After its fifth year at the Washington Convention Center, Awesome Con 2017 has come to a close, having taken place over the weekend of June 16 – 18. As I had not been to Awesome Con since attending its first year, I was pretty psyched to not only attend as a patron, but to have the opportunity to speak on the PCU Panel “A Crash Course in Online Reviewing.” On top of that, I got to see a lot of really great cosplayers, talk to some cool people about why we do what we do, and reconnect with some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while. So, let’s talk a bit about what made Awesome Con 2017 a success in my mind.
Size, Efficiency, & Accessibility
The con was quite a bit bigger this year than I had anticipated. That being the case, and despite having a no re-entry through the back doors policy, everything seemed very well-organized and efficient for the most part. The staff doing bag & prop checks were speedy, thorough, and seemed genuinely happy to help and answer questions. The volunteers directing folks in the halls were very knowledgeable, and were able to provide very good directions to & from the various areas where stuff was going on. They also really took patrons with disabilities into account, ensuring that there was fair access everywhere, and even offering disability access wristbands to allow for people like me to move to the front of lines if need be.
The one thing about the Con that threw me off was that certain elevators only went to certain floors, and there was a lot of winding through packed hallways & walkways. As someone who is a little claustrophobic, some of the busier halls definitely gave me pause as I was moving through the crowd. In addition to that, there seemed to be more walking than was necessary between the rooms where we picked up our passes and where they had the disability wristbands. Going forward, I would highly recommend the venue & Con staff re-working that so that all of those things could be picked up in one spot.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to afford any celeb meet & greets this year. However, in observing the crowds and talking with people who’d gotten several autographs & photos, things seemed to go quite well. This year’s guests consisted of David Tennant & Catherine Tate, David Hayter, Phil Lamarr, Will Wheaton, John Barroman, The Walking Dead‘s Khary Payton, and of course, Stan “The Man” Lee, among others. Many folks I spoke to talked about how genuinely nice the celebs were, and how engaged they were with the fans. You really can’t ask for anything better when it comes to that sort of thing.
I heard great stories from people about the friendliness and personality of John Barroman, and the fan engagement of David Hayter. The willingness of these celebs to talk with their fans a lot, and pose for some goofy photos, just shows how much they love what they do, and that they’re willing to give 100% at an event like this. I’m going to start saving my money NOW for next year’s con, and hopefully I’ll be able to meet some of these folks.
I was only able to attend the Con on Saturday the 17th, but the day was no disappointment at all when it came to cosplayers. The talent of the cosplayers in the Washington, DC area never ceases to amaze me, and all of them really seemed genuinely excited to allow themselves to be photographed and talk about their work. One of the highlights of my time in that respect this year, was actually a family that I met just before I was leaving. They were all cosplaying characters from the Street Fighter video game franchise, with dad & mom dressed as Ryu & Ken (respectively), and their 2 daughters dressed as Sakura and the cutest little Chun-Li you’ve ever seen. They were more than happy to pose for lots of photos for other con-goers, and the 2 little ones seemed to be having quite a blast with all the attention they were getting.
As I mentioned earlier, five members of PCU held a panel called “A Crash Course in Online Reviewing.” This was the second panel on which I had ever spoken (the first being at the very first Awesome Con), and I couldn’t have been happier to help my fellow PCU people get the message out to the audience about the best ways to start, maintain, and promote a blog for reviewing comics, games, TV, movies, etc. The audience asked a lot of good questions, and we got a lot of great interaction. Sure, we did run a little long (thank you Awesome Con staff for bearing with us), but all in all I would call it a success. I even had audience members find me in the halls later to ask more questions!
In summary, I would say that Awesome Con 2017 was the most fun I’ve had at an event like that in some time, and I really can’t wait until next year. Big thanks to the Awesome Con staff, and the Washington Convention Center for allowing PCU to be there to bring you the fun! Stay tuned to PCU as we let you know about more cool events we’re covering, and how you can attend!