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Fanspotting Field Guide

Page history last edited by Jester 10 years, 1 month ago

You're at Dragon*Con. Congrats! Many will not have come so far as you, and it sucks to be them. There's no time to settle into your hotel room: it's time to get out there into the crowds and do what you freaky people do! It's important to be able to identify other people in the crowd at a glance so that you can properly meet and greet (or antagonize) these cliques as appropriate.


Alpha Nerds



 Courtesy Dragon*Con Photography (c) 2010 Dragon*Con/ACE


These guys are generally the easiest to spot when they're in costume: it's hard not to notice a gleaming white stormtrooper, an imposing Darth Vader, or a way-too-fat Boba Fett as they cruise the hallways. But out of costume you can spot them too. They're usually toting around huge cases in which they keep their armor, and typically wear Star Wars themed shirts which they like to get custom made, because there's just not enough merchandising crap for Star Wars as it is. They also tend to wear a red lanyard (again, custom made) which is a dead giveaway.


The 501st are outwardly friendly to most folks, but their elitist nature will cause them to mock you incessantly if you dare to speak of their costumes without knowing exactly what you're talking about. If you really want to set them off, use this phrase: "I don't see what the problem is with recasting. It's a perfectly acceptable practice." If you say that to one of the Clonetroopers in particular you might get to experience actual human contact, in the form of violence.


Rebel Legion

The opposite of the 501st are the good guys from Star Wars, aka the Rebel Legion. There's a lot of overlap between the two organizations. Most of the time they can be spotted costuming as Jedi or assorted rebel Pilots in those damned orange overalls, but like the 501st's red lanyards, the Rebels tend to have orange ones.


The best way to set them off is to wear a bathrobe and wield a cheap plastic lightsabre from WalMart, then walk up to one and ask about joining persistently.



You can spot them in Starfleet uniforms, wearing Vulcan ears, carrying tricorders, making that damn hand gesture, etc. Most of them will give themselves away at some point with one of those, and if they're able to hide it and blend in to a crowd, then they're not really Trekkies. There's not a single unifying organization that they belong to, though there are plenty of individual groups of them.


Trekkies are generally harmless: even at their worst you might get some body odor or spittle, both of which are far more damaging than any sort of physical attack they may muster. They dislike being called Trekkies, instead of Trekkers... for some reason they feel the difference matters. You can also begin the cliché Kirk v. Picard argument, or incorrectly point out any tiny detail from any episode you like, which will cause them to turn red in anger and stammer to correct you.



The thing about Klingons is that despite portraying one of the least pleasant species in the fictional galaxy, and despite putting crazy time into costumes and/or learning the Klingon language, and having things like the Klingon Beauty Pageant or a Klingon Wedding, the Klingons are some of the most laid-back fans you'll run into. Seriously, their ability to laugh at themselves is remarkable and admirable.


You'll likely be able to spot them anywhere. As for annoying them, it's hard to say. I mean one, you wouldn't want to, given that they can do a great deal more damage to your face than the other breed of Trekkies. And on the other hand, what really sets them off? I guess you could try mocking them for going to the effort of learning the language. Why bother, though?





While most are members of the Superhero Costuming Forum or the League of Heroes Forum, some can be true to their character and be the lone wolf super hero and avoid the rampant war between the DC and Marvel universe's. Can be seen in groups of males chomping on protein bars and talking about how much they dead lift and consider themselves to be the brawniest, strongest costumers. The females of the group use excessive double sided tape and/or hairspray and can be identified by the superhero powers of silicone!

Members of both sexes in this community should also remember that wearing spandex is a privilege, not a right.



The Browncoats are becoming a major fan group. They were annoying enough to talk Fox into creating a Firefly movie, after all. If you see a cowboy that seems to be carrying a futuristic looking weapon, then you're looking at a Browncoat. You may also see them crying in a corner over the fact that their series is still canceled and will never, ever live again in any meaningful format. Poor losers.


To antagonize them, just remind them that Firefly is gone and will never live again. That little nudge should be enough to set them to tears again. Let their inner pain work for you. Or you could just haughtily point out that it's a SciFi con, not a cowboy con, and ignore them as they try to explain the difference.


Hogwarts Students

In a convention of the socially mal-adjusted it should be no surprise to anyone that a large number of them will glom onto a fantastical set of children's books about a boy who has a shit life and then turns out to be EXTRA SPESHUL. Their own lives will never get better but there they are, 28 years old and still virgins, pretending to be wizard students and spouting random idiotic 'spells' as if it might make them slightly more interesting. You can spot them with robes, scarves (two-tone, not the Tom Baker muted-rainbow style), and wands. Some break away from the trend and do a professor of some sort.


The best way to bother them is to ask what they're costuming as, then point out that you're not 11 and don't read children's books.


LOTR Fans/Middle Earthers/Tolkeinites

A little like the Hogwarts people but less desperate for acceptance. The two main works of this universe are the Hobbit and LOTR, the main theme of both of which is that some little old nobody ended up destined for greatness. See the similarity with the above? Folks just want some seemingly-homeless wizard to pop up at their craphole of a house/basement lair and tell them they're magical and whisk them away on an adventure so that for once in their otherwise insignificant lives, they can be special. But they have a wider range of specialness to choose from. The short and fat ones go for hobbits, the taller ones that can manage to grow facial hair go for wizards or the odd big tough ranger. The rest go for the elves because they look feminine. Females go for elves because THEY WISH.


The argument to start with them is A) whether or not LOTR was meant as a discussion of the effect of Nazi Germany's industrial machine on gentile England, or B) who Tom Bombadil really is. Neither will really annoy them, per se, but you'll get a long winded diatribe about either one. Have breath mints handy, by the way.


Galactica Fleet

Costuming fans of BattleStar Galactica come in plenty of varieties, and you'll see fleet officers, deckhands, pilots, etc. In general you'll see many more related to the new series than the old, which will work in your favor. Unlucky for you, their series of choice had a good run with good acting, (generally) decent writing, and got to come to a natural conclusion instead of being cut off early like many good SciFi TV shows. This means that fans thereof got to go through all five stages of grief over the course of the series and have worked out most of their issues, as opposed to Firefly or Farscape fans.


The best way to annoy them is to refer to it as GINO... Galactica in name only, thereby signifying that you're dismissive of the newer, more interesting series as opposed to the crappy camp '70s edition. On the upside, if you see actor Richard Hatch around he may join you in the mockery. He's a regular guest and was in both series.


Stargate People

Most of your Stargate costuming will come in the form of your average looking light-gear soldier in blue BDUs, carrying an FN P90. There's not a lot more to it than that, for the most part. Some of them will do the Egyptian look with the big metal masks but those tend to look like crap.


There's one divisive line between all fans of Stargate, and that is this: most fans who like the shows think the movie sucked, and most who liked the movie think the shows sucked. You just need to find the right way to come down on that line... most of the time if you go the pro-movie route, you'll annoy them.


Doctor Who Fans

Well now here's a tricky one. This show has run for nearly 40 years if you add it all up. In that amount of time there have been assloads of characters as which to costume, many of them dressing surprisingly normally due to the show's typically low budget. It's hard to spot them all if you're not familiar with the source material. Luckily, most people who dress up will either be the 10th doctor (look for a brown pinstripe suit and mussed up hair) or Rose (female and wearing a British flag t-shirt, of any girth or any color hair), so you can spot those two at least. There will be plenty of 11th doctors as well this year, so look for someone with a lopsided haircut and a bow tie, looking like they came straight from teaching a drab history class over at GSU.


The show famously doesn't take itself seriously, making it both easier and trickier to mock. Your best bet is to point out to the heftier Rose Tylers that the Doctor is a fictional character, and he will never ever show up to whisk her away.


Convention Staff

Generally seen in black shirts guarding the Dealer Rooms, the larger panel rooms, or working the A/V equipment in panels, the D*C staff are a load of volunteers who put aside time every year to work for Dragon*Con in an effort to A) help keep this awesome convention going, and B) save a little bit of cash by getting free tickets for their efforts, with a rare few who probably C) work there to try to meet and greet celebs to whom they hope to attach themselves not unlike a lamprey. Some are cheerful and helpful, some are surly, some are full of the blinding joy of Dragon*Con, and some love to abuse what meager power they have. No two are alike, and each member of the staff is a unique and beautiful snowflake.


Do not attempt to antagonize them, however. Unlike almost everyone else on this list, they do have some amount of power and aren't afraid to use it to, say, get your convention membership revoked. Plus, you know, they're doing this for free for your entertainment, so a bit of respect, right?


The Unincorporated



If you go to the Gaming Hall, you'll be able to see them... and smell them... in vast quantities. Gamers don't belong to any set organization or group. They merely use the convention every year as an excuse to play tabletop games outside of their basement, albeit typically with the same friends they'd play against in said basement. In general they will be devoid of social skills, they rarely costume in a meaningful manner (the odd Dungeon Master may wear a cape over his plaid shirt and blue-jeans), and you're more likely to run into el chupacabra running a BattleTech game than an attractive gamer down there.


They can be safely left alone to their meaningless existence. Attempts to upset them would only give them some sort of social contact that might make the rest of their life more tolerable.


The Fluttering Horde

They dress like orange butterflies, and are fans of the Venture Brothers. In general you'll rarely see them in large numbers. Tragically, the show is a comedy and they all know how ridiculous they are in dressing up, so it's harder to pester them.


Anime Fans

Within the anime fandom community there is a wealth of subcliques battling for supremacy in a heaving, writhing, panting ball of concentrated nerd. It's important for us normal folks to understand that there is not and will never be any supreme victor in the anime wars, but the raging battles may certainly ruin your enjoyment of the convention when fresh, scalding acne is spilled on you.


Your average anime fan is often found in the Dealer's Hall scoping out the assortment of bootlegged DVDs. You can safely ignore these unless you want to buy said DVDs yourself, in which case you're in for a fight if you happen to reach for the same copy of Ah! Megamisama at the same time.


  • Mecha Fans: There's a tendency in anime for young schoolchildren to be put in charge of massive, deadly, city-leveling robots. Who knows why, but it's all over the place. These are obviously generally future-setting sorts of ordeals (though Full Metal Alchemist could said to be both fantasy and mecha, in a way) and the plots will range from police dramas (Appleseed) to semi-police action with philosophical elements (Ghost In The Shell) to a ripoff of Bruce Wayne in a giant robot (The Big O) to an acid trip while reading the bible (Neon Genesis Evangelion). Lucky for us, these people can't get their hands on real robots of this size. Some will costume as the robots, and others, usually women, will wear skintight suits with things on their head like the high school kids in the show.

  • Sailor Mooners: One of the better known bits of anime is Sailor Moon, a show where a bunch of schoolgirls wear skimpy clothes and battle assorted evils while totally not being raped by tentacles. Well, at least not in the official stuff. The important thing to know here is that if you see a male in what looks like a sailor suit with a wand and a tiara, run. RUN.

  • Inuyasha Fans: Inuyasha is a soap opera, or a sort of Dawson's Creek for the girls not hip enough to watch the real deal. It has some schoolgirl in some fantasy land where she controls a semi-demon furry dude with a tail, and that's really all you need to know. Ultimately, just like with the Hogwarts people, it gets back to losers desperately wishing to be "special" in some magical world. In particular it's notable that of the Inuyasha cosplayers, not one is below the clinical definition of 'overweight'.

  • Bleach Fans: Bleach is a show where kids fight dead spirits that look freaky and make no sense. You can spot Bleach fans as they tend to wear black robes and carry comically-oversized swords which make painfully apparent the fact that they're compensating for something.

  • Subbers v. Dubbers: In the anime community there is no more bitter rivalry than that of the Subs versus the Dubs. Subs feel that anime should strictly be subtitled, leaving the original Japanese voicework intact, as that makes it "pure" and the lips sync up properly. Dubs counter that by pointing out that subbers never actually know what's going on since they're too busy reading to be able to watch the action, and that therefore the voices should be overdubbed in English with really crappy voice actors that are trying, and failing, to keep the pace with the lips on the screen. Both style has its benefits, but the argument itself is stupid. If you find yourself in a panel where there's a discussion over it going on, get up, walk out, and do something else. Anything else, at all, is a better use of your time.



If they're dressed in Victorian clothing and have goggles, they're Steampunk. Again, there are a lot of little fan groups but it's entirely unorganized on the whole. Steampunkers can come across as excessively cliquey and catty, trying to one-up each other constantly by seeing who can come up with the most impressive-looking-yet-useless items imaginable. You'll find them anywhere and some tend to seem more social than most other attendees, though typically in a historically-accurate haughty manner.


It's not difficult to set them off: usually you can point out that gluing cogs to leather gloves doesn't make them cool. Or you could just point out that their steampunk R2-D2 is neither historically accurate nor canon for Star Wars, nor useful in any way. If you really want to put in the effort you could learn about real corsets and point out to all the women that they're not wearing the real deal. That seems to really upset them.



Are you downstairs in the Hyatt after nightfall? Are you unable to hear anything due to a constantly thumping bass nearby? Are there a lot of scantily clad, pasty white people around? Then 97% of the people within 50 yards of you in all directions is considered a Goth. They all tend to be lumped together at Dragon*Con, but they're there for the music for the most part... some of the bands tend to court that sort of image (Voltaire, I'm looking at you here). Plenty of these people will fall into the stereotypical bad-poetry about the dark blackness in their blackest of black souls, etc. Many will simply dress the part, though.


There's not much point in trying to annoy them, truth be told. The big problem is that they won't be able to hear you over the bass.


Football Fans

Every year the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) ACC and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) hold a season kick-off College Football game in Atlanta over the same weekend as Dragon*Con. Many of them learned that they can get a discounted hotel rate by booking a room under the convention code and they swoop in to snatch up rooms at the host hotels early on, making sure there's insufficient room for the actual attendees. You'll spot them in the public areas of the convention, like the elevators or lobbies.


The best thing to do is ignore the rude ones when you can. They won't be hanging around long enough to make it worth your time to annoy them, and the fact that they're not spending their weekend at a convention for nerds is going to give them the upper hand.


On the flipside there are also Dragon*Con goers who are also football fans (yes, we exist), and are in town for a double whammy of delicious joy.  These fans often work their school pride into their costumes, and should be acknowledged with much respect. (disclaimer: the previous statement was edited in by disgruntled football extremists)


Con Babes

Sometimes referred to as con sluts as well. There's this tendency for some of the females to dress up in something skimpy, pretend its a costume, and act in a manner one might describe as 'way beyond flirty'. The tendency is that photographers will gather 'round because, hey, women showing skin. They'll pose, uninvited, with anything else available to keep the attention going. It's not difficult for them to achieve, sadly. These individuals, or more frequently these pairs or trios, are a common sight but are entirely unconnected aside from their behavior.


You can safely ignore them for the most part. If they come near you, rest assured they're not paying attention unless you have a camera in your hand. If you want to get a few pictures of Little Miss Daddy Issues feel free, but you're just enabling them. Probably unwise to approach them for romantic purposes, by the way. You don't know where they've been.


The Glitterpyres

Twilight fans haven't been a massive presence at D*C yet, but that's likely to change this year (2010) as several actors and actresses from the movies have signed on. These are hard to categorize right now, but most likely it will consist of screaming 13 year old girls. Guys pretending to be werewolves or covered in body glitter are also going to be connected, but it's hard to say how closely. Some may be doing so to mock the rest of them.


For now, avoid them. Rabid teenage girls swooning over Edward or... who's the other one, Jack? They'll turn on you in a heartbeat and may very well kill you.


People Who Argue With The Panel Experts

It's mind-numbing to imagine how frequently this really happens. You go to a panel, one of the smaller ones where people can easily ask questions. You listen to the panel experts discuss a topic, and hands go up. Why? So that people can argue, or just as commonly to try to one-up the panel expert with their own anecdotes. It'll happen everywhere: in 2009 I saw this occur in a writers track (non-published, unwashed moron trying to outdo a prolific author expert), a copyright track (random people trying to out-legalese a goddamned copyright attorney!) and a science track (again, random nerd v. NASA engineer with a PhD. or two).


It's best, in these cases, to wait for the expert to smack them down. It's usually polite, but it will invariably be pointed out that the spouter-of-stupidity is quite incorrect. And that's always fun to watch.


The Truly Obscure



Bronies are primarily teenage to young-adult, mostly male, fans of the animated cartoon "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic." The term is often accepted as gender-neutral, and many female fans prefer "brony" over the not-so-popular "pegasister." There is nothing particularly exciting about this, but they make a big deal out of it.



Furries are a clique of their own for the most part, though some will drift into the other fandoms as well (Star Trek officers that are also tigers, Stargate troops that are also rabbits, and I suspect that Harry Potter Werewolf might have gotten its yiff on now and then, for instance). The common furry usually has a tail and cat ears or something similar. Typically it'd be best to avoid them. TheL socially acceptable response is to gift them with kerosene and lit matches, but security might not like open flames in the hotel.



So here's a weird category that has some special circumstances. Obviously Dragon*Con happens in a public locations, and while much of the convention is off-limits to non-members, there are still some open locations where the public can be involved. The primary situation with this is in the lobbies of the host hotels in the evening: you'll frequently see people without badges and out of costume wandering around wide-eyed, taking pictures with a camera phone, or talking excitedly on said phone about all the freaks they're checking out. They're just there to laugh at the costumers in the more outlandish getups.


Dragon*Con Wiki Contributors

You're wandering around one of the bar areas and you spot a distinct anomaly. Someone is there, drink in hand. He/she is suave, charming, attractive, socially adept, and carrying on a perfectly reasonable conversation (possibly with members of the opposite sex!). Surely this must be a guest of the convention, some famous actor or a budding starlet, gracing your presence with a smile before telling you to go get f*cked.


Well my friend, you've just run into one of the contributors to this Wiki. You can join our handsome ranks! All you have to do is pitch in.



Comments (2)

ne0ven0m said

at 2:37 pm on Jun 16, 2010

This is easily one of my favorite things to read on the wiki. I was hoping if you could add your humorous spin on Anime fans. They make up a good bit of the crowd too. Other than that, I think you've covered the major fandoms.

CoatHanger said

at 11:11 am on Jun 17, 2010

It's funny you mention it, I did have Anime fans in mind as an addition next time I have a chink of time to spend on it.

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