The most amusing part of Dragon Con for many is witnessing the jumble of costumes in the same pocket of space.
You might find one of Emperor Palpatine’s Imperial Guards a few feet away from The Village People (or, in this case, three of them).
Or maybe the clip-clopping knights from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” sharing a hallway with a mining and demolition droid from the original “Star Wars” movie.
The oddest couple on Saturday, at least for me, was the strapping Thor, blond hair flowing, biceps bulging and (fake) hammer brandished standing next to…Axl Rose. Meaning, of course, a guy who perfectly mimicked Rose’s ‘80s plaid-skirt-and-bandanna look.
That type of peaceful diversity is but one reason why the annual Dragon Con, which officially launched Thursday night and continues through Monday, will draw more than 60,000 fans to downtown Atlanta.
While there are more than 400 stars scheduled to appear on panels, sign autographs and blend in with the sweaty masses this weekend, here is a quick look at what took place during two of Saturday’s higher-profile panels.
John Ratzenberger began his hour-long interaction with fans by stating how impressed he is as the growth of the Atlanta film industry (he was in Peachtree City a couple of years ago to appear in “Drop Dead Diva”).
“What a beautiful part of the world…and all of these film studios,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to swing a cat without hitting an actor.”
The impeccably dressed Ratzenberger – a part of Dragon Con mostly because of his voice work in numerous Pixar films – told one fan he couldn’t divulge the funniest scene he shot on “Cheers” (“That’s still classified,” he said with perfect Cliff Claven inflection).
But he did have plenty of kind words about his employers at Pixar (Ratzenberger voiced Hamm the Piggy Bank in the “Toy Story” films and Mack the Truck in the “Cars” series, among others).
“They do things the old-fashioned way. They work as hard now as they did on ‘Toy Story.’ They’ll work three years just on the story. Here’s the standard,” he said, holding his hand several feet in the air, “and your job is to reach it.”
Not long after his panel, Ratzenberger was spotted in the Walk of Fame autograph room, strolling unaccompanied and stopping to shake hands with a military veteran and waving to fans on his way to his autograph corral.
Over in the main ballroom in the Marriott – one of five host hotels currently packed with people – “Star Trek: The Next Generation” alums Sir Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden and “Star Trek: Voyager” star Garrett Wang regaled the packed room.
Stewart was particularly charming when he indulged a fan and spoke in a French accent – much to the delight of Wang who quickly grabbed his smartphone and began filming the moment.
The stately actor also told an amusing story about using at ATM in Los Angeles late at night and getting scared when a car slowly approached. Turned out the inhabitant was an enthusiastic Stewart fan.
Although “Star Trek” is only a portion of his storied career (albeit one he says “changed everything” for him, Stewart thrilled fans with this comment:
“My feeling is that you can never have too much ‘Star Trek.’ We are part of this extraordinary legacy. I hope it goes on and on and on. I don’t need to be part of it (in the future) because I have been part of it and it gives me great pride.”
Some of Sunday’s marquee presentations include Walter Koenig discussing “Babylon 5”; a “Robocop” reunion with Nancy Allen and Peter Weller; “True Blood” stars Kristin Bauer, Nelsan Ellis and Michael McMillian; and Ralph Macchio (check out his interview with the AJC here) and Martin Kove discussing the 30th anniversary of “The Karate Kid.”
Here’s a look at the photo gallery from the Saturday morning Dragon Con parade in downtown Atlanta.