It’s a really interesting experience watching a con grow. I’ve been lucky enough to go to AwesomeConDC for all three years it’s been running so far. DC is a major city that didn’t have a con until recently (relatively), and it’s very nice to see that remedied. In three short years, AwesomeCon has grown quickly and achieved some impressive things.
The guest list this year was really impressive, especially considering how “young” the con is. William Shatner and George Takei are huge names, and I’d say they were the best known. Also present were Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who, DC Legends of Tomorrow), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, Arrow), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters) and a great many more. The autograph/picture area was large and well-attended. The dealer room also had an impressive array of vendors with merchandise ranging from weapons, costumes, original art, and, of course, comic book back issues.
Another feature of most cons is the costumes, and AwesomeCon is attracting some good ones. I have a lot of fun wandering around seeing what people have come up with. Among the very many I saw were a really well-done Batwoman, a clever Joker/Red Riding Hood mash up, a group of Ghostbusters with their own Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (Girl, in this case), as well as several Indiana Jones, Batman, Wonder Women, and Supermen, all of which are perpetual con favorites. I will say that their costume weapon policy is the most restrictive I’ve ever seen or heard of. Among the banned items are replica weapons and Nerf guns. Bizarrely, one of the items they insist on “checking” at their approval station are sonic screwdrivers from Doctor Who, which are essentially small plastic tubes with a light and sound effect built in. I’m not sure I see the danger there. Especially ironic this year was the con publicizing and teaming with the National Geographic Society Museum for their Indiana Jones exhibit… while they ban whips (although the museum people were allowed to carry them and I saw several attendees with them).
There was a wide range of events and panels. There were special “Q and A” sessions with some of the big names which are always packed. Those are a great way to hear your favorites take some questions and tell some stories. There were panels on different aspects of writing, costuming, life-style, and the inevitable comparison of one fandom to another, or dissecting aspects of different fandoms. The panel times are staggered, instead of starting all at, say, the top of the hour or half past, which is a bit unusual.
AwesomeConDC is a growing event, and it’s come a remarkably long way in a short time. I am willing to bet it will keep growing and improving. I’ll certainly be attending again next year, and looking forward to seeing what new and different things they come up with.
For those who are skeptical about such things, AwesomeConDC is a success story on another front as well. The first AwesomeConDC came about in part after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Not only does this show that crowd-funding can produce some great stuff, but it gives those of us that invested in that first year a feeling of having been part of something special, as well as being invested in it now.