Emily S. Whitten: Awesome Con DC!
This Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21, a new comics and pop culture convention will debut in Washington, DC: Awesome Con! I’m super-excited about this, given that there hasn’t been a comic con in DC proper in lo, these many years since I have lived here. Okay, okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. As it happens, there was a comic con here as recently as 2005. But it’s still been quite awhile. There are comic cons in the general area, yes, like the excellent Baltimore Comic Con, as well as cons in Richmond, and Annapolis; but for those of us who are Metro-dependent, those cons are not so easy to get to.
Now, finally, we’re getting a con right in the city, at the Washington Convention Center, a three minute walk from the Mt. Vernon Square metro station (or 11 minutes from McPherson Square or Metro Center stations, for orange/blue line folks). Yay! The con will run from 10 AM to 7 PM Saturday, and 10 AM to 5 PM Sunday, and tickets are very reasonably priced at $15 for one day, or $25 for both (unless you opt for the $75 VIP package, which includes exclusive items).
Not only is the con convenient and affordable, but it looks set to be every bit as good a draw as other, already established area cons might be. Created by the guys behind Annapolis Comic Con, the guest list to date includes celebrity guests like Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon, Futurama’s Billy West and Phil LaMarr, Ghostbusters’ Ernie Hudson, and The Walking Dead’s Theodus Crane, along with over eighty artists and comic creators, including Larry Hama, Herb Trimpe, Justin Jordan, Ben Templesmith, Noelle Stevenson, Nick Galifianakis, and many more. The con is advertising “a wide assortment of comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay, and more,” and special events to include “discussion panels, costume contests, trivia contests, gaming tournaments, and a whole lot of activities for kids.” There’s even going to be a Mind of the Geek comedy show starring comedian Arnie Ellis. Sounds…awesome!
Given that this is a newly minted con, and that I’m a convention co-founder myself and am always interested in that aspect of things, I thought I’d check in with comics dealer Ben Penrod, co-founder of Awesome Con, and ask him a question or two. Here’s what he said:
What spurred the creation of this new Washington, DC comics convention?
As long as I’ve been doing cons, there hasn’t been one in DC. Awesome Con is something we (Steve Anderson, owner of Third Eye Comics, and I) had been kicking around for a while; we knew a lot of people wanted a con in the District.
What’s your previous involvement with comics and convention-running, and how did you get involved in organizing this con?
I’ve been selling comics on eBay since 1999. In 2008 I started selling comics full-time, and Steve and I ran the first Annapolis Comic-Con in 2011. The Annapolis Comic-Con was something we had discussed since 2009 or 2010, probably.
What’s the planning experience been like? Any roadblocks, or smooth sailing?
I don’t know that I’d call it smooth sailing, but things are good. It’s definitely a lot of work. I have met a lot of great people, and I’m so excited about Awesome Con; it’s a really fun job. But it’s a lot of work.
What are some highlights of the upcoming con, and what are you most looking forward to?
If I didn’t have responsibilities and could just attend the con as a fan, I’d probably try to get to as many of the guest Q&As as I could, and probably early Saturday before it gets too busy I’d find some artist I’d never seen before and commission some artwork.
What have you got on the schedule for kids?
We have a lot of stuff for kids. The Kids Are Awesome room will be fantastic. Any time during the show, kids can find art supplies in the room and get to work drawing or coloring. We’ll also have a kids’ costume contest and an art show both days. On Saturday there will be a children’s book reading and an art workshop. On Sunday we’ll have a game show with kids and pro artists paired up!
Is this planned to be a yearly event? What are your goals for the show?
This will be an annual event. The goal is for this show to be a fun event that the people of the DC area can look forward to every year. For too long, DC was the only major city without a con, and now we have one.
And I hope it’s here to stay!
As the website says, “Awesome Con DC is a comic-con that embraces all aspects of geekdom and pop culture.” Sounds good to me! So if you’re in the area April 20 and 21 and looking for something fun to do, come to Awesome Con! I’ll be there both days, so if you see me, feel free to say hi.
And until then, Servo Lectio!
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold