dragon con op-ed

YHS Dragon-Chronicles – Finale

Dragon Con 2018 GhostbustersIt’s been one week since Dragon Con ended (and no I’m not sorry that you now have Barenaked Ladies in you’re head now because that song is dope) and it’s time for me to detail the last three tips from my 10 Dragon Con Tips From 10 Years series! That’s right folks, I’m steamrolling you with three tips at once, so brace yourselves. The good news is my PCD has thankfully subsided (Post Con Depression) and I hope yours has as well. I found a tiny orange kitten outside of my local Waffle House a few nights ago and without pausing, adopted him on the spot. He is eight weeks old and his name is Clovis Jones, “Jonesy” for short. Yes, if you’re wondering, he does look exactly like the cat from Alien (and yes I would probably risk my life inside of a burning outer space fuselage to save his and any cats life from a Xenomorph).

I want to say “Enough cat talk, this is a Dragon Con write up!” but it’s very hard for me to stop thinking about cats right now because I watched Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers for the first time yesterday, then I watched Hereditary. I am still trying to forget that I saw Hereditary and I’m not ready to discuss my viewing experience until I talk to my therapist about it Friday. I will say this, the trauma wound is deep, but I regret nothing. Jumping back to Sleepwalkers- that movie is NUTS. It’s a quirky blend of over-the-topness, oddly sexual notes, and terrible special effects all wrapped around few well-executed, memorable moments. If you’re into Stephen King, cats, Twin Peaks, or horror in general, I highly recommend you check it out. But why am I still talking about cat movies and not Dragon Con??

Well, simply put, without movies, there would be no Dragon Con. Virgin viewings of both widely-loved iconic films and niche cult movies make for my favorite memories. I love slicing out a corner of my day off and curling up with my cat-fam to watch an old movie for the very first time. I especially love it when the movie I watch resonates with me or lifts me up out of a tough spot. Like Hereditary. J/k but in a way yes. I loved the feeling that movie released, it was extremely cathartic and shocking. These themes of film catharsis and obsession all trace back to my early Dragon Con experiences and my Eighth Dragon Con Tip. Housekeeping note: I’m breaking these last three Tips down into bullet points so they’re easily digestible like little snacks! Y’all ready?

Tip #8

Wear A Costume!

(Or At Least Bring One)

  • Costume envy is real
  • Street clothes actually make you stand out
  • Don’t look like the CVS employees who just found out what was going on an bought a hat and mask on the way in to join in on the fun. Think ahead and try something bold and daring! Challenge yourself and take pride in what you’ve created.

Remember how I was talking about watching cult films for the first time? Not every movie strikes a chord with me, but sometimes certain flics curl up into my heart like a tiny orange kitten and I just can’t not love them for the rest of my life. Batman Forever is one of those films for me. When I watched that movie for the first time back in the January of 2014 I was shook. Seeing Jim Carrey’s elaborate costume changes and spot-on performance as The Riddler had me captivated. I remember as the movies was ending, darkness had fallen outside of our little basement apartment and so had the reign of Edward Nigma over Gotham City. Carrey was in that white sequin suit and his make-up was running down his face as his body collapsed under the power of Bruce Wayne (as played by Val Kilmer) and I was IN LOVE. It was on that cold evening four years ago that I made the decision that I was going to bust my ass to make a screen accurate, end of Batman Forever Riddler costume for Dragon Con that year.

The process of glueing tiny rhinestones all over a spandex bodysuit was arduous. It took all summer. But, folks, it was worth it. If you love something, even if it’s just one moment from a bad B movie and you’re buying a ticket for Dragon Con 2019- my advice to you is start right now on planning your costumes. Sourcing cosplay stuff is fun, time-consuming, positively-charged work that I personally find fantastically therapeutic. So go get on that Daenerys or Digiman or Donatello Coming Out of Our Shells Tour costume (DON’T DO THAT LAST ONE THOUGH I CALL IT) for next year’s con!

Tip #9

Don’t Miss The Parade!

(No matter how crappy you feel Saturday morning at 6am)

  • Expect a panic attack
  • Laugh at it
  • Drink water, dance, fart (it’s so loud you can!), high five kids (unless you have OCD like me then wear gloves!)
  • It’s hot, waiting for the bus sucks (TAKE UBER), but trust me it’s all worth it once that line starts moving and those Ecto sirens get crankin’.

Even if you’re not a morning person, I recommend you become for one day only- the Saturday of Dragon Con. My first parade was in 2012 and I was standing on the sidelines hungover from the night before, desperately wanting to be on the other side. The following year I quit drinking and attended my first parade in a pink ghostbusters flight suit and yellow “ghost-grabber” I fashioned out of a rake and nerf gun. I worked all year putting that costume together and I actually felt like the Fright Features Janine action figure. Although I did have an extended panic attack during most of the duration of the two mile walk, I remember crying tears of joy at the end when I saw all the people waving from the tall building windows and parking garages overhead. All I can say is that moment felt like the closest thing to actually living out the end of Ghostbusters. I made friends that year at PKE Surge that I still talk to everyday, heck, I co-host a podcast with one of ‘em (Jacob Walsh). The Dragon Con parade is a shared experience unlike any festival, concert, theatrical production, or art installment you’ll ever have the pleasure of sweating your ass through.

My advice? Check that shit out. It’s pretty neat. Side Note: The Boy Scouts of America always provide water, so thanks guys!

Tip #10- Take Pictures!

(With Celebrities If Possible)

I’ll keep this last one short and sweet and skip the bullet points. Every September 5th I come home from Dragon Con, scroll through my phone, cry softly, and lament not taking more photos while at Dragon Con. No matter how many friends I text asking to send pics of me in that one costume, no matter how many posts I make in Dragon Con official to see if anyone got that group shot of our Jurassic Park shoot from Thursday- the photos on MY phone are my only guaranteed link back to con, so take a TON of them! Also, you worked hard on that costume so show it off and get multiples! I highly recommend saving up and purchasing a celebrity photo opp package or two. 

Before I leave you allow me to present you with this short list I’ve been compiling to help me cope with the end of Con.YHS_Ghostbusters-Dragon Con 2018

List Of Things I’m going To Do To Move On Emotionally From Dragon Con

  1. Make my christmas wish list.
  2. Decorate my house for halloween.
  3. Play with my new kitten Jonesy.
  4. Rewatch Hereditary (JUST KIDDING).
  5. Watch every Harry Potter movie.
  6. Record a podcast tonight.
  7. Put my Riddler costume on and hang out on the front porch (how do you know I’m not wearing it right now?).
  8. Hold a seance in my kitchen (wait what’s happening).
  9. Become religious so I can ask god to help me forget the movie Hereditary.
  10. Recant and leave the church so that I can watch Hereditary again.

Now I’m really leaving you. Dragon Con has completed it’s cycle. Now we all go back underground for another 356 days to pan, plot, costume, and pack. I’m going to keep living out in the open up here for a while though I think. I’ve really enjoyed writing these tiny nuggets of wisdom out mostly because I’m able to relive my favorite memories from a yearly event that has shaped the person I am, inspired me to live in the now and brought my wildest fantasies over into tactile reality. Dragon Con is magic because of the people who fill the walkways, I’m lucky to be one of them each year and I hope you decide to be one of them next year, too!

Abigail Gardner

@Splash_Mommy – IG

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