Saturday, September 26 @ 10 AM–5 PM
Sunday, September 27 @ 10 AM–3 PM
Five Flags Civic Center
Sometimes the best way to make something happen is to provide reason and place for those who are passionate about that thing to show up and pitch in. Thus is the story of the first ever D-B-Q CON, comic, gaming, movie and entertainment-based fan convention.
Taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 26–27 at Dubuque’s Five Flags Center, D-B-Q CON finally brings Dubuque its own excuse to get your geek on without having to take a long drive or buy a plane ticket. Sponsored by Mindframe Theaters and Comic World, D-B-Q CON is the brain child of John Ohnesorge, a Dubuque-based entertainment promoter who simply saw a local need and a great opportunity and went for it.
“I started my promotion company, Top Billing Entertainment, because I like music, and I have no musical talent. I like to go to shows and to be around the behind-the-scenes part of it, and that was the only way to do it without having any musical talent. That’s exactly why I did it—seriously.”
You might already know John from booking all of the shows at Eronel since new owner Jeremy Patrum took over in April. Though the shows there have thus far been focused on new hard rock acts (not on purpose), John swears he’ll book anything if he thinks it’s good and people will like it. He’s currently working on two country acts as well.
Now he jumps into something very different, injecting himself into the mystical world of costume play and wizard-level fanatical love of all things comic books, board games, video games, science fiction, movies and entertainment in general.
“I’m seeing Cons everywhere, and the popularity is off the charts, and I’m thinking, we’re a convenient hub between major metro areas,” recalls Ohnesorge. “What a great place for something like this to happen.”
John himself is a big science fiction fan but would not consider himself a diehard comic fan or one who’s immersed in the genres that you expect to see at a convention of this sort. He’s not a collector. But he enjoys the subculture and thinks Dubuque is ready for a home-grown celebration of its own. And since deciding this might be something he can make happen, he’s been on a crash-course at Comic-Con university.
“I started over a year ago researching it,” begins Ohnesorge. “I researched the concept for over eight months before I even said I was going to do it. All my research online and through interviews with con-goers and organizers gave me a good idea of what’s involved. I’m going to be leaning on a lot of people for support.”
John’s goal with the first ever D-B-Q CON is simply that people walk away happy feeling like they got their money’s worth and had a unique experience.
“I know the first one is always the hardest one, so I just want to make sure there’s enough there to entertain people and that there’s some unique stuff, too. And I definitely got some unique stuff coming. Just today I had Master Ron Schmitt from the Dubuque Lightsaber Academy call me. He’s a black belt in karate and trains people how to use lightsabers. It’s very serious. He’s coming with a booth and signing people up for local lessons. There’s a replica Ghostbusters hearse, and I think I have a Delorean coming. So, I keep finding new and interesting things to add to the mix.”
Two actors from Smallville, Christopher Gauthier (Toyman) and Crystal Lowe (Vala), will be attending the Con, doing panel discussions and signing autographs at their booths. In fact, a number of the larger cosplay and special interest groups at the Con will be hosting panel discussions throughout the weekend. A schedule of those will be available a week or two in advance of the Con.
The band Psychostick will be the musical feature at the Con. These guys are both comic book artists AND a band. In their own words “We are a Comedy Metal/Hardcore band. It is significant.” That should be very interesting.
“We’ve got some major cosplayer groups coming to the show as well. Major! I have a group called the Mandelorian Mercs coming. They researched Boba Fett and made it into a whole thing based on his backstory within the Star Wars saga. And the Superhero Cosplayers will have a booth and do photos.” Expect some great fan service from some experienced “actors.”
“Every day there’s more and more artists signing up to participate in Artists Alley where they will display their original works. I think that’s going to be a very cool feature of the Con.”
Multiple comic book shops are coming as are tabletop gaming experts who will be organizing ongoing tabletop gaming tournaments throughout the two-day Con.
The Runde Theater (aka the Five Flags Theater) will show comic, gaming and superhero related movies and shows all day long, and those will all be very kid friendly.
Rich and Junnies Coin is setting up a mini arcade of classic standup video games inside D-B-Q CON. So, I guess you’ll want to bring 10 pounds of quarters.
Trigger Happy Tattoo will be doing comic-specific tattoos both days. Maybe it’s time you got that Yosemite Sam permanently emblazoned on your body?
There a charity group called Crush that does cosplay and donates money they raise to local food bank charities in the communities they visit.
For kids, there will be a superhero theme face painter. They will really get a kick out of all the cosplayers at the convention and enjoy getting their pictures taken with their heroes.
“My son is 7, and he can’t want for all of the superhero stuff,” adds Ohnesorge.
Before the Con even gets started, Mindframe Theaters is going to host a double feature movie on Friday night with Batman and Superman leading up to CON day. Visit MindframeTheaters.com closer to the event for the showtimes.
On Saturday night, Eronel and Skinny Maginny’s (located on lower Main St in Dubuque) are doing a rival Bad Guy/Good Guy contest for cosplayers that sounds like a lot of fun after the Con closes for the day. And on Sunday night, there’s a wrap party for the event at Eronel, and the band Psychostick from D-B-Q CON will perform again. Best of all, that’s free for anyone that has a ticket to the Con.
Right up until the last minute, more things will continue to be more added to the roster, John assures us. Anything that continues to make the event better and better is welcome.
“Like I said, I’m leaning on a lot of people. I mean, I didn’t know what cosplay meant, but I’ve learned quickly.”
The biggest eye opener for Ohnesorge in this process is discovering exactly how serious people are about this subculture and the characters they love. They take it very personally.
“We will have a cosplay contest at D-B-Q CON. We have not announced details yet, but you have to be careful because people are so intense about it. A cosplay contest and a costume contest are not the same thing. We want to do it right.”
The first D-B-Q CON is very much a “stone soup” kind of undertaking. John has taken the risk and put together this wonderful event and venue to invite the huge population of cosplayers and fans of the genres to have their day in the sun right here in Dubuque. Now it’s time for those lovers of the art to pitch in and add their own ingredients to this stone soup to make it great. Whether it’s dressing up for the day, or getting a booth to display your own collection of memorabilia or promote your related businesses, or even just buying a ticket to support the idea as it puts down roots in our community, it’s all important and needed. This is your chance to help start something big in Dubuque so it can grow every year into the kind of event that will draw people from all around the Midwest and the country to make D-B-Q CON a highlight on their annual tour of Cons. Yes, people do follow Cons today like their parents followed the Grateful Dead around. If you have something that fits into the concept of D-B-Q CON that you think people would love to see, John would very much like to hear from you. Send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not just a collector or a gamer event; anyone who has interest in comics, sci-fi, games and the like is encouraged to come down, and they will be sure to find many things they’ll like when they’re there.
The event is open Saturday, September 26 from 10 AM–5 PM and Sunday, September 27 from 10 AM–3 PM. Admission is $10 per day or get a two-day pass for $15. Children under 8 are free. Tickets and passes are available at Ticketmaster.com or at the door the day of the event.
For more information as the event nears, visit DBQCon.com.