Back in late March, I had the paycheck to go to DC’s Awesomecon for the third time. This is the only con I’ve been to, but each time it’s been a different experience and these different experiences make it all so much more compelling for me to return next year. But why should I keep these experiences all to myself? I want you to experience these things and have fun too. Fortunately, I live right outside of DC so there’s always big events happening only fifteen minutes away, but not everybody is this lucky. So while your local city may not be as big as DC and the con may not be as star-studded (and expensive) as San Diego Comic Con’s, you should go for these reasons alone.
Geeking out. If you read us, you’re a proud geek by default, so this will probably be your favorite part. You know that feeling you get when you find someone who loves the same pop culture as you and you spend all of your energy gushing about it with them? Now imagine that same feeling multiplied by at least a thousand. Now you’re thinking. That’s exactly how you feel when you’re at a con and it’s one of the best feelings ever. This can be daunting and give some people anxieties so I would advise you to have fun, but know your limits. I personally don’t have this problem, but a fellow geek of color—J’Neia—does and her article should guide you if you suffer from anxiety and are planning on going to a con.
The art. One thing that always amazes me is the fact that there are so many talented people around me. Cons are places where these talented people can show off. Fan art is always fun to look at on the internet, but buying fan art in poster size is even more fun. They’re reasonably priced and knowing that a local artist who loves the same things you do made it is the perfect cherry on top. I unashamedly have an affinity for superhero Lego figures—Lego Batman is the best Batman film we have to date and I stand by that—so when I saw real-life Lego art photography of women superheroes (and Lisa Simpson) protesting Trump outside of the White House, I just had to cop.
The guests. I’m not going to lie to you, meeting celebrity guests at a con is super expensive. Because we usually don’t have money like that, my friends and I just casually walk past the celebrity. Black Lightning’s Cress Williams was at Awesomecon this year and I got to walk past him and see him smile for the very low price of free. Twice. Can’t beat that with a baseball bat. But if you do have the money, great! I would recommend buying an autograph rather than a photo op. Photo ops are quick in nature and unless you make a point to say hi, they only really spend extra time for the kids, which is completely fair. Arrow’s Stephen Amell was also there so I signed up for a photo op and immediately regretted it when it lasted all of three seconds. Granted, I got nervous for a dumb reason and tailed it out of there as soon as the picture was taken, but I saw people in front of me leave quickly too so I figured that’s just how it’s supposed to go. I actually got to meet the late Adam West in 2016 and because it was at a time where there was no line, I got to talk to the legend and I am so glad I had that experience.
The cosplays. This is probably my favorite thing about cons and maybe even nerd culture in general. Watching people of all genders, races, and sexualities dress up as their heroes really shows you the beauty of diversity that cons embrace. Washington, DC is a city with a population of mostly black people, so I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw plenty of black Wonder Women, Spider-Men, and Batmen. But even more than that, I saw a few white Black Panthers! I thought this was beautifully profound because there was no blackface, mockery, or anything like that; it was just a dude representing one of his favorite superheroes. I didn’t get a picture of him, but here are a few pictures I took of consenting cosplayers.
There’s just something particular and whimsical about positive nerd culture, the kind of culture that accepts people of all backgrounds and identities and welcomes newcomers. This is the kind of culture cons—or at least my local one—embody. If you haven’t experienced the culture of this magnitude, please do!
Nothing but love.