Conventions used to get a pretty low rep. A bunch of pasty, basement-dwelling nerds gathering together, using up our valuable community centre space, just to geek out about old sci-fi shows. This Guy admits, he used to think of them the same way. But fandom isn’t something to be ashamed of, and the people who enjoy it are as diverse and inclusive a group as any you can find. it doesn’t matter WHAT gets people out of their house, and brings them together, so long as it does the job. This Guy is proud to say he attended his very first Comic Con just this past weekend in Niagara Falls, and it was an absolute blast!
So, for those of you out there, who don’t know what you’re missing, this retrospective is for you. And I’ll include a few tips I picked up over the weekend to help make your Comic Con experience the best it can be.
1. Costumes & Cosplay
Costumes are obviously a huge part of the convention community. Attendees are encouraged to dress up and really get into the spirit of the event. Some of the vendors will also be dressed up. You might even meet a few professional cosplayers, people who make a living dressing up and attending events. Obviously you’ll have your phone or camera on you, so feel free to ask anyone you see if you can take a picture with them. But make sure you ASK. Yes, everyone looks great dressed up as their favourite movie, cartoon, or game characters, but it’s not a free invitation to turn it into a spectacle. Most people are good sports, so just ask first.
My wife and I opted for Fallout characters (completely canon-breaking Lone-Wanderer and Cait team-up). Did the outfits get hotter and more uncomfortable than expected as the weekend went on? Yes, but the amount of people who smiled, gave a nod or thumbs up, or asked for photos more than made up for it. Most venues won’t allow outside food or drink, so be prepared to dole out a few bucks for cold drinks. Regardless, it was fun to just embrace our inner nerds for a few hours. We’re already planning our costumes for the next big con nearby.
2. Cash and Vendors
In any decent Comic Con, there will be tons of stuff to buy. Comics, memorabilia, artwork, clothes, and other awesome stuff. Most shops inside the Con will only accept cash. So plan ahead and bring money wherever you can stuff it into your costume, because ATM fees suck. Now, of course no one wants to be carrying around bags full of new merch while they’re walking around the place, so SOME vendors might hold items you’ve bought for you; just remember to go back for them. Keep an eye out for things you like, and make a note to check on the stock as the weekend goes on. You might also see discounts on the final day, but you also run the risk of losing your chance at your favourite items. Niagara Falls Comic Con also featured a classic retro arcade setup. So, if your Con lists a similar attraction, try and bring a pocketful of quarters as well.
3. Setting High Scores on Retro Arcade Machines
This isn’t so much a tip or anything. But when This Guy attended NFCC, he set the High Score for the weekend on an old Asteroids machine. So that made me happy. Just wanted to share that with you. You can see it below. Look at that! Not legendary numbers by any means, but for 3 days I was the best player in that particular 300,000 sq ft!
4. Meeting Celebs/Photo Ops/Autographs
Of course, the biggest draw of any Comic Con is always the celebrity guests. You’ll have opportunities for autographs, Q&A’s and even professional photo ops. Niagara Falls Comic Con had no fees or tickets needed for Q&A’s, which was awesome. Getting to sit and listen to Ralph Macchio, Trish Stratus, and Michael Biehn tell stories and answer silly fan trivia was a ton of fun. But any other interaction with the celebs will certainly carry a fee.
Now, there is some etiquette involved in this process. Celebs will have tables set up for signing autographs and taking table photos. The polite thing, is when you’re next in line, go up to the celeb’s “helper” (who handles their transactions). Tell them what you want, and pay, and that way you don’t have to have an awkward conversation with your childhood hero about what you’re willing to pay him for. And yes, it IS okay to just wait in line, shake their hand, and tell them you’re a big fan. There’s no fee for some friendly chit chat. Some of them seem to like the break from constantly writing and posing. There will be the odd one who’s genuinely not happy you’re not buying something, but that’s why it’s not always a great idea to meet ALL your heroes.
Some celebs will also have time slots for professional photo ops. You can usually buy tickets for these near the entrance. Check times and prices early, because they can sell out.
This Guy got photos with Ralph Macchio, and Trish Stratus and Lita. But honestly, a simple meet and greet with Kim Coates made my whole weekend. He was nice, polite, attentive, and actually spent a few minutes just talking to us before we even got around to asking for an autograph. He even signed an extra one for This Guy’s folks, his big fans, on the house. Just an all around awesome (Canadian) dude.
5. Ghostbusters Trivia
Again, there isn’t much you need to know here. Niagara Falls Comic Con hosted a Ghostbusters trivia game. This Guy won, and took home this awesome set of action figures. Just sayin’.
Overall, This Guy’s very first Comic Con was one of his favourite outings ever. It was a full weekend packed with nostalgia, dream meetings, and so much other cool stuff. Just getting together with a bunch of geeks and geeking out for a few hours. It’s great. And now, I’ve definitely got the bug. The next Con is still a few months out, but I’m already getting my costume together.
If you’re interested in joining the fun, remember: find a costume you like and just do it! Bring cash. Prepare to sweat. And be ready to make a hundred new friends. You’ll have a blast!
Do you love Comic Cons too? Or maybe are thinking of making the effort now? Let us know, here or on Twitter, @This_Guy_Writes!