Comic conventions. If those words don’t get you excited, you must have never had the chance to experience one. Be it the smallest event at a local hotel, or the Granddaddy of them all, Comic Con International: San Diego, there are certain rules that all nerds should know before they step through the doors of the exhibition hall.
A convention is only open a short amount of time, so ensure that you have at least an idea of the creators you want to meet and the events you want to experience. The larger the con, the more important planning becomes. If you want to be at the “Creator X” panel at 12:30, jumping in line to meet Stan Lee might not be the greatest idea. By creating a plan of attack, you will maximize your ability to see as much as possible in the limited time you have to see it. Also, don’t forget to plan some time to eat and drink…
Concerning lines, remember to observe the rules of the queue. When you are in line to meet a creator, remember that everyone is waiting just like you so complaining about the line will win you no friends. When it is finally your turn, keep in mind how you were feeling while you were waiting. If you plan to have an item signed, have it ready to go and open to the place you wish the creator to sign it. Some creators are just as big of introverts as many other nerds, and they may not move you along right away. Talking to them while they are signing, and finishing that thought are acceptable, but firing 20 questions with 400 people waiting in line is not. Even if there is not a huge line, many of your favorite creators have deadlines to meet and commissions to complete before the con ends so keeping them talking for a half an hour at a time might be fun, but they may have to pay for that with a sleepless night that day.
The best time to fire questions at your favorite creators is during the Q & A portions of their panels. Panels are designed to give attendees a glimpse into the worlds of comics, television, movies, and more. They also explain what it takes to make all of those things that we nerds love. If you are lucky enough to have a chance to ask a question during the Q & A, be ready with the question you want to ask when you get to the microphone. In addition, stay on topic!! This is extremely important as the audience is there to hear about what was advertised in the program. Going into a panel all about the process of drawing a comic and asking the artists about how to break into writing comics is borderline rude to the artists and the audience. Instead, ask the artist how they like scripts to be written; every detail spelled out or with room for them to interpret? There are always ways to learn even if the topic at hand isn’t your cup of tea. Above all else, never heckle or talk out of turn while the panel is in session. No one will thank you for the disturbance no matter how funny you think you are.
Another thing to consider while at the con is that many children will be there as well. Everything that you do will not only reflect on you, but also on the culture of conventions. Children take in everything and parents are not always very forgiving. Try to keep your language and behavior PG rated at worst, but preferably G rated. This is probably the first time many of these kids have been able to attend something as awesome as a convention and could be their last if someone ruins the experience. The kids attending these cons today could very well be the adults responsible for creating the things we love tomorrow. So please do all that you can to make it special for the children too!
When it comes to cosplayers, there are a few different schools of thought. However, my experiences have shown me that most cosplayers are just as introverted and shy as many other nerds. They put considerable time and effort into making a costume in the image of one of their favorite characters, quite often in painstaking detail for their own satisfaction as opposed to doing it to show off to others. Just because their costume may be very revealing, this does not give you the right to gape at, touch, or harass them. It is courteous to ask before taking photos but not absolutely required, especially if they are already posing for others to take their picture. ALWAYS ask if you want to be in the picture with them.
The most important thing to remember when attending a convention is that everyone is there to enjoy their convention experience. Their idea of a great time may not be the same as your idea of a great time, so be sure to respect each other. Common courtesy will go a long way toward making sure everyone enjoys themselves no matter what experience they wish to have. The “Golden Rule” goes a long way when surrounded by vast numbers of people all in a small convention center. Treat each other well, and you could have some of the most fun imaginable at a comic convention!