Comic-Con Abroad? 5 International Comic Conventions and Festivals to Know

From Japan to France, Italy, the U.K. and Brazil, THR looks at some of the Cons far away from San Diego.
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Tokyo's Comiket

It's that time of year again when an estimated 165,000-plus crowd of fanboys, -girls and cosplayers converges on San Diego for Comic-Con to hear what DC Entertainment, Marvel and various other publishers and Hollywood studios have in store and make southern California the center of the superhero universe.

For those who have been to San Diego Comic-Con and are looking for an international spin on the Con, there are other options though. The same goes for those who live too far from San Diego and still want to put on their Batman and Spider-Man gear and celebrate comics culture closer to home.

Heat Vision has put together a look at five of the many, many comic conventions and festivals outside the U.S. in case you need some inspiration.

Lucca Comics & Games, Lucca, Italy
The annual event in Italy is believed to be the biggest comics festival in Europe, attracting an estimated 250,000 people in recent years.

Set in a town full of Renaissance charm, it has been working to establish a reputation as Europe’s version of San Diego Comic-Con, over the years adding cosplay, film, TV and animation to comics and Magna to its offerings.

While its predecessor started in 1965, it has been held in its current form since 2006. The Tuscany event traditionally takes place at the end of October, with this year's festival running Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

Recent editions have shown its importance to Hollywood studios looking to push their offerings, featuring the Italian premieres of the likes of Thor: The Dark World, as well as events for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and others. Episodes of The Walking Dead and Doctor Who have also screened. Plus, last year, an exhibition entitled “The Fantastic World of Peanuts” feted Charles Schultz's Charlie Brown and other characters on the franchise's 65th anniversary.

Comiket, Tokyo, Japan
The world's largest market for Manga and the like launched in 1975 and is held twice a year in Tokyo, once in August (this year Aug. 12-Aug. 14), and once in December.

It is known for offering a platform for self-published works, or Dōjinshi in Japanese, of Manga, anime, video games and related genres. One goal of the event is "aiding creative efforts conducted outside the established commercial realms, and thereby encourage innovation and interaction within the overall community revolving around Manga, anime and games," organizers say on their website. With many of the works offered not ever getting reprinted, some end up being offered in shops or online at prices of up to 10 times the original price.

Comiket is maaaaassive. More than half a million people annually have attended in recent years. As the event has become more crowded, it has even become prohibited to start lining up days before the event starts, even though some people reportedly still do so.

Thought Bubble Festival, Leeds, England

Forget the Brexit for a moment and let's talk comics! London offers various comic events throughout the year, which are loaded with creators and other talent. Others in Britain swear by the Glasgow and Edinburgh Comic Cons given the success of Scottish talent in the industry (Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, to name just a few).

But the annual Thought Bubble festival, taking place in early November in Leeds, about 2 hours and 15 minutes north of London, has emerged as a top event for fanboys in Great Britain.

Launched in 2007 with a focus on comics, graphic novels and animation, its 10th edition this year has been expanded to make it a full-week celebration across the city, including the Con part.

Past guests have included Scott Snyder, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Kelly Sue DeConnick, John Romita Jr., Fiona Staples, Ben Templesmith  and Mark Waid. Announced for this year's edition, taking place Nov. 1-Nov. 6 (with the Comic Con part taking place on the last two days), are the likes of Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Jeff Lemire, Babs Tarr, Lee Bermejo, Lee Garbett, Kieron Gillen and Jordie Bellaire.

The event is small compared to others, but organizers say online that they expect more growth this year — with it topping more than 10,000 attendees last year.

Festival Internacional de Quadrinhos (FIQ), or International Comic Book Festival, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Considered one of the largest comic conventions on the American continents, it is held every other year in November, most recently in 2015.

Guests have included the likes of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Rafael Albuquerue, George Perez, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, Klaus Janson and more.

Recent editions have been drawing more than 150,000 attendees. This year, organizers will hold the second Encontro Lady's Comics July 29-July 31.

Angouleme International Comics Festival, Angouleme, France
The Angouleme International Comics Festival is considered the second-largest comics festival in Europe behind Lucca and was founded by two French culture ministers and a comics scholar.

The event has taken place every January since 1974 and draws up to an estimated 200,000-plus people to the small town in southwest France whose regular population is about 50,000. Angouleme focuses on printed comics and also serves as an important rights market for graphic novels.

This year's awards portion of the program was marred in controversy. First, there was a call for a boycott of voting for the Grand Prix d’Angouleme, a lifetime achievement honor, because not a single female creator was included on the list of 30 contenders. After an outcry, a woman was included among the three finalists — Alan Moore, illustrator Claire Wendling and eventual winner Hermann, the Belgian cartoonist known for post-apocalyptic sci-fi series Jeremiah, which in the U.S. is published by Dark Horse. Past winners include Will Eisner, Moebius and Art Spiegelman.

Then, the ceremony for the Fauve Awards for the best books of the festival was hosted by French radio presenter Richard Gaitet who, in what was meant to be a joke, spent eight minutes announcing “Faux Fauves,” or fake winners. But at least some publishers and artists started celebrating, thinking they were actual winners. Mon dieu!

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