Welcome to the second post in my "Comic Convention How To.." series! Today, we are going to cover What To Do. What is there to do? What is the most important things to not miss? Today's answer might not be as simple as yesterdays, but I will see what I can answer.
I want to apologize for the delay in this post going out. My site decided to give me technical difficulties and it took me a while to get everything sorted out!
Be sure to key an eye out for the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con 2018 info! I heard great things about this years event!
If you are super lucky and happen to live in Hawaii or be able to visit, certainly check out The Amazing Comic Con Hawaii coming this August!
What To Do at Your First Comic Convention
Lets start first with WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
*blinks at screen* OK, this is a much harder question to answer than I expected. For several reasons. The biggest reason is that the term "comic con" can really cover a variety of things. Comiccons can be more true to the term and be very comic book focused, more pop culture focused. They can also have a ton of mainstream celebrities and be focused more on the movie or TV side of things or even be EXTREMELY focused, centering around one fandom (like the Supernatural Convention). I do think that the list below tends to apply to almost all comic conventions in varying degrees.
Celebrity Photo Ops
Celebrity photos typically come in two forms. The first being through a 3rd party that takes the photo for you. You pay the company directly and it is typically a really great idea to purchase these in advance (if available). The lines at the convention can be very long and sometimes they have limits on the amount of tickets they sell for each session. Photo ops can be pricey, depending on the celebrity, and can be time consuming. My personal recommendation is to not do more than ONE photo op a day. Especially, if the photo op is with someone uber popular.
The 2nd type is provided from the celebrity directly and is normally in conjunction with autographs. Most conventions have a designated "celebrity area" and each celebrity should have prices listed for selfies, autographs or both. This information is not always available prior to the actual convention. I still would not plan more than one of these a day, especially if you are wanting face-time with any celebrity that is extremely popular. Not all celebrities have the option to pay for autographs or selfies. This is at their discretion and what they are setup to do.
I KNOW it is easy to get in straight-up FAN girl/boy mode when you see a list of celebrities that you want to meet. Please take my advice and limit it to your favorites at every convention or else you will be stuck in perpetual lines and not get to do or see much of anything else. It is also easy to spend your entire month's salary on photo ops. True story, but we aren't here to talk about my issues.
Panels can cover everything from focusing on a guest, particular artist, a genre, a publisher, a series.....just about anything. I find panels extremely entertaining. They can be done in a Q&A style or directed by a moderator. I almost always learn something new and tend to enjoy panels. <BRING A SWEATER> Seriously, I don't know what kind of conspiracy it is to have panel rooms at subzero temperatures, but it always seems to be true in every state and every convention.
Shopping (Artists and Vendors)
Vendors and artists...these are two different beasts and they both take your money. Sometimes they might make you scream TAKE MAH MONEY and they will be happy to oblige. Vendors are companies distributing products that they did not make and can be just about anything. Lightsabers. Wigs. Funko Pop! figurines. Statues..I could go on.
Artists created the items they are selling. This can also be anything. Jewelry (hey, It is MY thing...I will even be at WalkerStalkerCon in Tulsa showing my pretties). Prints of fan art. Original artwork. Clothes. Most conventions have comic book artists attending selling prints, taking commission pieces and juggling for money. Ok, not juggling. I was just seeing if you were still paying attention.
My biggest piece of advice. Bring money and support artists. Prints tend to be cheaper and range from $5.00-$20.00 and up for a print. This normally tends to entice the money out of my pocket, but recently I have started making an effort to save and budget for original pieces of art. This might be because I am running out of wall space..
Parties are one type of special event that seem to becoming more popular. Parties tend to fall outside the actual convention and are normally after regular convention hours. Keep an eye on social media and the conventions website to find out information about "extra" happenings.
Other special events can include small meet-and-greets or get-togethers. These events can be a great way to meet people with similar interests and just hang out.
Gaming rooms are another place that tend to be a lot of fun. I think this is growing at conventions and it is a very interesting way to spend some time and learn something new!
Now that I have done a brief rundown on what there is to do, how the hell do you figure out how to manage your time?
Make a general outline. Take some time before the convention and look at the schedule. Make a list of the "TOP 3" things you do not want to miss and fill in the gaps with everything else.
DO NOT try to do everything. Unless you have mastered the science of cloning or time travel, it is not going to happen and you will be disappointed.
I tend to be a huge PLANNER. I honestly hate to admit how much planning happens in my convention adventures. I am talking spreadsheets with color coding level of planning. Yikes, right? I overkill it, but have also learned that going with the flow leads me to new adventures that I would have not been the same without. Even when I plan-extreme, I will know what my Top 3 Things are and tend to make those my focus. Everything else in my well designed plan I look at more as suggestions and focus points.
Try to dip your toes into a little of everything your first time. This will give you a great feel for what works or doesn't work for your next event.
Early mornings are always slower at conventions and it is easier to make rounds around artists and vendors during that time. Any time is great for shopping, but if you like a more relaxed atmosphere while browsing and freaking out, this is a great time to stroll along the artists.
Just relax and have fun! Don't be afraid to check out new things and meet new people!