Cheat Sheet Guide to the Convention Season

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It’s that time again. Comic Convention season 2016 is in full swing and if you’re hitting the con scene for the first time this year, the whole ordeal might seem intimidating at first. Here’s a list of handy tips & tricks to turn you into a seasoned convention pro in no time!

The Basics

DO Shower.

Shower, shower, shower, shower. SHOWER. If I could fill this entire web page with the word “shower” I would. We’re going to be spending roughly three days together, crammed onto the show floor, in a tightly packed line, sitting next to each other in a filled to capacity panel and on top of all of that, most of these conventions are during the summer. For the good of all of us, take the time to shower every night or morning before you head back out to the con.

DO Wear Comfortable Shoes.

Sneakers are your friends and they will serve you well as you walk literal miles in one place for a whole weekend. Insoles for your sneakers are your secret friends that serve you in silence inside your other friends. Friend-ception!

DO Bring the Essentials.

Do bring the essentials with you in a small bag or backpack. Suggested items include: a portable cell phone charger, snacks, a water bottle, the convention’s program guide, sunscreen if you’re outdoors a lot, and YOUR BADGE! DON’T LEAVE IT ON THE HOTEL DRESSER OR IN THE BATHROOM PAGE –er, I mean, most of all, remember to bring your badge to the con every day!

DO Keep Hydrated.

Your convention’s medical suite loves you, but they’d prefer to keep their relationship with you long distance. Drink plenty of water during the day and after the con. Passing out isn’t fun.

DO Talk to People.

Say this is your first convention. If you’re going alone, talk to people. Talk to people in line, talk to your favorite artist at their tables, ask the helpful convention volunteers for help when you need it, talk to people you notice are fans of the thing you’re a fan of. It’s an easy way to make new friends and learn things.

DO Arrive at Your Panel Early.

Thinking about going to that panel you just can’t miss? Is it a super popular panel and in one of the main rooms? Get in line early. Find out if there is a line for that room in a place other than outside the room itself! See above talking to people point. If you want a decent seat, try to get there at least an hour ahead.  Yes, this means you might have to skip or leave early during whatever panel is directly before that to get to the one you want.

DO Plan Your Convention Day Ahead of Time.

Advanced convention planning-no-jutsu! Be aware of when the convention posts their schedule on their site and follow their social media accounts to stay updated on panel changes, scheduling conflicts and convention sponsored mobile apps. Review what you absolutely must do at the convention and mark that down in advance. Now that you know what you’re doing at the con, go over travel and food if needed. Look up nearby restaurants in the immediate area surrounding the convention because some might have specials running for convention goers. Check to see if the local Lyft or Uber are running coupons over the convention days.

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Costumes

DO Wear Whatever The #!$& You Want (Within Reason).

Cosplay is for everyone. All skin colors, all body types, and genders. You like the character, go for it. If you’ve never made a costume and are thinking about it, most conventions have panels specifically made for people just jumping in. The majority of the cosplay community is supportive and welcoming of new people, so give it a try!

DON’T Forget Common Sense.

Excessive nudity will get you in trouble with the law. Any prop weaponry no matter how screen accurate you want it to be needs to be bound or have orange tips on the muzzle. Wardrobe malfunctions happen. Carry extra pins, tape, and extra change of clothes if you can. If your costume is complicated or large, have a friend accompany you to carry your excess baggage and help you navigate the convention floor.

DO Use Etiquette When Taking Pictures.

Hey, did you know there’s a PERSON inside that perfect Lady Loki costume? Maybe give them a heads up when you’re snapping a picture of them. Also, pay attention to your surroundings. Is the person rushing to a panel? Catch them later. Are you trying to snap a picture in the middle of a busy walkway or moving line? Be considerate of those around you and move to the side or a better location.

DO Speak Up if You or Someone Else is Being Harassed.

Conventions are ideally friendly safe spaces. If you feel someone is harassing you about your costume, making you feel uncomfortable or if you see it happen to someone else, say something. Nerds are generally a friendly bunch and will rush to help those in need. No matter what, head to the closest convention volunteer or staff member to make a report. Any good convention worth their salt has a zero tolerance policy on bad behavior.

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Celebrity Autographs, Photo Ops, Q&A

DO Follow Directions.

If the convention or celebrity has a sign posted that says no pictures or autographs unless you pay at their table, follow the rules. They’re not trying to be mean but they do need to make money over the weekend and we need to take those rules seriously.

DO Ask Your Question at a Q&A.

I know, it’s hard getting up in front of a mic in front of a huge room of people. Take a deep breath, slow down and if you can, rehearse it in your head before you walk up there. Keep it short and simple. Nothing turns a crowd against you like a five part question.

DON’T Ask Things the Celebrity Does Not Know.

Your favorite actor has not read your fan fic and probably does not know all the specifics of your fan community. They also did not write that one episode where that thing you didn’t like happened and you want to know why. Unless they did write it. Then ask away. Also, while they’re on stage don’t ask for an autograph or picture. That’s what their booth is for. They also will probably steer around questions that might get them in trouble with their employer, so don’t expect spoilers.

DON’T Bite/Pinch/Weird Out the Celebrity.

Guys. GUYS. Don’t do this. It’s simple, if you weird them out, they won’t come back. Biting your favorite zombie or giving them a bad touch during a Photo Op will get you thrown out and in some extreme cases, will get the cops called on you. Do not be the poster child for restraining orders and respect other people’s boundaries. Be as cool, calm and collected as you can be and please refrain from showing them your power point on why they should leave their family for you.

Have any tips I’ve missed? Share them in the comments below!

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