"I started thinking, you know, he sure isn't trying very hard to get tried," he said of Henry's requests to delay the trial.
Regardless, Kramer's legal troubles effectively sidelined him from being actively involved in future Dragon Cons.
The nerds strut their stuff
In 2002, amid steadily growing attendance, a new event sprang up on a sunny Saturday morning that was destined to become a mainstay of the convention and an Atlanta tradition: the Dragon Con parade.
Conceived by Henry and friend Rob Pauley, the parade was supposed to drive traffic to Dragon Con's vendor halls, which had just been moved to a new hotel. Already gaining traction as a costuming destination, Dragon Con put its best-dressed out in Centennial Olympic Park. Led by bagpipers, the parade ended in the Marriott Marquis, at the bottom of the escalators at entrance of the exhibit halls.
It worked like a charm, Henry said, and the parade route was lengthened the next year.
Parading costumers create quite a spectacle, and before long the number of onlookers crowded on Peachtree Street's sidewalks began to rival the convention's ticket sales. In 2012, the Atlanta Police Department estimated parade crowds at 80,000 people. Dragon Con registration counted 52,000 tickets sold that year.
The parade also contributed to Dragon Con's reputation as a premier venue for professional cosplayers, or master costume-makers who spend hundreds of hours employing skilled trades such as wig-sculpting, metallurgy and special-effects makeup techniques on their creations. Usually, they compete in contests worldwide or appear as paid models or entertainers, but at Dragon Con, they could show off their handiwork for sheer enjoyment.
"I feel a freedom at Dragon Con that I don't feel anywhere else," said professional cosplayer Yaya Han, whose passion is manga and anime. "I felt like I could dress up in any kind of costume that I wanted from any kind of genre."
The convention has a reputation for spectacles of all kinds, including the amorous sort. There are even speed dating events for singles who can tell the difference between a set of Spock ears and an elf costume.
"It's definitely an adult convention after 9 o'clock," said Mayes, the 501st member.
As chairman, Henry decided to take the programming in a family-friendly direction, both to meet the evolution of fandom and for fans who were growing up and having kids of their own. Buoyed by Harry Potter and "Twilight" fandom, programming for young adult literature and youth-oriented television became permanent hallmarks of the convention.
It's a formula that seems to work for attendees who don't want to leave the kids behind. What better way to inspire kids than to take them to hear a panel about "Twilight" and later, hear Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam talk about his films?
"Beyond nerd culture and passing it on one generation to the next, it's just an amazing opportunity to show a kid a choice of careers or hobbies," Taylor said.
But in the meantime, another Georgia teen had come forward with molestation allegations against Kramer had touched him inappropriately. The incidents allegedly occurred between 1996 and 2000, leading to Kramer being re-indicted in 2003 on six counts of child molestation related to the three boys.
Kramer continued to profess his innocence; he also remained uninvolved in Dragon Con. Kramer's lawyer claims that Henry and the remaining shareholders started taking steps to oust him from Dragon Con's board by trying to buy him out. When Kramer refused, they simply stopped paying him royalties, Kramer's lawyer McNeill Stokes said.
"They tried to squeeze him out," Stokes said.
In 2009, Kramer filed the first of two lawsuits against Dragon Con, accusing Henry of misusing profits for personal gain and for failing to give him his fair share.
Henry acknowledges trying to buy Kramer out in order to disassociate the convention from the allegations. He also said Kramer turned him down three times.
Enter Shatner and Nimoy
The con was growing by leaps and bounds even as its creators wrangled over ownership. Henry tried to up its profile through booking last-minute celebrity guests. One of his favorites was when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy -- Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from "Star Trek" -- attended the 2009 convention.
Robert Duncan McNeill of "Star Trek: Voyager" had canceled, but his agent offered to call another "Star Trek" personality. Much to everyone's surprise, Shatner agreed to come.
They arranged for Shatner to arrive in Atlanta on Thursday night and to do panels Friday and autographs Saturday morning so he could leave by noon. But the legendary television actor ended up staying on, crashing a panel for Nimoy's science show "In Search Of" and causing a Twitter frenzy.
"Bill didn't leave till Tuesday, and then he canceled his flight, took a car, hell, I don't know where he went," Henry said.
This year, Shatner is back at Dragon Con, and his co-star George Takei will be attending, too.