[AniFemTalk] Your favorite conventions

Con season is winding to a close: Crunchyroll Expo had its inaugural outing, Otakon moved to a more spacious venue, and AnimeFest failed to account for the dedication of Yuri!!! On ICE fans. Now’s as good a time as any to step back and ask: what’s your favorite con and why?

  • If you’re a convention-goer, do you visit several per year, or pick just one?
  • What draws you in? Location? Guests? Panels? The surrounding city?
  • What are your best and worst experiences with con organizers?
  • What convention would you like to see the AniFem team attend in the future?


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  • wanderingdreamer

    It’s not an anime con but Small Press Expo (SPX) just outside of DC has really won over my heart. It’s super cheap to attend ($20 for Saturday and Sunday, but if you volunteer for 4+ hours they’ll give you a free badge which is what I’ve done for a few years) and it is simultaneously a very laid back, chill con and also a really intense one. It’s all centered around small press comics so it’s a con that’s entirely about the artists who attend it and everyone is SO PUMPED about comics. They are SO READY to meet creators and buy as much as they can. Heck, it’s kinda a chill con because by 2 or 3 (the con only opens at 11) you’ll see people drifting off to corners of the hotel to just sit down on the ground and start reading what they’ve bought.
    Oh and they have their own awards (called the Ignatz), a prom (with a chocolate fountain most years!), and there was one year a guy married comics. It’s just got such a friendly vibe y’all.

    • Yes, this! I was able to attend SPX for a few years in the early 2000s (when it was still held in an old Holiday Inn in Bethesda, Maryland), and can attest that it is everything wanderingdreamer wrote, and more. The proportion of stuff worth buying to stuff on offer is quite high, including lots of feminist/queer-friendly stuff, and you’ll get a chance to meet and talk with almost everyone who’s anyone in the indie comics world, including possibly the creators of the next “Steven Universe”. (Rebecca Sugar was an SPX exhibitor back when she was starting out.) In fact, if you have any interest at all in non-manga non-mainstream comics and can afford only one trip to the Washington DC area in 2018, I recommend attending SPX instead of Otakon. (And if you live in the DC area, SPX is just over two weeks from now, on September 16-17.)

  • My favorite convention of all is the World Science Fiction Convention because I have many fandoms and can find all of them there. And because it’s run by a different committee in a different location each year, it’s never in any danger of lapsing into a rut of same old, same old. And I love being part of a fannish tradition that’s survived since 1939.

    But since Worldcon is 5 days long and travels all over the place, I don’t have the vacation time and budget for it every year. What I do get to most years are my local cons: Orycon (sf/multi-fandom), Game Storm (gaming), Kumoricon (anime), Portland Retro Gaming Expo (retro video games, and also it happens to be The Big Convention in its field).

    What draws me in? My convention bucket list is a mixture of cons which are among the big events for their fandoms (Otakon, Essen Spieltage, Costume-Con, etc.) and unique events (HAL-Con, Wiscon, etc.). Guests are almost never a factor. (But, I’m going to Anglicon this year because they got two classic Doctors.)

    Best and worst experiences with con organizers: As a frequent panelist, my experience is usually shaped most strongly by interaction with the program department. Orycon is the best I’ve dealt with– they always give an impression of being well-organized and on schedule. They send out preliminary schedules much earlier than I’m used to with similar cons.

    The worst convention I’ve ever been to was many years ago, a one-off here in Portland called OmniCon. You’ve all heard of Dashcon? Dashcon was just an unusually prominent example of a story that’s been playing out over and over and over again since media cons were born. OmniCon was also going to start with a big bang, bring thousands of people in the door immediately, show those old fuddy-duddies running established cons how it should be done… I remember the attendance on the morning of day 2 being described as “They’d like us to believe there are 250 people here.”

    Conventions I’d like to see AniFem attend? A healthy convention ecosystem includes support for local cons (unless those local cons are horrible), so I’d love to see AniFem participating in your local cons (okay, I did see that Otakon is the local con for one of you). It would also be great to see you go to a broader convention like Nine Worlds or Worldcon, if they overlap with your interests enough to be enjoyable for you.

  • Yeah, we (AnimeNEXT) had some issues with line management for the creator panels. We’re working on solutions for those in 2018. Thanks for attending and I hope you’ll be back in 2018.