Comic Convention Tips
On Saturday, Lando, Tate, Tuxxer, and Mr. Stinkhead will be hitting the Mid Ohio Comic Con in Columbus, Ohio. We've hit a ton of conventions in this last year, covering the stars, the goods, and the wimmin. Much like a trip to the doctor, conventions can be very fun, or confusing and scary. Well, they're always just a little bit scary, but its more like the Haunted Mansion scary, less sorority bathroom scary. So we've culminated some advice, we've brought along the significant others, and we've found both terrific deals, and been burned. Hopefully our small offering of advice can help make your experience a little better, or help convince that girl to come with you.
[Ed note: Actually, from the get-go, I'll tell you not to bring along a girl to a comic convention unless she's already really, really into you. These are not good "getting-to-know-you" environments.]
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Those artists and writers you've always looked up to are just normal people and usually don't mind answering your questions. Just don't ask Chris Claremont who his favorite X-Man is.
Take a snack. The food courts are always way too overpriced.
Use that schedule! It's important to plan your attack. You don't want to be stuck in line waiting to see Jim Lee when the panel on Vampirella's new lower cut outfit is debuted.
Go to Artist's Alley. Every convention has a back area where the not yet discovered are doing sketches. This is a great way to get some nice artwork and meet some nice people. These guys are more likely to chat than the big wigs.
If you see something you like, make note of it and shop around the other booths for a better deal. There's a good chance that you'll find that Moe's Tavern you've been searching for a little cheaper at a smaller store's booth. [Ed note: I got mine for $20!]
Take pens, pencils, and a sketch pad. You never know when the creator's pen will go dry and there you'll be with nothing but a worthless Fantastic Four #68.
Sharpies are fine for signing comics, but if you are a die hard you may want to find a marker with acid free ink.
Relax. All these people may know every detail of Capt America's life, but they are still there for the same reason as you: to have fun. When you're standing in line, chat it up. You'll find that nerds are actually pretty cool.
Jager's wife Sweet Pea relates her first convention experience, at the recent Baltimore Comic Con
I try to be supportive of my husband's interests, which meant eventually I would have to go to a comic convention. I figure how bad can it be, right? Well, first they get me signed up and then they warn me about "the smell" with specific instructions that I may comment on it only once a day, and that I will probably want to hold off on using my comment until late afternoon when the hygienically handicapped are good and ripe from the excitement and close quarters of the convention. I am also forewarned about the prevalence of comic porn (prevalence? I didn't even realize it existed). As I sit wordlessly on the way to Baltimore, listening to various comic, action figure, and gaming conversations between the four men I'm riding with I am reminded that this is a fish bowl compared to the ocean of the convention. Wow, I better get bonus points for this.
The truth about comic conventions from a girl who has seen it: While there were a number of not-so-fresh-smelling patrons, there was not an overall stench. For every 50 guys there is one girl and she is either completely punked out or someone's mom. For a place so overrun with men however, I felt perfectly safe walking around by myself (who is going to bother me, when there is a woman wearing next to nothing dressed up like Wonder Woman at booth 581?). I did witness one thirty-something year old man, with a perfectly pressed plaid shirt tucked into his too short pants, which might have been long enough, if he hadn't pulled them up so far, call dear old Mom for a ride home, he even went so far as to make a kissing sound when he said goodbye. That and the MANY posters of various comic women with nothing but their nipples covered with removable stickers (for display purposes) were the most troubling of things I witnessed. Overall it was a decent way to spend the dayI got some great deals on birthday and Christmas presents and hopefully earned some extra points I can cash in for my own purposes.
Jager mentioned shopping around. That is good advice for older items, this is good advice unless however, it is a hot, hot item, such as Star Wars Kubricks, Stikfas Mecha, or Marvel Mini-Mates... I passed on those and they sold out quickly.
This doesn't always work, but you can try haggling. First off, it's all about identifying the item. If it's a hot item, the dealer knows that if you pass on it, someone else will buy it up almost immediately after you've left. If it's not quite so hot, you may be able to get them to come down on the price. Actually the best thing to do is offer to buy something (perhaps a slow mover) in addition to your main item, but at a lower price than the sum. For instance I've had luck saying: I really like your [Alien Queen Playset for $25] can you give me that and this [Simpson's Moe for $8] for $30? A lot of times dealers are happy to take less stuff back with them, and the more they sell, the better.
If you can, handle items so you can inspect for damage or misleading information. One time I got a sweet rookie card of some baseball player for $5. It was easily worth $15-20. You know why I got it for $5? There was an easily hidden crease going straight through the middle. But the card was behind glass and I couldn't see it from the angle I was at. I've also bought "playable demos" of computer games at prices that would fit the full game. The "demo" part was trimmed off of the package.
Keep your hands where they can see 'em... don't be shuffling in and out of your pockets and picking up things a lot. Dealers will be much more happy to haggle and answer questions if they don't suspect you of swiping something. I have a camera and wallet I'm always checking to make sure are still there, and sometimes dealers think I'm pocketing something.
Honestly, the large rooms with rows of tables set up for people to play Heroclix and other games are the smelliest.
Have a notebook or something for writing stuff down. Sometimes I'll find something I've been looking for, never knew the title or publisher or whatever, and I knew I could find it later, but I needed specific information.
I'm not encouraging you to smoke, however, one time on a "quick five" I ran into Jeremy Bulloch on his smoke break, and we hit it off, and he gave me an autograph. He was charging $20 inside.
Speaking of autographs, find out before you get in line how much an autograph is, what they will and will not sign, and how many items you can get signed.
If you're looking to score some high-end original artwork or unique collectable without blowing all of your money, check out those charity auctions, particularly by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Tuxxer actually only has one bit of advice: Do not buy bootlegged DVDs