Over the past weekend, I attended AwesomeConDC, the first genre/comic convention in the Nation’s Capitol. It was an interesting mix of both small and large; it’s the first year for this particular location, but it’s part of a regional franchise . . . which meant that while it was small, it still thought big. This one’s definitely going to grow.
I got involved in the con because the organizer, Ben Penrod, was looking for someone to do a panel on Harry Potter. I’m a (casual and kind of infrequently-attending) member of a local Harry Potter fan club, the DADA (or “Defense Against Dumb A’s”), and when he posted on our message board I mentioned I had experience with public speaking, speaking at cons, and moderating panels to boot. I also have a passing familiarity with the given topic. (Read: I did my thesis on Harry Potter.)
Ben invited me to give a presentation on writing, and was originally going to have me moderate a novelists’ panel. The wound up getting cancelled, and the second was given to someone else; and when I showed up to moderate the panel on Harry Potter, no one actually showed up for the other seats.
A bit of a mess, yeah. Not really the con’s fault, though; in addition to the craziness that happens with organizing any convention, they wound up with more programing than expected and had to cut something; and the other panel actually already had a moderator, but Ben just didn’t know at the time. And even though a panel on Harry Potter turned into just me babbling on the subject and taking audience questions for fifty minutes, the audience was very kind and didn’t throw a single tomato. And it was a much larger crowd than I’d expected, considering I was competing with Futurama actors next door.
The original topic was going to be (quoting from the program): “Why is the world of Harry Potter so engaging? Is it just the story we read, or is there something more to it, something more enduring that sparks the imagination?” We discussed the purpose of fantasy in the larger culture, what benefit we get from it, why some stories are so engaging, why reboots are common right now, and so on. I got questions on Harry Potter, fantasy languages, Percy Jackson, dropping clues for attentive readers, and a bunch more on writing and editing in general. And for the first time in my public speaking experience, I was unable to get off the stage before people were already asking post-event questions.
Oh, and one young lady wanted to be certain of the exact spelling of G. K. Chesterton’s name. I’d call that one a win.
Ben sent me an email during the talk: “You are awesome. I am so sorry this didn’t go as planned. We will do something great next year. Anything you want, and we will plan WAYYY ahead.” I must say, I’ve never been booked a year in advance, and I’ve never been given carte blanche. I’m all giddy. 😉
So in other words, while I was stressing about not having enough people for a full panel and then discovered that no one else showed up, it turned out pretty well. I had fun, and I’m very glad that AwesomeCon wants me back.
The convention itself is very much centered around comics, and the only reason it didn’t have an Artists’ Alley was because it was kind of hard to tell where to stash it — about a third of the dealers’ room was comprised of artists of various kinds, and they were doing a pretty brisk business. This seems to be an excellent low-overhead con for small-name artists who are dipping their toes in the convention scene. As I said, this convention is definitely going to grow; the space they had was full to bursting, and I suspect they’ll double that next year.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures this year; actually, I didn’t expect to see so many good costumes around at a first-time convention. I did take two, though — my favorites not because they were so “authentic,” but rather because I’ve never seen either a Static nor an X-Men: Evolution cosplay before. In fact, the young lady cosplaying as Evo Rogue was delighted that I even recognized the source material. Static unfortunately turned out blurry, but that was probably his electricity powers interfering with my camera.
Note: the Wolverine and Emma Frost pictured here are from Wolverine and the X-Men; Storm and Rogue are from X-Men: Evolution.