As a little Boston nerd I have been to my fair share of conventions like Boston Comic Con, PAX East and Anime Boston, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like out in the big world. This Columbus Day weekend I ventured out to the Big Apple with a knapsack on my back to attend New York Comic Con. I brought a few friends with me to show them the nerdy side and found out that they have never been to a comic book convention. In light of this recent realization, here are a few tips for convention beginners.
- Start off small: A convention like New York Comic Con is definitely something you have to work your way up to and prepare for more in advanced. It would be wise to start off with something local and cheap like Boston Comic Con just to get a feel for the atmosphere and test the waters.
- Save your money: Conventions like these are all about buying cool and unique items for comic book fans. I noticed that
New York Comic Con had a lot more vending booths and fewer attractions, so you have to be prepared to want to buy every cool thing in sight. Sometimes these small business booths don’t accept credit cards; prepare your bag for cash AND credit. This rule should still be important even to those who just come to buy those $1 comics to add to their collection.
- Bring your own food/water: Convention food can get pretty expensive and you want to save your money for the good stuff. Trust me, you do not want to wait an hour to buy overpriced cafeteria food. Just bring a bottle to drink and some granola bars and you should be fine for the few hours of exploring.
- Do not block the aisles: Even though you’re in a huge place there’s going to be thousands of people walking around. The aisles of the convention can get pretty narrow and you might have to squeeze though a bunch of people. If you want to stop and look at a booth then walk straight up to it and move out of the way to the middle walking path. You do NOT want to be that guy to cause a traffic jam.
- Grab a buddy: New York Comic Con was an incredibly large place, about twice the size of Boston Comic Con. From experience I can tell you that travelling in a pack is extremely difficult. Grab a friend to walk with and always check to make sure that they are around you. This is a lot easier than waiting for your friends to slowly trickle through the crowd to move on to the next exciting thing. You’ll get through the convention a lot quicker and safer.
Charge your phone: Make sure that you have a fully charged phone before you come to the convention. You are going to want to use it to take a load of photos, snapchats and selfies of the crazy time you’re having. It’s going to be really useful especially when you lose your friend. Seriously, you’re going to lose them at some point and for your own safety and common sense it will just be useful. You may even want to bring your own charger for emergencies. There are plenty of outlets for you to use at the convention and it would be a good idea to sit along the wall and have a phone-charging break.
- FREE STUFF: Conventions always give out free items. There are plenty of starving artists giving out free samples of their work or even big companies handing out promotions. Take advantage of it all and don’t be afraid to grab for it. You can even take a few business cards because some of them have free artwork displayed on the back.
Don’t be afraid to dress up!: When you’re going to a convention like New York Comic Con it can be awkward walking down the street in a silly outfit that nobody understands, but once you get to the convention you’ll fit right in! I personally do not cosplay, but I will admit that it is sometimes awkward not to be in a costume. There’s going to be a whole array of cosplayers, ranging from the beginners, who wear a simple iconic hat, to professionals, who look like they just jumped out of a movie screen. Just have fun with it like it’s another Halloween.
- Be prepared for photos: If you do intend to dress up make sure that you prepare for photos. A lot of people there might love your costume and want to take a picture of you because they read the same comic, watch the same show or play the same video game. It is a great way to bond and smile even more, knowing that people and into the same things as you are.
- Bring a camera: If you do not intend to dress up you can always be the photographer. People love to pose for photos and interact with fans so don’t be shy to tap someone on the shoulder and ask for a picture (with them). You have to make sure to be careful and respectful because “COSTUME does not mean CONSENT." You can even take photos for memories too because this is an awesome event to remember with your friends and family and you want to capture every second.
Once you have mastered all of these tips then you can continue moving on to bigger and greater events like San Diego Comic Con, PAX Prime and Emerald City Comicon. You may even be able to break advance to the next level and sign up for a photo-op with some of your favorite actors. I can’t wait to attend more conventions in the future and maybe next time you can join me on the nerd side!