Like many film fans, I am a fan of general geek pop culture. I’ve long wanted the chance to travel to San Diego for Comic Con but that hasn’t yet been in the cards. I was incredibly excited, then, to hear about Awesome Con DC coming right to my backyard. It started last year as a rather low key affair which I did not attend. This year, however, it’s come back with a vengeance, leaving the 7,000 attendees of last year in the dust with an estimated 40,000 science fiction, fantasy, comic book, video game, and pop culture fans packing the halls. With exciting guests, fascinating panels, countless vendors, and cos players galore, this past weekend was a real treat. Read on to relive the fun if you were there, or catch up on what you missed – I hope to see you there in 2015!
We arrived at the convention on Friday afternoon as “preview night” began. No panels scheduled and just a few early special guests. Most of the vendors and artists were there though and we had plenty of time to see everything and take photos at our leisure. There were plenty of other people there, but nowhere near the crowd that was sure to come the next day. I did get a Herculean handshake from the one and only Kevin Sorbo, and Ernie Hudson had brought a special set of wheels with him.
Vendors used giant icons to catch the attention of passersby – A tower hulk keeping an eye over walls of comics? Check. A larger than life Buzz Lightyear made entirely of balloons? Why not. Even as someone who was never into reading comic books that much, the walls of colorful paper pages packed with stories were impressive, and I wish I had the budget for some of the spectacular steampunk merchandise for sale.
Even though the crowd was smaller, being a week day, there were plenty of great cosplayers there, willing to pose for photos. There were some incredible costumes all weekend in fact, very impressive. Check out a few of our favorites below, or head over to the Facebook photo album for all our cosplay pics from the con.
Friday night we also opted to check out the official afterparty over at the Opera Lounge a few blocks away. The place was nice but not really our scene so we left after a couple of hours. Maybe the party got more interesting as the night went on, but constructive criticism – the hosts didn’t seem to be doing much hosting and not much was going on different from a typical nightclub – loud music, pretty lights, pricey drinks. It made for some good photo ops though!
In addition to all the vendors, artists, and cosplayers, there were also somespiffy gaming rooms set up of the video and tabletop variety, speed dating, rooms for Reddit and other online communities to meet up “IRL,” and of course on the second and third day, tons of interesting panels and celebrity guests to talk to, take pictures with, and get autographs from.
It was impossible to get to every panel, but we tried to get to the ones that seemed most interesting for us. The lines were often long and sometimes a little confusing, but the staff did a great job of quelling possible stampedes and keeping things as orderly as possible. We made it into every panel we queued up for, though I’ve heard some people weren’t always that lucky. Over all though, things seemed to go amazingly smoothly which was great. I’m not going to recap every panel we sat in on, but here are some highlights:
Ron Glass Q&A:
Ron is a very well spoken guy with a classical acting background.
He never gave much thought to Book’s past – he figured there would be enough seasons of Firefly to figure that out.
He doesn’t own a cell phone or computer and doesn’t use the “internets” at all.
Jewel Staite Q&A:
This was probably my favorite panel of the weekend, Jewel is just so much fun! We marathoned (looong over due) all of Firefly in preparation for Awesome Con just because Jewel and Ron would be there. It was worth it!
She forewent any questions from the moderator and went straight to the audience, which was great considering how many people wanted to talk to her.
The moderator (my friend Leslie Combemale – sweet gig!) had a bowl of strawberries ready for
Kaylee Jewel which made everyone go aww.
Jewel’s favorite Firefly prop was a dress. No, not that dress. She didn’t take anything with her though.
Nathan Fillian on the other hand has a whole secret stash of props and costumes. He’s the world’s largest Firefly fan.
She’d love the opportunity to be on Castle.
Power Rangers Q&A:
David Yost and Walter Jones – the original blue and black rangers – were on hand for fan questions.
They did all their own stunts (other than when they had the helmets on).
They both look like they are in fantastic shape.
There were a few people who there who liked Power Rangers so much it was a little scary.
Veronica Taylor Q&A:
Not just the voice of Ash (and his mom) from Pokemon, Veronica’s voice is all over. You’ve probably heard her if you’ve taken foreign language audio lessons.
Her daughter was there too and used to try to use “my mom is on Pokemon” to get kids attention. It didn’t work that well.
Two of the audience members invited her to their Pokemon themed wedding. She said maybe.
The Art of John Alvin:
Leslie and Alvin’s wife discussed the work of this talented movie poster artist.
It was a small panel for a niche audience, but I found it fascinating – one of the great things about cons like this is there is something for everyone!
He loved Star Wars and created artwork for a concert series that never happened.
There was an original sketch of Pride Rock on stage. That was cool.
Individual Costume Contest:
Not much to say here. It was hosted by DC101’s Mike Jones and had there were a ton of amazing cosplayers showing off. Photos on facebook!
The Voice Actor Radio Show:
A bunch of people whose names you probably don’t know, but whose voices you will certainly recognize, read parts of the script to Ghostbusters.
It was hilarious.
Phil LaMarr does a spot on Obama.
Ernie Hudson showed up to say a line!
Sean Astin Q&A:
This was his second session at the con and he provided all new material. Sad for those of us who missed the first day, but we were in the minority.
He’s really into politics.
He’s a runner and planning to run the Marine Corps marathon in DC this year.
He’s excited about possibly coming back for The Goonies 2.
He said Sam would easily defeat the Balrog with a frying pan to the head. Clang.
Cary Elwes Q&A:
The Princess Bride is my favorite movie of all time so I was super excited. Mrs. Hamster was excited also.
He is very lovely and British. British by birth but American by choice, though, as he says.
The outtakes from Psych must see the light of day.
He told a hilarious story, complete with voices, about going drinking with Andre the Giant. Long story short, a cop always followed Andre when he goes out just in case he got too tipsy and fell on someone again. Also he drank liquor by the pitcher full.
Some of the Miracle Max scenes used a dummy of him laying “mostly dead,” because he couldn’t stay still – too much laughing at Billy Crystal.
He has a book coming out. It’s called, As You Wish.
Group Costume Contest:
Even better than the solo contest!
I’m exhausted just thinking about all that again, the weekend was a whirlwind, but well worth it! If you missed it this year, be sure to go next year when it promises to be even better. I didn’t even mention the concert that we didn’t go to, the Guinness record attempt on the Mall (should have been on Saturday!), and the guests and panels we didn’t have a chance to meet or go to with everything else going on! Kudos to all involved, this con is here to stay and promises to quickly become one of the best around.
Want more pictures? Click here for all the photos that didn’t make it into our cosplay photo album!