In anticipation of attending this weekend’s comic book convention in Hayward, CA (heretoforth known as Hayseed, CA), I offer you the precious gems of wisdom I’ve accumulated after experiencing the likes of Comic-Con, WonderCon, Super-Con, and Frustration Con (the monthly event held in my apartment where I reassess the value of my comic book collection now that it’s missing the X-Men comics I sold on Ebay after college in a fit of retardation).
BRING A CAMERA WITH VIDEO CAPABILITY
Even if you’re not looking for photographic fodder for a geek-oriented blog that brings joy, hope, and laughter to thousands of readers (ahem), you’ll regret not bringing a camera to a comic book convention. Keep in mind, also, that the indoor, fluorescently-lit locales for these events aren’t ideal for picture-taking; best if you bring a proper SLR, or be prepared to jockey for up-close positions if you’re toting a compact.
First, there are the amazing costumes that hard-core conventioners wear solely for your viewing enjoyment. Well, and because they enjoy a level of escapism that Dungeons & Dragons alone cannot provide.
Also, there’s plenty of random, cool stuff at conventions that you might want to document for future droolage, including outlandish toys and models.
You might want to get a picture of one of your favorite geek celebrities. Or, in my case, get several dozen photographs of your favorite geek celebrity, hoping you get that one shot where it looks like she just might be singling you out in the crowd. Or something.
It pays to be able to take video footage, too.
Finally, there’s always a good chance of capturing an entertaining moment of some conventioner completely nerding out. I mean, at what other public forum would you see some kid playing with a set of nunchucks, outside of a karate tournament or a hunting and gun expo?
BRING COMFORTABLE SHOES
The convention floors are usually quite large, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Get the picture? (I’ll wait.)
Also from the Common Sense Dept., remember to shower, brush your teeth, and use deodorant before you arrive. I realize you might not consider dressing-to-impress when you attend a comic book convention, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the well-being of other people who have to stand in line next to you, nerd.
Inevitably, you will see something cool and will want to buy it. I’m usually pretty disciplined about gathering entertainment and information more so than belongings at these events, but even I had to break down and spend $40 on a hardcover copy of Maus when Art Spiegelman was handy and doing autographs on short notice.
BRING FOOD AND WATER
If left to their own devices, most comic book geeks would live on a diet of nachos and soda. And that’s exactly the type of dining option that’s available at most conventions. Not the type of fare that refreshes and energizes you in the middle of a long day on the convention floor.
I put an all-natural protein bar, a piece of fruit, and a bottle of water in my backpack, and I’m good to go.
This rule of thumb for enjoying life applies to enjoying comic book conventions, too.
Getting a great shot of a costumed conventioner requires asking them to stop and pose for a shot. The good news is, these people dress up for a reason (or five, three of which I wouldn’t be able to understand without the help of a licensed professional in psychiatry), and they’re usually quite willing to pose and to talk about the inspirations for their costumes, if you’d only ask.
You won’t have many opportunities in your life to be this close to so many of your favorite geek celebrities. Don’t find yourself regretting a missed chance to get an autograph, have your picture taken with a celeb, or even have a conversation. (Just keep the geeking out to a dull roar, Ok, fanboy?) By the way, if you’re a fan of Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch… good news for you, he shows up to every one of these damn things.
BRING A NOTEBOOK AND PEN
More than ever, conventions are a platform for Hollywood and the major players from the comic book, toys, and video games industries to make major announcements about upcoming projects. You’ll find yourself wanting to make notes of cool stuff that you’ll want to check out when it’s released.
Also, there’s a good chance that if you follow the “Be Forward” rule, you’ll make a contact or two. Some hopefully high-functioning geek with interest similar to yours. You’ll want to take down e-mail addresses and Web URLs.
As I’ve said many times before, the geeks at comic book conventions are incredibly friendly. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re surrounded by the objects and people that make them happy. Plus, geeks in general are an affable, unpretentious bunch.
So take advantage. Comic book conventions are among the best forums for geeking out, so share the experience with good, like-minded folk. Usually it’s as simple as saying to someone, “What are you excited about seeing today?” Or, “Did you see [celebrity or movie screening or costume]? Wasn’t that awesome?” Or asking them about some prize that they’re holding. It doesn’t take much.
And you never know what kind of interesting geek you’re going to meet. The only person I know who’s had an actual conversation with Kristen Bell is my blog buddy Jace of Televisionary. I met Jace when we chatted and exchanged cards before the screening of the pilot for Chuck at Comic-Con.
Note: This post is being entered into the Geeks Are Sexy “How To” contest.