Back before people camped out overnight to watch a panel with the cast of Twilight, people used to go to comic book conventions to buy comic books. Crazy, right?
Cal Comic Con is an event for comic book collectors, by comic book collectors. It’s an old school style con in every sense – there are no movie trailers, celebrity panels, video game demos, exclusive toys or cosplayers, just lots and lots of comic books.
The Shortboxed crew decided to take a little road trip and drive down from San Francisco, CA to Orange County, CA to check out this show for ourselves, and it was everything we imagined it would be.
Hosted for one day in the Yorba Linda Community Center, it’s very unassuming and bare bones. It’s technically more of an expo (dealer showroom) than a full blown convention – over 30 dealers filled up 2 rooms and an outdoor patio. Some of the largest and most well-known dealers on the West Coast attend this show, and for good reason – all the attendees are hardcore comic book collectors looking for hard-to-find books or to fill gaps in their collection. This is the best show to buy comic books.
There were dealers that had every type of comic book you could think of, from golden to modern age, graded books, signed books, superhero, children’s and indie books – if there’s something you haven’t been able to track down, you’ll find it here. I’ve also never seen so many copies of Amazing Fantasy 15 (1st appearance of Spider-man) under one roof. The sheer quantity of “mega-key” issues here was incredible!
The majority of the dealers were a pleasure to deal with, and often willing to negotiate a better deal, especially if you pay in cash and/or purchase multiple books. Keep that in mind when comparing books between multiple dealers. As with every con, there are some dealers that you like to do business with, and some that you don’t. But for the most part, the dealers and attendees were a pleasure to chat up and do business with.
It’s a small show, probably no more than a couple hundred people at its peak, and that’s a good thing. At large cons, you’ll often be bumping elbows with other buyers at the booth, but at Cal Comic Con there’s enough to keep everyone busy for an entire day without feeling cramped or rushed. Admission is only $10, so you’ll have more money to spend on books.
While a great show for buying comics, it’s not perfect. It’s small, but that also means it’s pretty bare bones. Registration is just a small table and the line to get in was self-organized; there didn’t seem to be any real direction from anyone. You won’t find any concession stands other than a hot dog stand outside, so if you need to eat you have to drive somewhere to get food. Not a big deal, but it would have been a welcome luxury if a couple food trucks parked outside. There also isn’t much in the way of onsite support staff to help attendees if they have any questions or concerns. All in all, these didn’t take much away from the experience, and you can only expect so much for $10 admission for a dealer show in a small community hall, but a few minor changes here and there would make a big difference.
We go to a lot of conventions throughout the year, over a dozen, and Cal Comic Con is easily the best show we’ve been to for buying comic books. No distractions, buzz or theatrics, just an old school comic book convention for those who are serious about collecting. We’ll be back next year!
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