The Top 5 Comic Book Conventions You Should Go To in 2011

I'm sure we all know what an intervention is: someone is so addicted and without self control to some substance or action that their friends and loved ones gather together in an attempt to deter them, oftentimes giving ultimatums and finalities. If I were to have an intervention, it would be for something a bit off the beaten path: conventions. I'm slightly obsessed with them. The energy, the cosplay, the colours and interesting people involved in the industry… the afterparties, great friendships, awesome shopping; it's like a circus for grown up geeks, and no matter how many I attend I still base my months around looking forward to the next one.

I am a lucky enough woman that I go to conventions for my various job endeavors: my writing, photography, personal assisting to comic book artists, etc. I ended up at a great deal of comic book conventions (and anime, lego, zombie… all sorts of geekery) in the last two years, and some were better than others. Though they all have their highs and lows, there were five that I particularly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone looking for a good convention to attend. This coming year I will be going to more conventions oversees (particularly in the UK and France), but for now, here are my Top 5 Comic Book Conventions You Should Go To in 2011 (in the United States):



Charlotte, North Carolina

June 3-5th


Set in a rather unlikely city, I wasn't too excited for Heroes-con before I arrived. Charlotte is known for big business, intense humidity, and heavy food, but I had never heard much about their reputation as a comic book city. My expectations were low and my mood was already dampered by the moisture in the air, but nonetheless I walked into the convention on the first day with an open mind.

It. Blew. Me. Away.

Even though Heroes-con is a decently sized convention, the sense of tight knit community is unlike anything I have ever experienced at any other convention. All of the guests are catered to on intense levels, even with special dinner parties and the like, which allows industry professionals to get to know one another even though they are still "working". As for the attendees, the convention is small enough that they are able to get up close and personal to their favourite artists/writers/celebrities without waiting in outrageous lines, and the convention is so well run that it offers really fantastic guests to the fans. It is in a great part of the city, with restaraunts and stores nearby, and there are oodles of convention organized events after the convention ends for the day – art galleries, parties at comic book stores, etc.

If you're a cosplayer or a cosplay-admirer, Heroes-con boasts some really impressive examples. Perhaps it is its close locale to Atlanta, which has the biggest cosplay convention in the world (Dragon-con), but cosplayers come out of the woodwork at Heroes-con, wearing some of the most elaborate costumes I have ever seen. In fact, I featured some of the cosplayers I encountered there on my top 10 cosplays of 2010 list, which is definitely an indication of the quality.

Another very unique event at Heroes-con is their live art auction, which is a fun, psuedo black tie affair where everyone drinks champagne and bids on original art made specifically for the auction by every guest at Heroes-con.

I made so many friends at Heroes-con, and I was sad when it was over. If you want to go to a convention that has potential to be big but isn't overwhelming, look no farther than Heroes-con.



Emerald City Comic Con
Seattle, Washington

March 4-6th



I may be a little biased since I live in Seattle and I ADORE this city, but ECCC (or EC3 as the locals call it) is an exempliary convention no matter what the locale. Though it does help that it is located downtown in a vibrant, culture filled city with fantastic eateries, good accomadation within walking distance of the convention center, and tourist traps like Pike's Market mere blocks away (in case you want to turn EC3 into a vacation destination).

But it's just not the location that makes it stand out: like Heroes-con, it is one of those conventions that is on the cusp of getting "too big", but isn't quite there yet. It touts some really amazing guests; not just comic book related but geek culture related as well. Last year Leonard Nimoy was there, and this year some of the guests include William Shatner, Felicia Day, Brent Spiner, and many other icons of the pop culture world. But you don't have to wait in insane lines for a mere autograph like one would have to do at a convention like San Diego Comic Con; lines move fast and the convention is well organized enough that everything really goes on without a hitch.

If you're thinking: "Well, I don't really CARE about the media guests… what about the comic guests?", EC3 has you covered in that area as well. It boasts one of the most impressive artist's alleys I have ever seen, with rows upon rows of easily accessible artists and writers primed and ready to sign your favourite issues or art book. The guests are taken care of so everyone is in a great mood, and most interactions are pleasant. I have heard very few bad things said about EC3.

Seattle knows how to throw a good booze soaked party, so EC3 basically goes for the entire weekend. This city is notoriously nerdy, and we also boast a huge anime convention (Sakura-con) and a video game convention (Penny Arcade Expo) at the same convention center. During these events, nearly all of downtown turns into a geek-fest; it doesn't matter what bar you go to, you are bound to run into creators, celebrities, and fellow fans. The "official" afterparties thrown by various publishers (or the convention itself) are always a blast, with lots of swag and rubbing of shoulders. EC3 is truly a god among conventions.



Chicago, Illinois

March 18-20th


C2E2 was Chicago's response to demands of a convention in addition to Wizard World, which is not in a central location and has (apparently) been going downhill for the last few years (I have not been there myself, but this is what I have heard from attendees and professionals alike). The same event committee that runs NYCC and PAX East took on this challenge with flying colours, creating C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) in 2010. Though it was in its first year and was a slimy little newborn, C2E2 really impressed me. The convention center was huge, the guest list was impressive, the swag was plentiful, the shopping was awesome, and the convention was run quite seamlessly. Though the turnout wasn't quite what was expected, C2E2 is sure to grow into a sort of miniature SDCC; a pop culture beast of epic proportions.



San Diego Comic-Con
San Diego, California

July 21-24


Speaking of aforementioned so called "beast", there's no way I could leave SDCC off of this list. If you are a comics/pop culture conniseur and you have never heard of SDCC, you have probably been living under a rock. It is one of the biggest conventions of its kind in the world, filling the city to bursting for the week before and after it occurs. It is so huge and so famous at this point that even my MOTHER heard about it on the cable news channels.

People go to SDCC for different reasons, and there is definitely something there for everyone. Even if you're not that big of a geek, many people go just to celebrity watch. I've seen Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Downey Jr. at SDCC (to name a few). I even had a beer with Elijah Wood a couple of years ago, as he was just hanging out at the bar I was at. If you're a celebutard and want to feel special because a celebrity smiled at you or signed your boobs, go to SDCC.

If you're a comics fan (which I'm sure you are if you're reading this), SDCC is a mecca of the obscure and the mainstream. Though their artist's alley has been shrinking the last five years or so (a constant source of disdain for a lot of people, creators and fans alike), Marvel and DC are massive precenses at the convention, with centrally located, insanely elaborate booths. The indie and smaller publishers surround them, creating a huge village of swag, guests, and major announcements.

Panels are the place to go for news, seeing your favourite creators/actors/whatever, being entertained… there is literally a panel for every walk of geekery. Casts of TV shows, Q&As with comics creators, panels on how women are percieved in pop culture, entire rooms full of 4chan frequenters "losing the game"… I know people who don't even set foot in the exhibition hall, because they are too busy waiting in line to see X new trailer or X celebrity.

Speaking of the lines of SDCC however, I must pause for a moment to elaborate on that slightly: If you suffer any sort of aversion to other humans, don't go to SDCC. I have fondly nicknamed it "Line-con", as the convention center is too small to hold the mass of attendees it produces and so there are lines stretching for (literal) miles every which way you turn. Even getting a coffee at the convention starbucks is an adventure in patience.

And with that warning, I shall continue.

Are you a toy fan? SDCC has literally thousands of exclusives, many of which can only be purchased at SDCC (or for disgustingly expensive prices on ebay a few days/months later). I came home with an extra suitcase in 2010 because I turned into a 12 year old boy, spending money like a drunken sailor.

And the COSPLAY… oh boy, the cosplay. Some of the best cosplayers in the world show up to be a spectacle at SDCC, dressed to the extremes and posing for pictures for hours. If you want to see hot girls and train wrecks; people doing characters justice or butchering them; characters you forgot existed or didn't know existed brought to life, just go to SDCC and walk around. You'll be bombarded with cosplay every third person you pass.

If you're a partier, like me, SDCC is like an ongoing frat party for geeks. There are crazy sponsored parties; for example, this year a warehouse was turned into Flynn's from TRON and the entire party was like walking into the movie. Even ifanboy had a raise the roof party at a great bar, with lots of fantastic swag, good drinks, and great company. SDCC is a great place to hob knob with industry professionals after hours, plying them with drinks and conversation.

I can find bad things to say about SDCC, but it's sheer size and opportunity outweighs all of that. If you're in the market for a truly unique convention experience, I absolutely recommend SDCC.

But as a note, PLAN IN ADVANCE. Tickets go on sale right after the convention ends, and sell out generally within a few days. You need to jump on them (and hotel reservations!) if you want to go. If you want to go this year and didn't get tickets or a place to stay, good resources are craigslist, twitter (or any other social networking site), or if you know anyone who is a professional or guest they always have extra passes laying around.

As far as hotels, you can either stay very far out and take the train in (which isn't that bad), or try




New York Comic Con
New York City, New York

October 14-16


I am going to be completely honest here and let it be put on record that I absolutely prefer NYCC to SDCC. It has the same energy and huge guests, but it is considerably smaller and easier to deal with. Though you don't get as much of the California celebrity factor as you do at SDCC or experience as many big news releases, it is much more low key and comics oriented. The artist's alley is bigger, and this last year they merged it with the New York Anime Festival, which made NYCC a new and eccentric experience for those unused to anime conventions.

NYCC still has the big precense of Marvel and DC, but it's easier to navigate the convention floor and get closer to guests you want to see. I would be willing to predict that in about five to ten years NYCC will be as big as SDCC, but for now, it's SDCC lite.


Molly McIsaac is probably going to go to twice the amount of conventions in 2011 she went to in 2010, and she may quite possibly explode in the process. To bare witness to this deterioration of her mental state, follow her on Twitter.


  1. You are quite the ambassador for Seattle, Molly. You should get a job working for the chamber of commerce.

    Nice article. You make all of these cons sound like a blast. If only I had more money to travel!

  2. I’ve always been told that I should go to SDCC at least once in my life, but just can’t bring myself to do it yet.  I’m sure the experience is great, but knowing how crowded it’s been getting and the amount of money I’d have to put into the tickets, hotel room, food, and goodies tells me I need to lay low.

    NYCC though is exactly what I need.  Not quite SDCC-level yet, but its big focus on the comics and its creators is what draws me in.  That and being able to walk somewhat and use a clean bathroom.

  3. I’d just like to add the FanExpo is Toronto for those North of the border who can’t always get a chance to go to any of these. This year will be double the size of last year, and will start the thursday night and go until Sunday. There are usually really good guests, stan lee was here last year, and companies like Marvel, DC, Boom, Image are all in attendance, and the big two have a fair share of panels to attend. the only complaint about this con is that the panels are the story revealing types that you will find at SDCC or NYCC. and Canadians rock, so there’s that too.

  4. @WeaklyRoll  Seconded on Fan Expo. I’ve gone every year for five years, and it’s a blast (with the possible exception of last year, which had massive crowd-control problems, though the con itself was still fun if you could get into the building). It has the advantage of being five cons in one — if you want a break from comics stuff, there’s horror, anime, sci-fi and gaming too.

  5. No Wondercon Love? Perhaps in the best city in the world? Oh well, we’ll keep it a secret, we get enough tourists anyways. :p

  6. I know Dragon*Con isn’t considered a comic book convention, but it’s worth an honorable mention.  The lines for the creators are non-existant so you’re going to get to see whoever you want with almost no waiting.   Last year I got to spend a good 15 mintues talking to Darwyn Cooke and there was nobody else in line.  There were also very short  lines for Jimmy Palmiotti, Olivier Coipel and Mike Mignola.  The only long line I saw was for George Perez.

  7. Detroit Fanfare and a very distant second would be Motor City ‘Comic’ Con.

  8. Wizard world Chicago has sucked the last couple of years. I would by a day pass and stay for at most three hours because A) its so far out of the city and B) there has not been much to see for me to want to stick around for. C2E2 is by far the best con I’ve been to.

  9. did SDCC tickets even go on sale yet with the whole sit crashing twice deal? i have my time off scheduled for San Diego but just waiting for tickets to actually GO ON SALE! Any ideas when they are gonna be sold yet?

  10. I attend 2 of those 5. Heroes and NYCC. Very different cons, but good.

  11. If I may. I’m continually surprised at the quality of the Baltimore Comic Con. It’s a more intimate affair and you get some good face time with the creators etc…The conference rooms arent’ packed and the execs giving the talks tend to answer every question. Bmore is a little old fashioned as it’s not about, oh say, the hot new movie from Fox but actually buying, selling and enjoying collecting comics. It even sports a decent dress up crowd.
    I like it and it’s a shame it doesn’t get more press…The comicbook museum is in Bmore too.

  12. Just checked out the site for Boston Comic Con this year, there’s a lot of great talent coming.  I’ve been going to the show for four years now and it has grown a lot each year.  It’s right downtown, so it’s easy to get to and always is a lot of fun.  Definitely worth checking out if you are in the New England area.

    @BetaRayRyan-My brother in law lives in Atlanta and goes to DragonCon every year.  He loves it.  I’m definitely going to have to get down there one of these years.

  13. I think I’ve decided that from now on I’m simply going to attend the parties surrounding the con, but not the actual cons.  Except for Dragon*Con.  That one’s too much fun.

  14. I went to C2E2 last year, it was my first comic convention and I had a blast.  Looking forward to going again in a couple of months!!!

  15. Looks like I’m only going to one of those this year.  Really bummed to be missing C2E2.

    Looking forward to Fanexpo though!  Canada represent!

  16. I’ve already purchased my plane tickets to ECCC 2011, and if all things work out I’ll be attending Heroes Con in the summer.

  17. I went to c2e2 last year and had a great time, it totaly blew wizard world out of the water. There were plenty of current creators and booths but the best part was that there were these giant windows that let sun in.

  18. I love ECCC. Been there twice. I just might go again this March.

  19. @brassai2003  Completely agree – Baltimore should be seen as a premiere show during the year. Probably one of the last comic-centric shows in the country. And given the fact that more people only know Baltimore city from The Wire, they should be told the area around the convention center is probably the safest part of any city anywhere.

  20. See ya at EC3!

  21. I will be attending my first ever comic con this year — Kapow in London. Very excited!

  22. @Dan  yeah. I was thinking of hitting up @Conor and the boyz about doing a live podcast from the Geppi Museum. I’m not affiliated with the museum or the con, but I am in media and obviously collect so I thought I’d help set it up.
    Otakon is HUGE here. I’ve aways hoped the Comic Con would be too.

  23. No love for Wondercon? 

  24. Heroes is a great con. Much love for it!

  25. I’m debating if I’m gonna go to NYCC this year or not. It’s gonna be apart of a crazy period of my life; ending my college years and going out into the real world. So we’ll see what happens. But I definitely want to go for a lot of reasons:

    A) My first ever con
    B) I can meet a ton of wonderful people (from creators to you guys)
    C) I have a great sketch idea that I would love to do at NYCC or any con (Although I would need probably a good $1000 just to do it) 

  26. I go to Dragon*Con every year. It’s gotten ridiculously huge recently, but it’s still the best way to spend Labor Day weekend. Atlanta also had its first Comic-Con this year. It wasn’t well attended, but that just meant those of us who did show up got to spend a lot more one-on-one time with the artists and creators.

  27. I thought NYCC last year was insane. It wasn’t as BIG as SDCC, but since it was in a smaller space, it was just as CROWDED. Much more than ’09.  I’d like to do one of the smaller cons this year — I’m considering the others on that list.  Or maybe even a APE or SPX.

  28. Yeah I’ll be at ECCC again this year. Hope to see everyone there.

  29. I think it’s the joining with anime festival that led to huge increase of attendance at nycc. Well and it was like almost 2 years since the last one. Its great that now they stick with October. It’s much warmer. As for space, javits center was doing expansion. That’s why it was crowded. This year should have more floor space for more people. I do get a bit annoyed with the anime crowd. May be because of a huge age gap between the 2 groups.

  30. @TheNextChampion  i’ve met you yet. hope i’ll c ya there this year. =)

  31. So glad to see Heroes-Con on the list. Its put on by the comic shop that Matt Fraction used to work at, at least thats what I hear. But yeah its a great con. We went two years ago and I got to meet some of my favorite creators, ask a lot of great questions, and got some sweet deals.

  32. I’d also like to give DragonCon some love.  I suspect that many of the iFanboy writers have yet to attend DragonCon.  Here’s hoping we can see some iFanboy staff at this year’s DragonCon.

  33. I want to go to Dragon*Con SO BADLY, but it usually contradicts with PAX. Also my schedule this year is madness; I have conventions in Australia, the UK, France, and Poland. WHAT.