I went to my first comic convention last year (Calgary Comic Expo) and it was an amazing and exhaustive experience. I took in some amazing live panels, got to meet some amazing guests and got their autographs, got a little shopping done, and had a photo op with Stephen Amell, Robbie Amell, and David Ramsey. I also picked up some tips and tricks that may make your next visit to a comic convention that much more relaxing and enjoyable.
Here are my top 8 tips to surviving comic conventions:
- Have a plan > I’m a planner by nature so knowing what’s happening, what time it’s happening, and where it’s happening is a must for me. (If you’ve been following me on Twitter for a while you’ll have seen my crazed schedule for last year’s Calgary Comic Expo.) It’s always good to have a look at the planned panels and events and figure out what you want to do and ensure that you’ll have enough time to hit all the events, especially if those plans include attending panels and autograph signings, and having photo ops.
- Comfortable shoes > You will be doing some walking during any type of convention, no matter how large or small the venue is and comfortable shoes will be a must! My personal favourites are the Converse kicks, they’re stylish and comfortable.
- Scout out the venue > Have an idea of where everything is located and if you can, do a walkabout of the venue before the madness begins. It’s a great way to get your barrings and not become overwhelmed with everything that is going on once it all begins. It also means you’ll know where all the closest bathrooms are located, which is always a bonus.
- Have a portable phone charger or backup battery pack > You do not want your phone running out of juice during these conventions. It will definitely be a pain in the butt. If you’re lucky, the convention you’re attending may have charging stations set up so you can charge your phone but if it doesn’t a portable phone charger will be one of your best friends.
- Have a snack & some H2O on hand > Hangry is not something you want to experience at one of these conventions, so it’s great to have a small snack (granola bars, energy/protein bars, chocolate bars, a banana, something) and some water on hand to keep it at bay. Most conventions have food stalls, food trucks, and restaurants on the grounds, but if you’re in line and don’t have awesome peeps who are willing to go grab some grub while you wait in lines then leaving isn’t always ideal.
- Have cash on hand > Depending if you are able to prepay for autographs and/or photo ops (photo ops are usually prepaid) you’re probably going to need cash to pay for them. The majority of vendors at cons usually accept plastic but you never know and using the generic ATMs are going to hit your bank accounts even more, so better to have some cash on hand than no cash.
- Patience > One thing you will quickly learn (unless you’re holding a VIP pass) is that lines are part and parcel of conventions, and patience will be key in these situations. Be patient. Everyone there is just as excited, nervous, elated as you are there. With autograph signing sessions the majority of guests will stay longer than required to get through all their guests that have lined up. It’s also great to have some distractions while you’re there as well, a book, some comics, possibly interacting with people around you, and/or your cellphone (that’s why a backup battery pack is a necessity).
- Have fun! > Enjoy the experience, take it all, have some laughs, and have fun!
Hopefully, these tips will help make your next trip to a comic convention an even greater experience. If you’re heading out to Calgary Comic Expo 2016 see you out there. 😉