Dragon Con, the Atlanta convention and parade, has always been a mystery to me. I was made aware of it by my friend Henry Hanks, who was a popular CNN i-Report employee and who (with David Williams, Lila King, David Williams, Katie Hawkins-Gaar, Christina Zdanowics, Rachel Rodriguez, and Nicole Saidi) pretty much put the cable news network on the map of Comic Con-culture.
At the time, 2011, I was (and technically, still am) a CNN iReport contributor, (Zennie62 on the iReport) especially since I never quit the thing, as well as a blogger on something called SF Gate.com’s City Brights. I was also invited to cover Comic Con San Diego in 2010, and by San Diego Comic Con’s Marketing and PR wizzard David Glanzer – where I made great memories with the CNN iReport crew, led by Mr. Hanks.
Then, knowing that I was in Atlanta quite a bit to help and keep my Mom company, he told me about Dragon Con. Then, next thing I know, I’m invited to cover it. Dragon Con, as you will see, is not San Diego Comic Con.
Where San Diego Comic Con is age-diverse and something you can and should take your kids to, that was not at all at Dragon Con:
Dragon Con is all about adults. You don’t see kids looking for Superman and Supergirl toys. Instead, you see adults Cosplay dressed up as your favorite Star Wars character, or MARVEL or DC Comics creation – generally. And about half the time with alcohol and clearly out for a good time. It was the perfect place for me to survey people on their reaction to the then-new and rather revealing Superman Suit that Henry Cavill put on. The reactions were off-the-charts:
And then there was the CNN “Geek-Out” Dragon Con Party that Ann Hoevel put together:
Oh, and that’s Ann:
So, you get the idea.
Now, I must admit, I only covered Dragon Con once and because for some to-this-day-strange reason, the media guy there didn’t think I covered Dragon Con, when in point of obvious fact I did. So, he said I couldn’t come for 2012, I retailiated with the mother-of-all-hit blog post series, and that was that. I was done. Haven’t been back.
But that doesn’t mean something really interesting didn’t happen in the interim time.
See, one of the things Dragon Con prided itself on was that it wasn’t Hollywood. Unlike San Diego Comic Con, which was then and still now is known for introductions of the summer blockbuster sci-fi, fantary, horror, and comic-book-based movies that have come to define American culture, Dragon Conw was and is the place actors you used to watch a lot go. And that was just fine.
But a funny thing happened between 2012 and now: Hollywood came to Atlanta.
It happened in little fits and starts, then Tyler Perry established his studios in Atlanta, and Gale Anne Hurd started making The Walking Dead TV Series in various parts of the Metro Area. And then, in 2014, Pinewood Studios Atlanta Fayetteville Georgia opened, and then things film-industry-related exploded. You can thank the Georgia Film, Television and Digital Entertainment Tax Credit (which is a 20 percent credit on expenditures of over 500,000 or more on production and post-production in Georgia), but also the low cost of living, wide open spaces, World-class airport, major companies, and a desire to be great.
All of that combined to make Georgia America’s center for film and television production. And that was helped by the crazy cost-of-living in California, combined with the lack of a relly competitive film production assistance program.
Now, MARVEL Entertainment has a movie production home here at Pinewood. All of the major stars come down here to live and to work. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters was just made here. So was Black Panther.
Hollywood is Atlanta.
So with that, can Dragon Con still be Dragon Con? It’s a question I don’t expect to answer in this space. But I will observe that someone at Dragon Con should make moves to bring Hollywood to Dragon Con. To get the Hollywood types to premier their movies at Dragon Con. Sure, it will make Dragon Con more a part of the industry, but it’s kind of hard to think you can be surrounded by it, and not be absorbed by it at some point in time.
Dragon Con should embrace Hollywood because now, Atlanta is Hollywood.
How do you like that?