Spring is in the air and convention season is in full swing. The Emerald City Comic Con has passed and C2E2 is on the horizon, not to mention the mother of them all, the San Diego Comic Con in July, as well as various Wizard Worlds and smaller conventions throughout the summer. Realizing that some of you might be venturing out into the dark and scary woods of a comic convention for the very first time this summer, the minds behind Comicscape have conspired to lend a helping hand. Hours of research and years of experience have helped us to compile this list of do’s and don’ts for con season. Helpful tips to make your convention season as awesome as it can possibly be.
Sure, that’s a pretty blanket statement to make, so we’ll break it down a bit.
Unless you’re going with a group of friends dressed as the X-Men and you’ve drawn the lucky Professor X straw, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking and standing in line, so wear some comfortable shoes. Having suffered through three days at Wizard World Chicago wearing a pair of Converse All-Stars, we can assure you that comfortable shoes can make or break your convention experience.
Food is expensive at conventions and frankly, it’s pretty disgusting. While we feel that a crusty con hot dog is something of a rite of passage, you may not. So you’d do well to stock your backpack with PowerBars or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If you’ve got room for a bottle of water, bring that too. You can always fill it up at the drinking fountain and it doesn’t cost a dime. And of course, having a flask on hand doesn’t hurt either. Like we said, you’re going to be standing in some pretty long lines.
Bring cash, and lots of it. You’ll be hard pressed to find a dealer who’s willing to accept a credit card at a convention, so you’d better hit the ATM on the way in. You’re going to find a lot of good deals as well as a few creators who you’ll want to get autographs and sketches from and nobody’s giving anything away. Plus, there’s all those things you never think about like food and post-con activities that you’ll have to pay for.
Be patient. Whether you’re looking for cheap trades or a mint copy of Amazing Spider-Man #25, don’t just buy the first thing you find. We’re not recommending that you let a good deal pass you by, but we will tell you that by the time Sunday rolls around, most dealers just want to clean house so you’re more likely to get a better deal. ½-off trades become $5 trades and quarter bins become … well who are we kidding? Quarter bins don’t exist anymore! But fifty-cent bins will likely turn into quarter bins. No matter how you look at it, patience pays off.
Having a complete run of New Mutants is fantastic, but do you actually need to get every single issue signed by Chris Claremont? Don’t forget that there are a lot of people in line behind you who also love the man’s work and want to get a few issues signed and might want to share a few words with him. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’ve got a 100 issue run, bring #1, #25, #50, #75 and #100. Anything else is just ridiculous and frankly, it’s kind of rude to both the creator and the other fans. We’re all collectors but come on… be cool.
For the love of God, please bathe. It would seem to go without saying that everyone bathes every day, but anyone who has spent a few days at a convention knows otherwise. And even if you’re clean as a whistle, when you get that many bodies in one place, all of them carrying heavy loads of comics and geeking out over meeting with a creator or hearing a bit of news… well, it gets a little stinky. So make sure you pack some deodorant.
On the other hand… well, we’re just here to parcel out information; it’s up to you what you do with it. Sometimes noxious odors can be helpful and flatulence can be your friend. When you’ve found those quarter bins filled with issues of Dreadstar or you just know you can complete your run on Rom if given adequate time to search, but people keep getting in your way. Wherever you find a deal, it’s safe to say that you can also find a crowd. Fanboys can tolerate a lot but there’s only so much stench we can deal with when its not our own. We’re not condoning the use of cabbage or beans during a convention, but we do know for a fact that they can come in handy. This is dangerous knowledge we’ve just given you – use it wisely and use it sparingly.
Don’t forget why you’re there: to have fun! Unless you’re in San Diego, you can rest assured that everyone in building is there for the same reason and that reason is comics. So no matter how bad the crowds get or how long the lines are, don’t let a few bad incidents or a few rude people spoil your fun.
Hey, Neal Adams is probably going to be talking on the phone to the guys installing his pool when he signs the hardcover collection of his artwork that you just shelled out 50 bucks for, but don’t let that stand in the way of your good time. You’re going to miss out on a good deal or three, you’re going to get sore feet and you’re going to be tired as hell. Don’t let it get you down!
Remember that we’re all there to celebrate our love of the medium, as well as ogle the dozens of girls dressed as Princess Leia in her slave getup, take note of how frightening Julie Newmar has become and wonder why Larry from Three’s Company is there. The bottom line is to have fun with your friends and enjoy Geek Mecca. Now get out there and have a good Con Season 2010!