When I first heard about Pensacon I will admit I was very skeptical. I’ve been to “Cons” before that were very much in their beginning stages or rather dying stages (depending on your outlook) and it has always been a very deflating experience. I was at New Orleans Comic Con way back when and it was depressing. It since then has grown into a juggernaut of an event bringing in such talent as Stan Lee and Matt Smith. I mention my early experiences and skepticism because I want you to understand where I’m coming from.
Well, regardless of my cynicism, I was going to Pensacon because I wanted to see if it had potential or if it was going to be a “one off” event that again had the world laughing at another failed attempt to do something outside the box in a community that does not love that style of thinking.
I arrived on day one and was trying to take everything in all at once (big mistake) so I could formulate my opinion early and just enjoy the weekend. My first impression was a little underwhelmed. Imagine a team that makes it all the way to the big game. They will spend the first quarter or half even, testing the waters or finding their comfort zone. This is what it felt like… For those who didn’t get the reference think of Luke Skywalker when he first started his Jedi training on the Falcon.
I was so wrong! I let my skepticism cloud what I was really seeing.
This wasn’t just some con thrown together by a bunch of people who just decided to do an event and make some money; Pensacon was done with the a strategy that George S Patton would be proud of! Each and every bit of it, from advertising at various events around the US, to strategic billboard placement! That was just the beginning; once social media got involved it was game on as the word of Twitter and Facebook helped propel this event to something I wasn't even prepared for…
When I came back for day two, I stood in awe of what was before me. Thousands of people were all over the place! Cosplayers, fans, nerds, geeks, passers by who just had to see what the hype was about. Celebrities making jokes with their beloved fans, and me standing there realizing that I was at the forefront of an event that gave people something to be excited about, a place where people could dress up like Batman and be cheered for it! A place where people forgot about all of their troubles and just wanted to have a great time.
It became apparent very quickly that this wasn't a “one and done” event. This was something that was only going to get bigger. I sat in on several panels and they all had one underlying theme; Connecting with, and showing gratitude for their fans. Some panels offered advice on how to go after your passions and dreams, others where just “thank you” panels which as a fan is very important to hear.
I could easily sit here and go over numbers and talk about the details but I wouldn't be doing the people who were part of this event justice. From the people who showed up as fans, to the vendors, the staff, and the celebrity guests this event was much more than that…
Pensacon is about people. It's about growing up and loving something and finally getting a chance to show that love. It's about having a place to go and be yourself. It's about connecting with people you had no idea you had something in common with.
It’s about you, the fan.