Con-Tours – Exploring Comics Explorer’s Conventions Map

My fiancée and I go to about 15-20 conventions a year. You can regularly find us in artist alleys around the U.S.A. promoting our comics and helping distribute our friends’ work. As creators, we’re always trying to find new shows to attend that will bring our books to a wider audience, and allow us to cultivate a customer base across multiple states. As two people who love comics, we’ll take any excuse to go to a new show and hang out with our fellow comic and anime nerds! So when the Comics Explorer Conventions Map was brought to my attention, I knew that this was a valuable resource I couldn’t pass up exploring.

Finding out about a convention’s existence can be one of the trickiest endeavors to undergo. Not every con can be as well publicized as SDCC and NYCC.

Some conventions don’t advertise heavily online, but instead show up at other conventions closer to them and hand out fliers. It’s a great marketing tactic to target people who are already interested in attending other shows, but by doing so, they miss all of the people outside of those shows who might also have the same interests.

Other conventions, despite the advertising budget, are really local to one area because they’re an institution at this point. For example: if you’re not from the Tristate, you might know in passing about GenCon, but seeing the actual phenomenon that GenCon is, is an entirely different ball of wax. Someone from Phoenix, AZ might not know about it, and miss out on their opportunity to see a celebrity they’ve always wanted to meet, or buy books or prints from an artist they admire.

But this is where the Conventions Map from Comics Explorer should theoretically come in handy. The map boasts a list of over 200 conventions in 50 different countries. So I sat down to mess around with the map for a while and see what came of it.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • Upon viewing the map, I discovered it was initially centered on Europe. This should have been a clue as to what was to come, but I didn’t think much of it.
  • On that note, though, this map has an extensive list of European conventions! I didn’t even know half of these existed, so I feel like I was very educated on the European convention scene after about thirty minutes of reading and doing my own research.
  • The list of conventions in the USA, however, left a lot to be desired. I found myself asking “okay, but where is Convention-X or Convention-Y” repeatedly as I clicked through.
  • The two types of conventions listed are either:
    • Small-press indie comic shows.
    • Or really well-known big conventions. Major cities had their big shows listed and there were a smattering of Wizard-World conventions all over the map.
  • What really shook my faith in the map’s accuracy was that they placed Wondercon in Louisiana. A quick double-checking of the convention’s website would have told you that it was in California.

This map is still growing and changing, according to Comics Explorer’s website, so there is the potential for this to still be a valuable resource – and if you live in Europe and are looking for a convention to attend, this map really might useful to you! But this is just not a comprehensive enough list for North American convention attendees. In fact, it barely scrapes the tip of the iceberg.

Still, compiling this list is an ambitious project, and definitely no small task! I sincerely hope that Comics Explorer continues improving their map – they’re off to a pretty decent start and I think the finish will be even stronger.


Emily Willis

Emily Willis

Emily Willis is the writer of Grave Impressions, If The Shoe Fits, and Cassius. She’s been traveling the USA for three years with her fiancée, Ann, attending numerous comic and anime conventions and selling their work. You can find her work at or talk to her on twitter at @gicomic

One thought on “Con-Tours – Exploring Comics Explorer’s Conventions Map

  1. Hi Emily,
    As the creator of the map I have to completely agree with your assessment; I’m UK based & my real knowledge is of European cons so I’ve been really hoping that fellow comickers from across the world would help me fill it in. Luckily so far everyone has been great at pointing out gaps which I hope will continue. As a one-woman band Comics Explorer is always going to have limitations but I’m hoping more people will want to get involved & share expertise and knowledge of things like conventions and creator groups, so thanks for spreading the word a bit & flagging this up!
    Biserka x

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