Friday, May 19, 2017

A Geeky Nerfherder Guide For Geek Con Newbies

I don't just post lots of cool art on my blog and on social media, I also love to get my geek on at pop culture conventions. From the smaller, more intimate Comic cons, to the larger Geek Con events packed with big names stars from the world of pop culture, it's always a great day (or two) out hanging with people who also enjoy geek fandom, meeting your favourite stars, getting their autographs, and browsing the stalls for new swag to add to your collection.

But if it's your first time to a Comic / Geek Con, here's a few tips I've picked up over the years to hopefully make it a more enjoyable start.

What To Wear

Considering the amount of walking around, and standing in lines you'll probably end up doing, first tip is dress for comfort. There's nothing worse than walking around in a sweat with tired and sore feet. So wear a well worn in pair of trainers and comfy socks. And if you're not cosplaying, a comfy pair of jeans/leggings along with your favourite appropriately geeky t shirt will do just nicely too.

Also be prepared for a range of different temperatures at the convention arena. They can be cold, especially early on in the day, whereas once it gets busy, especially on the show floor, the temperatures can rise with all that body heat. Dress in layers. You can always take off a sweater or coat, and stuff it into your bag.

Get A Backpack

Which brings me to my next tip. Bring a backpack. You'll need something to hold the stuff you want signed at the Con, plus any supplies to get you through the day, as well as something to bring home your newly acquired new swag in.

Depending on what you bring with you and what you end up taking home, the weight of your bag could end up increasing considerably. As such I would avoid shoulder/messenger bags. As good as they are, they put all of the weight onto one shoulder, and liable to swing into people when walking on the packed show floor or across a stall when you're checking out the cool swag. It’s better, ergonomically, to spread that weight across both shoulders, and the added benefit is that it allows you to be hands-free without the fear of knocking things over with your bag.

I personally use the Backpack Of Holding from ThinkGeek, strong enough for all the books / comics I like to search for and find at Cons, and big enough to hold a poster tube with the cover flap expanded.

Bring Snacks And Stay Hydrated

Food and drink at conventions can cost a pretty penny, taking valuable funds away from autograph signings and cool swag, and not least the time it takes getting in line to get served and finding that seat, so I'd recommend that you take your own. A couple of bottles of water and some snacks like cereal bars should do the trick to get you through the day.

And if you do want to just sit down and chill out for a bit too, I've found the best times to find a seat is early on in the day and towards the end. Avoid lunch times, they are manic, especially at the bigger Geek Cons.

Bring Protection For Swag

After getting excited about picking up that rare #1 issue, print or signed sketchbook, you don't want to get home and find that its got creased or damaged in your bag. Some recommended items to bring to help protect your new items are bags and boards for any comic books you buy, maybe a plastic case to protect your books, plastic sleeves or a large hardcover book to protect prints or other small sized artwork, and a poster tube to keep any larger prints safe.

Do Some Homework

Before heading to the Comic / Geek Con, do a bit of research and go on to the Con website and make a list of who you want to see, costs for their signatures and any exhibitor stalls you want to visit on the show floor, as well as their location. Many Cons will have a map of who and what is where at the arena, giving you a rough idea of where things are, hopefully making it easier to navigate on the day. And if you plan to make your way to Comic Con this year check out they have affordable Las Vegas hotel and flight package deals.

Bring Plenty Of Money!

From the price of signatures, to all that geek swag at the dealer stalls, as well as the food and drink vendors on site, and even including travelling and accomodation costs, attending a Comic / Geek Con can get pretty expensive. I would recommend sticking to a budget, as it's very easy to go over! Checking the prices of any potential signings and any new swag you might be after online before you head to the venue will give you an ideal range to base your budget on. Better to bring too much than too little. But also remember . . .

Do You Really Need to Buy That?

Remember that you’re going to have to carry your stuff around all day. And are you really getting a good deal? If there’s a show exclusive collectible that's caught your eye, better to get it there and then than paying the inflated prices when they will no doubt surface on eBay afterwards. Same with that comic or collectible to add to your collection. Sometimes you can get special Con deal prices, more often not though, but however, if you can reign in your impulses, you can often save money by getting a lot of the merchandise online for a cheaper price.

Have A Backup Phone Battery

If you're like me and take lots of photos and video at the Geek Cons, then this is vital advice! And sharing those to your favourite social media through the venue's wifi (or 4G if the wifi is terrible) can drain the battery quickly!

If you can, bring a spare battery or better yet, a portable power bank that you can plug in your phone when the power gets low. You don’t want to be without your phone when a great photo opportunity pops up or when you're trying to contact friends when they or you have wandered off.

Enjoy The Cosplay

Lots of people represent their favourite fandoms by cosplaying as their favourite characters. A lot of time and skill is put into the awesome creations that you see when walking around on the show floor and most will only be too happy to pose for photos, just be nice and ask first.

And remember, 'Cosplay is not consent'. A lot of the costumes may look provocative, but the mantra on the show floor is a no-touch policy. Get a bit too friendly and you'll be taking an unscheduled walk out the convention with security!

Check out the cosplay competitions held throughout the day at Cons too. They usually showcase a vast range of cosplaying, from the very simple to the very complicated.

Have Fun

Above all, have fun! There’s so much to see and do that there is nearly always something for somebody to enjoy. What I like best about going to these events is getting to meet the stars from my favourite films, shows and video games and the creators behind some of my favourite comics. The new swag I pick up is pretty cool too. So remember why you came to the event and have a great time.