When I was invited as a writer to my first convention, WesterCon in 2004, I was blown away by the things to see and do. Since that time, I’ve participated as a guest panelist in over one hundred conventions across the country. For those who have never been to one, I am going to give you a little intro to the types of conventions and what to expect.
The literary convention focuses primarily on the art of writing in different mediums (i.e. novels, screenplays) as well as illustrating and painting. Like other conventions, the literary convention has a dealers’ room where you can find a variety of goods. Often, you will find authors, small press publishers and booksellers make up the majority of the dealers. The larger literary conventions have gaming centers promoting the latest games and art galleries, featuring some of the hottest talent in the country. The backbone of these conventions is the programming, which consists of panel discussions featuring guest writers, artists and other industry professionals. Costumes and cosplay have grown to become an integral part of the conventions, highlighted by a costume contest on Saturday nights. Room parties are also popular for mingling with new friends on Saturday nights as well.
The multi-genre convention features much more and is significantly bigger. The focus tends to be on the film industry with celebrity appearances, film festivals and comics. The dealers’ room tends to be commercialized with more upscale goods and film products (DVDs, action figures, etc.). With a larger crowd, the events are more lively and entertaining than the lit cons.
The Comicon has a primary focus on comic books, graphic novels and artists. They can be any size from a small card shop event to a convention center packed with hundreds of dealers and are supplemented with celebrities, authors, and costuming. The San Diego Comicon, likely the largest in the country, leans heavily on film and comics.
Passes to these events can be purchased for one day or for a weekend. The host or surrounding hotels offer discounted rates but you need to go through the convention website to get the discount code. You’ll find that some conventions are themed, for example Supernatural or Dr. Who are popular and often feature the cast members to round out the theme. I’ve found that it is well worth it to spend the weekend at the hotel and enjoy everything these conventions have to offer. I’m sure that, like me, once you’ve tried one, you’ll be hooked.