Many are familiar with the mega-size comic conventions flanking the coasts—the San Diego Comic-Con International and New York Comic Con—but there are a slew of other venues that shine across the country. Here’s a primer to some of them:
Heroes Convention (HeroesCon)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Month held: June
This summer’s Democratic National Convention is not the only major event coming out of Charlotte this year. The impressive Heroes Convention, a medium-size festival, held annually packs quite a punch. Begun in 1982, the festival is known for its well-organized production, high quality artists and writers, enthusiastic fans, and impressive guest appearances. A prime example is Marvel Comics legend, Stan Lee, who’s made several memorable visits, one as an early guest of honor in 1984 and another—to much fanfare—this year.
Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2)
Month held: April
A challenger to the other longstanding Chicago festival—the perennial Wizard World Chicago (formerly known as Chicago Comic-Con)—is the recent arrival of C2E2. Originating with a bang in 2010 the C2CE takes place at the city’s enormous McCormick Place in downtown, which means there’s a lot of space to grow. Rapidly becoming a major national festival, attracting both local fans and many more thousands across the country, the convention has become a welcome alternative to Wizard World Chicago’s recent soaring ticket prices and regularly lamented location (Rosemont, Illinois), which has been a hinder to out-of-state visitors. This new competitor is here to stay.
Emerald City Comicon (ECCC)
Month held: March
This dynamic Pacific Northwest event, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Seattle, is deservedly celebrating its tenth anniversary. Lauded for its wide range of activities and broad spectrum of guests, the festival has ballooned from just 2,500 in attendance in 2003 to over 50,000 today. It routinely nabs famous comic pioneers and TV icons. For instance a couple years ago the fest hosted Leonard Nimoy of “Star Trek” fame and then continued on this theme the following year by presenting William Shatner and Brent Spiner (Data from “The Next Generation).” One of the most anticipated comic events in the west coast, some predict the convention may rival San Diego in the not-so-distance future. One can rather easily image the day when attendance hits 100,000.
Maine Comics Arts Festival (MeCAF)
Month held: May
This cozy little festival, held annually in May, boasts some of the industry’s most up-and-coming writers and artists. For this year’s gathering the special guests included Japanese author and artist Kazu KibKate, creator of Amulet and award-winning Canadian artist Kate Beaton, best known for her “Hark! A Vagrant” webcomic. Admission is only 5 bucks—a refreshingly small sum compared to, say, New York Comic Con that requires one to shell out between $35-65 for a single day.
Month held: September
This festival is right around the corner. Literally, it begins on Saturday, September 8. The feisty convention’s website banner says, “America’s Greatest Comic Book Convention!” Although probably a slight exaggeration, this festival does have its staunch loyalists and boasts an amazing international guest list (this year alone you can meet Neal Adams, Stan Lee, Garth Ennis, and Brian Bolland to name a few). The event also plays host to the prestigious Harvey Awards, named after pioneer artist/writer Harvey Kurtman, which honors excellence in the comic book industry.