Whether you’re into science fiction, fantasy, comics or cosplay, we all love a good Comic Con. When else are you going to get the opportunity to dress up as any character you choose, lark about with other fans of the franchise, have your picture taken with personalities from across the galaxy or sit in on a panel discussing upcoming movie, game and comic book releases? Hey, they’ll even throw in some exhibitors, and the chance to buy toys and assorted merchandise that is likely to blow your mind. While there are a host of conventions that take place around the world, none is quite as special as Comic Con. What started out as a minor league convention, with just 145 attendees in 1970, now annually attracts a quarter of a million self-confessed geeks – and that number is rising with every passing event.
Seeing it all: Your guide to Comic Con
There are numerous tips we could share regarding Comic Con attendance; remember to pack comfortable shoes for all that walking, bring plenty of clean clothes to change into after hot, sweaty days of trawling stands, always drink plenty of water, and do your research. What else is there to do in the area, besides the convention? Where should you be staying? What are travel links like? A poorly prepared convention guest is a frazzled one. It’s also essential to think about your budget; how much money do you actually have available to spend on a single weekend? The average cost of attending a convention was estimated to be in the region of $1,500 last year, and we’re sure that figure will have risen by now. It’s almost impossible to do a convention on the cheap, particularly if you actually want to see or do anything. So, what options have you got?
Comic-Con International, San Diego
Founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970, Comic-Con International is the original and arguably the best Comic Con event out there. If you only visit one festival of geekery in your lifetime, make it this one. Returning to the San Diego Convention Centre on Thursday, July 19 until Sunday, July 23, this year’s event features writer and artist panels, with guests such as Marguerite Bennett of Batwoman and DC Bombshells fame, cartoonist Nathan Hale, writer Paul Levitz, and Marvel artist extraordinaire Keith Pollard. You can expect more guests to be announced closer to the convention date.
Travel tips: San Diego boasts a network of accessible and affordable public transport, including buses and trolleys. The city is particularly cycle-friendly, so hire a bike and see the sights at your own pace. Away from Comic Con, you could enjoy the zoo and safari park, SeaWorld and Belmont Park’s vintage amusements – if you still have the energy, that is. For those attending the convention from further afield, there are numerous places to stay, including hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering apartments.
San Francisco Comic Con
Taking place between September 1 and 3, the San Francisco Comic Con is a celebration of things geeky, with exhibitions dedicated to comic books, television shows, movies, science fiction franchises, pop culture and games, to name but a few. There are also plenty of opportunities for cosplayers to show off their skills. While organizers have yet to announce this year’s lineup, last year’s event featured appearances by Ian McDiarmid AKA The Emperor from Star Wars, Manu Bennett of Arrow fame, and artist Jack Katz, whose work has appeared in print since 1944.
Attendees are always guaranteed a spectacular weekend, with plenty to see, to do and to learn about the industry.
Travel tips: If you’re in San Francisco for the convention, you’re going to want to explore the wider area. The city is home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the historic Union Square and China Town. You must also take a ride on San Francisco’s cable car system. Dem’s the rules, okay? In order to better enjoy the convention and an extended stay in the city, we recommend checking out any of the San Francisco holiday apartments. Only when you self-cater can you enjoy the free spirit that the city is so famous for.
New York Comic Con
Established in 2006 and held at the Jacob K. Javit’s Center in Manhattan, New York, the New York Comic Con is one of the world’s finest conventions, featuring examples from comics, graphic novels, video gamers, toys, movies and television from around the world. Again, organizers are keeping tight-lipped about this year’s guests, although previous lineups have included screenwriter Adam Horowitz, actress Chloe Grace Moretz, actor Steve Buscemi and Stan Lee himself. You’ll also be able to meet and greet your artistic heroes, chat to designers and toy collectors, and immerse yourself in the underground scene of comics.
Travel tips: New York City is a tourist hotspot in its own right, without the lure of Comic Con to draw you in. Stay in any of the Big Apple’s hotels or self-catering apartments and enjoy attractions such as the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty or Broadway. The city is ridiculously easy to navigate and a trip on the subway is an experience in itself.
Of course, these are just a handful of the Comic Con conventions to be found in the States; we’re sure there’s an event more local to you if you look. Making the most of Comic Con is all about research, which you should be doing if you want to find an event that’s right up your street – literally. The world of Comic Con is a vast and amazing one, occupied by plenty of characters, numerous franchises you’ve no doubt grown up with, and opportunities to become even more ingrained in the world of sci-fi, fantasy and comic books. It’s the kind of event that every movie, game and comic book fan should attend at least once in their lifetime – if not annually, if you can organize your finances. What’s more, Comic Con has taken on something of an international edge in recent years, with events popping up around the world. Now you’ve got your head around some of the best US events, it’s time to explore the conventions in Europe, Asia, Australia and South Africa. Well, you’re not a real fan unless you’ve traveled the globe, surely…