Geek Convention Culture in Hawai’i

By Angel (a member of the FoCC forum)

When people think of Hawai’i they probably think of a tropical resort destination or a quaint beach bungalow.  The thriving convention scene is probably pretty far off the radar for most visitors, but you might want to take note of some of the big names that are flying out to our little island in the Pacific to make an appearance.  You might just be able to have your tropical vacation, and attend an awesome con too.

In the past couple of years the convention scene has exploded, with at the very least three, if not four or five conventions per year.  While some have only blown through once and never returned (Anime Matsuri), others seem to be coming to set up shop for the long term (Amazing Comic Con, Creation Events).  The scene is evolving quickly out here, but the more opportunities to attend cons locally the better it is for people like me who live here.  And it gives you the chance to meet some awesome locals too.

Here are a few conventions to consider including in your Hawai’i vacation:

KawaiiKon
KawaiiKon is the king of Hawai’i geek conventions. It’s primarily an anime convention, but often attracts other guests as well. In 2017 we have both Deedee Magno Hall and Zach Callison from Steven Universe. Not to mention the fact that there’s awesome local programming and activities. Pretty much every local geek group has a presence somewhere in the convention center. Tabletop gamer? There’s games to rent. Video gamer? You’ve got tournaments. Cosplayer? All the best work is on display here and you’ll get to meet many famous cosplayers, attend workshops, and so much more.

See:  The King of Honolulu Geek Conventions (The Geekiary)

Comic Con Honolulu
Comic Con Honolulu is the sister convention to KawaiiKon. The focus is more on science fiction and other genre media than anime. They’ve had stellar guests such as Edward James Olmos and several cast members from Serenity. A more diverse cross section of panels and merchandise can be found at this convention, whereas KawaiiKon tends to stick closer to anime and other animated works. However, like KawaiiKon, many local greek groups have a presence here so there’s no shortage of things to do and people to meet.

See: Tiny Convention, Giant Potential (The Geekiary)

 

Amazing Comic Con
Amazing Comic Con is new to the scene and a different approach than the two aforementioned locally grown cons. They are very much focused on traditional comics with many top notch guests (their premiere con in Honolulu had Stan Lee!). As a mainland company, Amazing Comic Con attracts a lot exhibitors from the other 49 states as well as a broader focus outside of local Hawaii geek culture. Local groups still have a presence, but it definitely has a different vibe.

See: Local vs National Conventions (The Geekiary)

HawaiiCon
This is the only convention on the list that isn’t on Oahu. It’s also the only one I haven’t personally been to, but it’s definitely high on my list. Hawai’i Comic Con takes place on the Big Island and is a much more intimate experience with celebrities. They offer a chance to go on “adventures” with them and basically have a typical Hawaiian vacation with your favorite stars.

See: HawaiiCon Homepage

Anime Matsuri Hawaii
Anime Matsuri only came through Hawai’i once and I’m not sure if they’ll ever be back. That said, this convention brought in many high profile guests from the anime industry that may not have come to our local con. Despite the larger guests, I still prefer the local convention atmosphere. Like Amazing Comic Con vs Honolulu Comic Con, you have to balance the good and the bad of national vs local conventions and decide what’s best for you.

See: Anime Matsuri Homepage

Creation Events
Creation Entertainment is stepping into the Hawai’i convention scene this year with Salute to Supernatural: Honolulu. This is a first in Hawai’i, but Creation has a long track record of show or franchise specific conventions in the United States and Canada going back many decades. In fact, my first ever convention experience was a Xena convention with them back in 1997. I continued with their conventions in 2011 and 2012 in Burbank and Vancouver respectively, and I’m heading to this one in November.

 

Unlike Amazing Comic Con and Anime Matsuri, which create competition for existing local cons, Creation offers something very unique and specific. Their show and franchise specific cons draw a dedicated fandom demographic from around the world. They aren’t necessarily local focused, but more of a “destination convention” type of experience. Many people are combining their dream Hawai’i vacations with the convention and it looks like it’ll be a success. I would not be surprised if Creation sets up shop here long term.