Dragon Con Recap: A Puppeteer’s Perspective


Well, here I am, the day after the great Atlanta nerdfest known as Dragon Con(yes, I do include myself in that category) has come to an end. I can see why people enjoy it, I can see why people hate it. Much to do, lots to see, but it seems as if there’s never enough time and nowhere near enough deodorant to go around.

Anyway, this weekend was not considered a fun-and-games adventure for me;I intended to use it as a promotional tool. Well, yes, there were many wonderful adventures, new friends to meet, and lots of yukking it up with old pals. But I considered myself  working 98 percent of the time I was there. I always had a puppet with me and I was “onstage” nonstop. It got exhausting, but I learned a lot in a few short days;what works, what doesn’t:

1) Pushing my original characters, completely unknown, isn’t a good idea at a pop-culture con. I learned very quickly that little Mo, big gorgeous Khan, and even my pirate parrot, Goldie, pretty much got lost in the shuffle. People needed something familiar to “hook” onto first, to catch their eye, which leads me to the next point.


(screencap from the parade–me, all by my little self, the lonely chick with the puppet)

2) Pushing the original characters using something familiar and popular as assistance is brilliant. Case in point: Jamie Walrus. Gazillions of people know who Jamie Hyneman is. All I had to do was keep Jamie Walrus with me and hold him up constantly, and people flocked to me, pointed, cheered, guffawed, yelled out “THAT IS AWESOME” and snagged me for photos. I quite literally had paparazzi. Imagine standing there with 20 people jockeying for position to take your photo. Really boosts the ego, I must say.


(photo by Patrick O’Leary)

Same with Vapor–although he wasn’t a caricature of anyone,his being part of a group of Ghostbusters really made him stand out. Plus, we were the only Ghostbusters with our own ghost.


(photo by Jed McBride)

3) Buttons are great, but cards simply have more info. They are also easier to get out of one’s pocket quickly. Also, since my buttons did not have Jamie or Vapor on them, and those were the characters getting the raves, I felt it was a little pointless to give them out. I’m still glad I have them, though, for future adventures.


4) A professional appearance,if you are promoting yourself, is everything. Sure, I was casual,in jeans, but I kept to a plain, unadorned black shirt(I have four of them for this purpose). I probably could have worked a sexy little black top and tight pants just fine, but I’d rather have people look at my puppets than my rack or my butt. Both are worth a look, but not in this situation.


I wanted the  nice solid background of a black shirt so that our lanyards we made would stand out:


Aren’t they great? I made the lanyards out of shoelaces, and Steve put together the graphics according to my design. He came up with the idea of having half of Khan on one lanyard and his other half on the other lanyard. I felt it was very important to have my name and company clearly visible, and people noticed and complimented them frequently.

5) A sense of improv and a willingness to be daring are extremely important. Non-chatty puppets do not hold people’s interest. Jamie was able to keep people chuckling with quotes from the Mythbusters show, but Vapor totally had people snickering and laughing with one-liners I by myself wouldn’t have dared blurt out in public. And the best part? When people would completely talk to the puppet and ignore me. That’s what I live for; I’ve entertained you and I have vanished into the background. My character is alive to you, and you believe.


6) If something flows naturally, go with it. I had intended to give Vapor more of a devious, gravelly voice, but for some reason, this high-pitched New Yorker voice came out.I ran with it, and I couldn’t imagine him talking any other way now. Steve said the voice fit, since the Ghostbusters were from New York anyway! 😀

7) You have to be mindful of others, and follow the rules as best you can. But every now and then, one of those opportunities opens up–i.e. the chance for me to get Jamie’s picture with Adam–and you have to run with it.

Don’t chicken out, or you’ll regret it forever.



  1. I wish I could have seen you. I am one of the senior Alt History staff and an avid puppeteer. I bring “Eloise” to Dragon Con every year, but only have the strength to carry her around one or 2 days. I’m still searching for the pictures that people took of us. Maybe next year.

          1. comfort insole for shoes.
            eat just before work.
            anticipate it being hot as hell.
            anticipate it getting cool at the start of the season at night.
            pain killers and foot soak after, helps after work.
            resist high voice screaming. Think stage and singing lessons, its all in the diafram.
            ignore the rumor mill.
            Listen to those on staff, they can be short or curt at times, but its never personal. Our production is like any movie or play and it gets crazy.
            bring a locker lock and take it home everynight(never leave it locked on a locker) your “survival bag” should have: Black water bottle (for use in the house), Extra shirt to change into after work. Plastic bag for sweaty shirt. deodorant, hair bands, lite jacket, small camera, babywipes, eyedrops/contact stuff(if needed).
            It is not always easy to chat or make friends while working so I suggest going to Dennys after work with the vets. You get known and make friends much much easier.

            I know its a lot of info, I hope it helps.

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