Battle of the Cons

I love sci-fi/comic conventions. I have probably been to more than 50 of them over the years. As they have become more popular and mainstream, there have been many more choices of events to attend. Overall, I prefer a larger con experience to the smaller, more thematically focused gatherings. That led to attending Dragon Con in Atlanta for 15 years. But I was getting bored and weary with that, and wanted to try something new.

This post will compare DragonCon, which I last attended in 2016, to Raleigh Supercon 2018. For those of you who don’t have a ton of time to read an article, here’s a great video by iShinobi that will show you the highlights of Raleigh Supercon.

And now, on to the comparison. This is arranged alphabetically by topic. If I didn’t cover an area of interest, leave a comment and I will respond there. TL;DR Summary: I loved Raleigh Supercon and would be happy to go back.

Dragon Con vs. Raleigh Supercon Comparison

Art Show – DC

There is no separate art show room at Raleigh Supercon, so DC wins this one by forfeit. Artists Alley in Raleigh is incorporated into the Exhibition Hall with the dealers, fan group tables, and guest autograph tables.

Booze Availability – slight edge to DC

DC gets the edge here only because I couldn’t find a liquor store within walking distance of my hotel. However, it was super easy to find adult drinks – there were even several bars inside the Exhibition Hall where the dealers were set up. There were other places to get boozy drinks scattered around the Convention Center, and of course there’s always the hotel bars.

Branded Merchandise – DC

DC and Raleigh Supercon both have branded merch. I judged DC’s to be of higher quality, and though Raleigh Supercon did have pins, they were not customized by date/location and were not as nice as those that the Hard Rock Café sells during DC.

Charity Auction – Raleigh Supercon

Raleigh Supercon wins this category because the auction was extremely easy to find, you could place your bids online, and you did not have to show up to collect any items you won. They could be mailed to you. What could be more convenient than that?

Cosplay – edge to DC

There were wonderful costumes at Raleigh Supercon, but in scale and craziness they did not approach those of DC. Raleigh Supercon is family friendly so the costuming is more conservative and mainstream. Still, there are multiple costume contests at Raleigh Supercon just as there are at DC and the majority of fans in attendance were wearing at least some costuming flair.

Cost – Raleigh Supercon

I gave Raleigh Supercon the win in this category because my 3-day weekend membership only cost me $45. I also appreciated that this con offers different levels of memberships (if you are all in for autographs, for instance, you can pay more for VIP status which puts you front of line). AND Raleigh Supercon’s memberships are transferable if you can’t go at the last minute, so you can sell your ticket if you wish.

Crowds – Raleigh Supercon

Raleigh Supercon caps membership at the level that the Convention Center can accommodate. This made the con very easy to navigate and pleasant to experience.

Dealers/Exhibition Hall – Raleigh Supercon

Convention centers have greater hall space. There was plenty of room to walk the aisles and shop. I spent more at one Raleigh Supercon than at 15 DCs mainly because I had room and time to look for cool stuff without being squished and pushed along in a mob.

Downtown Area – Raleigh Supercon

Downtown Raleigh around the convention center is clean with lots of new construction going up. There were far fewer panhandlers than in Atlanta and the streets are not nearly as busy with traffic, either car or foot. It felt much safer and we roamed day and night without seeing any sketchy stuff.

Food – DC

There are lots of places to eat in and around the Raleigh Convention Center, but they weren’t really to my taste. I definitely missed the choices in the Peachtree Center Food Court.

Gaming – DC

The tabletop gaming area at DC is probably 10x the size of Raleigh Supercon’s. The video gaming room and arcade machine spaces were about equal. There wasn’t any miniature gaming happening, so DC wins this category.

Guests – Tie

There is a lot of overlap between the guest lists of these two cons. Raleigh Supercon has more wrestling, voice actor, and anime guests than DC.

Heat – Tie

Atlanta and Raleigh are both hot and humid in the summer. No winner here. Bring sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Hotel – Raleigh Supercon

We stayed at the Raleigh City Center Marriott, on points. There was no land rush for booking, and no legacy system keeping us out. The longest elevator wait I had was 12 seconds. The newly remodeled rooms had hardwood floors, 56” Internet ready TVs, and refrigerators. The staff was absolutely wonderful. CAVEAT – I heard many bad things about the Sheraton next door, which I totally believe because we ate breakfast there one day and they couldn’t even get that right.

Music – DC

Raleigh Supercon doesn’t book bands, so that gives the win to DC. There were DJs spinning all day and night long at Raleigh Supercon, however, so there was that level of music.

Official Parties – Tie

Both cons have “theme” parties which are essentially dark rooms with really loud music and nothing interesting going on. Ergo the dead heat.

Panels – Raleigh Supercon

Because of the attendance cap, you can actually get in to see panels of interest, and there are no ridiculous lines strung out into the street where you have to wait for hours. I went to two different panels and both had open seats. Also, panels started as late as midnight, in contrast to DC where there are very few panels in the evening hours.

Parking – Tie

Both cons take place in downtown areas where finding parking is a challenge.

Phone App – Raleigh Supercon

Raleigh Supercon’s phone app is cleaner, simpler and better organized than DC’s. It also doesn’t crash and update constantly. Even though it lacks schedule/social sharing and other DC app features, I still give it the edge for usability.

Photoshoots – Raleigh Supercon

The space for photoshoots at DC has continually shrunk and DC has made no official effort to support this popular activity. Raleigh Supercon, by contrast, puts photoshoots on the programming schedule and provides a con photographer for them. There are also plenty of open places around the Convention Center that are group photo friendly.

Registration – Raleigh Supercon

We had a very short wait to pick up our badges on Thursday. Our QR codes were scanned by staff with iPads. Badges are not personalized so the lines weren’t slowed by ID checks and name matching. Show a code, get a badge. Super simple, Supercon! For those who arrived later during the weekend. Badges were issued at the convention center and from what I could see, those lines moved fairly well too.

Safety Concerns – Raleigh Supercon

At DC, there is danger of assault, injury from thrown objects, as well as a high level of theft. None of that is a problem at Raleigh Supercon. Everyday awareness is all you need to stay safe there.

Shuttle Bus – Raleigh Supercon

In contrast to the DC buses that never run on time, the city of Raleigh has its own FREE electric bus that runs a constant loop around downtown that can take you to attractions and restaurants that are a little too far away to visit on foot. The bus also runs right by another of the con hotels and stops right in front of the Convention Center.

Special Events – DC

Both cons have Wrestling, Burlesque, RHPS, Karaoke, Kid’s Activities, Speed Friending, etc. I’ll give DC this category by factoring in Night at the Aquarium, Robot Battles and DragonCon TV.

Spectacle – DC

DC has 3x as many attendees, and is epic onthose numbers alone. Also, there is no parade at Raleigh Supercon. DC is the clear winner here.

Tracks – DC

There are far more panel tracks at DC. Raleigh Supercon has 7-10 activities happening at once, vs. DC’s multitude.

Venue & Vibe – Raleigh Supercon

The Convention Center was such a pleasant place. You could take photos anywhere, sit on the floor, loiter, etc. without being hassled. The staff were friendly and helpful, not the grumpy, aggressive types encountered at ATL’s America’s Mart. The center was kept clean all weekend. There were no high-strung hotel security guards on the prowl because there was nothing to police at the hotels. I saw no drunks, no fans being taken to the hospital, no one getting into fights, or having any kind of personal drama meltdown (you know, the type of behavior you see at DC every 15 minutes). It was truly chill.

Walking – Raleigh Supercon

Everything is in one place at the Raleigh Convention Center, so there is far less walking than between all the con venues of DC. And, Raleigh is flat, so you don’t have those tiring Atlanta hills to deal with.

Score:

DC – 10

Raleigh Supercon – 14

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Picking Time


My August update has been delayed. I’ve been waiting to officially announce a new City of the Gods Universe release. However, if I stall much longer, it will be September. So for this month’s article, I’m looking back at what’s already available. One of the things our team is very proud of is the depth of our product line, which crosses genres and offers something to almost every kind of fan.

City of the Gods stories appear as:

  • Novels
  • Short Story Anthologies
  • Comics
  • “Making of” Books
  • Audiobooks (SOON!)

Multimedia experiences are available through:

  • Online Choose Your Own Adventures
  • YouTube Vids
  • Wynn Mercere’s Twitch.tv Streams

Gamers can visit our world too:

  • City of the Gods Map Pack
  • Council of the Gods Card Game (IN DEVELOPMENT)

Our fans have created:

  • Fan Art
  • Cosplays
  • Game Skins

And we have official merch and swag:1

  • Note Card Sets
  • Book Plates
  • Autographed Novels
  • Matted Art

So “pick” your favorite kind of product and enjoy your visit to the City of the Gods. Then keep following to see where D’Molay and the gods will pop up next!

1 For physical products, visit one of our convention tables or drop me a line through the contact form and I’ll hook you up.

Another Kind of World-Building

Fantasy writers spend considerable time visualizing the way their fictional worlds look and work. We think about environments, social customs, what people (or creatures) eat and what they wear. As I was putting together costumes for Dragon Con 2015, I realized that actually building a helmet or a weapon was teaching me as much as researching similar items. Reading about these pieces and looking at reference photos only gave me a taste of what it might really be like to own, wear, carry and use such things. Once my builds were complete, I knew for sure what advantages and disadvantages a character would incur by possessing an object. I could immediately see if it would be hot to wear, heavy to carry, restrictive to vision or mobility, or just a bulky nuisance to deal with.

For Dragon Con 2015, I am participating in the parade with a group celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the television program Xena: Warrior Princess. I built, from the boots up, a full ceremonial Amazon costume. While I obviously used tech and materials that Amazons never had (chiefly EVA foam and welding helmet parts), I still had to face the same engineering challenges: how do I secure this mask to my head? — how will my tall boots stay up? — what’s the optimum length for my weapon? The process gave me new insight into equipping characters in City of the Gods.

Amazon ceremonial mask inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.

Amazon ceremonial mask inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.


Speaking of City of the Gods, I’m not doing any official events at Dragon Con this year. But, if you run into me be sure to say hello. I’d love to chat with you and you may even get some spoilers about book three, Ambassador. Photos from the con will be posted here in mid-September.

Choose Your Own City of the Gods Adventure

The Grand Pyramid of Egyptos

The Grand Pyramid of Egyptos

In the spirit of kicking off summer fun, I created a short text adventure set in the City of the Gods. You can play it online for free by following this link to textadventures.co.uk.

The game serves as brand new background content for City of the Gods Universe readers as well as an introduction to the City for people unfamiliar with the books. Please share the game link widely so that we can grow our fan base. The game is totally free, and can be played on any platform without installing any apps or software.

Are you ready to enter the Grand Pyramid of Egyptos? What will your fate be? Will you survive? Let me know in the comments or tweet your destiny @wynnmercere.

Five Year Plan

As I am eventually going to tweak this blog to reflect a broader body of work, I thought a good start would be to share my “works in process” list. Publication dates are soft targets and may certainly change. If any titled (or untitled) books pique your interest, please ask about them in the comments and I will be happy to elaborate.

Utopea – novel
Target pub. Date: 2014 – DONE! Published in March 2015

[untitled military] – nonfiction
research 30%, writing 1%, cover 40%
Target pub. Date: 2014

Mythic Tales 2City of the Gods anthology
Target pub. Date: late 2014 – DONE! Published in November 2014

City of the Gods: Ambassador – co-authored novel
my writing 1%, cover 0%
Target pub Date: 2015

Mother of Ghosts – novel
writing 25%, cover 0%
Target pub. Date: 2016

Mythic Tales 3City of the Gods anthology
writing 0%, cover 0%
Target pub. Date: late 2016

The Furies – novel
writing 1%, cover 1%
Target pub. Date: 2017

[untitled magical fantasy] – novel
Writing 1%, cover 0%
Target pub Date: 2018

[untitled period mystery] – novel
writing 1%, cover 0%
Target pub Date: 2019

Characters and Gaming Alignments

Looking for news on City of the Gods: Ambassador? There’s a tiny bit of it — M. Scott Verne and I have been collaborating on new scenes this fall. However, we’ve both had other paying work (hooray!) that takes precedence, so our third novel has been on the back burner. I’m not sure I have permission to tell you what project I’ve been editing, but I may be able to share that news soon. However, it does have something to do with gaming, so in honor of that I’m presenting my take on the D&D alignments of some characters in our second novel, Guardian. Do you agree? Do you think a different character better fits the category? Let’s discuss in the comments!
alignments