Are you a geek or nerd? Are you really into sci-fi? Do you love comic books? Then you’re already probably well-versed in the world of fan conventions. My sister has even embraced her inner (outer?) geek and is a regular attendee at Dragon Con every year.
But I love sci-fi and nerdy stuff. I’m really into cool entertainment. So one year, I suggested I go with her.
And she laughed at me. She basically said I wouldn’t fit in (Me? I’m the queen of misfits!) and that I’m too out of touch to really get it.
WELL, my time has come (so IN YER FACE, Tonya) because I just attended my first fan convention, Awesome Con, also known as Washington DC’s Comic Con. FYI – it’s over for 2017 but plans are already in the works for next year’s convention scheduled for March 30 – April 1, 2018.
If you’re like me, you straddle the line between mainstream and misfit and you wear it well. You like to dress up at Halloween when it’s acceptable and you watch plenty of geeky shows (luckily, most of them are cool now). But you’re just not sure if a fan convention is for you.
I mean, those people are weird, am I right? That’s not for you. Or is it?
I’m hear to tell you everything you can experience at Awesome Con and take some of the mystery (not to be confused with Mystique) out of the fan convention.
Who Goes to Awesome Con?
This is the most surprising part for me. EVERYONE goes. You know what I mean by everyone? Gay, straight, black, white, young, old, and fans of almost any genre.
Heck, I even met a nice guy from Australia there.
I saw super hero fans (like me and The Flash). Video game fans. Comic book fans. Movie fans. TV show fans. Art fans. Science fans. In fact, it’s a great place to find your fandom – the people who are obsessed with a particular show or movie. I’m still searching for mine, I think.
Can I Bring My Kids to Awesome Con?
People can and DO bring their kids. In fact, it’s a pretty family-friendly event. I saw entire families dressed up and a lot of daddy-daughter duos (it was Father’s Day when I attended).
There’s an entire section called Awesome Con Jr. with sponsors like Nickelodeon and we loved watching the Junior Cosplay contest.
I hadn’t planned on it but I ended up bringing my 10 year old son, Evan, with me. I had scored a press pass for the event but I bought him a ticket. For kids 10 and under, it’s only $10 for a 3 day (all weekend) pass. And he found his people.
He spent way too long picking out custom mini-figures to use with his LEGO sets (6 for $20!).
And he also bought his very first legit comic book (and older Avengers comic for only $2!). And I bought him a sword. Relax. It’s not a real one. It’s made for cosplay and I’ll tell you why I splurged the $20 bucks on it for him in just a bit.
What Else Can You Do At Awesome Con?
Great question. So let me start with the one thing you’ve already figured out… SHOPPING!
I already mentioned cosplay props are available but you’ll also find a ton of apparel. Like, really cool, fun, and unusual t-shirts.
Plenty of comic books, artwork, and jewelry (I love my Wonder Woman necklace!). And more unusual apparel like these… um, dragon wraps? (I actually thought they were really cool).
If you were looking for something a little more unusual, you could find that too.
One of my favorite areas was Artist Alley where you could meet and greet fan-based artists and buy some of their wares. It’s where we met Bing Fucious, a newbie who sat and basically doodled character sketches of fans. And assured us, though, that conversation was free and we took advantage of that. Evan spent a great deal of time talking to Bing about engineering and art, his vocation and avocation.
It’s also where we met two of the four guys behind the podcast, Man Points!
Four Vets giving you their unfiltered opinion about all things from pop culture to politics. Never afraid to say what you’re thinking. So crawl into those safe spaces and prepare to be triggered.
But there was more than shopping (although why would you need something else?).
Exhibits at Awesome Con
If you weren’t looking to buy, you could still learn and check out exhibits like the National Science Foundation (who, by the way, loved Evan’s question as to whether or not multiverses exist), NASA, local libraries, and robotics groups.
Photo Ops and Autographs at Awesome Con
A big draw for a lot of fans is the ability to meet and greet with some of their favorite characters from TV and movies. But be prepared to shell out some big bucks. This is how many celebrities supplement their income so expect to pay anywhere from $30 to over $200 for a picture and/or autograph. And don’t think you can slyly walk by and snag a picture either. There are RULES and you must follow them or else you’re done.
This is where I may have failed as a parent. This whole thing is new to Evan and when he found out he might have the opportunity to meet Stan Lee, he begged me. So I at least inquired. It was $120 for an autograph. And I said no.
It was pretty clear that this was devastating to Evan but I had a feeling he thought it would be a lovely conversation with Stan Lee and not just a chance to say hello, grab an autograph, and quickly move along.
So I bought him a $20 sword as a consolation prize. Finding out later that Stan Lee is 94 years old, I’m kind of regretting that we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
Panels at Awesome Con
If you don’t get to meet some of your idols (or just can’t/won’t shell out the bucks for it), you can often have a chance to hear them speak on a panel discussion.
The panels cover everything from science to video games to pop culture and I love that the programming schedule gives you a rating for each session so that you know if the panels are kid-friendly or not.
Because we only went for one day, we didn’t get to attend any of the panels but now that Evan has discovered Awesome Con, I have a feeling we’ll be spending three days there next year.
But there’s one more thing. The thing that’s makes it all so fun. It’s the COSPLAY.
Cosplay at Awesome Con
Cosplay: a contraction of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character
If people watching is your game, it’s worth it to attend just for the cosplay. Better yet, dress up and join in!
I understand now why people do it. Not only is it an homage to their favorite fandom but for a few hours, it makes them feel like mini celebrities! People want to get their picture taken with you simply because you have a cool costume. And most are very gracious about having their pictures taken. And as you can see below, I took full advantage of that!
A Fond Farewell at Awesome Con
Finally, the true spirit of the community these types of conventions bring together was observed in the back of the hall where a small board had been erected as a place for fans to leave farewell messages to the late, great, original caped crusader, Adam West.
I plan to return next year at the same bat time to the same bat channel. Until then, my friends, live long and prosper!