It seems as though everyone and their cousin knows about (and attends) San Diego Comic Con, so I want to fill you in on slightly smaller cons that trade the glitz and glamour for a more intimate, fan-oriented vibe. These are a few of the coolest conventions that happen across the country every year that I totally recommend checking out.
Forget what you know about Comic Con because Dragon Con is the real deal for the hardcore nerds with some of the most elaborate cosplay you’ll ever seen on either coast. The multi-genre celebration of all things geek overruns the Peachtree Center in downtown Atlanta for four full days devoted to everything nerdy. The Labor Day extravaganza regularly brings in over 50,000 attendees and boasts one of the best guest lists you’ll ever see.
On the comic side of the things you’ve got some of the coolest artists and creators gathered under one roof, including the most awesome power couple in comics, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction. DeConnick has received much praise for her terrific run on “Captain Marvel” and Matt Fraction’s stint on Marvel’s “Hawkeye” has brought a newfound popularity the character hasn’t seen in years (seriously, it’s a lot of fun, you should read it).
When it comes to TV and movies, you’ve got Barry Bostwick (Brad from Rocky Horror), Felicia Day from The Guild, most of the main cast from the Battlestar Galactica reboot, and frikkin’ Hodor (Kristian Nairn) from Game of Thrones! I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’ll grace Atlanta with one of his legendary DJ sets. For real, I’ll be here all day if I keep this up, so you can go here to see the full list of all the people who will be at Dragon Con this year.
Otakon – Las Vegas
The little sister of the longstanding Baltimore convention has only been around for two years, but it is quickly making a name for itself on the convention circuit. 2015 marked only the second year of the Vegas event that has brought in several thousand visitors each year and continues to grow with each passing.
The event is held at the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas, which is actually a nice change of pace over your traditional convention center. The venue helps to complement the con with its host of fun movie memorabilia. It fits in so well that sometimes you can’t tell which are permanent exhibits and which pieces were specifically brought in for the con. I also read in this article that Britney Spears is actually a regular performer at the hotel’s attached club, The Axis, which is kind of amazing if you’re looking to satisfy some guilty pleasures.
Anime News Network reports that last year brought in terrific talents like voice actress Wendee Lee (Faye Valentine from “Cowboy Bebop”) and vocaloid pop sensation Hatsune Miku—and I expect 2016 to be even better. It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor of a convention because you can take full advantage of the great guests and events but not get lost in the sea of attendees and body odor.
NC Comic Con
Nestled in the heart of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, the NC ComicCon is an intimate affair that caters to both fans and creators with a superb list of guests year after year. Held at the Durham Convention Center and in the historic Carolina Theater, the con combines community events, panels, cosplay, and a film festival for a fun and affordable weekend that’s very accessible for both friends and family.
Gerard Way, the former My Chemical Romance singer and author of Eisner Award-winning comic book “The Umbrella Academy,” will be attendance. He’ll be joined by big-time illustrators, like Adam Hughes and Cliff Chiang, in addition to acclaimed indie artists, like Ignatz winner Liz Prince.
For all the “Dead-heads” out there, this year will also feature the only U.S. appearance of “Walking Dead” artist Charlie Adlard, so don’t miss out on your chance to pick the brains (get it?!) of one of comic’s hottest stars. This event goes down Nov. 13-15, 2015.