What are the biggest comic-cons in North America?

Heidi MacDonald -- June 19th, 2013

It’s no secret that comic cons are getting more popular world wide—I just covered the triumph and occasional growing pains in this week’s Comic Con Culture on the Rise. These carnivals of comics provide fans of all ages with a chance to see celebrities, meet cartoonists, buy old swag and dress in elaborate costumes.

We all know that next month’s Comic-Con International: San Diego is the largest show in North America, and that New York’s own Comic-Con (held in October) is a fast rising #2, but what comes after that? Is it long established WonderCon or upstart Phoenix or something else? Using attendance figures from news sources and show-runners, and with the design wizardry of PW’s Matt White, we put together an infographic to show how shows rank and just how many Stormtroopers and Minecraft cosplayers are streaming through the halls of cons in the US and Canada.

Looking at the numbers,the #3 show is Toronto’s Fan Expo Canada, which yearly draws a huge guest list of “nerd-lebrities” (aka stars from movies and TV shows like Doctor Who and Star Trek) from Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) to David Hasselhoff (do I really need to explain?).  It’s followed by the fast growing Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, which draws attendees from a local crowd that includes nerd-friendly companies Microsoft and Amazon.

Any way you slice it, more people are dressing up as Luffy from One Piece and marching around than ever before.

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PS: if you think these numbers are big they still don’t touch the biggest shows in Japan (Comicket) Europe (Angoulême) which both draw more than 200,000 fans and readers yearly.

23 thoughts on “What are the biggest comic-cons in North America?

  1. David

    Jill: No, that’s not correct; nearly all (if not all) of the conventions on this list are unique counts not turnstile counts.

  2. David

    Heidi, where did you get the attendance # for WonderCon? Did they tell you directly, or did you find it in an article/website? (If so, which one?)

  3. Jill Valentine!

    Thanks for the response, Heidi! :)

    I noticed that I am not the only one who noticed the lack of Wizard World shows. If 17K is the bottom of this list, I think Austin, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago should all be on here. Maybe your future list. :)

    IT IS WORTH NOTING: I see many folks name-dropping Dragon*Con, claiming it’s 55K. You should all be aware of which numbers are unique, and which are turnstile. I believe Dragon*Con’s counts are unique, so 55K unique is more than likely over 100k turnstile. As far as I am aware, every con on this list does turnstile counts (for those unaware, turnstile counts weekend passes as multiple attendants, where unique counts them as individuals).

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