After a Kickstarter campaign and months of preparation, Universal Fan Con was supposed to be held at the Baltimore Convention Center beginning on April 27. It was billed as a celebration of diversity and inclusion in fandom.
But a week before the event, organizers abruptly called it off, citing a “financial deficit.” It led to lots of frustration and confusion, as word initially got out by way of canceled hotel stays and many vendors already had items shipped to Baltimore. And there were questions about refunds that continue to linger, as organizers claimed it was not a full cancellation.
Even as that’s happening, a group from the fan community and Baltimore recognizes that lots of attendees will still be coming to Baltimore. So they banded together, and created a one-day pop-up event. It will be held Saturday, April 28, at the Wicomico building in Pigtown.
WICOMICON, named after the building that has an intriguing history of its own, will have exhibitors, panels and cosplay contests, according to organizers. There will also guest appearances by cast members of SYFY TV shows The Magicians and Killjoys.
Our guest list for #WICOMICON! Come see @cheo_coker, @ReignOfApril, @gregpak, stars from @Killjoys @MagiciansSYFY and more! We're still adding people so keep checking https://t.co/EGADf0Iek4 pic.twitter.com/XCn3jujFXI
— #WICOMICON (@WICOMICON2018) April 26, 2018
Among the organizers is Uraeus, a Baltimore-based comic book writer and creator who graduated Morgan State University. He created Black Heroes Matter to champion diversity in pop culture, and the movement went viral after he brought just a dozen T-shirts to San Diego Comic-Con in 2016. For Universal FanCon, Uraeus was planning a Black Heroes Matter panel to talk about what he said is a “Renassiance” for Black Heroes Matter taking place in pop culture, as well as a booth.
“I knew that people were coming from literally all over the world to attend this,” he said, energized by the rare platform for underrepresented groups in pop culture. When the cancelation news came out, he started contacting others in the community. They “saw a problem that needed solving, and mobilized our collective resources and skills to solve it.” By the next day, the space for Wicomicon was secure. Along with Black Heroes Matter, organizing partners include The New Release Wednesday Show, Nerds of Color and the theblerdgurl.
Amazing what we can do as a community when faced with a challenge. 😊 Honored to be affiliated with a group of partners who pulled this event together in record time. BigUps @MSHINDOKUUMBA who blessed us with the epic art!!! INFO: https://t.co/0MA22r7V4Z pic.twitter.com/T1PHbHYmBs
— 𝗕𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗛𝗲𝗿𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿® (@BHMatter) April 23, 2018
“My organizing partners have risen to the occasion and like Peter Parker: ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’” said Patrick Michael Strange, host of The New Release Wednesday Show, in a statement. “So, like pop culture and the comics that we are fond of, it is in times of tragedy and adversity that real heroes emerge and people come together. This is that time.”
The goal, said Uraeus, is to provide a place for fans who are in Baltimore to congregate, as well as a chance for vendors to recoup the losses. Tickets are $10, and it’s half-price for anyone with a Universal FanCon ticket. He said it’s a nonprofit effort, with funds going toward costs associated with the space.
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