Comic lovers gather at first Awesome Con D.C.

A 4-year-old Captain America stood next to a woman dressed like him, only in form-fitting spandex and a waist hugging corset, and decided to test her superhero skills. He tossed out one question after another.

Can you do cartwheels? Yes, but not here. Maybe later.

Can you double-knot your legs? No, she could only cross them once.

Is your shield waterproof? Yes, just like his.

The boy, Torin Holly, seemed satisfied with the answers given by Victoria Myers, 22, a University of Maryland student, and then offered proof of his own powers. “I can count to 100,” he said.

At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, the opening day of the first Awesome Con D.C., a celebration of comics, video games and cartoons, superheroes came in all forms. Small and large. Young and old. Elaborate and simple. There were Thors galore, hammers in hand; Spider-Mans, both red and black versions; and a family of Ghostbusters, complete with proton packs.

“It’s a hive buzzing of nerdom,” said David Shiffler, 33, of York, Pa. He, his wife and their 9-year-old daughter were dressed as the Ghostbusters and were stopped every few minutes by passersby who wanted to take their picture.

“You can tell this area has been begging for a pop culture outlet like this, somewhere to let their nerd flags fly,” Shiffler said, weaving through a swelling crowd. “Look how many people are here.”

By early afternoon Saturday, more than 3,000 people had bought tickets to the event, which is scheduled to continue Sunday.

Organizer Ben Penrod said the turnout was better than expected and that there are already plans to hold the event this time again next year.

That means that for at least two days every year, the convention center will be transformed into a festival of inner-geekdom.

On Saturday, rows of booths offered comic books ranging from the cheap to the hard to find, fake badges carrying the identities of everyone from Dexter Morgan, the Showtime serial killer, to Tony Stark, the alter ego of Iron Man, and costumes for those who failed to bring one. Among a display of action figures sat a “Battlestar Galactica” ship for a bargain $250.

The more curious could also attend lectures with titles such as “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse 101” and “Star Trek vs. Star Wars Debate,” or even try their hand at love. More than 50 people signed up for a speed-
dating event.

“Nerd love,” said Ryan Glitch, 26, who runs Sci-Fi Speed Dating and showed up in a custom-made Jedi robe, complete with a homemade light saber.

In the three years his company has been holding speed-dating events, he said they have led to one marriage, 14 engagements and one baby. The child’s name, he said, is Henry Jones but is called Indiana, in homage to the movie.

There was no loss of creativity at the event. There were furry and sexy Pokemons and Where’s Waldos, both thin and large, the latter easier to spot in the crowd.

And then there was the event that hinted at the convention’s possible longevity: The kids costume contest. There, a Power Ranger chased Iron Man who chased Spider-Man. All the while, a Jedi, a young princess Zelda and a Mad Hatter watched.

Theresa Vargas is a reporter for the Post’s local enterprise team.
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