Paige Freeman, Siesie Fenner, and Jillie Miller donned costumes of their favorite fictional characters at this year’s Awesome Con, held at the D.C. Convention. (Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman)
Who said Black people don’t follow the comics?
Black futurists came out in droves – replete with costumes – to celebrate the best of “geekdom” as thousands of superheroes, comic books, cosplay, and science fiction fans descended upon the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, June 3-5, in downtown D.C. for the Awesome Con tour.
As if taking a page from one of Octavia Butler’s novels, Awesome Con included discussion panels, costume and trivia contests, gaming tournaments, and other activities, along with new exhibits such as the science and technology area. More than 200 artists, 300 vendor booths, and 50-plus celebrities from sci-fi, fantasy, action and adventure movies, television shows, and video games were on hand for the event.
“A lot of Black people love science fiction and comics, but sometimes feel ostracized within the community to dress up or admit that they are at home watching a Doctor Who marathon to their friends,” District resident Corey Saunders told the AFRO. He and his girlfriend Charlotte Adams, also a D.C. resident, said cosplay – dressing as their favorite science fiction or comic book heroes – is almost ritual. “Charlotte and I met because when mutual friends asked us out to party, we both replied an Orphan Black marathon was on and couldn’t make it. We ended up watching it together – three years ago.”
In addition to being able to dress up in costumes and meet fellow enthusiasts, celebrities from around the globe drop in on Cons to sign autographs, pose for pictures with fans, and encourage them to write the next great futuristic tale. Awesome Con, for instance, brought out Arrow and Torchwood actor John Barrowman, as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D actor B.J. Britt, Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi, Cosplay’s BlackKrystal, and Futurama’s Samurai Jack, voiced by Phil Lamarr.
Twyla Fisher, a Ward 8 sci-fi fan, told the AFRO she grew up on watching Count Gore De Vol on Channel 20’s Creature Feature and being scared out of her wits by the late night horror films he hosted. Fisher was thrilled to get autographs from both De Vol and Adam West, star of the 1960s television series Batman, this year and hopes that with the broader use of Black actors in television and film series, more Black viewers will come to love the genre.
“There is something about the scientific and psychic imagination of programming like Orphan Black and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that offer exciting ways of viewing life. The fact that so many of the new shows have major Black characters is impressive – just look at John Boyega coming from Attack the Block a few years ago to leading the Star Wars cast,” Fisher said. “It’s a powerful image. Now, if I could convince someone to create a Black version of River Song , life would be truly beautiful.”