Everyone loves a local success story. Awesome Con is no exception.
That is what Ben Penrod is to the geek community in the mid-atlantic region every year, for three days, for the last ten years. This coming weekend marks the tenth anniversary of Awesome Con, the premiere convention for all things geek in the Delaware/Maryland/Virginia (DelMarVa) area.
Starting off as a relatively small homegrown project; Awesome Con has grown quickly into a yearly destination for guests both big and small. The story of how it came to be is almost as great to read as the con itself.
2013: The Beginning Of Awesome Con
The story starts ten years ago when co-founders Steve Anderson (Owner of The Wildly successful Third Eye Comics chain of stores) and Ben Penrod grew wary of not having an adequate convention to call home in their area. To remedy this situation, they founded Annapolis Comic Con. Shortly after that, Anderson and Penrod realized that they had captured lightning in a bottle. The success of Annapolis Comic Con told them that the demand was there and the market in the area was wide open. After their success in Annapolis, Awesome Con was born.
Since that fateful day 10 years ago, Awesome Con has hosted
- over 200 special guests,
- 2,500 unique panels and special events,
- 1,500 exhibitors and two thousand creators.
Over fifty thousand people are expected to attend the event this weekend.
What We Can Expect This Weekend
There is no shortage of things to see and do at Awesome Con. The appearances alone are worth the price of admission.
- The legendary Billy Dee Williams will be there for the entire weekend, signing autographs and answering questions.
- Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, and James Arnold Taylor will be there talking about all things Clone Wars
- The Pink Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson will be on hand.
- Elijah Wood and Sean Astin will give you your Lord Of The Rings fix
- Danny Trejo will be there with his menacing scowl
- Billie Piper from Dr. Who
That is only scratching the surface. On top of the festivities, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will also be on hand on June 16th for a special ribbon cutting celebration to declare that date Awesome Con Day.
Ben Answers Some Questions
I had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Ben Penrod to get a further history of the Con.
GNN: What inspired you to start Awesome Con
Penrod: I had been selling comics all over the East Coast, but there was no con in DC yet, so that’s where the idea really came from. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first but the first year was very successful and it only got bigger from there.
GNN: It seems like this started as a homegrown project. Your family was heavily involved in production with pictures, etc… You made the badges by hand. How hard was it to get all of that done?
Penrod: I’ll be honest, the first two years I hardly slept. We were working around the clock, it became such a big operation in such a short amount of time. I pulled in all my friends and family to help out, and it still wasn’t enough people at first!
GNN: Attendance has risen steadily every year for you. Did you plan for the Con To grow to the size that its popularity surprise you?
Penrod: I definitely expected it to eventually grow to this size, but the speed in which we got there was pretty crazy.
GNN: Who has been your favorite guest over the years?
Penrod: This is a really hard choice, I don’t know if I could choose only one. We have had some really amazing guests who are no longer with us, such as Stan Lee and Adam West, I’m so grateful that we were able to bring them to the con when we did.
GNN: What do you have planned for future of the Con? Where do you see it going in the next ten years?
Steve Anderson and Ben Penrod were two local comic book fans who had a dream to bring the geek community in the Mid-Atlantic region together. To plant the seed in the tiny city of Annapolis, and generate enough followers to take their show down the road to the big leagues in Our Nation’s Capital is no small feat. It sends a strong message out to everyone. Your dreams are attainable. If you work hard and stay dedicated, you can achieve it and take it as far as you’re willing to go.
Congratulations to Awesome Con for ten wildly successful years. Thank you for bringing a meaningful convention to an area that was begging for it. We all appreciate you.
Awesome Con takes place June 16-18th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest Washington D.C. Get your tickets today!
Thank You all for reading. When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my three year old daughter Frances, and my loyal hound Marbles. For more great conversation and insightful takes, please follow us on twitter @gnn_home. Stay Geeky Everybody!