September 3rd, 2012
04:41 PM ET

Costuming at Dragon*Con: Be brave

Sewing is not for the faint of heart, or any other body part.

There's an incredible potential in fabric. It's easy to dream up beautiful possibilities for a few yards of alluring fabric. But, as soon as you press the foot pedal on the sewing machine, an irrevocable commitment has been made. At that point you can easily ruin the fabric and all that potential. And you can injure yourself doing it.

In total, I  started with 22 yards of fabric and a pile of rabbit fur scraps that I was going to turn into the outfit of a Heian-era Japanese fox demon. And anything could go wrong.

In the frenzy of stitching together long swaths of the costume's robes, I could accidentally catch my finger in the path of the sewing machine's needle (something of an ultimate fear for every person I know who sews). Or the sewing needle could hit one of the hundreds of straight pins holding yards and yards of fabric together, break and fly off God-knows-where, poking someone's eye out. There was a good chance I could end up bleeding all over this costume.

Luckily, the worst thing to happen was  stepped on a pin. It hurt, and now I have a small, bruised battle scar near the arch of my left foot to remind me of Dragon*Con 2012 and Tamamo no Mae.

As I started working on my costume, I made no assumptions about my ability to actually create the version of the costume that exists in my head: A Heian era (the period of Japanese history that lasted from 794 – 1185AD) court lady with nine red-tipped fox tails emerging from the train of her robes.

Check out iReporters' Dragon*Con costumes

I know how to use a sewing machine and follow a pattern, but I am far from a seamstress. I know what historic Japanese fabrics look like, but I also know there are no modern recreations of those silks and linens available at the local Hancock Fabrics. I know that an accurate version of a Heian era outfit consists of 12 large robes, layered on top of each other, with an undergarment robe and pants, to boot; but I also know that Atlanta, Georgia, is not the best place to wear 12 robes in the summer.

There were bound to be people on the internet who've been in similar circumstances, I hoped. So I took to Google to find their stories and figure out how to maximize my comfort and the finished product. FULL POST

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September 1st, 2012
04:55 PM ET

The 2012 Dragon*Con parade

Atlanta (CNN) - Angie Dowling attended her first Dragon*Con with her father when she was 5 years old. Now, more than 20 years later, she’s the parent squeezing her children through the crowds to secure a prime viewing spot for the parade of science-fiction and fantasy characters.

“Getting to experience the parade with them is even more incredible because they’re looking at it through fresh eyes with that youthful excitement,” said the 29-year-old English teacher from Marietta, Georgia. “They absolutely love it. They give themselves over completely to the experience.”

From Chewbacca and the Hunger Games to quarians and steampunk dogs, there was something for nearly every fandom on Saturday at Atlanta’s annual Dragon*Con parade, one of the most kid-friendly events of the year’s biggest fan convention in the southeastern United States. About 14,000 spectators attended last year’s parade, and organizers expect that number to grow this year.

Regarded among many as a more fan-oriented alternative to San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon*Con has grown since its inception in 1987, taking over more of downtown Atlanta each year as organizers add panels to accommodate growing interest in all things fan-related. While Dragon*Con’s panels and parties attract fans of television, film, video game and comic-inspired subcultures from all over the country, the parade is open to the public free of charge, drawing families from all around metro Atlanta who wouldn’t necessarily identify as nerds or pony up for weekend passes that run as high as $140. FULL POST

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September 7th, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Cosplay at Dragon*Con

Dragon*Con is about sci-fi and fantasy, not predominantly about anime and gaming. But the cosplayers present at the annual Labor Day con were easy to recognize. From Sesshomaru to Executive Koala, cosplayers drew crowds of picture-snappers.

To be clear, by "cosplayer" we mean people who dress up like characters from Japanese manga, anime and games. Many cosplayers make this distinction between cosplay and costuming - which they define as dressing up as characters from American comic books, movies and literature.

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'Art of Akira' exhibit blows anime fans’ minds around the world
A cel from "Akira" featuring the character Kaisuke.
September 3rd, 2011
11:50 AM ET

'Art of Akira' exhibit blows anime fans’ minds around the world

Joe Peacock probably owns more singular pieces of art from "Akira" – including production cels and layout sketches – than any other person on the planet.

His collection includes more than 15,000 of the ballpark 300,000 pieces of art that comprised Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 film. And lucky for you, he's not hording them for his solitary viewing pleasure. Peacock organized his collection into the "Art of Akira" exhibit, and this weekend he has set up shop at Dragon*Con.

Peacock has crisscrossed the globe with his exhibit, learning firsthand how the movie that influenced him (not only does he collect Akira cels, he chooses to tattoo the art of Akira on his own body) has influenced people everywhere. FULL POST

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