It’s starting to feel a little repetitive to say that this year’s Awesome Con in Washington DC was bigger and better than the year before but it’s no less than true than in years past. Now in its fourth year, Awesome Con’s main hall filled up even more of that giant hall in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown DC and the star powers of the guests increased. How many other conventions can say they secured both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who let alone conventions that are less than five years old?
It’s true that Awesome Con continues to have growing pains. More than a few con-goers were unhappy on Sunday when it became clear that autograph and photo op lines for the Doctor Who duo were a bit of a mess. The demand was clearly too high and the people running it were unprepared for the volume. The panel even ended up being delayed nearly two hours to try and accommodate the rush. Awesome Con Founder Ben Penrod took to social media the next day to issue an apology and explanation; something that Awesome Con has always been very prompt about. Like Penrod says in the post, they’re still learning and they never make the same mistake twice. (Anyone remember the badge fiasco of 2014? That hasn’t happened since.) I’m always impressed by a convention that not only immediately owns up to their mistakes but also demonstrates that they’ve learned from the experience.
There was plenty to love around the convention though! Well before noon on Friday, geeks and nerds were ready to get their convention weekend started. The lines to get in were already starting to snake through the large hall upstairs used for purchasing badges by 11:30am, half an hour before the con even started. Once you got inside, there were plenty of vendors and artists aplenty, ready to sell you almost anything you could think of from comics to original art to Jedi Temple Guard masks to a Kylo Ren is a Punk Bitch shirt. Perhaps the most unique addition to the hall this year were the two soda trucks. You could buy one of the metal mugs and then get refills throughout the weekend. (I admit that I didn’t get the particulars as I’m not a soda person.) They were definitely two of the busiest booths all three days.
On the guest front, Awesome Con delivered once more. It was certainly the year of the Who with a combination of Capaldi, Coleman, and John Barrowman in attendance. To the surprise of none, Barrowman was a huge hit at the convention. He’s a dynamic personality who never fails to entertain. Who else is going to arrive at their panel wearing a Darth Vader dress and heels? Everyone I spoke to gushed about what a joy he was to see and interact with. Also getting high praise from fans was Matthew Lewis aka Neville Longbottom. The word on the con floor was that he was a perfect gentleman and generally all around fun to meet and interact with. Other guests of particular note included Summer Glau, Karl Urban, and Elizabeth Henstridge and Brett Dalton from Agents of SHIELD. That’s the true joy of Awesome Con, by the way. There’s a little something for everyone no matter what your fandoms of choice are. TV shows and films from across the years were obviously well represented and Awesome Con has even been stepping up its comic book creator game over the last few years. In attendance this year were Mark Waid and Peter David. Tom King, writer of Batman and Vision, was a returning guest. (Yeah, that’s right: Awesome Con was a fan of Tom King before he became famous!)
Star Wars was once again in full force at Awesome Con. (Yes that pun was totally intended.) In addition to the Q&A panel with Timothy Zahn and the Rampant Speculation in a Galaxy Far, Far Away panel, Star Wars fans had the opportunity to meet Dave Prowse (Darth Vader,) Ray Park (Darth Maul,) Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar,) and Phil LaMarr (Bail Organa, Kit Fisto, and lots more!) and attend panels featuring all of the actors. Fans could also get their pictures taken with stormtroopers, droids, and more over in the Backlot are where the 501st, Rebel Legion, and the R2 Builders Club were all set up with backdrops and plenty of characters to pose with. (There was even a speeder and a BB-8!!!) Hopefully we’ll get to see more Star Wars next year.
As always, cosplay was out in full force around the convention. Here’s just a sampling of some of the fun costumes that fans were wearing:
It’s safe to say that despite the hiccups on Sunday, this year’s Awesome Con went swimmingly well. Clearly DC was hungry for a big convention and celebration of nerdiness like this and Ben Penrod and company are delivering in spades. Next year’s Awesome Con will be June 16-18, 2017. Better add it to your calendar now.