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AwesomeCon 2017

AwesomeCon 2017

AwesomeCon 2017 was held June 16th -- 18th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC

I decided to go to AwesomeCon for a day this year, having gone once two years ago and enjoyed it. It's certainly grown and I enjoyed myself enough that next year I'd like to go for the whole weekend. It would make a good booked for the summer. AwesomeCon takes place in DC at the beginning of Summer and Otakon in the same location at the end. It was pretty much what I expected and I was not disappointed.


IMG_5698.jpg?m=1497797180For those not familiar with the District of Columbia, traffic is absolutely abysmal and some of the worst in the world. Driving in is difficult at best. For attendee safety police officers direct traffic but the large crowds crossing at intersections makes traffic grind to a stop often. The many one-way roads and oblique roads make navigation difficult. Allotting an extra 20 minutes to maneuver around for parking is a good idea for anybody driving in. Parking at a metro and taking a train in probably a better idea for those who have the option. For those who don't -- thanks to large costumes, large parties, or a lot of luggage -- making plans ahead of time to deal with the traffic and parking issue will pay off many times. Oh, and it's not cheap, either.

Another surprise for those who don't know the area will be the relative dearth of food options. There are a few coffee places and over-priced food courts in and around the convention center, but for a busy downtown area with a lot of visitors there aren't many restaurants nearby. You'll have to head south a few blocks for DC's Chinatown where there's no lack of restaurants. But like with parking, eating out anywhere than the few local spots will require either a lot of patience or pre-planning. I'd recommend both.

IMG_5704.jpg?m=1497797294As for the convention itself, it follows a trend of a lot of newer, fast-growing conventions of having a lot of corporate influence and direction. Compare this to the majority of anime conventions which are fan-focused. Of course, fan conventions need corporate help and corporate conventions still cater to the fans. But it is a different atmosphere than many may be accustomed to, especially when comic book retailers are next to auto insurance companies and real estate agents in the dealer's hall.

Baby Driver

Such support brings a lot of opportunities with it. Perhaps the highlight of Saturday was a preview panel for the upcoming film Baby Driver with director Edgar Wright (The World's End, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Hot Fuzz). Host Felicia Day came off pretty flat -- I think she was reading mostly from her notes on her prominently displayed pink cell phone. But Wright was clearly happy to be there and excited to share his movie with fans. As he pointed out it's uncommon these days for Hollywood to support new scripts and original ideas. It's something he's worked on for a decade and wrote only after he'd decided on the music he wanted for the scene. He shared stories of how he was strapped to the front of a car during filming, and directed using gestures and pantomime. Hearing him discuss the movie was delightful.

The panel was kicked off with the trailer, available online. But after a bit of interview, the audience was treated to the first five minutes of the movie. (You can check my blog for a brief review of that.) It certainly looks like the movie is everything the trailer makes it look to be and then some.

General Convention

Overall the convention offers a lot for all interests. David Tennant (Doctor Who) was a big draw, with the already gigantic main stage room filled to capacity when he spoke early Saturday morning. I'd estimate anybody in the room had probably lined up before 8 am, 90 minutes before the room opened and almost 3 hours before he was set to talk.

IMG_5701.jpg?m=1497797236The general interest at the convention was comics. Not surprising since it's billed as a comic convention. But plenty of science fiction and anime interests were present, too. As far as costumes go, anime costumes were probably the most prevalent. Cosplayers were found everywhere though not nearly as many as I've come to expect from anime conventions. I stopped by the game room briefly, too. There were many stands and consoles and a few developers sharing their work. As seems typical with AwesomeCon there's no dominant or main fandom present, just an assortment in order to give everybody something they can get into.

And that's the draw for me. As mentioned, I'd like to go for the full weekend next year and delight all my fandoms together over one weekend. It'll take planning (and DC isn't cheap, either), but it's very conveniently located and at a great time of year. This year it drew about 40,000 attendees so it's a bit bigger than Otakon but smaller than DragonCon or San Diego Comic Con.

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