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Dragon*Con Report

Your congenial Satellite News team:
Erhardt, Sampo and Daddy-O

029_Stormtroopers.JPGWell, we're back from Hotlanta--which for most of our stay there, was Cloudyanddrizzlylanta. But the dreary weather did not dampen the spirits of attendees at the nation's largest sci-fi convention. Dragon*Con encourages attendees to wear their costumes full time, and by Friday morning the interiors of the Hyatt Regency and Marriott Marquis were bustling with all manner of other-worldly creatures. nosferatu.jpgPhalanxes of Imperial Stormtroopers marched by in packs, whole herds of Klingons roamed the halls, fairy-winged temptresses flitted through lobbies and svelte Seven of Nines (Sevens of Nine?) waited in lines for panel discussions.

Into this madness came Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy, tapped to serve as Masters of Ceremonies at several events during the weekend.

Their first appearance, on Saturday morning, was to announce the winners of the Con's annual film festival. Mike and Kevin dutifully rattled off the names of the winners, and as short clips from each film were shown, they offered their own take on some of them. Following a particularly hallucinatory clip, for example, Kevin suggested it might also be a winner for the "Stoners with cameras" Award.

From there it was off to a bookstore about five miles away, where Mike and Kevin cheerfully signed their books for a line of fans that stretched well back into the store.


ironartist_judges.jpgOn Sunday morning, the pair were on hand as Hugo award-winning artist Don Maitz, creator of the Captain Morgan pirate and officially designated the "Iron Artist," battled Joseph Michael Linsner, creator of "Dawn" and known universally as JML, in artistic competition. Mike described the work being done by the two competitors, while Kevin ironartist_art.jpgroamed the aisles, getting comments from audience members and also gathering objects to be included in the art works (one poor guy gave up his shoe). Four judges, selected from the audience, finally declared Maitz the winner, but both art works were later auctioned off for charity. During the tallying of the votes, the audience was treated to Kevin's deep Irish tenor voice as he sang a completely improvised ditty to the tune of the "Iron Chef" judgement music.


The competition also featured a side-event: Mike and a young man who was selected as a judge didn't hit it off and finally matters had to be settled the way all great disputes are settled--by thumb wrestling.


1st_sign_1.jpgImmediately following the competition, Mike and Kevin attended the first of two autograph signings along the Con's "Walk of Fame." 1st_sign_2.jpgNot being regular convention guests, they were unaware until that very morning that a table with their names had been waiting for them since the Con's opening on Friday. Several disappointed fans, who apparently had attended the Con only during those first two days, wrote messages of disappointment and well-wishes on Mike and Kevin's nametags.

amidala.jpgThat evening, Mike and Kevin hosted one of the most anticipated events of any Dragon*Con, the annual costume competition. moulin.jpgThere was a promising opening, in which cowering Mike and Kevin were prodded onstage by a gang of Imperial Stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself. But fans who were hoping for a little MST3K-style commentary from the pair during the competition were disappointed. Apparently at the request of the Convention staff, the pair were in "everybody-worked-very-hard-on-their-costumes-so-be-nice" mode. Essentially, they were comics.jpgconstrained to reading the description of the costumes provided to them by the entrants, and then shutting up while the contestants went through their paces. Most did much more than merely display their costumes--many had elaborate skits worked out, at which Mike andyeti.jpg Kevin could only stare, dumbfounded. The two also struggled with the audio equipment--their microphones failed several times during the course of the competition. They did sneak in a comment or two, but the tightly scripted nature of the event didn't allow much wit to escape.

The final scheduled event of their visit came Monday morning, when Mike and Kevin gave a panel. Kevin read a chapter from his book and discussed the process of writing it, and the two answered many questions about their time at MST3K, their current lives, and their views on all sorts of issues. At one point, sound problems plagued them again, and Kevin was forced to improvise with a makeshift megaphone.


After the panel we ran into Scott Hamilton and Christopher Holland of, and they pressed into our hands copies of their book Reel Shame. While it isn't really heavily MST3K-related (we only noted one MSTed movie among the movies they chose to profile), those who like books about bad movies might want to check it out.

The panel was immediately followed by a second visit to the "Walk of Fame." A large number of lingering fans who had missed the previous day's signing patiently waited in line to get their final chance for autographs. Bringing up the rear of the line was noted Star Wars author Timothy Zahn, who had just ended an autographing session himself.


There weren't too many other events that were of much interest to MSTies. But one we did get to attend was the panel given by comic artist Jhonen Vasquez, creator of "Invader Zim" (which Frank Conniff worked on for a time). It's always tough for the convention to predict which events will be well-attended so they can schedule those events for the correct-sized venue. 064_ChrisJhonen.JPGThe Con overestimated interest in Mike and Kevin's panel, for example--only about half of the huge hall where they were scheduled was full. Meanwhile, Jhonen was slated for a tiny 100-seat room, which was quickly filled, with a line of several hundred more attendees stretching into the hallway, forcing the Con to change his one-hour panel to two half-hour panels. We managed to get representatives into both installments, and Jhonen struck us as a brilliant, creative, funny--and very bitter young man. His experience of "Zim" reminded us of nothing so much as the story of John Kricfalusi, the creator of "Ren & Stimpy." Like Kricfalusi, Vasquez has created a dark, violent, subversive and not-really-appropriate-for-younger-kids vision, only to have it taken away from him and co-opted by the network suits. The experience has thoroughly soured him from the world of television, but he seems cheerful about returning to the comic book art form. We at Satellite News wish him well.

One other minor event of note was the The 12th Annual Robot Battles. Think "Battlebots" or "Robotica" and you know what it is. Competing in the event was a fully articulated Tom Servo battlebot, sporting a freshly signed autograph from Kevin. Unfortunately, we didn't stick around long enough to see if he won his bout


All in all, we had a grand ol' time at Dragon*Con, and it was great meeting MSTies from around the country. We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the great Dragon*Con staff for the hospitality, patience and generosity they extended towards us.

Stephen "Daddy-O" Finley, Kevin Murphy, Brian "Erhardt" Henry, Mike Nelson and Christopher "Sampo" Cornell