Many of us as nerds will be making a pilgrimage to a convention at some point this year. Here I have compiled a list of things you may want to consider when going to a con. It will hopefully serve you well on your journey, whether its your first or hundredth convention.
Here we go!
This thing is going to be your best friend and your worst enemy. It will hold all of your stuff, but its going to be heavy. You’re going to need a big bag and it will serve as the holder of all your nerdy goods. As well as the stuff I’m about to explain to you, you’re going to need essentials such as clothes,a toothbrush and deodorant. DO NOT take thirteen t-shirts and five sets of pants, you won’t be needing them! Only pack the stuff you need, you’re going to need the rest of the space for your gear.
If you live near to where the convention is taking place, I wouldn’t suggest taking spare clothes with you, you can get changed at home the next morning. If you forget to pack clothes you aren’t necessarily done for, you could at least get a clean t-shirt from a stand selling them at the con. It’s not advised however. So definitely remember to pack clothes. To lighten your load, dump all non-con related materials in your hotel room before you head out. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes too, you’re going to be walking a lot.
Oh yes, you will need money. As much as you can get your nerdy little hands on for one very simple reason: No matter what you’re in to, there will be something there you will want to buy. You know what they sell at conventions? EVERYTHING. And you will want it, for sure. I’m not saying you should take out a loan to go to a convention, just save a little bit every month in the run up to the con. You will be rewarded once you get to the convention and have a lot of money floating around.
If a schedule or time-table is available on the convention’s website, print it off before you go, it will serve you well to do so. Many cons may have a programme with a time-table in it, but the singular page you printed off is lighter and easily accessible from your pocket on a regular basis. The advantage of getting your time-table earlier off the website is that you can plan ahead. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed as soon as you get in to the con, there’s so much going on and you’ll be excited as hell that you’re surrounded by thousands of other nerds all sharing the same interests.
There are so many people who will sign your comics at cons, so pack as many as you can hold. This is the way I did it at Kapow! Comic Con last year: I checked the guest list for the convention. Then I went through my boxes and pulled out any comic I had with a guest’s name on. Categorise your comics in to piles of what you ‘have to’ get signed and what you’re not too bothered about getting signed, make sure you keep each writer/artist’s books together and now we are on to the next piece of kit.
A folder/file for your comics:
Keeping your comics in a file or folder serves two purposes: Keeping your comics together and making sure other pieces of your kit don’t damage them. If you can get a file that has plastic sleeves/separators in it, that would be the best kind to have. You can separate them by writer/artist’s books this way, so as to not have to rifle through your folder to find books you need signing.
You will need this! Especially if you’re in a big group and need to split up for some reason. Always have your phone handy. Simple.
If your phone has a good camera on it, you’re covered for this. If not, you will need a camera. As soon as you turn up without a camera you will regret it, there are so many awesome things that happen during conventions, you’ll want to pack a camera.
There’s nothing worse than needing food when queuing for signings. You can combat this by packing light snacks like chocolate bars and crisps (potato chips). You will want to keep your energy up too, the days can really take a tole on you and you need to stay as focused as possible. So food is a must.
Aha! Your secret weapon! Your wingman can pick up the slack of your convention mission, let me give you an example of this, say… someone you want a signature from is signing at the same time as another person you really want to get a signature from. You’re going to have to choose which signature you want more and have a mini breakdown, right? No! Enter “The Wingman!” Give your other book to your wingman to get signed, you go to the signing you originally intended to go to. My girlfriend and I utilised this technique a couple of times last year! If you have an awesome wingman such as I did, your wingman may even step up and initiate the “Double Win”. This move is rare but if you can get it to work, it’s genius. This is what happened with the Double win:
My girlfriend had gone to a signing whilst I waited for a signing, she also took another book I had, just incase she got out of that line and was able to get to the line for the third signing. Luckily, the signing she had gone to was right next to the line she had to be in for the third book signing. She began to chat with a young man who was queuing in the line she would have to join after she had got the first of the two books signed. She simply asked the guy politely if he could get the second book signed for her. He accepted and got it signed, she thanked him when she got out of the line, and walked away with both books signed. Double win.
I think the moral of that story is, don’t be afraid to ask a stranger to get something signed for you. Nerds are nice people. Remember that!
So… That’s the convention survival kit done. Remember these items when you go and you will have an advantage over others who haven’t put in as much preparation as you have. And feel free to comment below or tweet me @ChrisTresson if you feel there’s something I’ve missed! I know the guys will consider my tips when doing “A CONvoluted Story” or at least I’d hope so!