Destination: Out of this World

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The summer “con” season is upon us. It’s time to gather, cosplay and enjoy the company of like-minded fans. Many people have heard about San Diego Comic Con, the annual multi-genre entertainment and comic convention, which is the largest annual comic and pop culture festival in the world. It attracts more than 130,000 attendees each year. A victim of its own success, tickets are now virtually impossible to obtain by the average person.

In addition — originally showcasing primarily comic books and science fiction/fantasy-related film, television and similar popular arts — Comic Con has since expanded to include a range of pop culture across nearly every genre, including horror, Western animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, web comics and fantasy novels.

Anime Expo, once a quiet little convention attracting young fans of Japanese anime, has also exploded into a “mega-convention” attracting more than 100,000 to the downtown Los Angeles Convention Center over the Fourth of July holiday.

Part of the fun of these conventions is “cosplay.” Many attendees who don the costume of a favorite super hero, or anime character, and spend hundreds of dollars and many hours of labor crafting unique and spectacular costumes to wow fellow fans.

If you like to “people watch” there’s nothing more fun than grabbing your camera and visiting one of these conventions. Cosplayers love to pose for photos. If you ask, cosplayers often will pose in character for your camera.

Conventions are a great place to see the “stars” of various sci-fi, anime and pop-culture genres. Autograph sessions, vendors, exhibitors, meet and greets, artists’ alley, masquerade, and special lectures and appearances add to the convention experience.

Conventions are becoming more and more “family-friendly” experiences with mom and dad in costume, and kids in tow.

For many people, annual conventions are like a “family reunion,” where they meet up with old friends who share a like-interest and a place where they can be “themselves.”

Southern California

Los Angeles Anime Expo

July 4-7

Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., L.A.

Known as “AX,” this is a celebration of popular Japanese art and culture. Anime Expo features more than 800 hours of programming, panels, and workshops.

Info http://www.anime-expo.org.

San Diego Comic-Con International

July 18-2

San Diego Convention Center, 111 W Harbor Drive, San Diego

The Comic-Con website states, “Obtaining a Comic-Con badge can require the persistence of Superman, the patience of a Watcher, the ingenuity of Tony Stark and the readiness of Batman.” That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Info www.comic-con.org.

Long Beach Comic Con

Aug. 31-Sept. 1

Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

A celebration of comic books and pop culture that showcases the exceptional works of talented writers, artists, illustrators and creators of all types of pop culture. Entertaining and educational programs for all ages, guest signings, and meet and greet sessions with celebrities, as well as vendors and exhibitors.

Info longbeachcomiccon.com.

Nostalgia Con

Sept. 28-29

Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim

Billed as the “World’s Reunion of the Icons and Pop Culture Legends of the 1980s,” this pop-Americana convention includes concerts, celebrity panels, meet and greets, music artists from the 80s through today, collectible cars, sports legends, pop culture icons, cosplay, retro merch drops, video arcade games and break dance competitions.

Info http://nostalgiacon80s.com.

WonderCon

April 10-12, 2020

Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim

Now owned by the same folks who put on San Diego’s Comic-Con, WonderCon is the sister show embracing all the main aspects of SDCC, including comics, movies, TV, animation, the masquerade and more.

Info www.comic-con.org/wca.

Elsewhere

If the SoCal convention “scene” is too crowded and too hard to access, there are many conventions around the country that attract many of the same vendors and “stars” as the bigger conventions. There are also different “genres” of conventions not seen in SoCal.

Dragon Con

Aug. 29– Sept. 2

Atlanta, Georgia

A meeting place for fantasy, from comics to cosplay to wrestling and puppetry. It hosts an annual parade with fans decked out in the most imaginative and inventive attire imaginable.

Info www.dragoncon.org.

South City Comic Con

Sept. 15

San Mateo Event Center/Fair Grounds, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo

This year’s featured guest will be Bob McLeod, best known for co-creating and illustrating “The New Mutants” for Marvel Comics. He has penciled or inked all the major characters for Marvel and DC, including Spider-Man, The X-Men, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, GI Joe, Star Wars, The Hulk, Conan and more.

Info http://southcitycomiccon.com.

Mouse-Con

Nov. 3

Crowne Plaza Inn, 45 John Glenn Drive, Concord, CA

This Disneyana fan convention held in Northern California features panels and talks by Disney artists and others, as well as vendors.

The Inaugural Mouse-Con in Bakersfield will be held Jan. 26, Kern County Fairgrounds, Building 4 (The Arts Building) 1142 P St., Bakersfield.

Info http://www.mouse-con.com.

Sakura-Con

April 10-12

Washington State Convention Center, 705 Pike St., Seattle

The Pacific Northwest’s biggest anime convention, Sakura-Con attracts more than 20,000 attendees. A comfortable, fun convention with vendors, autographs, panels, Japanese cultural arts and presentations, bonsai exhibits, a large artists’ alley and numerous anime viewing rooms, as well as gaming, masquerade and contests.

Info http://sakuracon.org.

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