As a creator who is trying to make his way into the comic industry money is tight. You need to be careful about how much money you spend versus how much money could be made and you can’t table at every show. As a person who lives in the south eastern United States DragonCon and HeroesCon are two of the biggest around town. I have tabled at both shows and I want to share my thoughts about each show so that if you are deciding which one you should do you have some information. I will be speaking from the mind of an artist and not a vendor or cosplayer, because I have not attended the shows as anything other than an artist.
First up DRAGONCON.
This four day convention takes place every Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, GA. The artist tables for this show are under $400 and only come with one pass. With this artist table you get a six foot table that will be in a line of other tables that are butted up to each other. Behind the table there is not much room, about enough room for you to be seated in a chair and a very small working area for banners and back drops. Also the artist area of the convention is on a floor to itself, but that floor is on top of 3 floors of vendors. Those vendors are moving metric tons of product, both licensed and unlicensed.
If you want to table at this show you should apply the October the year before you want to attend. These show you have to selected to attend, it is not like most conventions where you just pay the fee and you get a table. Since the convention is selective about the artist they allow in there is a certain amount of prestige that comes with doing the show. Once you get selected you have you the option to get a table or booth. For 2018 I believe the booth fee was under $700 and that included an extra pass along with a 10×10 foot exhibitor area. That same amount of space on one of the vendor floors will cost around $1000, but if you can pull off that vendor space you don’t have to be selected, you pay you play.
Loading and unloading for this convention is relatively easy. One big thing that could get overlooked is parking. Atlanta has a lot of things going on every Labor Day weekend and the parking lot people know that. So please budget about $20 a day for parking and Saturday about $30.
So you need a place to stay for the weekend, you better plan early. Since this is a very well attended convention rooms in the nearby and host hotels sell out extremely early, and if you applied in October you may not hear that you were selected until March of the next year. If you try to book a hotel room for DragonCon in March GOOD LUCK. I live within driving distance so I drive home each night.
This is a very, very well attended convention but most of the attendees will not see the artist area. This convention’s attendees fall into a few categories and the biggest of the groups are those who want to party and wear their cosplays, and to a lesser extent those who want to party and look at the cosplayers. There is a smaller section that comes for the minor amount of relevant celebrities. Very few attendees appear to into comic books.
Since only a small amount of con goers are into comic books there are only a handful of comic book names, usually about 2-5 big names and about 20-30 that have truly worked in main stream comics. There doesn’t seem to be any real presence of large, or even mid-level, comic book publishers.
There are plenty of artists that make great money at this show and there is always a large amount of fun to had at DragonCon, and based on your placement and expenses you could too. The staff that deals with the artist are great and very friendly, they go out of their way to contact and talk with every exhibitor during the con and prior to the con they are very responsive in their emails.
If you have the chance I would do this convention at least once.
On to HEROESCON.
This three day convention takes place every Father’s Day weekend in Charlotte, NC. To be honest it has been a few years since I have done this convention. The artist tables here are about $300 and you get 2 passes. These artist tables usually have a lot of room behind them for backdrops and such, but you need to pay for your space early. The tables usually line the the walls of the building and on the floor the tables are arranged in large rectangles. Getting one of the corner tables is no good, you have over lapping back area with the table on the other 90 degree side so the two of you have the same area for storage and back drops. I think these tables are the last ones sold so pay early to avoid this.
Unlike DragonCon this convention takes place in one large venue which makes everything easy to find and increases the percentage of attendee that could see your work. The center area of the convention does host a vendor area, but most of those vendors are focused on comic books. There is also an area for anyone to create art live while everyone can watch and that art will be entered into their huge art auction on Saturday night. The proceeds of that auction go to charity.
Being that this convention has a large focus on comic books and comic book art there is always a large amount of heavy hitters in the comic industry. As far as I can tell the large names and the small names are all intertwined throughout the convention, they don’t just jam all the big names together and that forces the crowd to move all around. As an artist you could get to see and meet legends that you have looked up to and used as inspiration, that is pretty awesome.
The are also several high to mid level publishing companies there. Those companies are always doing projects and could be looking for artists and creators to work with so bring plenty of samples (just in case). Since this convention is comic book heavy there are a ton of projects, both large and independent, to look at and learn about. This is a great con for networking….GREAT!
This is parking all around the venue and I think it was about $15 a day. To the best of my recollection there was not much of problem finding a hotel room. It has been a while but I do not recall having any issues with communication with the staff before the con. I do not recall any real interaction during the convention though.
This is a very fun show to be apart of and there is a ton of potential artistically.
Both shows are great. DragonCon is a bit more expensive. HeroesCon has more possibilities as a creator. You can see more cosplays at DragonCon but attendees of HeroesCon appreciate comic books. DragonCon has more partying. You make make less money at HeroesCon but the artist network is incredible.
I love doing convention and both of these are loads of fun. I just wanted to share with you in hopes that this could help someone and offer a bit of insight. I wish you all the very best and…..