Originally published on Medium at https://medium.com/@BreezeRiley/my-first-comic-convention-6e3ea0ff2158#.5yamjzddp. Resharing now since SDCC is so soon!
Anyone who knows me, or has at least seen my Twitter feed, knows that I am a pop culture nerd.
More specifically, I’ve loved science-fiction and fantasy (including the superhero genre) my whole life.
So it’s probably less surprising that earlier this month I went to my first comic convention, Awesome Con in Washington, D.C.
One of the smaller regional conventions, this was the 4th year of Awesome Con. Despite its smaller size, however, I was still thoroughly impressed.
The convention had a great mix of celebrity and comic guests, panels and vendors. I was able to pick up comics from a local comic shop that had a booth on the floor as well as peruse all the awesome fan art. It was like Etsy IRL.
Most impressive to a convention newbie like myself was the cosplay. Of course there was a lot of the expected (Suicide Squad Harley Quinns, Deadpools), but also some welcome surprises that filled my geeky heart with excitement (Static Shock, Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, tons of Agent Carters).
I attended panels for Matthew Lewis (Neville from the Harry Potter films), John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Arrow) and Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who). One of the negatives of this convention, and any convention, is that there is bound to be overlap and you’ll miss some of the panels. One good thing is that Awesome Con clears the main hall between panels so you don’t feel pressured to camp out all day like at San Diego Comic-Con.
For the most part, the panels were extremely entertaining. I’ve done screenings and talks before at festivals and in college, but these panels felt a lot more casual and had a large segment of fan Q&A instead of depending on the moderators. Most pleasantly, all the actors seemed genuinely happy to be there and answer questions for their fans. Of course, coming to these conventions is a job for them, but they’re also grateful to their fans and the opportunities the dedication of fans can lead to.
To quote John Barrowman, “When the fans speak up that’s when they listen.”
The one major incident that happened during the convention to put a damper on the experience was the hot mess of the Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi photo opps. Apparently the convention oversold them, causing the scheduled panel to start two hours late and to be shortened by 15 minutes. Since I didn’t have a VIP pass, I had joined the general admission line two hours early which means I ended up waiting a very long time for a 30 minute panel. I can only imagine how much more frustrating this was for the people who actually bought the photo opps.
Despite all the chaos, Peter and Jenna were absolutely lovely at their panel. To me it was still worth it to see them together since Jenna has left the show and this might be one of my last chances for a while. Their playful banter in real life is not unlike their relationship on screen. They told some great behind the scenes stories, and the sweetest moments were when they were answering questions from young fans who addressed them as their characters.
Now I can also say I’ve seen David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi all in person which is quite special for a Whovian like myself.
I do trust that next year Awesome Con will plan better for having such popular guests.
This year I was lucky enough to win passes from the local CW affiliate,DCW50. However, at $80 for a weekend pass, the convention would have still been a great deal (children under 10 go for free, which means lots of cute kids in cosplay). If they manage to keep the level of quality for the same price, I definitely plan to go again next year.
Before going to Awesome Con I loved the idea of going to a convention, but wasn’t quite sure if the experience would be worth it. Now I know it’s even more fun than I could have imagined.
While I won’t be heading to any of the bigger conventions this summer, this experience has made me even more excited to attend in the future.
See you next summer, San Diego Comic-Con?…