There are so many reasons why you should attend any and all fandom and pop culture conventions that you can, but here we break it down and compare all the benefits of bigger and smaller Cons.
If we had it our way, we would attend every convention we could possibly find, not only because they’re fun, but because they surround us with people that are every bit as passionate about the stories and art that we find ourselves talking out every minute of every day. If you’ve been debating which Con to start your amazing journey with, or if you just have only ever been to smaller Cons, here is our breakdown of just how great the different types of Cons can be.
The staff here at Hypable are always excited to check out all the incredible panels and fun at SDCC every year, but after a recent trip by some staffers to Indy PopCon, we’ve discovered a new found love for local Cons, and couldn’t wait to share why with all of you.
Big Cons vs. Small Cons
A bigger Con (like SDCC or C2E2) will mean more people and bigger crowds. This always leads to longer lines and a tougher time getting to things, but it also means more awesome people to meet and more amazing cosplay to see.
Bigger cons attract some of the best cosplay around, and it is really a special kind of art. Seeing the details that go into something like a suit of armor or a life size version of Bumblebee from Transformers is sure to shock you, and it’s always fun to take pictures and show your friends the amazing work being done.
Small crowds mean a more intimate experience and a great chance to get your hands on some goodies you may not find at a bigger Con. At places like SDCC, meeting a celebrity or getting an exclusive souvenir are harder to come by because of the sheer number of people also vying for the same things. However, at a smaller Con you may have a better chance to have a conversation with a celebrity you have watched on your screen for years or walk right up and collect art from an artist you didn’t know you already loved.
The bigger the Con, the more notable the artist. If you are looking to get an exclusive with the guy currently running your favorite book, this may be the place to go. Someone that already has a huge following is going to be more apt to register for larger Cons to get the most for his/her travel buck. It makes more sense for VERY well known artists to take their work to the biggest Cons that attract the biggest crowds in order to reach more of his/her followers in a single trip.
If you are looking for some interesting work from a lesser known show, or if you would like to know how and why an artist got started in fandom work, small Cons are the way to go. It’s a more intimate atmosphere. You can wander the show floor and talk to the artists themselves about their work, and that is a very special thing. It’s easier to purchase and love a piece of work that you have discussed with the creator. It’s harder to forget the passion that goes into something like fandom art when you have personally connected to the artist and the piece.
Getting a picture with a celebrity at a big Con is harder than you might think. Yes, bigger Cons attract bigger stars, so if you are looking to get your picture with Jennifer Lawrence or Hugh Jackman, your best shot may be at something as big as SDCC. It is harder to get the shot as the Con may not be hosting formal photo opportunities, and trying to get a ticket for the ones they do offer is going to be drastically harder than you’d think.
It might cost you a little (usually between $20-$40), but smaller Cons give guaranteed opportunities for face time with celebrity guests. No more stalking the show floor hoping to “accidentally” bump into them or standing in ridiculously long lines for an autographed poster.
For a small fee you get your picture taken professionally with the celebrity guest of your choice, making it infinitely easier to get to all the other amazing Con events you put on your wish list. You may even get them to sign the picture later on when you find them at their booth on the show floor.
Okay, so if you are looking for behind the scenes stories or hints at future seasons from the biggest shows on TV, big Cons are the way to go. Bigger Cons mean bigger guests, which means better chance at getting a detail or two you didn’t previously know, not to mention there’s always the possibility of a new clip or trailer. Panels at bigger Cons will usually still allow for audience questions, so no difference there, but, for example, you probably won’t find the entire cast of Arrow at your local con like you might at C2E2.
There is one word for panels at smaller Cons: intimate. They may not be a part of an expansive panel with the entire cast present, but since you are getting a one-on-one or two person panel, you get to know the actor/director/artist much better, and that focus can lend itself to a more intimate atmosphere.
It’s easy for peripheral characters on a huge show like Game of Thrones to be forgotten when on a panel with Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, and Lena Headey, but when you get a chance to listen to what Kristian Nairn has to say about playing Hodor at a place like Indy PopCon, you realize that he is just as invested in his character’s physical performance as the others are with their 10 pages of dialogue.
Since there is always so much you want to do at big Cons, it may be hard to take time out to just enjoy the experience with friends. If you are going to all the same panels, then you have surely found the time, but if your interests tend to differ it may be harder to find time to have shared experiences. Sure there’s always the many hours camping out overnight for a great spot at the panel to spend together, but if you are looking for a relaxing experience, the big Con probably won’t be what you’re looking for.
It’s easy to find time for friends at a small Con. Walking the exhibit hall with a friend is a great time to chat about all the cool things you have seen/done recently, and you get to see great fandom art at the same time. Smaller Cons provide a less hectic atmosphere, so there is always time to catch up with friends you may not have seen in a while, or to make new ones.
Let’s face it, you basically want to spend every waking hour you can in the actual building at a big Con, leaving you less interested in the businesses and nightlife outside. Sure you might purposely find a few hours to walk around if you make a point to, but it’s harder to keep that in mind when the line is forming for free t-shirts right in front of you. Big Cons always put the focus on the next big event, so you tend to lose out on magic of the locality you traveled to.
Whether you flew 5 hours to get there, or drove 45 minutes, small Cons give a great opportunity to get out of your normal surroundings and see a new place. Since your days are not packed full of panels/signings/exclusive freebie-hunting, you will have plenty of time to step out of the convention center and walk the streets. Trying a new restaurant, checking out some local shops, or even just sitting outside soaking up a different atmosphere will have your batteries recharged in no time, leaving you ready to tackle your next Con related task.