|Venue||Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta Hilton and Towers, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, Westin Peachtree Plaza|
|Organized by||Pat Henry, Chairman|
Dragon Con (previously Dragon*Con and sometimes DragonCon) is a North America multigenre convention, founded in 1987, which takes place once each year in Atlanta, Georgia. As of 2012, the convention draws attendance of 52,000, features hundreds of guests, encompasses five hotels in downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park, and runs thousands of hours of programming for fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and other elements of fan culture. It is operated by a private for-profit corporation, with the help of a 1,500-member volunteer staff. Dragon Con has hosted the 1990 Origins Game Fair and the 1995 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).
Dragon Con was launched in 1987, as a project of a local science fiction and gaming group, the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players (DAGR). It was founded by a board of directors including John Bunnell, David Cody, Robert Dennis, Mike Helba, Pat Henry, and Ed Kramer.
The name "Dragon" for the club was derived from Kramer's Dragon Computer (a European version of Radio Shack's Color Computer), which hosted a local Bulletin Board System ("The Dragon") that initially served as a central hub for both organizations. The inaugural Dragon*Con flyers debuted at the 1986 Atlanta Worldcon, ConFederation. Within a year, Dragon*Con had been selected to be the host of the 1990 Origins convention, to take place at the Atlanta Hilton.
The 1987 inaugural Dragon*Con took place at the Piedmont Plaza Hotel, drew 1400 fans, and featured Guest of Honor Michael Moorcock, Lynn Abbey and Robert Asprin, Robert Adams, Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons Gary Gygax and Toastmaster Brad Strickland. Miramar recording artist Jonn Serrie delivered his keyboard arrangements from within a real NASA flightsuit and Michael Moorcock performed onstage with Blue Öyster Cult's Eric Bloom, singing "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" and "Black Blade". Thomas E. Fuller's Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performed H. P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu", which was broadcast via radio live from onsite. The 1988 convention included guests Alan Dean Foster, Fred Saberhagen, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Gary Gygax, and Larry Elmore.
The convention grew rapidly. In 1989, it drew 2,400 fans (many to see Guest of Honor Anne McCaffrey), and the event had moved to the Omni Hotel and Convention Center. In 1990, the convention had doubled again, added a Comics Expo, hosted the Origins convention, this time with Guest of Honor Tom Clancy, and expanded to include the Atlanta Sheraton hotel. In 1991 the first "Robot Battles" robotic competition event was added to the list of Dragon*Con events, making it the second oldest robotic competition event in the world.
By 1995, when Dragon*Con hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, attendance had grown to over 14,000 fans, and Dragon*Con was also hosting the International Starfleet Conference. In 1999, Dragon*Con's TrekTrak introduced the first Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant, an annual event that has since garnered national media attention. In 2000, Ed Kramer ceased to have an active role in managing the convention; but he still owned 34% of the company, and in 2011 leveled charges that he is not getting his fair share of the profits it generates. Kramer's relationship with the convention was ended in July 2013 in a cash-out merger.
In 2002, Dragon*Con began hosting a parade through downtown Atlanta, which ran from Centennial Olympic Park to the Marriott Marquis, and featured thousands of costumed participants. In 2005, Dragon*Con raised USD $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. At the convention's 20th anniversary in 2006, there were 22,000 attendees, and the convention continued to grow, drawing 27,000 attendees in 2007, 40,000 in 2010, and 57,000 in 2013.
As of 2008, Dragon Con is a 4-day event comprising approximately 3500 hours of panels, seminars, demonstrations, and workshops, with over 30 specialized programming tracks that include writing, alternate history, art, anime, gaming, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, comic books, costuming, space, science, online media, independent film, podcasting, Asian cinema and culture, robotics, filk, scientific skepticism, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, X-Files, Joss Whedon creations, apocalyptic themes, Anne McCaffrey's Pern, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, British and American SF television, dark fantasy, the Dragon Con Independent Short Film Festival, and general programming which specific Guests of Honor attend (e.g., Clive Barker's Lost Souls and Storm Constantine's Grissecon).
From its origin, music has also been a significant feature of Dragon Con, with performances by groups and artists such as Abney Park, Blue Öyster Cult, The Crüxshadows, Celldweller, Ego Likeness, I:Scintilla, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Bella Morte, Chick Corea, Edgar Winter, Emerald Rose, Ghost of the Robot, Godhead, Iced Earth, Voltaire, Jefferson Starship, The Misfits, GWAR, Man or Astroman?, The Bloodhound Gang, Spock's Beard, and Mindless Self Indulgence.
In 1998, Dragon Con established the Julie Award, in honor of Julius Schwartz, bestowed for universal achievement spanning multiple genres, selected each year by a panel of industry professionals. The inaugural recipient was science fiction and fantasy Grandmaster Ray Bradbury. Additional recipients of the award, presented by Schwartz each year prior to his death in early 2004, include Forrest Ackerman, Yoshitaka Amano, Alice Cooper, Will Eisner, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Carmine Infantino, Anne McCaffrey, Jim Steranko, Peter David, and Paul Dini. It is also the host of the Dragon Con Independent Short Film Festival, the Futura Award (paying homage to the Fritz Lang masterpiece Metropolis), the Parsec Awards, and the Georgia Fandom Award, renamed in 2008 as the Hank Reinhardt Award, after its first recipient.
In 2011, Dragon Con attracted some 50,000 people and had a direct economic impact of $40.7 million, as reported by the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. According to statistics provided by Georgia State University, Robinson College of Business, Dragon Con brought in over $21 million of direct economic impact to Atlanta in 2007, and an estimated $25 million in 2008. It also raises tens of thousands of dollars for charities and hosts a large blood drive.
- "History of Dragon.Con". dragoncon.org via Wayback machine. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
- Wurts, Janny; Resnick, Mike; Asprin, Robert (2008). Here be dragons: Tales of Dragon*Con. Wildside. ISBN 978-0-8095-7331-8.
- "$50K bond for DragonCon founder Kramer". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
- Smith, Ben (February 26, 2009), "Dragon Con founder sues successor over finances", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, retrieved March 12, 2012
- "History of Robot Battles".
- Wizard Fan Awards. Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
- Peculiar Pageant Queens
- 6 Unusual Beauty Pageants
- The Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant
- Kicklighter, Kirk (July 1, 2000). "Sci-fi fans find others of their world". Atlanta Journal.
- Simmons, Andria. "DragonCon faces appeal; Co-founder fights dismissal of case against event" Atlanta Journal-Constitution November 19, 2011
- Pantozzi, Jill. "Dragon*Con Officially Separates From Founder, Accused Molester, Ed Kramer". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Dragon*Con Parade Information
- "Sci-fi convention, now in 20th year, draws thousands". Associated Press. September 2, 2007.
- "Programming Tracks". Dragon Con. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- Boese, Christine (2002-08-19). "DragonCon: All hope abandon, ye who enter here". CNN.com. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Resnick, Mike (2009). "Dragoncon 2007". Always a Fan. Wildside Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-4344-0441-1.
- Newitz, Annalee. "Sex with storm troopers". Salon. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Atlanta's Top 25 Conventions & Events," Atlanta Business Chronicle, Sept. 7, 2012.
- "The Impact of the Hospitality & Tourism Industry on Atlanta". J. Mack Robinson College of Business. p. 22. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
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