Atlanta Comic Convention: 29 years old and not deterred by similarly named cons

The quarterly shows are at the Marriott near Emory University.
The Atlanta Comic Convention has been around since 1994 and has been at the Marriott Hotel-Century Center for much of that run. The next show is on Saturday, Jan. 15. CONTRIBUTED/WES TILLANDER



The Atlanta Comic Convention has been around since 1994 and has been at the Marriott Hotel-Century Center for much of that run. The next show is on Saturday, Jan. 15. CONTRIBUTED/WES TILLANDER

Wes Tallinder doesn’t mind flying under the radar. For nearly three decades he has run something called the Atlanta Comic Convention.

Every quarter, at the Atlanta Marriott hotel near Emory University, he holds a comic book show with 40 comic book and art dealers that draws about 500 to 800 people. He also holds shows in places like Huntsville, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee. The next one in Atlanta is this Sunday, Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a mere $5 entry fee. (He said the Marriott recently instituted parking fees, which are now $8.) Attendees get a free T-shirt he said.

This convention is significantly smaller than, say, MomoCon or Animé Weekend Atlanta or the mother of all Atlanta cons, Dragon Con. And he’s fine with that.

“I live frugally,” he said. Fortunately, he said comic books have remained hot in recent times courtesy of all the DC and Marvel movies.

Tallinder said he was delivering pizzas when he saw another comic book convention die and decided he could do it better himself. So he rented a room at what used to be the Marriott hotel off Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth in 1994, called in ten dealers and drew 800 people.

He said he tried to do a two-day convention in 1995 and lost $5,000. So he has since decided to keep his single-day shows low cost and simple. He and his brother David oversee the shows themselves and he has largely kept the same pool of reliable dealers for years.

And Tallinder doesn’t get too perturbed by companies that use very similar names.

Next month, Imaginarium/FanX based out of Salt Lake City is hosting a much larger convention at the Georgia World Congress Center named ATL Comic Convention, which is coming Feb. 24-26 and is also paired with Fandemic, a broader sci-fi convention. Guests scheduled for that convention include Giancarlo Esposito (”Breaking Bad,” “The Mandalorian,” “The Boys”), Michael Cudlitz (”The Walking Dead,” “Call of Duty”) and Billy Zane (”The Boys,” “The Phantom”).

Tallinder said at least three other companies since 1994 have come into Atlanta using similar names to his to promote their conventions, none of which lasted more than a handful of years. “They go away,” he said, “and I’m still here... I have no animosity. I’m not big enough to bother them.”

And whatever confusion there is mostly doesn’t bother him. “I’m a big karma guy,” he said. “Let them have their show. I only get annoyed if someone has a bad time at the other show and thinks it’s me.”

The folks who put together the ATL Comic Convention, he noted, “do a good job.”

Ro Malaga, who handles marketing for ATL Comic Convention as well as similar conventions in Indianapolis, Indiana; Salt Lake City; and Tampa, Florida, was diplomatic.

“Atlanta has so many different fans,” Malaga said. “We think there’s room for everybody to share in the spotlight whether it’s the Atlanta Comic Convention or ATL Comic Convention.”

Wes Tillander, the creator of Atlanta Comic Convention, has hosted hundreds of shows in the Southeast over the past three decades. CONTRIBUTED/WES TILLANDER


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Atlanta Comic Convention

11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15. $5 entry. Marriott Hotel-Century Center, 2000 Century Blvd., Atlanta.

ATL Comic Convention

Feb. 24-26. Day passes starting at $17, weekend passes at $51. Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta.