I’ve attended dozens of conventions over the past 15 years, usually as an exhibitor, often as a panel moderator, sometimes as a curator or invited guest.
I’ve attended nearly every San Diego Comic-Con since 2001, always staffing the Cartoon Art Museum‘s booth.
The first convention I attended as an Exhibitor was APE, back in 2001. I’ve been to every one since, and have been very involved in programming and special events there for the past five years or so. Still one of my favorite shows, whether it’s in San Francisco or San Jose.
I first attended WonderCon when it was held at the Oakland Convention Center back in 2001. The show moved to San Francisco a couple of years later, conveniently located at the Moscone Center, mere blocks from the Cartoon Art Museum. The show moved to Anaheim in 2012, and we’re still hoping that another major convention will spring up in S.F. to take its place.
We started attending the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland in 2007, when Shaenon was invited as a special guest. The convention provided us with a hotel room for the weekend, and we arranged our own transportation with the friends who eventually formed The Couscous Collective with us. The drive from the Bay Area to Portland and the opportunity to catch up with friends in the Northwest each year made this one of our favorite conventions. It was an annual tradition for about six years, but we skipped the show in 2013 due to some scheduling conflicts, and the convention was folded into the Rose City Comicon after that.
We’ve only exhibited at The San Francisco ZineFest a few times, but now that it’s one of the only comics shows left in our immediate area, we’re keeping a close eye on it.
For its first three years, The Latino Comics Expo was held at the Cartoon Art Museum. Founders Javier Hernandez and Ricardo Padilla always had big plans for the expo, and it eventually outgrew our space, moving to San Jose. During its time at CAM, we hosted events with Spain Rodriguez and Mario Hernandez, among other talented folks.
I only attended New York Comic Con once, for a single day, but I had a great time. The purpose of my visit was to conduct a panel with Mort Walker on the occasion of Beetle Bailey’s 60th anniversary, and to present Mort with the Cartoon Art Museum’s lifetime achievement award, The Sparky Award.
One of my favorite conventions was Comicdom, Greece’s major (and possibly only) comic book show. I curated a Batman exhibition for their festival, and they flew me and Shaenon out for an incredible celebration of comics and pop culture. Shaenon got to judge a costume contest, and we spent the week talking about comics and exploring Athens and the surrounding area.
I put together a short film program for the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2010, and scored a trip to their festival as a result. It was my first visit to Canada, and I’d love to go back given the opportunity. Due to the timing of the festival, it was also the first time I got to sign copies of The Looney Tunes Treasury, which was a pretty cool bonus.
In fall 2013, I curated a Superman exhibition for the Cartoon Art Museum, celebrating his 75th anniversary. This was especially fun, since the first museum exhibition of comic book/pop culture artwork I’d ever seen was the Superman 50th anniversary exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution on my sixth grade field trip to Washington, D.C.
The organizers of the Amadora BD Festival contacted me toward the end of the CAM exhibition to ask if I could put something together to go along with their own Superman plans, and Shaenon and I were invited to their festival. We had a phenomenal time celebrating comics with Portugese and Brazilian artists, and our visit to Amadora and Lisbon itself was something we’ll never forget.
I’ve known the organizers of the Big Wow! ComicFest for years, and they run a great artist-driven convention in San Jose each spring. Steve Morger, Steve Wyatt, Frank Cho and their crew always manage to bring out great comic book artists from all over the world, including European artists who don’t do any other shows in the United States. I’ve exhibited a few times (including Super-Con and some of the other direct predecessors to Big Wow), and this one’s always fun to visit as an attendee.
Silicon Valley Comic Con has quickly become one of my favorite local shows, with a good mix of comics, pop culture, and science & technology. Kind of like Big Wow! with astronauts. I met Peter Mayhew the first year I attended, and the second year I met the cast of Sesame Street plus Mr. McFeely from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood along with several longtime favorite comic book artists. Great show.