AwesomeCon, in less than 5 years, has been the breath of fresh air that con goers have been looking for in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia area. What is AwesomeCon? It’s a show dedicated to fans of pop culture, comics, collectibles and more. AwesomeCon has distinguished itself with a growth that not many cons see and has also included many illustrious guests. Those guests including George Takei and William Shatner from Star Trek, the late Herb Trimpe, who created Wolverine, Billie Piper of Dr. Who fame, Danai Gurira who plays Michonne on The Walking Dead and so many others. We had the opportunity to talk with one of the founders of AwesomeCon, Ben Penrod, to get some insight on what makes this con a go to destination in this region and this is what he had to say.
- How did you come up with the name of AwesomeCon? What made you want to bring something like this to the DC area?
I was trying to think of a name that people would remember. I didn’t want a generic name that anybody could have, I wanted something that would be thought of as being more special and memorable. I wanted to do it in DC because that’s where I lived and grew up and it was kind of a travesty that a con wasn’t already in town.
- How amazed have you been at the growth of AwesomeCon in such a short time and what do you attribute it to?
I’ve been amazed at the support we’ve gotten, but I am really not surprised at the growth, I have been telling people since day 1 what this con could become!! Washington, DC has the sixth largest metro area in the US, and is home to the most educated group of fans in the country. It deserves to have one of the top cons in the world, and it was just a matter of us working hard enough to bring everyone a con worthy of the area.
- Can you tell us about your partnership with LeftField Media and what your role will be? Also can fans expect any changes with LeftField’s involvement?
I wanted to put the con in a position that would allow us to grow, but also allow us to have the freedom to run the con the right way. Working with LeftField means that we’ve got some really great new staff members who have a TON of experience running huge cons, but it’s not a huge company so we don’t have to change things too much if we don’t want to. I am still doing the same stuff I was before, but I’ve got some more help in a lot of areas. And that’s good for the rest of our staff, who also has a lot of help! I really worked Jess, Paul, and Becky to the bone, so they are grateful to have some help. I would expect some changes, for sure. I would expect some more high-profile guests and exhibitors, I expect to start really making our mark as one of the best cons in the country. We’ve built a reputation locally, and the people around here are in on the secret, but we’re going to see a lot more people coming in from out of town to experience Awesome Con.
- What is the one most memorable moment you have had in doing that that lest you know you are ‘doing it right’?
It was probably when Sean Astin called me “the Rudy of con promoters.” Being serious, when someone says that they had a life-changing moment or made some new friends at Awesome Con, that’s really what it’s all about for me. I come from the geek community, I really think meeting other geeks led to every important moment in my life, and to be a part of other people getting together to make the community even stronger, that’s amazing.
- What is the one thing you strive to do differently from other media conventions?
We don’t try to be different, we just try to be us, we try to be authentic in everything we do. Everyone on our team has different tastes but we are all fans of something, and we make sure that passion finds its way into our work. There is a big difference in cons that are run by fans and cons that are run by businessmen who aren’t really in the geek community. We can relate to fans and when we are planning things for the con we have a good idea of whether people will like something or not.
6. Can you tell us about some of the guests you have lined up for next year and any chance to have these guests tie in to any big summer movie releases?
So far, we’ve announced Adam West, Burt Ward, and Morena Baccarin. We’re working hard to put together the best guest list imaginable, so just keep an eye out.
AwesomeCon will take place on June 3 – 5, 2015 at the Washington Convention Center, You can buy tickets and passes here and we will see you there in June!!