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Going to your first convention – be it gaming, comics, fantasy, steampunk, or anime related – can easily become an overwhelming experience. The large crowds, multiple venues, times to line up for panels versus times panels actually start, can quickly overwhelm you if you aren’t prepared. You may be able to get some pertinent information from people who have attended before. But it can also help to have tips and tricks and general (and sometimes specific) information right at your fingertips to get you through your con experience. Which is where the Comic Book Convention Survival Guide Kickstarter comes in.
This Kickstarter project created by Kyle Rose and Matthew Bernard is stuffed with everything you can think of, from what to pack for your trip, how much sleep you should get during the con, what kinds of things you should eat and drink and what you might want to avoid, and even what kind of items are worth spending money on in the Dealer’s Hall, and what might be a waste of time.
The creators of the Comic Book Convention Survival Guide answered some questions for Word of the Nerd about their project, why it’s necessary, and what readers will get out of it.
Why did you decide to create a convention guide in the first place?
We are cousins who both have a passion for comics and geek culture. Given that one of us is a writer, and the other is an artist, we have always looked for a project to do together. We’ve also always shared our con experiences and wondered why there wasn’t a resource with solutions for the things we discussed. Then it hit us, that’s our project.
What makes your convention guide stand out from other guides that may be found online or in print?
Two major things. First, most guides found online are specific to one con. (EX a NYCC guide will tell you how to get to the Javits center and one for SDCC will talk about the line for Hall H.) Ours talks about con experiences universally and can be applied to any convention. Second, our core thesis revolves around coming up with a reason for going, or as we call it your “mission”. This is important because the rest of your decisions are informed by that mission.
Will this guide work for people attending anime, horror, fantasy, or gaming conventions as it will for those attending comic book conventions? How general or specialized is the information included?
The information is meant to be applied for any fan convention. There are specific sections about things that may only be at certain types of con, but for the most part everything is universal. Also the type of con you go to factors into your mission, which will inform how you plan your experience.
What kind of background do you have, as the creators, that makes you qualified to write this guide?
From the convention side we have years and years of experience going to cons, talking to people about cons, and just learning by trial and error. From a creative aspect Kyle has worked as an art director in advertising for almost a decade and spends his off time cartooning. Matthew has been writing since high school. He also is a martial arts instructor, and that background in teaching has helped in developing this guide.
Have you put a lot of your own con experiences into creating the content for the guide?
Absolutely! Not only our experiences before, but also during the creation process. We have been working on this book for over 2 years which means we’ve had several opportunities to apply our own advice, and can say we have had a vast improvement in our con-going experiences because of it.
What made you decide to do a Kickstarter to fund this project?
Being independent creators, it seemed like a good fit. We see the Kickstarter as more of a way to pre-order the book. We also hope to build an audience, and that’s what the core of crowdfunding is about — The crowd.
So far it looks like you’re doing a print version and a digital version of the book. Do you have any plans to make an app version in the future?
Yep we have some plans on how that would work, but right now we are focusing on getting the book published.
What made you decide to go with a print version of the guide in the first place?
Digital is great and we both read a portion of our comics that way, but there’s still nothing like holding a good old fashion book in your hands. We have made it a nice portable size so it can fit into your con bag. That way you can take it with you, make notes, bookmark pages, etc.
Have you tested the guide with first-time con-goers and gotten an idea if it is good as-is or if any changes need to be made to it to accommodate people who have no previous experience with the events and even language of things at a convention?
Most of our tests have been with us or our friends, so we wouldn’t say we’ve had any true newbies use it yet. However, we tried to write it in a way that is approachable for anyone, yet still has advice that veterans will find useful. In terms of the language used at cons we have a full glossary of terms in the back for things like “Con Crud”, “Camping” “Bag and Board” etc.
Once the guide is in print, how will you market it to convention goers? Will you take it to conventions, or sell it online?
Both. We also hope to get it into comic shops and other brick and mortar stores.
What other information would you like to get out to possible Kickstarter backers and Comic Book Convention Survival Guide readers?
Cons are about having fun, but some people can get stressed out or overwhelmed. We really hope the guide helps take out some of the guess work, and can help con-goers focus their objectives to maximize their experience. Also, your fellow con-goers help improve your experience, so if we all treat each other with respect and help one another, that alone can lead to better experiences for all.