Published on June 6th 2013
Preparing for your first Comic-Con
It’s Comic-Con season. You can smell it in the air. The smell of freshly made prints, Sharpies being prepped for autograph sessions, starch and hot irons on homemade cosplay. It’s just intoxicating.
UNLESS you aren’t prepared.
Traveling to Comic-Cons can be an awesome experience. It can also be overwhelming. I recently traveled to the Dallas Comic-Con, a con that has consistently grown and is aiming to take on an image much like that of the bigger shows, and I was completely stunned by how unprepared I was for what I was about to experience.
Today, I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks for navigating your favorite Comic-Con with ease, all while being 100% sure that you are ready for whatever the show might throw at you. San Diego Comic-Con is right around the corner. Make sure you are ready. If you are traveling to San Diego for the first time, or even heading down the street to your local show, these are the tips that will help you have the best experience possible.
1. Step Up Your Cosplay Game
For some, the chance to walk around and be seen is the ultimate opportunity of the convention. The most obvious example of this is the Cosplayers.
If you’ve never been down the rabbit hole, spend some time searching through the photos of expert cosplayers at the bigger conventions and prepare to have your mind blown. These costumed wonders spend tons of time prepping amazing recreations of costumes worn by their favorite comic-book, movie, video game, or television characters.
You’ll see a couple varieties. There is the straight-by-the-books type of cosplayers, who aim to reproduce what they’ve seen as closely as possible. Then there are the fantasy cosplayers, whose creations mix and mold characters into something special. Both types of cosplay also see a heavy mix of what I would call “Sexy Cosplay,” which is probably the most photographed. I wonder why? Expect to see plenty of this, and plenty of people getting photographed. It’s like Disney World. Sort of.
Don’t think you need to dress in a sexy see-through costume to go to a con. Also, don’t forget to dress up a little. Pick a character you love, and go through the steps of putting together a costume. You’ll have a great chance of meeting new friends, impressing some peers, and being a part of growing and incredibly friendly and fun piece of our culture.
A note on packing and traveling with cosplay material. Be careful. Know the travel laws. Be sure that your cosplay weapons are safe to fly with. You don’t see many people carrying on giant cartoon hammers.
2. Make Sure Your Battery (Batteries?) Will Survive
Spending all day in a convention center, probably Instagramming awesome cosplay and booths and celebrity photos, can be a real killer of battery life.
Grab your charger and take it with you. You’ll see plenty of people who, in an effort to both rest and recharge (see what I did there?), are sitting on the floor plugged into an available power outlet. Don’t be afraid to get in there and take that open outlet.
If you want a tech solution, you’ll probably want a Mophie. It’s a really useful tool and will keep you on your feet in that line for Brent Spiner’s autograph much longer.
People will have phones, cameras, Nintendo DS, cosplay accessories, laptops, on and on and on that will need to be recharged. Don’t get left out. Bring what you’ll need to charge these things.
3. Know The Schedule
Don’t go into the convention blindly. You need to know what’s going on, and you need to figure out ahead of time what you are most interested in. Because guess what? If you are interested in it, so are 1000 other attendees!
You need to know that there are going to be things you want to do that are already going to have major lines and crowds gathering, so plan ahead and if something on your radar is a must-do then prepare for the wait and line and crowd and get there early (see number 4).
Almost every convention posts their schedule and layout online a couple weeks in advance. It won’t hurt you to check it out and make some notes about the things that most interest you. If they are truly important, plan for them. Print a schedule, make some notes. Do everything you can to know what is going on so that you aren’t surprised or upset because you miss something.
4. Get There Early
Doors open at 10? You are going to want to be there at 8. Or earlier. There is going to be a line.
People are excited for comic-cons. They want to find collectables, get autographs, meet new people, and generally just enjoy the experience. They have no problem waiting in line to simply get in the door at the open of the day.
People will bring Nintendos or card games to pass the time. The line is a perfect place to start your experience and get a jump on points 5 and 6.
5. Make Friends
You are surrounded by thousands of like-minded people. People who probably love the same TV shows and movies that you do. They probably read the same comics. Play the same games. You need to make a point to meet some of these people.
Just taking the time to say hello and talk to the people around you will make your experience that much better. Follow people on Twitter. Invest some time into your meeting.
The best part about making friends is that you can transition them from friends to partners, which bring us to number 6.
6. Find Partners
Now, this one might not be for everyone, and it has a couple meanings.
I’ve seen people meet and start romantic relationships at comic-cons. Not what I’m really talking about here.
The first partner you can find is someone just to cruise the show with. If you hit-it-off well enough then this can be a great way to get introduced to new people, see new things, and have an all around awesome expereince.
If you run a business, it can be a chance to grow your customer base and contact list, simply by meeting people. Hand out business cards, tell people what you do, take some free stuff to give away. All great ideas.
The thing that you should know here is that the type of person that generally goes to a comic-con is the type of person that becomes highly invested in the things they love. Because of that, they are extremely good at seeing through crap and will know if you aren’t being genuine. So be genuine and honest. Share things that mean something, tell your story and you have a good chance of finding people that will be interested in what you are doing for life.
7. Plan To Buy Something
Do you have something that you collect? Do you have a set of characters that you favor? Is there something from that universe that you have always wanted but never seen or had? You’ll probably find it at the comic-con, and you should plan to buy it. We’re talking about comic books, collectables, action figures, things like that.
If you’ve been looking for that rare variant cover of The Walking Dead, you’ll probably be able to find it at a Comic-Con. Buy it there to add to the experience, and to support the people who work to make the buying floor at the con an awesome and exciting place.
Make sure you take a decent amount of cash as many stalls don’t have access to chip and pin devices to take card payments. ATMs within walking distance of the con will have MASSIVE queues so if you don’t want to waste photo snapping time, have enough cash on you to last you the day.
8. Buy Something You Didn’t Plan
At the Dallas Comic-Con, I was looking for a couple specific items. A New 52 Batman #1 was the main thing on my radar. I didn’t find it.
What I did find, that I wasn’t looking for, was a series of Iron Man art prints that are going to framed and hung in my office.
Be aware that there is going to be something that you find at the con that is too awesome to pass up on. Make sure you plan a little extra spending money so that you don’t have to leave those gems behind. I was lucky to score six great pieces of art, and I find that great art is something that you can’t plan for, but don’t want to miss.
9. Save Time To Watch People
Maybe while you are charging your phone? Maybe while you’re standing in line? Either way, just take the time to watch the people. I’ve mentioned it above, but this is an exciting group of people. You’ll love the mix of costumes, sarcastic shirts, character tees, shirts from TV shows, and hilarious moments that come from this group of like-minded people gathered in a small, confined space.
Take photos to share with friends. You’ll want to tell others what you were doing, and having pictures of the people is a great way to do this. Cosplayers will be happy to take photos with you, as will most of the rest of the crowd. If you are from out of town, this is another great way to make lasting friendships.
10. Find Something to Champion
This is one I always try to pull off. If you find something, or someone, at the convention that you absolutely fall in love with, then take the time to share it with other people. Show people what you have purchased, tell them who you have met and what you’ve seen, and tell them where they can find those things and people as well. This gives you the chance to have a more active role in what is going on at the convention. It makes you an advocate and champion of the event. This is why these events are special.
If you are taking the time to travel to a comic-con, especially THE comic-con in San Diego, I hope that these tips will give you a chance to focus more on the experience while you are there, rather than worrying about or not knowing what is happening around the event. Preparation is your friend, as it always is in these situations.
Have you ever traveled to a Comic-Con? Tell us in the comments below about big events that you have traveled to!
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