Dragon*Con '96 Con Report, Part I

"The Non-Calm Before the Storm"

by Paul W. Cashman

----------------- blue separator -------------------

For me, Dragon*Con '96 formally started Wednesday morning, but I had been "eating, sleeping and dreaming" Dragon*Con for several weeks prior. Since I'm responsible for editing the convention's publications (and writing/rewriting the occasional guest bio or scraps of needed text), I'd already been through the agony and fun of helping with the two Progress Reports, both of which ended up being released late (mostly due to outside "real-life" pressures on Ed Kramer, the con chairman whose computer also doubles as our layout and editing machine). So, far too soon after PR#2 was sent to the printer, it was time to start work on the "souvenir program book" (the big, bound book with guest bios in it) and the all-important Pocket Program Guide (the one people actually read).

This year the big program book was supposed to be a piece of cake, since we had kept the guests' long bios in reserve and printed (usually) shortened versions in the Progress Reports -- and this worked well in our favor. When the time came, this saved quite a lot of time; the big problem was last-minute received bios and the sheer drudgery of laying out the final product, a burden which falls almost entirely on poor Ed's shoulders. There are a lot of interior illustrations and photos to place, and Xerox Ventura Publisher's habit of crashing or locking up didn't help matters much. But, Ed finished it and I had a final go at proofreading, and the printer worked overtime to get it to us within four hours of Registration's formal opening on Wednesday. D*C 1995's program book -- also the NASFiC's program book -- received the Award of Excellence from the Georgia Printers' Association, but I doubt this one will repeat the honor despite having a better cover; we were just a bit too rushed with it. Of course, we were rushed last year, too, so who knows?

The Pocket Program Guide was the joint responsibility of myself and Information Team Leader Tim Farley, incorporating the programming items submitted by our track directors and by Ed. Ed, the busiest man on Earth or any other planet during the final weeks pre-con, was running behind on getting us the Main Programming events, but we had expected this and most of the other tracks had already been input into our database, so while we were adding panels two weeks before the convention, we were able to check immediately for guest conflicts ("Hmm, Bill Smith is scheduled to be on two panels at once. He -can- bilocate, right?") and similar problems. The only regret we had here was that we didn't quite have time to verify that our program participants' arrival and departure schedules allowed them to be on early and late panels. This caused a few problems, but nothing insurmountable, and we had the DAILY DRAGON at-con 'zine to publicize any changes. My biggest personal regret was that I didn't have time to go over the panels and events to "spruce up" the titles and descriptions. Maybe next year. :)

All in all, the Pocket Program Guide turned out extremely well. I wish I could take responsibility for it, but most of the layout and design was Tim Farley's work, and Tim's a genius, no question about it. While I was walking around the convention and watching people actually USE the Guide to find the panels their favorite guests were on, or to find nearby restaurants, I couldn't help but get a warm-fuzzy feeling knowing how many late-late nights we'd put into the darned thing.

Finally, the souvenir program book and the pocket program were done. It was the Friday before Dragon*Con itself, and just enough time for a breather before the Main Event started.

----------------- blue separator -------------------