Comic Con season is almost upon us and while most of the mainstream media's peepers will be firmly focused on events in San Diego, the chances for the average Fanboy or Fangirl to get a badge to geek mecca are slim to none. So, while your blood pressure will inevitably reach dangerous levels as you attempt to navigate this year's San Diego badge registration system, don't fret too much because here are 7 great alternative ways to immerse yourself into the world of cosplayers, artists, and geek idols.
If you're a fan of Star Trek: TNG, it's time for you to book a last minute trip to Kansas City because this year's Planet Comicon is hosting a special TREKtacular event that will reunite some of the show's biggest stars. Moderated by Trek legend William Shatner, Planet Comicon's special panel will see the likes of Wil Wheaton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes and Gates McFadden getting back together to discuss their experiences on the show. There are only a handful of tickets left for the special event, so act fast. Don't despair if you can't get hold of one because there is still plenty going on elsewhere at the weekend-long KC spectacular. Artists Alley, Photo Ops with sci-fi legends, and a great selection of local and big-time artists will all be accessible with your $60 full-weekend pass or $20 daily pass, and kids under 10 get in free!
What better way to shake off this brutal winter than with some Orlando sunshine and pop culture action at MegaCon? Running (most years) since 1974, MegaCon can always be relied upon for a great value and high quality weekend that will tick the boxes for even the most experienced con-goers. They regularly book in a decent array of guests and 2014 is no exception with Wil Wheaton(Star Trek: TNG), John Barrowman (Torchwood, Arrow) and Peter Mayhew (Star Wars) just a few of the media names in attendance. MegaCon also pays serious attention to gamers with 3 rooms dedicated to multiple sessions of table top and LARP gaming as well as zombie walks across the convention's halls. All this serves to create one of the best atmospheres on the circuit, and all for just $25 a day or $60 for a full 3-day pass.
The largest pop culture convention in the Pacific Northwest, Emerald City consistently delivers a healthy mix of great celebrity guests and top-drawer artists, but without the massive crowds. The 2014 line-up for Emerald City is pretty spectacular with celebrities including Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, GOTG), Stephen Amell (Arrow), Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Ron Perlman (Pacific Rim, Hellboy) mixing in with a mouth-watering array of artists like Shannon Denton and Kurt Busiek to name but a few. Tickets for Emerald City are on sale although 3-Day passes and Saturday passes have sold out.
Really we could call out pretty much every stop on the WizCon tour as being great in their own right, but considering there are 14 on the calendar for this year alone, we're going to have to group them together. No matter which one you go for though, purchasing a Wizard Con badge is guaranteed to get you access to a great series of panels with big name celebrities as well as a pretty solid artists alley and exhibitor space. This year's festivities kick off in Sacramento on March 7-9 with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and the cast of The Walking Dead heading the celebrity list. Other highlights from across the tour include Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Summer Glau (Firefly) most of whom will be present at more than one of these great cons. What's great about Wizard Con is that it is taking the big-budget Con experience to a whole bunch of places that wouldn't normally get it, so check the full list of host cities out in the list above and you might be surprised how close one is to you.
Sister event to San Diego, Anaheim's WonderCon is a an excellent event for comic book fans, but its appeal goes far beyond just that with a great series of gaming events and media areas. The addition of the 'Trailer Park' where fans can catch footage of upcoming sci-fi and fantasy releases allows WonderCon the prestige of being able to show exclusive and unseen content such as the World Premiere of 'Son of Batman'. However, possibly the best thing about WonderCon is the extensive gaming area which provides access to over 20 different tabletop games absolutely free. More competitive gamers can also pay to enter official tournaments in Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Magic, Heroclix and Kaijudo with some pretty solid prizes and bragging rights up for grabs. WonderCon tickets are still widely available online and a 3-Day pass will run you a mere $50.
Don't quote me on this, but Dragon Con has arguably the most fervent following of any convention in the US. Created in 1987, Dragon Con began with just a few hundred attendees. Since then, attendances to this beloved convention have risen astronomically and in 2012, for the first time ever, organizers had to cap the number of badges they sold at 52,000. It's no surprise either. Last year Dragon Con booked a serious array of pop culture legends including Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (Mythbusters), and William Shatner (Star Trek). However, while this impressive selection of stars and panels is a big draw, one of the best things about Dragon Con is the event's commitment to live performances. Throughout its illustrious history, Dragon Con has hosted live performances by legendary acts including Bloodhound Gang, Blue Öyster Cult and Jefferson Starship. These performances along with the event's annual cosplay parade through Atlanta help to make Dragon Con one of the most lively and festive events on the Con calendar.
It's a shame that for the last few years New York Comic Con has been regarded as the 'other con', playing second fiddle to the big names in San Diego, but this does seem to be changing. The management in New York have gradually turned New York Comic Con into a huge international event worthy of anyone's time. The Javits Center on Manhattan's West side affords enough space for a behemoth of a vendor and exhibition area and New York is starting to attract some of the biggest names in the business when it comes to artists and studios. Truthfully though, the best thing about New York Comic Con is the people. Con-goers in general are just a great bunch, but there's something about the vibe at New York Comic Con that is so unique with amateur and pro cosplayers intermingling with some of the East coast's most passionate fans. The 2014 schedule hasn't been announced yet, but if you're in the tri-state area (and even if you aren't) you should put this one in your diary.