Awesome Con 2019
Self-described as “Washington DC’s Comic-Con”, Awesome Con 2019 was held in DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center from April 26-28th.
Awesome Con partners with the Smithsonian for Future Con, the part of the convention focused on science fiction and science, Pride Alley, a place for LGBT+ creators and fans, and Awesome Con Jr, for family-friendly geeky content.
Highlights from the convention included panels featuring creators like Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics: Bombshells, InSeXts), Amy Chu (The Secret Loves of Geeks), Timothy Zahn (Thrawn trilogy), and Steve Orlando (Midnighter, Martian Manhunter); Question and Answer sessions with celebrities like John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood), KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse (Riverdale), and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), and tabletop/video gaming sessions where fans could learn to play for the first time or compete against others.
There was content for everyone with a large variety of panels including cosplay advice (Wear Your Fandom: Start Cosplaying), discussions of the state of geek culture (I Love You #Khaleesi! Fandoms in the Digital Age, Strengthening Geek Culture), and of course, comic books (DC Celebrates 80 Years of Batman Comics, Dark Horse Comics: Beyond the Books). Awesome Con had a big focus on diversity and inclusion with panels like The Importance of the Black Voice in Comics, Representation Matters So Make It Good, Disabilities and Tabletop Gaming, The Depiction of Latinx, Asian, and Other Minority Communities in Pop Culture and its Effects, and more.
In addition to panels, many creators had their own tables on the exhibit floor where fans could purchase prints, original artwork, comics, and get items signed. Creators like Amanda Conner (Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn), David Walker (Luke Cage, Power Man & Iron Fist), and Liz Reed (Cuddles and Rage) had tables in the Artists Alley portion of the exhibit floor.
Artists Alley and the Makers Market provided fans a place to interact with their favorite artists and creators as well as a place to pick up unique geeky jewelry, fandom t-shirts, tabletop games, polyhedral dice, action figures, comics, and Funko Pops. Third Eye Comics, a retailer in the Maryland area was in attendance so fans could purchase comics, graphic novels, and t-shirts with the store’s logo.
Third Eye wasn’t the only table offering comics for sales. It was an excellent opportunity for fans to add to their collections or begin new ones with tables holding long box after longbox of Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comics. Most tables were offering deals like $1 single issues, “buy 20 get 20 free” bundles or a free short box with the purchase of 100 single issues. At times it could cause a bit of chaos when multiple people wanted to look through the same boxes, but overall fans were polite and even helped each other out with figuring out where to start in a series.
Awesome Con offered a unique activity, the “Funko Swap Meet” done in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Collector Corp (MACC). The swap meet was a place for fans of Funko Pops (small plastic figurines of pop culture characters) to browse the collections of others and trade for new Pops.
Awesome Con provides the comic convention experience on a smaller scale while still offering a large variety of content and guests. The inclusion of FutureCon is a clever way to utilize the close proximity to the Smithsonian, and Pride Alley provides the opportunity for traditionally marginalized voices in comics and geek culture to speak up and make their content known. Additionally, AwesomeCon Jr. creates a space for children to celebrate their geeky interests so entire families can go to the convention and have fun together.
If you’re in the Washington DC area next May, Awesome Con is well worth a visit.