Look around you. Are you unable to leave your property due to piles of comic books? Do you have more action figures than Facebook friends? Are you wearing a cape? If so, you may well be a self-proclaimed nerd, geek, dweeb or Big Bang Theory cast member and a visit to a Comic-Con (or a Comic Book Convention to the confused) is almost certainly in your near future. Not that there’s just comics. Now these Cons feature movie stars giving previews of their latest efforts, panels on TV shows, signings, toy sales and all sorts. But if you’ve never attended one before, or you’re being dragged along by what we refer to round here as a ‘reading friend’, then here’s a quick guide on being there and not going insane.
BEFORE YOU GO
Apparently you can’t simply dress like Captain Violence and saunter into your local convention centre like you owned the place. Depending on which Comic-Con you’re attending (a stipulation that applies to most of these tips) there will almost certainly be a complicated membership registration/badge purchase system implemented. This will have to be done well in advance, as will, if you’re visiting one of the bigger conventions like San Diego, hotel and air-fare. These nerds have computers remember and they’ll book things up with the speed of Tygra (or whatever).
NOW I HAVE MY BADGE/PASS THING
Hang onto it for dear life. At the larger Comic-Cons, you have to wear your badge at all times. If you forget it, you’ll be ejected. If you lose it, double ditto. If your badge has a scannable barcode on it, be wary of who you let have a go on it. It contains your name and mailing address info. And remember, your badge gets you into the convention but doesn’t guarantee you’ll get into any panels or signings. You’ll have to queue or possibly buy additional tickets for that.
SHOULD I DRESS UP LIKE A LUNATIC?
Sure! But remember, Comic-Con days are LONG. If you simply have to wear the Sean Connery thong from Zardoz, you’ll be in that thing all day. And you’ll be doing a lot of walking, so comfy foot wear would be preferable to Catwoman style heels. If you’re desperate to get into something super early and plan to queue up outside, it might be chilly/raining/baking hot, so dress accordingly. And even though you can’t go anywhere without your blaster, many Cons don’t like your weapons to look too realistic and they certainly can’t be functional.
I have no idea why, but every guide to Comic-Con is at pains to stress this point: shower. I don’t know if it’s the sweatiness induced by seeing the creator of Hagar the Horrible or the long hours crammed together in tiny meeting rooms, but make sure you start and end each day with a vigorous cleaning and apply lashings of deodorant, with some back-up in your bag for additional applications.
OH YES, YOUR BAG
This is your new best friend, your veritable right hand, your erstwhile companion. As it’s been mentioned, convention days are long and tortuous and you’ll need supplies. Get yourself a nice comfy backpack and fill it with the following essentials. Water and food will be expensive inside ,wherever you’re going, so bring your own. Obviously take your camera (and have it hand just in case you spot George Takei popping into the bathroom) your phone and your laptop (if you plan to blog) but don’t forget chargers and extra batteries. Hand sanitiser is good if you plans to shake a lot of celebrity hands. If you are into your comics, take along extra plastic sleeves to keep them protected. Oh and a pen, for sudden autograph opportunities.
Research, plan, plot and research again. Know what it is you really want to see/do and ensure that’s what you get tickets for. You may need to get up early or possibly not sleep at all to get in. Have a map and a timetable – as if you wouldn’t. And have back-ups if something you hoped to go for gets moved or cancelled. Keep your eye on social media, especially Twitter, for any unexpected events, sightings or sudden changes of venue. Research a few notable insider Tweeters and make a list of the people in the know. Make sure you have plenty of cash on you, there may well be a cash machine inside wherever you are, but there’ll undoubtedly be a queue. And go outside! If this is a four-day wing-ding, don’t spend every hour lurking in the convention centre, you never know who which celebrity might be lurking in the car park or at the hotel reception.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Other than smell, obviously, there are a few rules of etiquette that apply to most Comic-Cons. Don’t jump the queue, that is a cardinal sin and there’s nothing worse than having a man dressed as Yoda shouting at you (especially if he does the voice). If there’s some sort of free giveaway, don’t descend on the table like a grabby locust and act all pouty if you don’t get the thing on offer. Don’t be overly rude or demanding to someone making an appearance, that makes them not want to attend Comic-Cons and think people like you are the devil. If you’re in a panel, don’t be the individual who asks the stupidest question in the world, such as: Do you like eggs? In general, just act like a human being and all should be well.