Our founder and president, Eric Suggs, Jr, spoke about his experience at the first ever FredCon, held this past Saturday at Spotsylvania Towne Center, below:
Holding such an event inside a mall created a dynamic experience where pop-culture fanatics and curious newcomers could come together to discover and discuss their interests in an inviting and neutral environment. We were excited to see groups of kids, tweens, teens, and adults tentatively stop at booths with their yellow swag bags in hand and admit that this was their first convention. "This is the perfect set up for my family," one attendee said while browsing through our artists' work. "My wife was able to go shopping at Costco for the family while I walked around with the kids. The free admission was a great touch [too] because we're not always able to make it to the big Cons due to [our] budget." Another participant noted the great turnout. "I've lived in this community for 2 years, and I've never seen this place this packed for so long. I hope they do this again next year!"
Whoever came up with idea of having a comic-con in a shopping mall, I say to you: BRAVO!
Veteran con attendees were just as impressed with the event. Nick Fury and Blade Cosplayer Fred Holt was full of praise for the event on his Facebook Page. "Whoever came up with the idea of having a comic-con at a shopping mall, I say to you: BRAVO!" (Note: This innovator would be the great Sam Ellis.) "This space provided a space for pop-culture enthusiasts to interact with curious, non-geek shoppers and share their hobby with them. Now, I'm sure there are those who may not agree that a mall is a good place for any type of pop-culture convention. For me, it was a dream come true!"
The choice of venue was also beneficial to the Art Way Alliance Kid Zone. Children of all ages came to draw and participate in our demos with Ben Pereira and Ashley Gonzales. Ben wowed the crowd during his T-shirt Hero Kids workshop by drawing a boy wearing a Deadpool shirt. To further align him with the anti-hero's abilities, Ben illustrated that the kid's arm had fallen off and another was coming in. With classic Deadpool humor, the child's confused expression asked, "What is that?!" Drawing alongside Ben were three young girls, one of whom decided to take the drawing to the next level. Not only did her Deadpool kid's arm fall off, but she also added a dog that was holding the boy's first arm in its mouth!
During Ashley's Turn a Princess into a Warrior workshop, four teenage girls followed along to turn Pocahontas into a fighter. The young women saw Ashley's art earlier and were excited to work with her and get tips on their own artwork. After the successful demo, a younger girl sat down with her dad to draw. The father impressed everyone by drawing Supergirl, which his daughter was more than happy to color for him. Such a moment spawned the joke, "Dad's Draw Too," which was heard multiple times throughout the day.
Quite impressively, this event brought in over 1,000 people! Sam Ellis and all who helped to make Fred Con the success that it was truly have something special on their hands, and AWA will be a part of Fred Con as long as it's being run. We're looking forward to next year and want to thank Sam specifically for all the connections and support FredCon provided to Art Way Alliance's mission of bring comic books into the community and classroom.