Anime Boston, April 6-8:
Featuring video game rooms, karaoke, game shows, stage performances, role playing games, and anime music video contests, this three-day event is for the avid anime and comic fan.
Anime Boston is well-known for its costume play through its contests and attendees, despite the smaller attendance, as a large percentage of all attendees dress up in full anime gear. It was voted by The Boston Phoenix in New England as one of the best nerd gatherings in their metro area.
Held at one of the smaller Boston area convention centers, anime and comic fans have easy transportation from nearby transit hubs and hotels. The John B. Hynes Convention Center has long been the home of Anime Boston, though some fans still wish for more space as it can get very busy that weekend. Smaller in attendance than their convention neighbor, PAX East, Anime Boston is a slowly growing convention that fans will be sure to attend.
PAX East, April 6-8, and PAX Prime, August 26-28:
PAX East is the east coast version of Seattle’s PAX Prime. PAX stands for Penny Arcade Expo and is a three-day event that not only includes PC and console gaming interests, but events for table top gamers as well. PAX East is held at the Boston Convention Center with a date that coincides with Anime Boston. Gaming and anime fans will have their hands full deciding which event to attend.
In the past, Pax East has been known to sell out of its tickets with upwards of 60,000 attendees. Tournaments and free-play areas litter the convention floor as booths spring up everywhere from top gaming developers and publishers. While PAX Prime started in 2004, PAX East started six years later in 2010. East Coast fans are happy to flock to its much larger doors since the available convention hall space is greater at PAX East.
PAX Prime regularly sells out and has a smaller convention space at the Washington State Convention Center, but is no less celebrated in the state of Washington. Problems with crowding are also reported, so expect lines as well as tight quarters on the showroom floor at this 70,000+ attendee event.
Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), April 13-15:
A young event similar in age to PAX East with only two years under its belt, this convention is run by the Reed Pop Network. Reed also runs NYCC, PAX East, PAX Prime, and the Star Wars convention as well. C2E2 has auctions for actual Marvel movie set pieces, and for 2012, notable guest stars such as Anthony Daniels, who is the voice actor of C3P0, David Finch, who is the writer and artist on ‘Batman: Dark Knight’, and G4TV’s Chris “Nerdist” Hardwick have attended. The 2012 event will be held at the North Building in McCormick Place.
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), June 5-7:
The reigning top dog in electronics is sadly an invite-only event. This event deserves not only a mention, but great applause for the extensive amount of coverage that is included. Broadcasted on multiple places all over the internet and TV, it is similar to CES in scope. Though smaller in attendees than CES, E3 is a showcasing event that may as well be the Superbowl of video game industry showmanship. At E3, Xbox, Playstation, Wii console, and PC games are unveiled for the public to take a first glance.
San Diego Comic Con, July 12-15:
By far the largest comic convention in the U.S., this event is the pinnacle of west coast, star-studded, comic nerd heaven. Not only are the panels epic in scope, but so are the guest speakers that attend. Tickets sell out in minutes and lines to get into the convention are horrendously long. In excess of 130,000 guests, this convention is not only crowded, but sells out so rapidly heads go spinning.
Not only are there panels and workshops, but previews of games and movies as well. An independent film festival takes place alongside its large, dealer room floor space. Show exclusives are in high demand and, not only is this a star-studded event with Hollywood sci-fi actors, this convention has also served as a launching point for entire movies and careers.
Otakon, July 27-29:
The meshing of the Japanese word, ‘otaku‘, meaning fan of anime and gaming, and the word, ‘convention’, gave birth to ‘Otakon’. Considered a major convention by Japanese culture fans, the website for Otakon is currently down, so hopefully there should be new information up on the website soon. This is certainly larger than Anime Boston with 30,000+ attendees in 2011. This convention is not on a massive scale where it becomes a mega-sized convention like New York Comic Con.
Held in Baltimore, Maryland, it is considered a major celebration of Japanese anime, manga, music, and movies. This event is a must-attend for fans that are seriously devoted to the Land of the Rising Sun. With gaming events, as well as karaoke and costume play events, this weekend will give East Coast residents a taste of Japanese culture that will hold them over for quite a while.
Dragon*Con, August 31-September 3:
Sci-fi nerds rejoice at this literary weekend paradise of all things nerd and geek related. Spanning any medium that sci-fi has touched, this is a weekend celebration where 40,000+ rabid fans descend upon the city of Atlanta, Georgia and a stunning network of five hotels. Dragon*Con is one of the older conventions, having been established in 1987.
For this convention, not only are authors featured in panels, but they are also given awards as well. Ray Bradbury was the inaugural winner of the Julie Schwartz Award for universal achievement in science fiction. The Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta Hilton and Towers, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, and Westin Peachtree Plaza are the main hotels surrounding this public, transportation-friendly city.
New York Comic Con, Oct 11-14:
Taking place in one of the busiest cities in the world, NYCC is a huge convention for comic fans. Generally coinciding in the same building at the same time with the New York Anime Festival, fans arrive at the Jacob Javitz Center on the west side of Manhattan from nearby transit hubs within walking distance of the Javitz Center.
With nearly 100,000 attendees expected for 2012, there can be no doubt that NYCC and NYAF is fast becoming one of the top conventions to attend in the U.S. Besides San Diego Comic Con, no other entertainment convention in the U.S. comes close to NYCC with its focused events and panels geared towards comics, literature, novels, movies, and author signings. The panels are getting better each year with sightings and speeches from Stan Lee himself as he showcases his newest ventures in the comic and film industry.
While not as crowded as the San Diego Comic Con, a strategy is still required to navigate NYCC. Making a stronger showing with each successive year, the autograph booths and publishing industry booths have become one of the major focal points for a star-studded gathering of top actors and comic artists in the industry today.
Here, there is less press coverage than San Diego, much to the joy of attendees. As one of the last conventions before the winter hits, lines are expected to be long, but well worth the wait for fans that want anime, games, and comics and that want to meet their favorite superheroes.