Dan Carroll has been a volunteer at Dragon Con for 10 years, and 2015 marks his seventh year as Media Relations Director. Check out my interview with Dan and come out to Dragon Con if you are in the Atlanta, GA area.
How important is Dragon Con for the city of Atlanta?
“I think that the city of Atlanta has grown to embrace it and welcome it and to understand it. It’s not just a driving force in Atlanta culture, but it’s also economically significant to the city. The Atlanta Convention & Visitor Bureau, last year, estimated that $65 million dollars can be attributed to Dragon Con.”
There is a lot to do at Dragon Con, was there ever any events in the planning process that never made it to the actual Con?
“Well, let me tell you that my role is to wait for other people to make decisions and then talk about it. So I really stay away from the planning. If it doesn’t happen I don’t have a need to talk about it. I am sure, over the years, that it has absolutely happened.”
How long does the planning process usually take?
“I’ve already started my media planning for 2016. We work on a one-year life cycle, but we do take a couple of weeks off in September and relax. Even our leadership consists of volunteers. Our directors are all volunteers.”
So this isn’t your full-time job?
“I’m a volunteer as well. My full-time job is IT Project Manager for a software company.”
Charity is a big deal for Dragon Con, how important is it for the Con to give back?
“It’s incredibly important, and this year may be even more so. We of course have the largest blood drive for a convention every year. This year, our charity is the Lymphoma Research Center Foundation of Georgia. And it’s very personal because this year we lost two Dragon Con directors to Lymphoma. Last year we raised $115,000, and this year we are looking to raise even more than that. Every dollar will go toward fighting this dreadful disease.”
Do you see Dragon Con growing as big as San Diego Comic Con?
“Dragon Con is different from the other conventions in that we are a fan-run convention. We celebrate our hotel lifestyle. The Con takes place in five hotels; it makes Dragon Con unique in that way. We will always make sure that we manage growth so that it’s comfortable with our attendees. I’m unable to see what the future is, but we are constantly growing.”
I’ve heard from people who now have a positive outlook on comics after going to Dragon Con. What do you think attributes to their change?
“The thing that Dragon Con is more than anything is an inclusive place where people can explore new ideas and learn about new things. And mixed with that, is it’s a lot of fun. You start to see some costumers, you see their passion and you talk with them. Then you go out and find out what Bleach is or what a Green Lantern Corps is. I, myself, have read comics since I was kid, and since I started going to Dragon Con, I started back buying comics. The stories have matured and the plots have matured. It’s not your Silver-Age comics anymore; things have changed. I think that combination of inclusiveness and celebrating fandom, mixed with the fact that it is a lot of fun, can explain that.”
What do you hope newcomers get from Dragon Con this year?
“I hope that people who come for the first time will allow themselves the opportunity to explore the convention and that they also take away that Dragon Con is not about them and other people doing things. It’s about us doing things. It’s inclusive and welcoming. It’s just a lot of folks having fun with things they already love. I hope that newcomers will feel relaxed and just enjoy the convention.”
Dragon Con takes place Sept 4 – Sept 7, 2015. To learn more please visit http://www.dragoncon.org/.