Consolation Cons you should consider

9 MAY 2014

If you were determined to prevail in the badge resale next month, and felt lucky and certain that this time you'd get a badge - yesterday's announcement may have hit you hard. So while I know that none of the below are San Diego Comic-Con, I'm still going to suggest you consider attending one of these instead.

Phoenix Comicon is 5-8 June. I attend this every year so I'll devote some words to it.

Yes, Phoenix is hot in June but it's not nearly as bad as you think. Here's my opinion of this Con; it's not "the next best thing to San Diego," which is the rose-colored branding it's acquired. It does have its charms, however. There are a fair amount of celebrities, like Nathan Fillion, Charlaine Harris, Mark Sheppard, my goddess Julie Newmar, Stan Lee and such. And it's WAY easier to interact with them than at San Diego. If chatting with comic book artists and writers is your thing, there are quite a few who come here, having been priced out of attending San Diego.

There's an endearing community feel and the creators are very collaborative in terms of letting attendees contribute to the programming, which I love. This isn't about corporate mass-market products, but a grassroots art scene. Some of the events have an adolescent feel, but this Con is good about hosting everything from Steampunk Balls to Zombie Beauty Pageants to Geek Speed Dating to Science Fairs. If you ever feel swallowed up by the crowds at SDCC, that won't happen here; people are very friendly and it's easy to network or just get invited to a party.

Special Edition is New York Comic Con's first comic book-focused Con. Brand new this June, so who knows how it'll go - but if you're in the area, it's probably worth attending.

DragonCon is in Atlanta - 29 Aug 29- 1 Sept. I hate to call this the "fun" Con because it implies the others aren't, but well, it just has a more rollicking, open-minded feel than your typical Con. You don't have to be a hardcore sci-fi/fantasy fan to have a good time, either.  Get your badges now at a discount.

London Film and Comic Con is 11-13 July. In addition to a ton of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones actors, there are randoms like Sherilyn Fenn from Twin Peaks. I can't speak to the programming because I've never been. But if I was a globe-trotting heiress instead of a writer on a budget, I'd be at this in a heartbeat and hanging out with Natalie Dormer.

San Diego Comic Fest is in October. Probably not appealing if you like SDCC strictly for the celebrities, but if you're a comic fan, don't miss this.

New York Comic Con is 9-12 October - smaller than San Diego (though not by much these days) and fairly similar in content. This has begun selling out in recent years, so don't wait too long to snap up a ticket.

If your automatic reaction is to sneer at all of these - give them a chance. They are cheaper (depending on airfare) than San Diego. They often offer friendlier people, more parties (that you can actually attend), more accessible celebrities (who you'd never get a chance to speak to in San Diego) and a relaxed atmosphere that went extinct at SDCC years ago. No, you won't see the new Walking Dead trailer before anyone else in the world, but so what? You also won't be standing in line overnight.

Just think about it. It's something to tide you over this year until you try again next year for San Diego.

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