Conventions and you, tips to have a stress-free convention experience

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

With convention season in full swing, and being a convention goer myself, I wanted to give you all some tips and tricks to make your visit to a comic book, gaming, or entertainment convention as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

1. Order tickets early

There’s nothing like showing up to a convention just to wait in line to get your ticket before waiting in line for the doors to open, am I right?  NO, are you nuts?  There are enough lines to wait in, if you could skip one with a little proactivity why wouldn’t you?  Not only does it save you time to order early, sometimes it saves you money, and gets you some free swag.  I highly recommend just going online and locking in your tickets early.

2. Take a backpack

No, I’m not talking a shoulder bag, man satchel, duffel bag or suit case.  You want your hands free as much as possible and for the sake of others and yourself, you really want to be as self-contained as possible.  With any of those other carry options you’ll either be constantly adjusting straps, struggling through crowds, or tripping up yourself and others.  I you are anything like me you’ll still wind up with more than a backpack can hold on your way out, but having one to start with is indispensible.  It’s also good to have someone to help you get in and out of the bag without taking it off your back.  My wife goes with me to conventions, and not only is it great to have her there, to share the experience with her and the time we share, but her assistance with my bag of comics to get signed is indispensible.

3.  Snacks

Taking snacks in your pack is a good way to save money and time.  I’ve not been to a convention yet that kept you from bringing in outside food, like granola bars, water and the like.  Food at conventions is expensive, and not always that good.  If you can keep yourself sustained on some packaged snacks until you leave the convention to eat at a conventional restaurant, you’ll be glad you did.

4. Take a shower/use deodorant!

Ok, sometimes this is a stereotype, but good Gods people…when it’s not it’s bad.  We go to a convention for the sights and sounds, to watch people and meet creators and artists.  We do not go there to smell the people.  A convention, more times than not, is a massive crowd of people packed into a small, not-so-well ventilated area.  Be kind to your fellow convention goer and practice good hygiene.  Along with that…ladies, if you like the perfume, please be kind and remember, less is more.

5.  Take a sketchbook

I carry a small one, like 4×6 or 5×7 hardback sketchbook I picked up years ago at a bookstore.  There are a ton of authors, writers, creators, and celebrities at these conventions, and it’s good to have something that you can get sketches and signatures in.  In the case of sketches, there’s a certain unwritten protocol that not everyone follows.  First and foremost, keep the pages in the book.  Artists really love to see that their work is appreciated, kept, and treasured.  Almost every artist I hand my sketchbook to flips through it to see what other artists have done, but I also know some of them are looking for pages torn out.  If you are taking those free sketches and selling them on eBay, there’s a good chance they won’t do a sketch for you or won’t do a very good one.  Also, ask before you just hand over that book.  Some artists will do free little sketches for you if they aren’t busy with a commission or have a line of people waiting.  Even if they have a price list for sketches, you can still ask if they’ll do a small doodle for you and sign it.  If they say no, don’t be a jerk, remember these guys are there to meet fans but they are also working.  They pay a lot of money to have a booth there, and that is what they do for a living.  Be respectful of that, and also be respectful of your fellow convention goers.  If there’s a long line of people waiting behind you, don’t hold up the line for some elaborate sketch.  Make a note to come back another time.

6.  Keep your stack to sign small

Nothing makes me want to strangle kittens more than standing in line behind a guy with 30 comics for an artist to sign.  In many cases I won’t even wait and that’s not only bad for me, but imagine how that artist feels if people are jumping out of line because of your stack of comics.  That artist or writer is going to feel obligated to be nice to you, while also pissing off other fans.  I try to keep my comics to sign down to no more than 5, but in many cases only 1 or 2.  I go every year and a lot of the guys I see are there every year, there’s no need to be a D-Bag and show up with a pile of comics for one guy to bust his wrist on.

7.  Account for the crowd, be self-contained

What I mean by this is don’t have a lot of extra stuff that you have to drag, push, or pull through the convention hall.  You would be amazed at how many people take luggage, boxes, strollers, etc. into these halls.  That all gets in the way, trips people up, and makes for a stressful day for you and others.  There is not a lot of space to start with, don’t add to it with extraneous baggage.

8.  DO NOT STOP…in the middle of the traffic flow

Nothing makes my convention experience worse than trundling along, looking at all the art and such, just to have someone in front of me stop dead right in the middle of the aisle to open their bag or talk to someone.  Keep moving, or step off to the side.  There is always a place to slip off to, stand out of the flow of traffic and talk or whatever you need to do.  Please remember you aren’t the only person there.

9.  Wear comfy shoes

Every convention I have been to has been in a large room with a concrete floor, with (sometimes) thin carpeting thrown over it.  You are going to do a lot of walking, and standing.  Comfy shoes are a must.

10.  It will be hot

Dress appropriately!  It gets hot in those halls, even in the dead of winter.  So many people packed in one room with little airflow makes for quite an unpleasant experience if you aren’t prepared for it.  Of course hard-core cosplayers are going to just suffer to look good, but for the average convention goer, jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts, and heavy pants will be something you will regret.

11.  Be respectful

I can’t say this enough, and I know it’s come up a couple of times here already.  You are not the only person there!  Think, be mindful of what you are about to do and how it will affect those around you.  While it is important for you to have a stress-free experience, remember to help your fellow convention goers have one as well.

That’s all this time.  I’m sure I’ll see more when we go to Gen Con Indy, and if you are going, we might see you there.

  1. Julie says:

    Good Gods your wife is awesome!

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