Baltimore has been an epicenter for fan conventions: It was the host of Otakon for more than a decade, and still welcomes annual events like BaltiCon, Baltimore Comic-Con, Regeneration Dr. Who, BronyCon and one of the newest — the PotterVerse, Maryland’s Wizard Convention that celebrates all things “Harry Potter.”
Another convention is on its way in hopes of bringing diversity, inclusivity and fans of all identifies to the forefront.
The inaugural Universal FanCon, what’s billed as the first large-scale, 24-hour event that celebrates pop culture and the diversity of fans, will come to Baltimore in April, featuring guests like Kristian Nairn, a.k.a. Hodor from “Game of Thrones”; actor Mehcad Brooks of “Supergirl;” actor and comedian Orlando Jones of “American Gods”; “Star Wars” actor Billy Dee Williams; Grammy-winning artist Big Daddy Kane and Kim Chi, a former contestant of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” according to a press release.
The three-day convention, which runs April 27-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center, will present celebrity meet-and-greets, a Lightsaber Dueling Academy, a host of performances and music concerts, a 24-hour arcade and eSport Gaming Tournaments, an “American Gods” panel, comics and more. Nairn, a headlining guest, will skip the traditional panels and will DJ on Friday night, followed by a VIP meet and greet, according to event co-founder Robert Butler.
But it’s more than just a new “geek convention,” Butler said.
“It’s an event where all fans of pop culture are being celebrated, represented and included every step of the way: through our planning, our attendees, programs, parties, celebrity guests and unique experiences,” Butler said in a statement.
The convention was born during a conversation Butler was having with his fellow co-hosts, and Jamie Broadnax, founder of the website Black Girl Nerds.
“We’re all big geeks and realized, for instance, that people of color have the same complaints as other minority groups and marginalized populations when it came to representation in the celebration of fandoms,” Butler stated. “Hispanics, African Americans and Asians make up 38 percent of our population and 49 percent of frequent moviegoers – and they are more likely to see a movie featuring characters to whom they can relate. So we knew there was a need that we could fill!”
Broadnax added, “We wanted to create a safe space that celebrated fandom differently by including the many different faces and voices that truly made up the groups, artists, affiliates, and brands that we all represented, such as women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and people of color.”
Other guests that will be attending will include trans activist Aydian Dowling; YouTube star Riyadh Khalaf; “Seiyuu” voice actress Yuriko Yamaguchi; comedian, Paralympian and actress Katy Sullivan; Ricky Whittle and Yetide Badaki of “American Gods,” DC Comics and Marvel writer Greg Pak; video game composer for Sega’s “Panzer Dragoon” Saori Kobayashi with The TriForce Quartet, rapper Mega Ran, and electronics musician TeddyLoid.
The inaugural Universal FanCon. runs 9 a.m.-6 p.m. April 27-29. Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W. Pratt Street. $24.99-$39.99 for single-day passes. $69.99 for three-day weekend pass. $99-$299.99 for VIP tickets. universalfancon.com.