Summer is here and that means it’s time to go out and enjoy the comic cons that are happening around the world. From San Diego Comic Con, to a smaller venue with a few stalls, there’s plenty to check out. As someone who attended his first comic con in Manchester last year, I thought it would be a good idea to come up with a few tips for people who’re attending a convention for the first time. I’ve yet to go to any of the large American venues, so this will be a guide on how to enjoy a smaller comic con in your local area.
1. Don’t worry about getting priority tickets
At Manchester Comic Con, they sell priority tickets that allow you to get in earlier than people who’ve paid for a normal ticket. In my experience, it shouldn’t make much of a difference. You can pay for a normal ticket, enjoy a few more hours in bed and wake up feeling refreshed for the day. This is better than getting up early, rushing towards a venue and feeling tired when you get into the convention.
2. Queues are inevitable
No matter what time you show up, there is likely to be a line of people in front of you. The best thing to do is be patient and look for an opportunity to pass the time. This gives you the chance to talk to other comic fans around you. See a cosplay outfit that looks awesome? Say that to someone and start a conversation. It’s a great chance to make new friends, or at the very least geek out with a stranger.
3. The best panels aren’t always in the biggest room
When you get inside the building, you’ll find there are panels scattered across the exhibition floor. Although it might be tempting to head right for the stage where famous people will be gathering to answer questions, you should pause and look around. There could be more interesting panels inside the smaller rooms, so it’s best to investigate.
Last year, I came across an awesome steampunk panel that was introducing people to the genre. It also had steampunk portraits on the wall and had talks on how to make your own costume. I never would have found it if I hadn’t gone for a wander around the convention first.
4. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes
You’ll be walking around. A LOT. It was good that I brought comfortable shoes so I could keep moving, but I saw a few people who seemed constipated every time they put their foot down. Get yourself a pair of sturdy shoes so you can stay on your feet and not have to worry about blisters.
5. Cosplaying is only part of the fun
Arguably the most enjoyable part of comic con is getting the chance to dress up as your favourite character. But it doesn’t mean you have to dress up if you aren’t comfortable. I cosplayed for the first time at an Anime con in April and I was nervous as hell. But I’m glad I went through with it and I’ll be cosplaying as Red Hood at this year’s Manchester Comic Con.
If you do choose to cosplay then there’s nothing wrong with buying what you need off the internet. There’s plenty of websites that sell cosplay merchandise such as Etsy and Amazon. Or, if you want to make it from scratch that’s great too! There are no rules to how or who you cosplay as.
The only thing I’d be careful of is the kind of props you bring. Some cons have strict guidelines about cosplay swords and guns and you’ll want to think about walking around on the street as well.
6. Never be afraid to go on your own
I attended my first convention on my own and it didn’t stop me from enjoying myself. There’s plenty to see and do and it’s all about making your own fun. This year, I’ve convinced a mate who hardly knows anything about comics to go, so it’s about being persistent. Everyone is there to have a good time and you can end up meeting some really cool people.
If you’re interested in attending your first comic con, Eventbrite offer a useful conferencing service that helps you find events in your local area. It’s also great for setting up your own conferences and getting tickets out to attendees. People living in the US will benefit from this link.
What was your first comic con and how did you feel about it? Do you have any tips of your own? Share them in the comments below!