Have you ever been to a comic convention? If you don’t strongly associate with any fandoms related to comic books, anime, or other niche interests, the answer is probably “no.” In fact, even comic fans skip the conventions due to a lack of interest, or because of misconceptions about what cons are actually like.
But there are many good reasons to visit a convention, regardless of whether you’re a part of the fandom—and you should try it at least once.
There Are Many Types of Cons
First, you should know that many different types of conventions exist. There are mainstream events centered around comic books and related media, like the all-too-popular Comic-Con, but there are also more unique events that cater to specific niches, like Youmacon, which focuses on Japanese pop culture. There are even conventions that focus on one specific franchise, artist, or following.
If you have one or two main interests, you can find a convention that specifically aligns with them. If you don’t have any preexisting interests or influences, you can head to a mainstream, general event and gain exposure to a wider range of media and art. The bottom line here is that you’ll have dozens, if not hundreds of choices, so almost anyone can find a comfortable, exciting con for themselves.
The Cultural Exposure Factor
It’s universally beneficial to expose yourself to other cultures, even if those cultures are already related to your own. You’ll get to see how members of different fandoms, or in some cases, people from other countries interact with each other and entertain themselves. You’ll learn all about new media series you may not have otherwise known existed, and you may get to see live panels with Q&As for artists, actors, and other celebrities.
Cons are great opportunities to broaden your horizons. You may stumble upon your new favorite book series, or learn more about a career you’ve never considered before.
Cons are always a powerful source of creative inspiration, on multiple levels. You’ll get to see art directly from artists in many cases, with comic book creators and animators displaying their best work to the public, and you’ll be able to talk with them about their art. You’ll get to see crafters and independent vendors showing off their memorabilia and collectibles. And you’ll also see attendees, cosplaying with homemade costume elements and in some cases, playing the role of the characters they’re portraying.
If you exercise creativity in your life, whether it’s a part of your job or a favorite hobby on the side, this is the perfect opportunity to inspire yourself to create something new.
A Sense of Togetherness
Conventions have the unique potential to bring people together who share somewhat rare, but passionate interests. It may not be common to encounter someone who loves the same comic book series as you in real life, but at the convention, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. You can strike up a conversation with a stranger, and bank on the possibility of having something in common with them.
And even if you don’t feel like you’re a part of these fandoms, you can still benefit from being a part of this community. If you don’t know anything about a series that seems to be popular, or if you don’t recognize the character an attendee is dressed up as, you can ask them about it—and they’ll probably be happy to tell you all about it. Conventions tend to be a place of acceptance and enjoyment.
Unique Gift Ideas
Comic conventions are also perfect places to pick up unique gifts for your friends and family members—for a birthday, Christmas, or practically any other holiday. If they’re a fan of a particular series or franchise, you can scout out some unique figures or replicas from those series. If they’re a general fan of a subculture (like Japanese pop culture), you can ask the vendors and attendees at a Japanese pop culture con for recommendations. And even if your intended recipient isn’t a fan of any specific series or niche interest, you can probably find a unique piece of artwork that aligns with their taste on display by one of the artists or vendors. Because so many items are made by hand or are original creations, it will be that much more special.
One and Done?
Of course, comic cons aren’t ideal environments for everyone. You may attend one and find it’s not your cup of tea—but because most cons are inexpensive to attend, it’s worth the effort to find out. Spend a few dollars and a few hours navigating the next major convention to come to your city; you’ll be glad you did.