San Diego Comic-Con vs Dragoncon, the two powerhouses go head-to-head!
San Diego Comic-Con, or “SDCC” as it’s most commonly referenced, is what many of us geeks consider to be the “Mecca” of all comic book conventions. It’s the one which we all dream of attending if we can just score the tickets. It’s also the one that's helped to put most other cons on the map. It’s nearly impossible to get into a conversation with a fellow cosplayer without San Diego being mentioned at some point.
Walk up to any red-blooded American that keeps up with pop culture and bring up the term “comic-con.” Their normal response is usually something like “the one in california that I see on tv?” Now walk up to a geek or cosplayer and the response is a bit different. Their response usually consists of two words, “which one?” San Diego’s Comic-Con is just one of so many conventions in the country that feature all things comics and collectibles. They come in all shapes and sizes and range from the space of a convention center all the way down to the space of a small hotel banquet room. San Diego is undoubtedly the biggest that the west coast has to offer. However, and I quote Yoda on this, “There is another.”
If you look to the other side of the country you will find what I refer to as “The Beast from the East.” It’s the powerhouse known as Dragoncon and it comes two months after San Diego’s con this year. These two conventions are often compared amongst costumers, collectors, geeks and nerds. The debate over which is better may prove challenging, as while both cons are similar in nature, they couldn't be more different. So let’s break down these two juggernauts! Let’s see what they have in common and what sets them apart.
Which one is better? Well, that all depends on you and what you're looking for in a con…
In this corner: San Diego Comic-Con!
Considered by some to be “the” con, it’s been going strong since 1970. What started in a downtown San Diego hotel as a one-day convention, which drew about a hundred people, to being what it is today. It now draws hundreds of thousands every year to the convention and the surrounding businesses. In the early years it centered around comics and collectibles, but now it’s become so much more than that. San Diego Comic-Con has become a showroom for many high-end toy and collectible companies that come to showcase their upcoming products and set their paces for the rest of the year. Companies like Sideshow, Hot Toys, Kotobukiya, Bandai, Play Arts, Hasbro and so many others are all there to make us drool over all those wonderful toys that are going to make our wallets bleed and our partners angry. This convention has also become the place where the major movie studios come to make huge announcements and debut their blockbuster movies’ trailers.
San Diego Comic-Con is definitely the one with the most star power and hollywood muscle and is one of the more difficult cons to get into since the tickets usually sell out within an hour of being available. If you're a cosplayer wanting to focus more on costuming and cosplaying then this one might not be the one for you. The cosplayers are definitely representing, but the ratio is small compared to other cons. You'll still find comics, collectibles, great panels, entertaining presentations and awesome vendors; and there’s plenty to do around the con after the convention center closes. Try to get invitations to some of the more exclusive parties, or just enjoy the ones open to the public. Actually, they're often the most fun anyway.
And in this corner: Dragoncon
This behemoth has been going strong since 1987 and is held every year during labor day weekend in downtown Atlanta, GA. While never being held at any convention center, Dragoncon has been jointly hosted over five different hotels with breakout events happening across all of them. The Hilton, Westin, Hyatt, Sheraton, and Marriott all contribute to Dragon Con’s events every year. Three of the five are connected via walkway, while the others are within close proximity. This is definitely one of the more unique cons. The dealer rooms, panels, and presentations are all divided up and spread across these hotels. In addition, there’s a huge parade on Saturday where cosplayers get to pull out all of the stops and walk through downtown Atlanta in all their geeky glory!
Dragoncon is by far the cosplayers convention. Being that the con is held across five hotels, there is no convention center to leave at the end of the day and you can literally stay in costume and keep having fun until the wee hours of the morning. The dealer rooms do close as well as the panels and presentations, but there is a whole other world to interact with as hundreds of thousands of attendants fill the hotel lobbies and bars in full costume all day and night. They also have bands playing in giant banquet rooms, and the nightly raves that go until about 5am are a must. While the tickets to this convention are plentiful, the problem with this one is that the rooms to the host hotels usually sell out a year in advance.
And the winner is..
Both conventions run four days and both have comics, collectibles, panels, presentations, celebrities, writers, artists, and illustrators. If you want to see it all and then at the end of the day go back to your hotel room in peace and let it all soak in, then I suggest you lean towards San Diego. If you want more emphasis on the cosplay/costume aspect of things and want to keep the party going after all the events close, then I suggest leaning towards Dragoncon. Both are awesome and you are sure to have an epic time regardless. Either way, wear comfy shoes and practice your cardio because both of these will put you through one serious workout!
by Eric Bernard