Any con can be someone’s first time to a con. Whether your a redneck hunter on a reality TV show, a comic retailer form Houston or a Grandma with the kids for a full weekend if you have never been to a comic/pop culture/sci-fi convention, hopefully this article will contain some good info, insight and advice, as well as a little perspective from an artist and a dealer on what hey have seen at a con. There is also a slide show to give you a little visual perspective on what to expect at a con.
First of all here’s a list advice given by author and con goer, A.J. Scudiere :
‘Be a nice con goer, wear a level up from your regular comfortable shoes, pack snacks and drinks like your going on hike, if going to a cold area layer, layer your clothes to be comfy.
Also, don’t congregate in the walkways, if your taking a picture watch where your backing up to, look where your going, and if your doing cosplay (costume playing or dress up) wear proper foundation (everything covered up) garments.’
Despite what you may hear from the news, not all of the artists are out to get each other, Tim Lattie had this to say about his fellow artists, ” The artists at most cons are really cool, there is definitely a sense of community amongst artists, especially those working on a monthly series.”
Also, you never know who you are going to run into, you can hear that from Kevin Travers an employee with Houston’s own Bedrock City Comics.
“I had been in line at a con talking about ow the current Green lantern series had been really terrific and how in credible the art and writing were, and how it had made me a huge Green Lantern fan. It turns out the guy I was talking to was Ethan Van Scriver, the artist for the series. He was so touched by what I had said about the series ,he drew an sketch for me and gave it to me for free.”
Also, if your a first time con goer, and have never been exposed to cosplay, fan groups, or obsessive fandom or nerdiness, find out all you can. And if there’s a certain celebrity, or artist you are there to see, learn about their photo, autograph, and background ahead of time.
Also, plan for little emergencies. Keeping a stash of snacks , water, and first supplies like band-aids, pain reliever, and antacids can’t hurt. And if your going for more than one day. realize the weekend days tend to get crazy and plan ahead wear good walking shoes and check out a conventions website ahead of time. Plan for price changes in parking, food, and onsite happenings, especially if it’s in a city you’ve never been to before.
Happy con going
Even normal people go to cons.
If this your first time to a con never feel like you are the only ‘normal’ person there. Families of all kinds come to con. Although there may be plenty of weirdness going on , you will find most people, including the celebrities and artists are pretty normal folks too.
And for every normal family there’s one that’s dressed to consume mass quantities. Be Advised: Most cosplayers when you ask will let you take pictures with them and of them, however, if they are buying something from a table or eating give them a break.
The guy in the hood was having lightsaber fights with kids of all ages, and letting most of them win. You will find that there are some nerds are just big kids themselves and want to encourage youngstres to enjoy themselves at the show.
At a con it’s common to see people in costume like this gentleman dressed as Space Ghost. At a convention you’re bound to see any number of guests dressed as characters ranging from Batman to Wonder Woman to The Green Hornet. Also, if your not familiar with all of the characters running around, that’s OK, not all of the people gong know who everyone is dressed as. (Even if they think theydo.)
Sci-fi clubs are almost as old as H.G. Wells and the Original Star Trek series. Nowadays, such clubs have involved into fan groups who build their own props costumes, and participate in viewing events as well as share their love for their favorite shows such as Doctor Who, that’s where that blue police box is from, or movies such as Ghostbusters. There even a few who do charity work and do workshops for the fans. Check these groups out , maybe you can find something that interest you.
Photos and Autographs
Some cons let the celebrities set their own rates for photos and autographs, some such as Wizard World may use an outside agency. If you or a family member would like to get an autograph or picture with a celebrity, look online for information. Sometimes purchasing early can help you get a discount, and set your budget.
Food at cons can be expensive, think of going to the fair, or the movies. That should give you an idea of the cost your looking at. If you can carry snacks, look at the cons in and out policies, and look for a decently priced place to eat. With parking, you may want to look for places in walking distance or bring snacks with you and have dinner after the show that day.
Lines at the front
This is the line heading in to the con about an hour and a half before it opens. People line up early like they would for sporting events or concerts. This is where purchasing your tickets ahead of time would save you wait time for the show , because if not it can lead to….
The Admissions LIne
…this, the chaos at the ticket booth and trying to get into the con. Even if you purchase your tickets online you still will have to turn in the proof of purchase or e-ticket to gain access. Some cons issue bages, some wristbands, bt they give you access. Also, once you get your wrist band or badge, don’t lose them, you will hve to repurchase them to get back in.
Fear the Parking
Parking can be a nightmare, some cons have free parking but most are in areas where the established companies that work in that city set their own prices. One day can pay $5 for parking and the next $30. If possible look to see if there is lot in that area that will allow you to purchase parking ahead of time, or if coming from out of town to con, see if where are staying has a shuttle to the show.
You are here
Almost all cons have their areas and hallways numbered or labeled. Using these indicators and the programs given out at the cons, you should be able to find your way around pretty easy. It also helps to get an idea of the layout of the building the con is being held at to make it a little easier to navigate. If the con has it’s own app, they will quite often have a easy to follow virtual map.
Typically there is an area at the con called artist alley. In this area you can find artist on all levels of exposure and skill. From seasoned pros that have worked on big name comic books to those sketch artist just starting out you can find an origianl piece of artwork for yourself or a family member. Most all artist have a sign with their prices and an origianl piece can range from $15 for a new artist to $1000 for an established pro, so prepare accordingly.
Some artists as well as sometimes have original pieces for sale. They may be in the form of a comic book with a hand drawn or ‘sketch’ cover, jewelry, or even a cool bowtie or carry bag. there are all kinds of merchandise available and if going for more than one day to the con, it helps on the first day to get an idea of prices at the vendor’s booths. Also, there are dealers from different comic book shops that sell books from al eras and price ranges to con goers, some at discounted prices at the show.