Salt Lake City’s FanX is back this week, taking over the Salt Palace Convention Center. It’s Utah’s biggest pop culture convention and, by attendance, one of the biggest in the country. No matter the size, every comic convention is a little bit different and comes in its own unique flavor. The particular flavor can be a little difficult to identify unless you’ve been to other comic cons to compare it to. So, how does FanX taste compared to other large conventions in the region?
Location: Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Dates: Three-day show (Thurs.-Sat.); September 22-24, 2022
Size: FanX organizers say average attendance is around 125,000
Flavor: The hardcore geeks, nerds and fans in Utah make FanX what it is. Every year, attendees show up in stellar cosplay with money to burn on clever celebrity photo-ops and signings. For animation and book buffs (especially of the fantasy persuasion), the con brings in some fan-favorite voice actors and authors like Brandon Sanderson. Celebrities, particularly TV actors and performers, dominate the guest list. With Utah’s penchant for big families, FanX shows some love to its Kid Con and all-ages programming, and the craftiness of the local populace means you’ll find some interesting wildcards among the vendor and exhibitor tables. As far as actual comics go, there likely won’t be many comic exhibitors, and attendees get to know very well the local creators who turn out every year.
Sister Shows: Tampa Bay Comic Con, Indiana Comic Con, ATL Comic Con
See our video from Fan X Day One featuring the Q&A session with Anthony Micheal Hall
Location: Washington State Convention Center, Seattle
Dates: Four-day show; March 2-5, 2023
Size: Estimated attendance of 100,000
Flavor: The floorplan of this con is huge, in large part due to a vast and dense Artist Alley. It’s the place to make friends with comic creators, and some comics publishers have official booths at Emerald City where artists and writers will do signings. Big celebrity guests and packed panels are abundant. Whole sections of the floor are devoted to literature and cosplay guests, interactive exhibitions and vendors selling some cool con exclusives. March weather in Seattle is not always ideal for post-con hangouts, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from keeping the party going around town. And, you can always find a good cup of coffee.
Sister Shows: In addition to ECCC, ReedPop puts on New York Comic Con and C2E2 in Chicago
Location: Denver Convention Center, Denver, Co.
Dates: Three-day show (Fri.-Sun.); June 30-July 2, 2023
Size: Estimated attendance of 115,000
Flavor: Formerly Denver Pop Culture Con, this con has gone through some identity shifts of late, now that it’s been brought under the Fan Expo umbrella. But it remains a standout for attendees in cosplay who want to meet-up and take photos with fellow cosplayers, and some professional and celebrity cosplayers turn out to the con. Big-name comic creators like Jim Lee have been guests at the con in years past, and panels and photo-ops with guests from TV and voice acting are a key selling point. The nightlife around downtown Denver means there are some solid post-show “Bar Con” options. Because of the show’s origins with Pop Culture Classroom, there are educational programs at Fan Expo Denver for parents, teachers and students who want to learn more about creating their own comics and art.
Sister Shows: Fan Expo puts on more than a dozen fan events across the U.S. and Canada
Location: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, Ca.
Dates: Four-day show; July 20-23, 2023
Size: Estimated attendance of 150,000
Flavor: It might not be fair to include San Diego in a list of comparisons because there is nothing quite like it. Everyone and everything comes out for this show. At its center is the exhibitor floor, where major film, TV, animation and video game studios, comic and book publishers, toy and collectable makers and sellers all have a presence. The panel programming is overwhelming, the pinnacle of which is the infamous Hall H—where this past year featured star-studded panels and trailer premieres for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and the entirety of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s phase five lineup. The con extends far beyond the boundaries of the convention center, taking over a good portion of San Diego’s downtown with large displays, exhibits, meet-ups and parties. The flavor of San Diego Comic-Con is everything flavor. All of the flavors.
Sister Shows: Comic-Con International also puts on Wonder-Con in Anaheim, Ca.