Dragon Con 2015: A Weekend With The Queens of Darkness
by Ashley Bension--@mitigatedtext
It’s that time again when fans of everything from table top gaming to alternative history flock down south for the one and only DragonCon. With a record-breaking attendance of 70,000 guests, this year’s DragonCon was bigger and better than ever. And of course Once Upon a Time was represented in the form of our own trio of terrors, the Queens of Darkness, also known as Kristin Bauer van Straten, Merrin Dungey, and Victoria Smurfit. Over the course of Labor Day weekend, Oncers were treated to panels, autographs signings, and photo-ops with each of these excellent actresses, who revealed behind the scenes stories (and more) during their three panel sessions.
The weekend started out for me with my own panel experience, as I had been invited to discuss the fourth season of Once Upon a Time on a fan panel run by DragonCon’s American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media Track. Joining me were several other fans and authors well-versed in Once Upon a Time, and we led an hour-long discussion of several different aspects and points of view regarding the fourth season. We were able to involve the audience in our discussion, and it was a fun experience, one I would love to have again. Thank you to everyone who came to the panel!
And speaking of the fans, Once Upon a Time did get some representation in the DragonCon Parade, an event that spans over a mile and a half route in midtown Atlanta, showcasing a vast variety of costumes. I will say, it would be lovely to get as much of a turn out for the parade as we got for the cosplay photo shoot I attended the following day. The photo shoot is where the Oncer creativity really shone as many different interpretations of our favorite characters were represented, as well as a few very specific costumes, such as the outfit Belle wore in the episode “Quiet Minds”, or a cosplay of our very own Sheriff Graham. The photo shoot was incredibly fun as fans were able to mix serious poses with silly candid snapshots. A gallery of the Once Upon a Time cosplay photo shoot can be found here:
On the actor side of things, Friday night I completed my most unique interview to date as I was able to sit down with all three Queens of Darkness. And let me tell you, they are hilarious. This interview was so unique in that the trio ran the show. It was more a conversation than an interview as Victoria Smurfit, Merrin Dungey, and Kristin Bauer van Straten chatted openly about their characters, their experiences on set as well as with each other, and their misinterpretation of the word “pianist”. It was all in good fun and I hope the trio enjoyed the chat as much as I know you, the audience, did.
The main event for Oncers at DragonCon though, aside from the one on one interaction fans recieved from the trio on the Walk of Fame, were the panels. They ran for an hour Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and were comprised of a mix of serious discussion and hilarious set stories. Topics ranging from character pairings, to female story-tellers’ choices of subject matter, to on-set jokes were just a few of the things brought up.
The panels were truly the highlight of the convention as the represented what DragonCon is all about; a remarkable fan experience. There was singing, dancing, phone calls, laughs, and serious “thank-yous" from both sides of the table. This year’s DragonCon was a memorable one for Oncers and we can only wait and see what is in store for us at the next one.