"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.
"I'm putting them on a panel together, obviously," Henry said.
New allegations surface
By 2011, Dragon Con was bringing in more than $40 million in revenue to Atlanta, primarily through dining and lodging, according to the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Attendance had been steadily growing for years. As a privately held company, Dragon Con has declined to disclose revenues, but a four-day ticket this year costs $130.
Then, Kramer, who had agreed to remain under house arrest as a condition to being released on bail, was found in a hotel room in Connecticut with a minor in May 2011. He was arrested and extradited back to Georgia.
By then, some Dragon Con fans had had enough. Petitions to boycott Dragon Con were circulated. And, Henry said, that's when Dragon Con decided to do whatever it would take to divorce itself from the co-founder.