Are you ready, Washington DC? Awesome Con returns for its 2019 show April 26-28 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In addition to celebrity guests including cast members from Riverdale and lots of comics superstars, Awesome Con will feature a variety of exclusives from publishers. Plus, Smithsonian magazine’s Future Con returns to explore science and technology in sci-fi and fantasy.
To help you plan your con weekend, The Beat has rounded up info about just some of what’s to come. Check it out!
Awesome Con Jr.
The Toy Association presents this family-friendly pavilion for Awesome Con attendees of all ages, with special programming targeted at kids and youth.
- Monster Battle Time KO! (3:45PM – April 28 – Awesome Con Jr Stage) – Three teams of artists go head-to-head in the biggest Monster Battle Time of the season! This year there are three teams of stellar cartoonists to design your monsters and battle for ultimate artistic glory! Free comics to all attendees.
- Dreamworks Screening (4:00PM – April 26 – Awesome Con Jr. Stage) – DreamWorks will surprise guests with a special feature screening.
- Kids Costume Parade (12:00PM – April 27 | 12:00PM – April 28 – Awesome Con Jr Stage) – Awesome Con is excited to announce the Kids Costume Parade! Registration is limited to the first 30 kids (and their parents).
- National Wildlife Federation Animal Show with Naturalist David Mizejewski (1:30PM – April 27 – Awesome Con Jr Stage) – An educational presentation of exotic animals from all over the world with a message about conservation.
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse will be located at Booth #1837. The publisher will be hosting a series of in-booth signings throughout the weekend. Free comics, prints, and posters will be provided for most of the signings, though attendees are free to bring their own items as well.
Here’s the full signing schedule:
- Mindy Lee, Crimson Lotus (2:00-2:50PM — April 26th)
- Amy Chu, Secret Loves of Geeks (3:00-3:50PM — April 26th)
- Peter Tomasi, House of Penance (4:00-4:50PM— April 26th)
- Ron Chan, Plants vs. Zombies (5:00-5:50PM — April 26th)
- Lela Gwenn and Matthew Dow Smith, Bad Luck Chuck (12:00-12:50PM — April 27th)
- Jody Houser, Stranger Things, Starcraft (2:00-2:50PM — April 27th)
- Amy Mebberson, Ralph Breaks the Internet (3:00-3:50PM — April 27th)
Additionally, the publisher will host the following panel on Saturday, April 27th:
- Dark Horse Comics: Behind the Books (5:30PM — April 27th — Room 102)
Are you interested in working at a comics publishing company? Dark Horse wants to give you insight into the many opportunities waiting for you in the comic industry! Join Dark Horse staff members from various departments for a conversation about working at a major publisher and what it takes to make your favorite books!
Finally, Dark Horse will have a number of con exclusives available.
Future Con at Awesome Con
As noted above, Smithsonian magazine’s Future Con returns this year to connect scientists and entertainers for an educational, unique exploration of genre. “It’s a great cross-section of science and science fiction, and what we celebrate is a lot of great cross pollination,” said Michael Caruso, Future Con founder and Smithsonian magazine Editor in Chief and Vice President of Live Events, in a statement. “We get about 70,000 people to the Con and in the past have welcomed everyone from Patrick Stewart and William Shatner, to people from DARPA and NASA and IBM.”
This year, Future Con will feature NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Dr. Erin Macdonald, the CIA and more.
- Exploring the Future of Crime (11:00AM – April 27 – Room 150) – Technological advances have benefited our world in immeasurable ways—but there is an ominous flip side. Criminals are often the earliest, and most innovative, adopters of technology, and modern times have led to modern crimes. From big data to artificial intelligence and genetics to robotics, today’s criminals are at the forefront of the tsunami of technological threats coming our way. In this session, Marc Goodman, author of the New York Times best-selling book Future Crimes, rips opens his database of hundreds of real cases to give the audience front-row access to these impending perils. While many of the stories Goodman will tell sound like science fiction, they are indeed fully rooted in startling scientific facts. This discussion will raise raises tough questions about the expanding role of technology in our lives and propose a path forward to ensure we all benefit from humanity’s technological advances rather than become imperiled by them.
- The Science of Voltron: Legendary Defender (5:00PM – April 26 – Room 144) – Come along, Paladins! The Voltron: Legendary Defender series has come to a close, so it’s time to explore some of the best science in the series. We’ll learn about wormholes, crystals, gluon fields, and much more while we discuss how much the series got right (and a few things they got wrong). Kids of all ages are welcome!
- Science of Aquaman (7:00PM – April 26 – Room 144) – This panel will discuss the actual science behind Aquaman’s powers. He can communicate with marine life, is adapted to live and thrive in harsh underwater environments and has superhuman strength. All these abilities, including being able to “talk to fish,” as Batman would say, are rooted in science. Come learn about the incredible adaptations that allow life to thrive in the extremes of the deep ocean, the methods scientists use to study the undersea landscape, and the bio-inspired technologies being developed that could allow a human to effectively take on the abilities of Aquaman.
- Germ Warfare: A Very Graphic History (12:00PM – April 27 – Room 146) – Join world-renowned author Max Brooks (World War Z) for a conversation about his newly-released graphic novel on the dangers posed by biological agents. Members of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense will also be present to discuss the novel and its message about the threat of biological attacks and naturally occurring outbreaks in the 21st century.
- Astronomy 101 Through Science Fiction (5:00pm – April 27 – Room 144) – Welcome to Astronomy 101! Always wanted to learn astronomy? Science Fiction fan? Dr Erin Macdonald will take us through the first semester of astronomy with hardly any math and a whole lot of science fiction references. We’ll blaze through the science of planets, the solar system, and stars at warp speed; come ready to learn!
- Intelligence Super Models: 3D Modeling in the Intelligence Community (8:00pm – April 27 – Room 144) – Join U.S. Intelligence Community experts on digital and physical 3D modeling who will demonstrate and discuss their experiences impacting national security missions. 3D modelers will exhibit a variety of capabilities utilized by NGA and CIA across the 3D disciplines, including leveraging imagery and geospatial information to visualize human activities that occur on the Earth.
- The Story and Science of Gravitational Waves (2:00pm – April 28 – Room 144) – In 2015 our quest to study and explore the universe took a giant leap forward with the discovery of gravitational waves. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration has detected ripples in spacetime from the collision of black holes as well as a neutron star merger that showed up in every spectrum possible. Dr Erin Macdonald (a former member of LIGO) will discuss the history behind the detection, share some fun stories, and what these discoveries mean for astrophysics going forward.
Lion Forge will be hosting a launch party for The Underfoot: The Mighty Deep on Sat., Apr. 27 at 8 p.m. at Mackey’s Public House, 1306 G St. NW! The original graphic novel series by Ben Fisher, Emily S. Whitten, Michelle Nguyen and Thom Zahler chronicles the animal kingdoms left to rise (and fall) in the absence of the Giants-That-Wer. The first OGN, The Underfoot: The Mighty Deep, follows the Hamster Aquatic Mercenaries, who wee gifted with intelligence and self-awareness and now have to keep their horde alive in this new world.
Oni Press will be at Booth #1821 at Awesome Con, with plenty of exclusives and new releases for sale.
- The Building Blocks of Quality Characters (4:00PM — April 27 — Room 150) — Join Oni Press Publisher James Lucas Jones alongside creators in a head-to-head competition where characters are built with literal children’s building blocks.
- Monster Battle Time KO! (3:45PM — April 28 — AC Jr. Stage) — Three artists go head-to-head in Monster Battle Time! Three stellar cartoonists will design your monsters and battle for ultimate artistic glory! Free comics to all attendees!
Pride Alley at Awesome Con
Presented by Geeks OUT! and Washington Blade in partnership with Awesome Con, Pride Alley returns for its third year to shine a spotlight on LGBTQ creators and fans with a robust section of artist alley. Special programs will address diversity in pop culture.
- Fabulous Fictional Females (1:30PM – April 26 – Room 152) – featuring a diverse panel of female writers, artists, and editors discussing the ‘Strong Female Character’ trope, breaking down what goes into telling a great story and sharing our professional experiences in the realms of comics, literature, and theater.
- Gender in SFF Fiction: Women & Nonbinary Authors (2:30PM – April 26 – Room 152) – From the elusive Strong Female Protagonist to LGBTQ representation, and what an individual author’s responsibility is, this panel will explore what it means to be a female or nonbinary author in the male-dominated genre of sci-fi and fantasy fiction.Diversity Amongst the Stars (4:30PM – April 26 – Room 144) –A celebration of the diverse characters we love and a discussion about how the galaxy has changed over the last few years and where we still hope it may go.
- Strengthening Geek Culture (4:30PM – April 26 – Room 152) —A spotlight on queer creators and fans, Strengthening Geek Culture will unite the LGBTQ and allied creators attending Awesome Con through a panel celebrating the diversity and creativity of queer geekdom and LGBTQ contributions to pop culture.
- Exploring Gay & Lesbian Comic Creators (5:30PM – April 26 – Room 144) – This panel will explore some of the creators and their contributions to producing gay and lesbian comics and how they have influenced the mainstream comic industry to this day. Some of the creators that will be explored are Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby), Trina Robbins (Wimmen’s Comix), Alison Bechdel (Fun House), and Joe Phils (Joe Boys) to name a few.
- Resistance, Feminism, & Fandom (6:30PM – April 26 – Room 144) – Science fiction is often a form of social commentary, and engaging with sci-fi fandom means voicing that commentary via social media. As women, people of color, and other LGBT+ participants who are quite visible in fandom during this charged era in American politics, we want to discuss our experiences speaking out on various social platforms even when it may not be the popular thing to do.
- We ARE Gaymers! Be Proud! (11:30 AM – April 27 – Room 152) A discussion surrounding the collective identity of gamers, outside negative feedback, and how the community can response
- Pro Wrestling Connection for Marginalized Fans (1:30PM — April 27 – Room 152) Centering women, non-binary, & LGBTQ+ voices in wrestling fandom-these fans have crucial perspectives to share. If you’ve never felt comfortable at a wrestling panel before, this one’s for you.
- Crossplay 101 (2:30PM – April 27 – Room 152) – An introductory lecture about what crossplay is and educating how to crossplay safely.
- Representation Matters, So Make It Good (4:30PM – April 27 – Room 152) Stories matter. More diverse media representation is incredibly important, but not all representation is created equal. The result of years of narrative research, this panel lays out a comprehensive and easy to follow guide to creating healthy and compelling queer characters and stories, with examples and suggestions across media and genres.
- The BLERD Panel (5:30PM – April 27 – Room 152) – Picking up where we left off last year, the BLERD Panel will give the black nerd state of the union with comedy, connection, and community!
- Cositivity (12:30PM – April 28 – Room 152) – This panel is designed to be a safe space for cosplayers to discuss their experiences with cosplay. Mediated by the panelists, we will be sharing our experiences as well as opening the floor for others to discuss theirs.
- Voice-a-Palooza (6:30Pm – April 26 – Room 146) – VIDEO GAME VOICE ACTORS BEHAVING BADLY. Join professional voice actors as they reinterpret movie scripts, poetry, songs and more in their character voices, read the craziest phrases that YOU provide in their character voices, and create an entirely new video game from YOUR suggestions. A Classic and a MUST NOT MISS.
- Awesome Con Short Film Fest — Grabbing some popcorn, all your friends, and a seat, as Joe Carabeo (Award winning Director, Astray Productions President, Project Resolution Producer) brings the Awesome Con Short Film Festival to you! There will also be an exclusive filmmakers Q&A after the screenings afterwards moderated by TV host Molly Nevola.
- Helping Kids Understand the World Through Nonfiction, Fact-Based Fiction, and Real Science (1:00PM – April 28 – Room 150) – National Geographic Kids Editors talk about writing exciting non-fiction for kids, how to infuse your story with a good dose of real science, and how to keep ’em coming back for more of the good stuff: facts.
- Very Secret, Very Cool, But Not Aliens: The U-2, the A-12, and Area 51 (5:00PM – April 26 – Room 140) – CIA historians will present the development, deployment, and capabilities of the CIA’s most famous spy planes, as well as the testing site the helped make famous. Come learn about the U-2, the A-12 (and the vastly inferior SR-71), and Area 51. Also, join a discussion of studies conducted by Gerald Haines about UFO sightings and the correlation with the operations conducted by these aircraft.
- DC Celebrates 80 Years of Batman Comics (5:00pm – April 27 – Room 150) – Eighty years after his debut, Batman continues to be one of the most popular and iconic Super Heroes of all time. Meet some of the key players in the Dark Knight’s world who create and bring you the best Batman comics stories ever. Buckle up for an incredible ride in the Batmobile and hear what these creators have to say about one of your all-time favorite DC Super Heroes!
- Some Heroes Wear Cardigans: Librarians at CIA (1:00PM – April 27 – Room 140) – Madam Pince in Harry Potter. Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dr. Barbara Gordon in Batman. Librarians and libraries have been depicted in pop culture a variety of ways throughout the years, but are often portrayed as sidekicks. The librarians at CIA think differently. Come hear them talk about what it’s like to be a librarian working in espionage and discuss why they think some heroes wear cardigans.
To view the full schedule for Awesome Con and check out an exhibitor map, check out www.awesome-con.com.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, Bustle, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is the managing editor at The Beat, as well as the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Montana with her partner and cats.