Science Fiction Coalition Uses Cosplay to Give Back to San Diego Community

Cosplayers at WonderCon
Cosplayers at WonderCon. Photo by Chris Jennewein

For the first time since 2019, WonderCon returned as an in-person event this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center.

And with the COVID-19 epidemic easing, more conventions are coming, even to San Diego, which already hosts the largest such event, the annual Comic-Con International.

San Diego Shawn Mullen is working on it.

Mullen, 52, is the founder of the Science Fiction Coalition and Fandom Invasion, San Diego’s newest convention, which debuted at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido last October.

Mullen and coalition member Patricia Burns were at WonderCon staffing a booth and telling attendees about the coalition and its convention.

“People are excited,” said Mullen, as he stood at the booth Friday.

Mullen and friends started the coalition in 2017 in San Diego and it has grown since then to about 300 members in Southern California, with about 200 of them from San Diego.

“We’re a bunch of sci-fi fans and we like to give back to the community,” he said.

They started by doing cosplay visits to children in hospitals and veteran’s events and by attending other fan conventions in California to spread the word about the group.

When they thought about putting on their own convention, they wanted to make it different. So, they made it more family friendly by creating an outdoor, interactive kids zone with bounce houses, a video game truck and a children’s cosplay area.

Mullen also wanted to make the event friendly for the deaf community in honor of his late brother, who was deaf. So, I invited actor Troy Kotsur, a deaf actor who had appeared in plays, movies and television.

It turned out to be a prescient move as Kotsur had filmed the movie “Coda,” which had just premiered earlier in 2021. Just last week, “Coda” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

“I was watching it like it was a football game,” said Mullen, of celebrating Kotsur’s victory while viewing the Oscars.

The first Fandom Invasion attracted 500 people and Mullen is hoping to increase that 1,000 fans later this year.

Burns is enjoying a photography hobby in retirement from the Navy and is looking forward to taking photos of people in cosplay and meeting fellow fans at the convention.

“To be part of this group, meeting the people that I do, it’s just a warm family,” she said. “This is my tribe.” For more information, visit

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