This year at Dragoncon was amazing. The annual convention attracted 70,000 attendees for the five-day celebration and raised more than $200,000 for CURE Childhood Cancer (their 2023 charity). Over the past decade, Dragon Con has raised over $1.23 million for its annual official charities.  Funds are raised through convention-based auctions, special merchandise sales, special events, and a dollar-for-dollar match from the convention up to an additional $125,000.

If there’s one thing you can count on at Dragon Con it’s their cosplay groups. I saw a whole ‘Coming to America’ group during the parade and I was super shocked and amazed by it. To say the least, everyone looked really good. The cosplays look really good this year as they always do, but with the most recent movies that came out over the summer. There were a lot of Barbie and Spider-Man cosplays. Everyone was dressed up as their favorite version of Barbie and Ken, and I even saw a Mandalorian Barbie (and it looked really nice). As a huge Spider-Man fan, I was overwhelmed with happiness after seeing the cosplay everywhere I looked.

I didn’t get a chance to interview any celebrities this year, but I did get a chance to talk to Phil Lamar and made him laugh a little. We mainly spoke about how he had a positive effect on everyone with all the roles that he played from Pulp Fiction, Mad TV, and all the video game characters he voiced. I also told him the next time I see him I would cosplay his Jack the UBS guy character and he laughed.

I went to a ‘Being a Blerd’ panel and it was very inspirational (blerd is simply shorthand for black nerd). The panelists were asked a lot of questions like, “When did you know that you were a blerd?” “What got you into the nerdy things that you are into?” and “Do you think you are an inspiration to other blerds out there?” With them being asked those questions, I took a moment to reflect. I thought to myself, ‘When did I notice that I was a blerd?’ even though I never heard of the term until five years ago. What got me into all of the nerdy things I’m into? Mainly Saturday morning cartoons and just being super hyped about everything that I saw. No one really put me onto any of the nerdy things, but I know when I would talk about it with other friends I would get super excited. I made a lot of friends by playing video games, reading comics, and watching cartoons/anime. It still surprises me today that as an adult, how many people my age or older are into the same thing I’m into. So yeah, that panel taught me a lot and I had a blast.

I also got to meet the creator of the Cosgala, a fandom gala for artists and creatives, and Pros and Cons Cosplay, twin cosplayers from the Midwest that mainly host costume contests. These are two solid examples of how open and welcoming cosplayers are at Dragon Con.

Overall, I really enjoyed the con, met a lot of new friends, and lots of first-timers. Up next is Anime Weekend Atlanta. Thankfully, con depression wasn’t as serious this year as it has been in the past. But like conventions in the past, we’re already geared up and excited for Dragon Con 2024! If you still haven’t been, you need to make it your top priority. You can get tickets for next year right now on their website.

-Titus ‘TBZ’ Rowell

Photo: Malcolm ‘X’ Lewis

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