Photos By Franz Mahr, Words By Jenn Tisdale
Thousands of cosplayers descended upon the District of Columbia this weekend to help make DC a bit more awesome. If you didn’t know about Awesome Con, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you missed out on an aptly named awesome time. If you think it’s just a convention for fans of comic books you’d be wrong. It’s a place for fans of all things, well, awesome, a place where the absolute limit is your imagination and from what I could tell everyone’s creativity was without bounds. If you like Sci-Fi/Horror/Art/Comedy/Films/Television/Music then this is the convention for you.
The first thing you’ll notice is hundreds of costumed people walking the streets of DC around the convention center. The more complicated folks will get stopped for photos but nearly every person there is wearing a little something extra, a wig here, a pair of elf ears there. It’s like Halloween threw up all over the city. It’s wonderful.
When you enter the convention center you might have to check your weapons because safety is a priority, so stick to paper or plastic for those swords and staffs, please. Every once in a while a group of people will run towards each other to throw themselves into excited hugs because most of the attendees frequent the same conventions and these events are like mini-reunions of sorts. It’s good to see your old friend Iron Man who might have been Doctor Who when you saw each other last. Once you pass beneath the giant Awesome Con arch you enter the main room where you are immediately overwhelmed by hundreds of exhibitors and celebrities. It’s like entering the chocolate factory, where all of your dreams can come true.
It’s important to make a plan. Use the map provided or you might miss something. There are of course a ton of comic book artists/writers selling their wares but you can also find anything you want made out of your favorite whatever. Someone was even selling handmade quilts with whatever your superhero heart desired on it.
Once you pass through the exhibition section you reach the media area where all your favorite famous folks are autographing (and sadly, charging) pictures or posing for one of yours. I was the most excited about Sean Astin (GOONIES) and Nicholas Brendon (BUFFY), but there were plenty of Walking Dead and Doctor Who people (oh and Kevin effing Sorbo) to keep you happy.
The most anticipated event of the convention is the costume contest which is where people really get to shine. I have never seen such commitment to costuming. Your favorite characters come to life right in front of you. Some of these costumes were so complicated, people would spend months assembling them. I can’t even make dinner. I am determined to do that now, start small, maybe some chicken and rice then a Gambit outfit. People of all ages, races, genders and sexual orientation were dressed in their hero of choice. You could really see the work some people put into making these characters come to life.
As wonderful as the entire experience was, Awesome Con is only in its second year so it’s still going through some growing pains. People who pre-purchased their passes were stuck in some very long lines out front. Those same lines could be found at all the food vendors. As much as I loved the costume contest there was a bit of confusion in the 900 person room when there was no stage for the contestants to stand on. The audience had to yell out “Get on a stage!” Once that was worked out it was mostly smooth sailing. I suspect most of these issues occurred because Awesome Con significantly grew in size from last year so some glitches in the matrix are still being worked out. Apart from that it was really a joyous, welcoming experience. My favorite part about places such as this is the overall welcomed, loving feeling you get while there. There is no judgment in the cosplay world, just appreciation and acceptance. It’s one of the reasons why I love attending these events. I feel a somewhat protective vibe towards the folks there, though no one is in need of it. Everyone there knows who they are, they know what they love, and they are happy and proud to show it off. What’s stronger than that? Honestly, I can’t wait to see what next year has to offer. Also, I will probably need the entire year to bump up my costume game.