‘Awesome Con’ and the Importance of Experiencing Mainstream Conventions
As someone fairly new to the world of conventions in general, my experience at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. on April 26 was the first ever of its kind. I have a tendency to attend fandom-specific conventions, like Supernatural or The Walking Dead convention Walker Stalker, and so Awesome Con was my first time ever attending a convention that was not specific to a show.
The first thing I noticed upon entering the impressive convention building was that I had never been to a convention where such a wide array of cosplay was taking place. There were easily as many people cosplaying as there were regularly-dressed people, and the costumes varied from Marvel’s Loki and Hela to South Park’s favorite pot-smoking towel, Towelie – and yes, he did walk around the convention floor occasionally asking innocent bystanders if they “wanna get high?”
Additionally, I have never seen a vendors room as packed and bustling as the one at Awesome Con. Half the time we attended the convention were spent by me scouring the vendors area for interesting goodies. The vendors did not disappoint, providing con-goers with all different kinds of art, sculptures, jewelry, plaques, Funkos, and clothing, among several other items. I felt like I walked around for a long time and I probably still only saw maybe half of the vendors.
One of our staff photographers, Mandi, also attended the convention with me. We chose to sit in on a couple of the smaller panels instead of any of the actors’ panels, opting for “Murder at Teal Pond: Inspiration for Twin Peaks” and “Supernatural: Bible Canon v. Bible Fanon”. The moderators, David Bushman and Mark Givens, are working together on a book about the murder of Hazel Drew, the true event that inspired the cult hit show Twin Peaks, which returned with a third and final season in 2017. Their panel consisted of information surrounding Hazel Drew’s life and her murder, which was fascinating for a couple of true crime enthusiasts like us.
“Supernatural: Bible Canon v. Bible Fanon” was one of the best panels I’ve ever attended, and that includes actors’ panels. Supernatural fan MJ Jean and Rev. Will Green discussed the differences between Supernatural‘s bible-fanon and the numerous religious texts, or bible-canon. They compared certain characters from the show – such as Lucifer, Gabriel, Castiel, and Azazel- to their biblical canon counterparts, giving in-depth explanation of their purpose in the bible and the similarity or difference their individual journeys had. They introduced us to the term hermeneutics, which deals with the interpretation of all forms of communication, and specifically the interpretation of biblical texts. I had personally never been to a panel where I was so enthralled and also learning valuable information.
There were several celebrities in attendance as well, including Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girls, This Is Us), Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek), Cole Sprouse and KJ Apa (Riverdale), Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Punisher), Weird Al Yankovic, and many others. John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Arrow) was seen several times strolling through the aisles of vendors, as he often does at conventions he attends.
In my limited experience with conventions, I had no idea they could be like this. It was more than just a place to warm my fangirl heart- it was a learning experience. I could have easily spent all weekend at the convention attending various small panels. I still love my Supernatural conventions, which are experiences near and dear to my heart that have given me lifelong friends, but there is something to be said for mainstream conventions that incorporate multiple fandoms. They are overtly inclusive, creative, magical, and informative. They offer opportunities for smaller panels that offer more of a learning experience instead of a fan experience. They offer a chance to branch out, meet new people, and potentially find yourself immersed in the world of a new fandom.
Or you could find yourself lost in a maze of gorgeous vendor tables. Either way, you win.