Detroit Fanfare is less than a day away and I’ve got some tips that will hopefully help you maximize your enjoyment of any Con you decide to attend. I wrote this guide after attending the massive New York Comic Con, so I was dealing with something a little more epic in scale, but this stuff works for a con of any size. That being said it’s time to rock and roll and away we go!
KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES
Even if you’ve been on the convention scene for a long time, spending a few minutes figuring out exactly what it is you want or expect at the convention won’t hurt. As a matter of fact, for newcomers I think it’s absolutely pivotal if you want to have as much fun as possible. Are you a fan of independent comics and emerging creators, and original artwork? You’ll probably want to spend the majority of your time in Artist’s Alley.
Looking to clean up on back issues or buy/sell/trade some of the rare books in you collection? The majority of your time might be spent in the vendor aisles rifling through row after row of long boxes. Are you an insane fanboy/girl attending just to snipe signatures from some of the biggest names in the business? Expect to spend a lot of time waiting in lines, but it’ll all be worth it once you’ve finally added Amazing Fantasy #15, signed by Stan Lee, to your collection, right?
Having a firm understanding of what it is you want to do will help streamline your experience and make everything more enjoyable. Once you’ve got your priorities all figured out, then comes the next step.
You might be thinking, “Prepared for what?” Well you’re in for a treat friend. Prepare for the blinding lights, thumping jams, and cosplayers gallivanting about as characters you couldn’t dream up in your wildest imagination. Prepare for beautiful booth women, brand-spanking new video games, random sighting of your favorite creators, AND SO MUCH MORE!
Make sure that you have enough cash (you will spend more than you mean to), your portfolio (if you’re an artist), extra batteries for your camera, creator signing schedules, the comics you want signed neatly packed away, and last but not least: your pass! Nothing stings worse than spending hours in transit to the convention only to find that you can’t get in!
And once you are inside you’ll find that most convention centers are absolutely cavernous. It’s almost impossible to focus once you’ve been blinded time and again by light reflecting off that one cosplayer’s all to real looking scythe. Do you have a map? If not get one; they’re a lifesaver if you get lost in the unforgiving flow of fans and find yourself swept over to the S&M clothing booth area. And how long were you planning to stay in this madhouse anyway?
If you’re not a huge fan or you’re SO prepared your trip to comic con resembles a tactical military strike then just get a day pass. You’ll be able to get in and get out; no muss no fuss, however you won’t be able to enjoy everything the convention has to offer. Personally, I suggest getting a weekend pass, that way once your legs have started to sway beneath you because you’ve been standing for the last 4 hours and haven’t consumed anything besides that $8 bag of peanuts, you can go home or back to the hotel and just relax. Once you find yourself wandering aimlessly, absolutely desensitized to what’s going on around you it’s time to call it a day.
Granted, this probably belongs in the above category, but I thought it deserved special mention. Look, the Con opens at 10 and it lasts ‘til 7. You need food and water in those 9 hours and I guarantee you aren’t going to want to spend $4 on a bottle of water. Eat some breakfast, bring some food to snack on while you’re wandering around and definitely bring a water bottle in with you. That way you can fill it up for free at a drinking fountain or in the bathroom. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can sustain yourself on comics, video games, and babes all day. Not only will you pass out from dehydration, your favorite creator won’t appreciate that unconscious head butt you gave them after tipping over from lack of water.
Just like in the song. Creators, writers, and artists are people too. Respect their personal space, be kind and congenial, and understand that they’re dealing with fans just like you all day. Yes, they’re happy that you loved their work on Skateboarding Ninja Sardines #13 but turn around, see that line behind you? Those people want their turn to tell their favorite artist that too. If artists/writers/editors are short with you it’s not because they hate your guts, it’s because they’re trying to be fair to everyone. That being said though, I think Jason Aaron put it best, “Don’t ever be afraid to be a fan.”
This whole respect thing extends to your fellow convention goers as well. If someone doesn’t want their photograph taken, don’t take their picture. If you think it’s ok to harass a pretty booth lady you’re wrong. They probably have boyfriends or husbands and if they don’t they’re not at comic con to meet guys. Be nice; get a photo if you want, then move on. Treat others how you would like to be treated and you’ll be fine.
So the one reason you bought your one day pass to Comic Con was to get Amazing Fantasy #15 signed by Stan Lee, but by a cruel trick of fate your alarm didn’t go off and now you’re three people behind the cut off guy in Stan’s signing line. You have a couple of options here, you can go home angry, or you can try to make the best of the time you have left.
I’ll be frank; you’re never going to be able to do everything you’d like at any particular con. At least I never can. What’s important is that in the face of inevitable disappointment you somehow manage to stay positive. There’s simply too much to see and do to sulk your day away because you didn’t know that Jerry Ordway was signing at the DC booth on Sunday and you didn’t have your mint condition The Power of Shazam comics on you. Sigh… That happened to me this year at NYCC, but I still managed to stay positive and you can too!
So there you go, my tips for making the most of your Comic Con experience: Prioritize, prepare, stay hydrated, respect creators and fellow fans, and stay flexible! Hopefully you can somehow manage to integrate a couple, or all of my tips, into your next convention routine. Next stop for me? DETROIT FANFARE! SEE YOU THERE!