How to make the most of any Comic Convention

In many cities there are conventions (also known as cons) where there is an opportunity to see behind the scenes footage, or early release footage of upcoming movies and shows. Most of the time celebrity guests attend. If your childhood hero or idols happen to attend, you want to ensure you don’t miss them, while also getting the most out of your time and money. This article assumes you are attending alone, not dressing up (cosplay) and are primarily interested in autographs/photo ops and panels.

The most important thing to do is to stay up to date. It is crucial to stay abreast of who is attending, whether there are any cancellations or additions and how much the different packages cost. You can do this by regularly checking the convention’s web page for the con. It can also be done by following their feed on Facebook or other social media. Packages may include VIP passes, autographs, photo ops, meet and greets and, in some cases, special panels.

Plan and budget. You will want to take note of the days and times the con is projected to begin and end. If you are certain you want to attend, you should arrange with your employer to take these days off. This is particularly important as in some cases you may need to utilize the entire weekend to fit in as much as possible. You will want to ensure you have money for parking if needed and lodging if you are traveling out of town.

Narrow down who you want to see and the level of interaction you are willing to pay for. For example, if the cast of your favorite show, as well as your favorite voice actor, is attending, you may want photos with the cast and just an autograph from the voice actor. Make these decisions before going so you can gauge your costs.

When you have figured out what you want to do, you will want to make sure it all works together. About two weeks before the event, the con website should have a site map as well as a schedule for panels, photo ops and other events. Ensure that the things you want to do don't conflict with each other. Transition from event to event and line up time must be kept in mind. Consider creating a to-do list to manage what you have completed and what is still pending. Be sure to take note of when to collect your photo op prints if you have any. An alarm may also be useful to set. You may be forced to think on your feet or think of alternate schedules.

Decide what to bring.

  • You may want to bring something specific to be autographed. In most cases there will be a selection of photo prints to be autographed included in the price.
  • If you plan on multiple photo ops, consider purchasing a print book to protect your prints. A binder with document protectors should work as well.
  • If you do intend on seeing a voice actor, consider taking an audio recording device. They may even be willing to do a personalized recording for you.
  • Bring a sketchbook to collect sketches. After all, it's a comic convention teeming with hundreds of talented artists.
  • Extra or external batteries for your phone will come in handy as there may not be a good opportunity to plug up and charge.
  • Bringing your own snacks will help you save precious time by not waiting in line for vendors.
  • Make sure you get a bag that can hold all your stuff and can be comfortably carried. One that you can sit on is amazing when you’re lined up for panel or photo-op.

Execute the plan. Leaving early enough to get parked (if needed) and gain entrance to the event when it opens is recommended. You might be able to receive a few autographs or get in line early for something. Follow your schedule but listen for any changes to scheduling. Collect and store any prints you may have.

Tips

  • Some celebrities offer photos at their booth which can eliminate the need for waiting in line for a photo op and are often significantly cheaper. Be sure to ask if this interests you.
  • Consider buying tickets/passes early as prices can increase closer to the con.
  • Keep in mind that some of the celebs may only attend specific days of the con (such as Saturday only, for example).
  • Depending on who or how many people you plan to see, a VIP package can alleviate significant waiting for pretty much all events involving them. If you are on a limited budget, purchase the VIP for the group or person you perceive as most popular.