph, Gordon Smuder and David Stephens worked the crowd outside, which started lining up hours before the start of the show. Once the doors were open, a screaming, cheering crowd of nearly 1,000 filled the auditorium to capacity making it probably the largest puppet slam ever held.
Update: For a more in-depth look at the puppet slam check out the Late Night Puppet Slam Review at Needless Things.
*Fun fact: that last song in the video above, Lord of Time, was written and performed by none other than acclaimed science fiction and comic book author Peter David (click the link to hear David singing the entire song at Dragon*Con panel)
A special thank you to the whole Dragon*Con puppetry team for providing background information and helping me sort out credits and attributions!