Metro Weekly

Awesome Con 2023 Is A Paradise For Fans

Awesome Con returns to D.C. next weekend with its biggest celebration of comics, pop culture, celebrities, and cosplay yet.

Awesome Con 2018 - File Photo: Randy Shulman
Awesome Con 2018 – File Photo: Randy Shulman

“Awesome Con gives fans a home to be themselves,” says Lauren Dabb. “It lets them feel like they can really express their love for whatever it may be that they’re there for.”

Dabb is the Vice President of Comics and Marketing for Left Field Media, which stages the annual Washington, D.C. comic con. In just over a decade, the annual event has grown into a behemoth that fills nearly all facets of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The past few years have been slightly rocky, thanks to that pesky pandemic and all, but the beloved weekend-long event regained its groove in 2022 and this year looks to surpass its own extraordinary 2019 numbers, both in terms of attendees and participants.

“Last year was a great Awesome Con,” says Dabb. “But I think we were still seeing lasting effects from COVID in terms of the number of people returning, the number of artists returning. And I’m really excited this year because our Artist Alley is packed. We sold out of tables — we don’t have another table to give to somebody.

“I’m excited to see even more artists this year and just feel that buzz in that area and see all the cool things that people are bringing to showcase and to sell to fans,” she continues.

Awesome Con 2018 – File Photo: Randy Shulman

While not specifically an LGBTQ event, Awesome Con pulls in a healthy sector of the community, to the point where several years ago, Left Field established a Pride Alley for LGBTQ artists to proudly show off their works. This year’s Pride Alley boasts the most participation yet, with 43 queer-identifying artists occupying individual booths both in a special section — as well as throughout — the convention floor’s gargantuan Artist Alley.

Capital Pride will, for the first time, be represented with a booth at Awesome Con, in partnership with Geeks Out, an LGBTQ non-profit that produces its own LGBTQ event in New York every year called Flame Con. For its part, Left Field Media produces three other events around the country: Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon, Anime NYC in New York, and Anime Frontier in Fort Worth, Texas.

Awesome Con 2019 – File Photo: Randy Shulman

In addition to artwork, Awesome Con is highly regarded for its high-level celebrity panels and signings. Some of this year’s notable guests include The Lord of the Rings trilogy’s Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis; Dr. Who‘s Christopher Eccleston and Jodie Whittaker; Star Trek‘s LeVar Burton, fresh off the final season of Picard; The Doom Patrol‘s Diane Guerrero (beloved in the LGBTQ community for her stunning turn on Orange is the New Black); and even a Guardian of the Galaxy: Karen Gillan, who plays the perpetually exasperated and sarcastic Nebula. One of the most iconic “gets” this year, however, is Billy Dee Williams, the original Lando Calrissian from the original Star Wars trilogy.

“I feel like we hit the jackpot this year with our guest list,” says Dabb, who notes that booking celebrities can be a challenge due to scheduling conflicts. “It’s the thing that is most out of our control. And it’s tough because we know our fans want to see certain guests, and we try our best to get them to come to the show, to invite them, but there’s a lot of factors that come into play when we’re actually booking the guests.”

Also key to the weekend is cosplay. Professional cosplayers affiliate with Awesome Con to show off their work, but the convention floor is frequently overflowing with Lokis and Captain Americas and Chewbaccas, and all manner of creatures, superheroes, and anime tributes as attendees dress for the occasion. It’s like a black-tie affair for geeks, only with fur, swords, shields, and makeup.

Awesome Con 2018 – File Photo: Randy Shulman

The general spirit of the day — if you’re not in costume — is one of bedazzlement and wonder. It’s impossible not to stroll through the convention center and not be awestruck by the extraordinary creativity on display.

“It really is amazing to see what people create,” says Dabb. “There’s always something every year that you’ve never seen before, which I think is really cool.

“The cosplay gives attendees a chance to showcase these costumes that they’ve worked on. We hear stories of people who will plan an entire year for their cosplay. So once this year’s over, their excitement is really high and they can’t wait to start planning what they’re going to do next year. And they spend the year thinking through how they’re going to take this costume that they see in a movie or a show and bring it to life on their own with their own hands and resources. And that’s absolutely amazing.”

Awesome Con runs from Friday, June 16 to Sunday, June 18. Hours are Friday, from 1 to 8 p.m., Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Single-day badges run from $45 to $58, with 3-day badges costing $95.

Premium badges are also available. For more information on purchasing badges, and events, signings, and panels throughout the weekend, visit

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