This March and April, the East coast of the US is hosting quite a few conventions that cover all different types of nerd culture, but which ones are worth the trip?
We thought we would share a few of our favorites that we think are worth your time and break you out of those darn end-of-winter doldrums!
New York Antiquarian Book Fair: March 9-March 11
Held at the Park Avenue Armory building in New York City, this isn’t a traditional convention. However, if you’re interested in dozens of booths overflowing with rare books, this is for you. Many of the booths have themes, from children’s lit to sci-fi to rock ephemera to classic lit. This fair does attract big spenders–I’ve seen a signed copy of Ulysses by James Joyce casually bought for $26000 (with a credit card!)–but many booths have a wide range of much more reasonable prices for their wares, especially in children’s lit, sci-fi, and fantasy booths. It’s fun as a sort of museum exhibition (and a chance to observe what the rich do with insane amounts of spending money) as much as it is as an actual buying event.
Daily admission prices are $25, but students with school ID can get in for only $10 a day. Tickets can be bought at the door, and they must be bought at the door if you wish to take advantage of a student discount.
The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair: March 10-11
This fair takes place in the basement of St. Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan, just across the street from the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, actually. Long time vendors and hosts gleefully call this fair the non- or anti-Antiquarian Book Fair, and I imagine that I wasn’t the first attendee who showed up because I got the two fairs confused (as you can tell by the tags above).
There aren’t as many items here as at the Antiquarian Book Fair (the space is much smaller), but there is the same variety of rare books, with additional items like rare movie and theatre ephemera, and interesting oddballs like coloring books about the Kennedys drawn by Mort Drucker, a cartoonist best known for his 55 years with Mad. The variety in prices is about the same as at the Antiquarian Book Fair with more books in a reasonable range (that is, under $100), and the attitude is, for the most part, much more casual.
Adult admission for both days is $15, teenagers from 13-17 can get in for $7, and children under thirteen can enter for free with an adult.
Anime Boston: March 30-April 1
Anime Boston is held in Boston, Massachusetts at the 193000 square foot Hynes Convention Center. It’s been running for fifteen years, so things tend to go pretty smoothly at this event. Last year’s convention had over 25,000 in attendance, 504 panel hours, hundreds of vendor and artist alley members, and features contests like AMV (anime music video) contests. The convention also runs charitable auctions to benefit New England chapters of New England medical societies! This year, confirmed guests include the J-Pop band FLOW, voice actors like Monica Rial (Assassination Classroom) and Kaiji Tang (Sword Art Online), and many others.
If you preorder tickets, rates are $70 for adults (13+), $65 for children from 6-12, and children younger can enter free. These rates, except for children under age six, go up $5 at the door. The site does not specify whether these prices are for the whole weekend, or for single days. If you’re not familiar with driving in Boston, consider Lyft or Uber to get from your hotel to the convention center–trust us on this one. And please note that the dates for Anime Boston do fall on Easter weekend. Unfortunately, it tends to fall on that weekend more often than not, though Hynes has a small chapel that attendees can visit to observe the holiday if they so wish.
MoCCA: April 7 and 8
MoCCA Fest is an indie comics showcase located in New York City at the Metropolitan West on West 46th between 11th and 12th Avenues. It’s not a terribly far walk from Times Square! This event consists of two floors of book publishers and independent artists selling–graphic novels, art prints, t-shirts, pins, keychains–whatever! There are also panels held which are hosted by professionals in the field of illustration; past presenters and special guests include Rebecca Sugar (Steven Universe), Bill Plympton (Revengeance), and Peter Kuper (Ruins). The air is very casual, and many of the more famous guests are just as friendly and welcoming as the indie creators who it may feel less intimidating to approach.
Although MoCCA’s site says admission is $7, I believe I paid ten or fifteen dollars last year–I didn’t buy my tickets ahead of time, though. Still, even $15 is an astronomically low price for what you’re getting with the purchase of said ticket. If you’re shopping for illustration and other art programs in the area, it’s worth even more, as many colleges make it a point to show off their students’ work at this time and representatives are always happy to give out information.
Big Apple Comic Con: April 14-15
This is another convention in Manhattan, though it’s farther downtown than MoCCA, at the the Penn Plaza Pavilion. This is located right across from Penn Station, the Manhattan train station that isn’t Grand Central. This convention tends to have more items and events themed around Western pop culture and media, though there are usually a few booths that specialize in anime goods.
It also tends to be a smaller event, and though I always enjoyed attending it when I lived in the city, I’m not sure if I would travel into the city specifically to attend this convention. However, this convention does feature that same casual, friendly air as MoCCA, and even famous guests you feel you should be intimidated by are usually very friendly. The convention does take place over three floors in its building, but some hallways are narrow. Cosplay is invited, but this isn’t one to wear your fully working Power Loader costume to.
General admission prices are $25 per day; a ticket for both days is $40. Kids under 14 can get in for $15 a day. There is also a surcharge if you order your tickets online.
East Coast Comicon: April 27-29
The East Coast Comicon is held in the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. This con appears to focus mostly on Western media, but offers a wide variety of cartoonists, actors, and props within that realm. It seems that a full list of events and vendors is not available at this time, though cosplay contests (both kid and adult divisions) and some gaming tournaments are up on the site. Though this convention only started in 2012, it seems to be growing rapidly with each passing year.
Tickets bought ahead of time are priced by day: $18.50 for adults on Friday, $36.50 for Saturday, and $28.50 for Sunday. Kids from 6-12 can get in for $6.50 on Friday, $12.50 on Saturday, and $9.50 on Sunday; kids younger than six get in for free. Day of show tickets are $45 for adults and $15 for kids, and there are some other packages detailed on the con’s website.
Did you see any cons you’re curious about attending? Let us know in the comments, or even over on our Discord channel. If you have any other cons that take place in this region of the US during this time that you’d like to recommend, please let us know as well! And keep your eyes peeled: you’ll probably see some N3rdabl3 staff members wandering around these show floors.