For the first time goer, it can seem very daunting when you attend you first comic con. It was very much for me. I’ll give you a little background. I went to one or two “comic cons” when I was a little kid when they were really just comic themed swap meets. Nothing like it is today. My first comic show as an adult wasn’t until 2014 here in Texas. It was at the Irving Convention Center and I had NO IDEA what to expect. Since then, I have gone to shows across the country of varying sizes from small intimate ones in hotel conferences rooms to one of the largest in the world. I have learned a lot since the beginning. This is really a “if I knew then what I know now” letter.
One of the biggest draws to conventions is meeting people. From A list to D list celebs will be there. Two things that people often forget are that for the most part they are just normal people who are just as happy that you enjoy their work as you are and that they are also there to work. Have a normal conversation with them but like I said, they are there to work. One of the most shocking things to me when I went to try and meet Steven Amell is that he charged $50 for an autograph. There is a small group of guests that you can just go up to and shake their hand at no cost. Most of the time though, guests who don’t charge for just meeting will charge a nominal fee if you just want to take a quick selfie with them. The best advice I can give is if you don’t want to pay for a signature or take a picture is ask one of the staff there if you have to pay to meet. Most guests are so nice and there are certain guests that will talk with fans for minutes, regardless of line size.
I have fallen victim to this more times than I would like to admit but conventions can get expensive quick and there is so much to do while you are there. The best advice I can give is figure out what you want to do there. Are you looking for a certain item? Do you want to get a photo opportunity/signature with a guest? Are you going to catch all the panels? Figure out what you want. I am a strong supporter of paying with cash only so I don’t go wild on the shopping side and planning my trip before I even set foot at the convention. Most cons have pretty up to date websites that announce their schedule at least a week in advance. Take a look at what excites you and draw up a little schedule. This may sound silly but you don’t want to schedule a photo op or waiting in line while the panel is going on. If you are going with someone, scheduling also helps out the other person by ensuring that everyone gets to see what they want. Also, bring snacks and a water bottle. These are life savers.
YES!! So many times over, YES! This is by far my favorite activity (second is hunting for comic signatures) to do. Based on the guests and what fandom interests you, you can learn about upcoming info on shows, behind the scenes details, and see the humor of celebs. I strongly encourage going. Bits of advice, most panel rooms will have a finite amount of seats and very rarely do they allow standing room. This being the case, you may have to stand in line for seats based on how big the panel is. Most places empty the previous panel but it is always good to check the conventions room clearing policy on their website. Panels are so much fun.
You will see people dressing up as their favorite characters all over the place. Some are very elaborate with many working parts, other people may just have a simple mask that they made or bought that day. In my experience, there is no bad cosplay and people are enthusiastic to show off their character interpretation. That being said, feel free to ask them if you can take a picture of them or with them but do not just try and take a picture without consent. As the tagline goes: “Cosplay is not Consent”.