Dragon Con

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Coordinates: 33°45′41″N 84°23′15″W / 33.761397°N 84.387536°W / 33.761397; -84.387536

Dragon Con
Status Active
Genre Multi-genre
Venue Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta Hilton and Towers, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, Westin Peachtree Plaza, AmericasMart
Location(s) Atlanta, Georgia
Country United States
Inaugurated 1987
Attendance 77,000+[1]
Organized by Rachel Reeves, David Cody Co-Chairmen[2]
Filing status For-profit

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 2016, the convention draws attendance of over 77,000,[1] features hundreds of guests, encompasses five hotels in the Peachtree Center neighborhood of 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).[3]


Dragon Con shirt from 1987

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.[4]

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,[5] to take place at the Atlanta Hilton.

A cosplayer dressed as a Spartan from the movie 300 at the 2007 Dragon Con parade.

The 1987 inaugural Dragon*Con took place at the Piedmont Plaza Hotel, drew 1400 fans,[6] 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 Call of Cthulhu, which was broadcast via radio live from onsite.[5] 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.[7]

In 1993, Dragon*Con was the home of the Wizard Fan Awards.[8]

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.[9][10][11][12] 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.[13] Kramer's relationship with the convention was ended in July 2013 in a cash-out merger, at which point the name of the convention and business was changed to "Dragon Con" (replacing the asterisk with a space).[14]

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.[15] In 2005, Dragon*Con raised USD $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. At the convention's 20th anniversary in 2007, there were 22,000 attendees, and the convention continued to grow, drawing 27,000 attendees in 2007, 40,000 in 2010, 57,000 in 2013,[5][16] and over 77,000 in 2016.[1]


Artist Don Rosa at the artist area of Dragon Con in 2009

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 science fiction 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).[17][18][19]

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.[20]

A 2011 Dragon*Con Panel

Award ceremony[edit]

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.

The Dragon Awards[edit]

In March 2016,[21] Dragon Con announced the introduction of "Dragon Awards", a fan-voted award "to recognize outstanding achievement in science fiction and fantasy literature, comics, gaming and filmed entertainment". The award process consists of a nomination step, where each voter can nominate one work of choice in every category, and a voting step where the nominated works are voted for to receive the award. The nominations and votes are collected electronically. Participation is freely available to everyone, without any pay or requirement of membership.[22]

The finalist shortlist for the first edition of the awards was announced on August 11, 2016.[23] Voting lasted until August 31, 2016, with the winners announced on September 4.[24]

The first edition includes 15 categories, with the works awarded in each as follows:[25]

Category Winner
Best Science Fiction Novel Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm by John C. Wright
Best Fantasy Novel Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber
Best Alternate History Novel League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Best Apocalyptic Novel Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole
Best Horror Novel Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
Best Comic Book Ms. Marvel
Best Graphic Novel The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series Game of Thrones by HBO
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie The Martian
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC/Console Game Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks
Best Science Fiction of Fantasy Mobile Game Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game Pandemic: Legacy by Z-Man Games
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th edition) by Chaosium Inc.

Economic impact[edit]

In 2015, Dragon Con attracted some 70,000+ attendees[26] and had a direct economic impact of $65 million, as reported by the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.[27] According to statistics provided by Georgia State University, Robinson College of Business, Dragon Con brought in over $21 million.[28]


  1. ^ a b c "Dragon Con Wrap Up 2016 final" (PDF). Dragon Con. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  2. ^ http://www.dragoncon.org/?q=teams_and_departments
  3. ^ Wurts, Janny; Resnick, Mike; Asprin, Robert (2008). Here be dragons: Tales of Dragon*Con. Wildside. ISBN 978-0-8095-7331-8. 
  4. ^ "$50K bond for DragonCon founder Kramer". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "History of Dragon.Con". dragoncon.org via Wayback machine. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ Smith, Ben (February 26, 2009), "Dragon Con founder sues successor over finances", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, retrieved March 12, 2012 
  7. ^ "History of Robot Battles". 
  8. ^ Wizard Fan Awards. Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  9. ^ Peculiar Pageant Queens
  10. ^ 6 Unusual Beauty Pageants
  11. ^ The Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant
  12. ^ Kicklighter, Kirk (July 1, 2000). "Sci-fi fans find others of their world". Atlanta Journal. 
  13. ^ Simmons, Andria. "DragonCon faces appeal; Co-founder fights dismissal of case against event" Atlanta Journal-Constitution November 19, 2011
  14. ^ Pantozzi, Jill. "Dragon*Con Officially Separates From Founder, Accused Molester, Ed Kramer". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Dragon*Con Parade Information Archived June 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Sci-fi convention, now in 20th year, draws thousands". Associated Press. September 2, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Programming Tracks". Dragon Con. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  18. ^ Boese, Christine (2002-08-19). "DragonCon: All hope abandon, ye who enter here". CNN.com. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  19. ^ Resnick, Mike (2009). "Dragoncon 2007". Always a Fan. Wildside Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-4344-0441-1. 
  20. ^ Newitz, Annalee. "Sex with storm troopers". Salon. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  21. ^ "The Dragon Awards". Dragon Con. 2013-03-31. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  22. ^ "Official Press Release". Dragon Con. 2016-04-04. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  23. ^ "The #DragonAward voting is up and running! Register for your ballot here: bit.ly/DCAwardVote". Facebook. Dragon Con. 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  24. ^ "The Dragon Awards Presentation". Dragon Con. 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  25. ^ "Winners - The Dragon Award". Dragon Con. 2016-09-04. Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  26. ^ "Dragon Con 2016 Fact Sheet" (PDF). Dragon Con. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2016. 
  27. ^ Big events to bring 600,000 people to Atlanta this weekend
  28. ^ "The Impact of the Hospitality & Tourism Industry on Atlanta" (PDF). J. Mack Robinson College of Business. p. 22. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
5th North American Science Fiction Convention
ConDiego in San Diego, United States (1990)
List of NASFiCs
6th North American Science Fiction Convention
Dragon*Con in Atlanta, United States (1995)
Succeeded by
7th North American Science Fiction Convention
Conucopia in Los Angeles, United States (1999)