As the weather warms up we are getting into the real busy comic book convention season. Mega-Con in Orlando, FL which usually kicks off in February is my signal that convention time is back upon us. There are basically three kinds of comic conventions.
- Small local conventions – These occur almost every month usually at community centers or hotel conference rooms. These are a great way to meet other collectors in your area to discuss what’s going on face to face instead of in a forum or comment section in a blog. Local stores are often represented, so filling in holes in your collection is possible. Occasionally a couple comic book professionals are there to meet fans and sign autographs.
- Mid-sized annual conventions – From my own experience these conventions offer a good balance of participation by comic professionals, local and regional artists, and dealer tables. Sometimes even some of the comic publishers set up a booth at these conventions. They can go 2-3 days, usually Friday – Sunday. This is my favorite convention. The exhibition floor offers a lot of variety of booths and professionals without being overwhelming. You can see a lot and meet a lot of people without a lingering feeling that you’ve missed something. At these conventions even if some of the big publishers don’t have a booth they may still have editors leading programs in one of the conference rooms. At these conventions are usually some exclusive collectibles created only for the show.
- Large Scale conventions – San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con and even Mega Con I would put on this scale with San Diego as the reigning king. These are huge conventions that can usually span 4 days. The have heavy participation by publishing companies, video game producers, collectible dealers from across the country, and other entertainment companies. These are true multimedia events, often offering some sneak previews, plenty of exclusive products for sale, and many celebrities and industry professionals to meet.
My suggestion is to go a Mid-sized show for your first show. It will give a good cross section of the what a show can offer. Its good practice and a good way to feel out what works for you before tackling one of the big shows.
No matter what size a convention you are going to there are some general suggestions that can make your experience more enjoyable.
1. Plan ahead – Having a game plan before heading into a convention gives you some sort of heading. Its easy to avoid just wandering around a convention center and being overwhelmed. Check out the convention website to see who is going to be there and what is on the program schedule. Single out who you want to see and what programs you want to attend. Get a notebook or folder to keep this stuff in, or keep it on your phone or tablet if you are a more hi-tech convention goer. Keep an eye on the clock and factor in time to get a good position in line for these program events.
2. Create a Wish List – Go through your collection and check out your wishlists online. Write down any holes that need to be filled in your collection, or any books & collectibles that you even remotely would like to look for. If you want to be smart consumer check out their prices on ebay or Amazon, and include it in your list, so you know pretty quickly what is a good deal and what is robbery while you navigate the dealer areas on the expo floor.
3. BRING CASH – Don’t expect there to be an ATM machine waiting for you at the convention center. If there is one there, it’ll be tapped out before the first day is over. Some dealers are taking credit cards now as technology makes this easier, but I wouldn’t count on it.
4. See the Sights, outside of the convention center – Especially for the multi-day visits to a convention. Get out of the convention center for awhile, at least scope out restaurants nearby. Convention food is overpriced and leaves a lot to be desired. You’ll want to do some research anyway while looking for a hotel to stay in during your weekend. Get a list of good restaurants to check out as well as some of the comic and game shops and sites that city is known for. There should always be some time in your itinerary for some exploring the city.
5. Be Prepared – Bring a backpack or bag, have a notebook with your lists and schedules, print out the programs from the website. Bring sketchbooks, autograph books, and/or comic books for signing by the comic pros. Also bring some snacks and water, phone, camera, charger for your phone, a watch, and a deck of cards (for entertainment while waiting in line). Also bring business cards with you for any contacts you want to continue with beyond the convention.
6. This next suggestion is from my SDCC list and I’ll bring it over here. Shower daily. Those crowds get really tight in the expo floor. If everyone is clean and showered its a better show for everyone.
7. Be Polite and socialize- Lots of people will be in costume, most are very willing to have their picture taken. Just ask politely. These conventions are supposed to give fans a chance to meet each other and for meeting professionals.
8. Have fun. Don’t stress about seeing it all. Odds are you’ll miss something. Don’t get bent out of shape if you miss anything. There is always the next con or even next year. Just enjoy yourself.
I’ll keep modifying this list as I think of it. Or edit it since I wrote this in the middle of the night.