The comic conventions are back! Sort of. Maybe. (And, yes, I know the title is a bit misleading with “the fall of” wording, but bear with me.)
I don’t have to tell you that convention organizers and its community has had a rough year and a half due to the pandemic. Shut downs, lock downs, masks, vaccines, distancing, mandates, and all that fun stuff has kept us apart for far too long. And while many are eager to get back to “normal”, if that even exists anymore, still others are hesitant, as numbers for COVID cases and deaths fluctuate wildly from month to month, whenever people choose to gather in big groups or stay home. And whatever your stance on any of this is, we all know that stepping back into this “new normal” is something the convention organizers, the exhibitors, vendors, the star talent, the artists, cosplayers, and every single attendee who buys a ticket has to take seriously and handle. Of course, depending on where you are in the world, much less the USA, determines how conventions return and how people step back onto those floors safely with consideration for the health of everyone we come in contact with.
I am missing the convention life in a big way right now. The summer gave me a tiny glimmer of hope when I took part in a Comic-Con that didn’t actually happen[link]. But this fall, some conventioneers are taking a step toward opening up again, welcoming their geeky family back to the fold, with different requirements to attend based on local laws and self-imposed business restrictions. Whatever your stance on any aspect of this pandemic mess, if you’re a geek, you’re probably hoping to get back in the mix too really soon, or as soon as you feel it’s safe to do so.
But if you’re ready, I’ve listed here a wide-ranging selection of comic conventions spread across the US and Canada this fall and into the winter. As of this writing, this is what’s still scheduled. There are dozens more, so check your local area. These are just a few of the biggies that I know put on a good show, many of which I’ve experienced first hand over the years.
A number of these bigger shows may have stricter limits on attendance and may have already sold out by the time you read this, so make sure to visit the site for ticket availability before you make plans.
Whatever you choose and wherever you make go, take care of yourself and others and don’t ever take the Comic-Con experience for granted ever again. Hope to see you all back in the aisles and searching through the stacks someday soon!
DragonCon – Atlanta, GA – Sept 2-6
This less comic-focused and more fantasy and sci-fi storytelling focused con is legendary among all other cons at its level. I haven’t been there for too many years, but friends keep me up to date on the experience. It’s seriously like no other con I’ve been to. It is heavily cosplay focused, mainly because you often find more people in costume than not at this show. The programming and the revelry skews a bit more adult as the sun sets, but hey, you’re partying with geeks where they filmed the offices of the Time Variance Authority in Marvel’s “Loki” series.
Rose City Comic-Con – Portland, OR – Sept 10-12
One of these days I’m going to get to this show, beloved by my many friends who have been there or go because they live in Portland. I’ve heard nothing but good things.
Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo – Calgary, Alberta, Canada – Sept 10-12
Calgary hosts one of the biggest shows in Canada every year at the place where they hold the biggest rodeo in the world, the Calgary Stampede. This year, they’re stripping down the con to something a bit more manageable in these trying times. But if you’re Canadian or a citizen of the United States who has somehow managed to sneak across the border and you pose no danger to others, take the time to hit up this beautiful city and it’s truly fun show. I’ve not been there since 2017 and I’m eager to get back. Beyond it being literally a foreign land, I love visiting a new con where I can discover all new creators and find vendors with stock that I haven’t already picked over at fifteen other conventions already. And Calgary is just cool.
New York Comic-Con – New York, NY – Oct 7-10
NYCC is one of my all time favorite conventions, not just because I love New York, but because it has a feel all its own. And because I’m a big Marvel fan, the presence of Marvel at this show is unlike any other. They have more panels for their comics, movies, TV shows, games, and more than at any other convention in the country. That includes San Diego. New York is where Marvel was born, so it makes sense. If you’ve yet to experience New York Comic-Con, take a shot at it. This year might be the only time you see a less than massive crowd due to attendance limitations. Hopefully by 2022, I’ll be able to return and ride the subway with dozens of superheroes once again. Just don’t ride it when Spidey and Doc Ock share a train. That always leads to trouble.
Destination D23 – Orlando, FL – Nov 19-21
This is not D23 Expo (usually held bi-annually in Anaheim, California), but it’s close. This event is held in Orlando, Florida, primarily because it’s Disney World’s 50th anniversary. So where else would you host an event for Disney fanatics from around the world? Expect big Disney announcements for every brand at every level, but especially when it comes to the theme park itself. Even if you have no plans to go to this convention, but you love Disney, keep a watch on entertainment news that weekend. You never know what you might discover.
Comic-Con Special Edition – San Diego, CA – Nov 26-28
This ain’t your daddy’s San Diego Comic-Con. No, seriously, it’s not San Diego Comic-Con at all. But it is presented by Comic-Con International, the people behind SDCC and WonderCon. This is a very pared down event, with intentional limitations on attendance and programming. It should still be just as fun, but don’t expect it to be the legendary event that the world flocks to in July. One reason is that it is taking place over the controversial dates of Thanksgiving weekend. Will it keep people away? Or exhibitors or creators or vendors? I guess it all boils down to how close you are to San Diego and how close you are to your family. Decisions, decisions.
Emerald City Comic-Con – Seattle, WA – Dec 2-5
This is the convention jewel of the Northwest, delayed more than a half a year from its usual springtime slot, but nestling it deep into the holiday shopping season will hopefully have people eagerly throwing lots of money at vendors and artists who have been going without transactions like those for too long.
LA Comic-Con – Los Angeles, CA – Dec 3-5
This is my local con. Not only that, it’s my local convention center. I used to be at this convention center 6 months out of the year for different events, but it’s been nearly 2 years since I walked its halls. And there’s no better reason to do that again than by going to LA Comic-Con. With the chance to see friends once again hawking their self-published comics and more collectibles that I’ve missed out on than I care to admit, this is a must-do event for me. I want to finish off the year with my first and last and really the only Los Angeles show of 2021. If you’re local, you should too.
C2E2 – Chicago, IL – Dec 10-12
I haven’t been back to Chicago since Star Wars Celebration and I’m dying to get back there. It sadly won’t happen this year for C2E2 outside of a deep dish miracle, but I plan to get there in the future. It’s the midwest’s biggest show and all of my creator friends who have gone love every bit of it. This is also a very Marvel-centric show, but obviously all of the major publishers are represented in some way. However, I must say that since it’s being held in December instead of March, I would suggest booking a hotel that’s very close to the convention center, if not connected directly. Them Chicago winters get colllllld.
Comic-Con Revolution – Ontario, California – Dec 18-19
This is one show that I truly enjoy, but am sadly going to miss this year since it’s so close to Christmas and I’ll be away visiting family (hopefully). But if you’re in the LA area, particularly East of the city and you’re not the type who ever wants to drive INTO Los Angeles, this is the con for you. It not be the biggest show, but it always has a great crew hosting tons of notable comic creators with row after row of collectibles for sale. And it’s more manageable if you’ve got a large family, like the Incredibles pictured here. This might be the best place to get that very last minute gift for the geek in your life. Go ahead. Finish off 2021 among comics, collectibles, and cosplayers. It’s what Santa would want for you.
Which will you dare to venture forth and conquer? Hey, at the very least, this gives you an excuse to cosplay with something that requires a mask. Be safe out there. Maybe… just maybe… we’ll see each other again next year at cons that are once again back in full effect*. Here’s hoping.
*I’m keeping a 2022 eye on you Anime Expo, Long Beach Comic-Con, E3 Expo, Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, and the full, unadulterated San Diego Comic-Con!