As of this writing, next week begins one of my favorite events of the whole year - NEW YORK COMIC CON! While a lot of people might prefer a small Con like Steel City Con in Pittsburgh or the BIG one in San Diego (maybe you've heard of it), I've been to a few in my life and New York is always my favorite. It started relatively small and now it's become a gigantic thing! In fact, it's the largest Comic Con on the East Coast. My first time going was in 2007 and I've gone almost every year since. While going to this one and various different Comic Cons over the years I've learned something - they're all very different but very similar in some regards.
The trouble with going to a big Con like NYCC is that there is SO MUCH TO DO! There are dozens of panels a day, tons of celebrity guests, tons of comic book creators, not to mention the hundreds of vendors littering the place with all kinds of cool stuff! If you have a four day pass you'll think "Oh this is plenty of time to do what I want to do!" Actually . . . it may not be. You'll definitely get your money's worth, but you got to make sure that you make your trip fun, safe, and successful. I'd like to think that over the past 9 years at Comic Con I've become an expert. I'd like to share my advice and dare I say it, have a CONversation with you . . . HA!
Anyway . . .
IF YOU WANT TO COSPLAY - GO FOR IT!
The thing about cosplay, that I never realized, is that it's incredibly liberating. It's one thing to wear a Batman t-shirt or carry a Spider-Man backpack. It's quite another to dress up as Batman, Spider-Man or any of their allies or villains. If you love Batman but you're an African American man still do it! If you're Asian and you're favorite character is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then do it! Fans come in all shapes and sizes and I encourage you if you have the time and money to put into a costume then go for it! Cosplay is a great way to get noticed at Comic Con. My friends and I attended Steel City Con in Pittsburgh a few months ago and we dressed as the Batman villains. We were immediately recognized and everyone wanted our picture. It was a huge compliment that our hard work had payed off. I love seeing people dress up as their favorite characters, even ones that aren't comic book characters like Effie Trinket, Jack Skellington, Quailman! Oh man, it's so much fun to see! And in my opinion,the more unique the better. You love Cheshire Cat? What about Steampunk Cheshire Cat? Go for it, dude!
Are you the type of person that gets grumpy when you get hungry? I sure as hell am. I always make sure to pack some snack with me. When you're standing in a line for 2 hours, it can get boring and of course you don't want to lose your spot just because you got hungry and wanted to find a vending machine! The other thing is that the machines and food vendors at Cons, because they are in a convention center, don't mind a little bit of price gauging. I don't know about you but a small bag of Doritos isn't really worth $4 to me. However, when you're in a jam or just that hungry you might be willing to put up with it. My advice is to bring a cereal bar, bag of chips, whatever your preference might be. Something to tide you over until dinner time after the Con. My sister and I figured out early on to bring sandwiches with us so we could have lunch in line.
Ok so I'm going to be your mom here! But this is great advice for anyone at a Comic Con - stay hydrated! There is a lot of walking, a lot of standing around, a lot of sweating, and, if you have a big day planned, not a lot of time to stop and grab something to drink (again, lots of lines). The best thing you can do is bring a water bottle from home or your hotel and fill it every chance you get. True, this is a good tip for your daily life, but at a Con, especially if you're stuck in line, it will prevent you from getting dehydrated. This is especially important if you are cosplaying. If you have a complicated costume, you'll want to make sure you drink plenty of water to stay healthy and happy during the day.
CHOOSE YOUR EVENTS CAREFULLY
The really awesome thing about going to a big convention like NYCC is that there are literally hundreds of events throughout the weekend that you can do. The really frustrating thing about going to a big convention like NYCC is that you can't do all of them. I've gone with my sister and we've had to split up in order to do all the things we wanted to do. Even worse, there were several times when we had to choose which events we were going to do and which ones we were going to skip. That's a tough decision but we both could leave Sunday evening feeling like we had made the right choices. It's a tough call! Again, it all boils down to how long the lines are. You'll want to get into a line at least an hour early, for example if Stan Lee is signing at 12:30PM, you'll want to jump in the line between 11-11:30AM. Unfortunately, you'll still find that not only are you not the first person in line but there are hundreds of people already there. So that's an hour to wait, assuming he's on time (they rarely are) and then maybe another hour to wait for your autograph. Granted, it usually ends up being worth it because he's a cool guy and it's fun to see him and have the bragging right of "I met Stan Lee!" But you have to be sure that's what you want to do! I've waited in lines for several hours before. Honestly, I've never regretted it. I chose to do it and I was happy with my choice. You might think differently. But the same thing goes for the panels. There are only so many seats in the rooms and the main stage. You want to be sure that you get in line and get to your panel in enough time. And trust me when I tell you there are no good seats, unless you get there like 3 hours early.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS!
Again, I'm gonna sound like your mom here but hear me out! A few years ago I went to Comic Con by myself. I stayed with a friend of mine in the city. I went to the show for two days and had a good time and met up with my friend after the show on Saturday night, we had planned on seeing a play together. We met up for dinner and she said, "so did you have fun?" I went on and on about the fun things I did and how excited I was. She added, "You must have met a lot of cool people." I scoffed, "Well no. I didn't really talk to many people." She laughed at me, "Well that's ridiculous! You're surrounded by people that like all the things you like! Why wouldn't you want to meet new people and make new friends?" She was absolutely right. The next day when I went I started talking to people in the lines I was waiting in. I ended up making a few new friends! It was fun to go and be able to meet new people and it's something I've strived to do every year since then. I've made some great friends and we still talk on facebook, twitter, instagram, all that social media junk. It's something I encourage everyone to do while at a Con. It's true isn't it? You're there to geek out and really express yourself. So is everyone around you! Enjoy their company!
TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES
The best thing you can do at a convention is take lots and lots of pictures. If you see someone cosplaying as your favorite character and their costume looks awesome, ask if you can take their picture! Like I said before, they've put a lot of time and money into their costumes. They want to be recognized for it. I know I did when I cosplayed. It's a huge compliment that someone will want to take their picture and then show it off to their friends. Also, that fits in with the making new friends. If you see someone cosplaying as Captain America and you're a huge Marvel fan, well then you've got something in common! Now of course there is the off chance that they are just cosplaying for fun and don't care about comics, but hey! You can still be friendly.
But not just the costumes! Take pictures of the different vendors, stages (if they allow it), and all the crazy props that are hanging around the main floor. A few years ago it was Superman's 75th anniversary so there were lots of costumes and props that DC Comics had out to take pictures with. The following year it was Batman's 75th anniversary. Oh man . . . I could have stayed at that section all day. I just stared at the different Batman costumes and gadgets. Of course, I got my picture with each one of them. I was in nerd heaven! So yes! Bring a camera and take all the pictures you want!
I would advise you to take pictures responsibly. This has never happened to me, but I have seen people's cameras or phones taken away because they were trying to get pictures of something they shouldn't have like exclusive footage or a celebrity when they've asked not to. It's all about respect! And please . . . please do not take pictures of women in their costumes without their permission. Comic Con is supposed to be a safe place for all of us to hang out! Don't ruin someone's day by taking their picture without their permission.
GET A GOOD NIGHT'S REST
This is another example of something you should be doing on a daily basis, but trust me when I tell you Con Exhaustion is a real thing and it's a bitch! The first time I went by myself to a convention I started to get a headache, felt dizzy, and could barely stand up. I stumbled into a K-Mart to buy some ibuprofen and then finally collapsed when I reached my friend's apartment. Don't worry! I was at the couch! Basically, I had not slept well the night before, wasn't eating much during the Convention, and of course being on my feet all day with no break didn't help. It's really easy to get Con Exhaustion. I was so excited to be there that I didn't realize I wasn't fully prepared for how tough the day was going to be. The same thing actually happened to my sister when she went. Luckily, it's something that goes away pretty quickly but it's also totally preventable. Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before and take breaks during the Con as much as possible. The worst thing you can do is party all night and then think you're ready to go the next day. Trust me when I tell you . . . It ain't that easy.
This kind of only applies to you if you are not cosplaying. But if you are then please figure out a way to make your costume as comfortable as possible. This goes back to the Con Exhaustion thing. You want to have comfortable clothes so you can get around the convention center with ease. If your costume is complicated it might prevent a necessary bathroom break and no one wants that! So be comfortable and it will make your experience so much better.
Really the most important thing to do is have fun! Cons can be incredibly stressful but it's important to be prepared. The better prepared you are the more fun you can have. I know that might sound crazy but trust me it's worth the time to be ready. There is so much to do it won't be hard to pick what you want. Have fun!
Till next time!
JJ - the Comic Junkie!