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Episode 15 - The Nerd Girls Guide to Surviving a Convention, Do's & Dont's and Convention Experience
Spaced4SimonPegg
post Mar 6 2011, 09:16 AM
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Since C2E2 is right around the corner the Nerd Girls thought we would discuss tips on surviving a convention.

Do you have any things you love to see or hate? Had a great/bad con experience. Let us know smile.gif


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Cary
post Mar 6 2011, 09:53 AM
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The first of a two part column I wrote what seems like a lifetime ago. It was called Con-etiquette part one.

Today I will deal with several things every convention goer should know. In truth, anyone with a couple of brain cells and some home training should already have this stuff down, but you can't account for some people, and conventions really bring that to light.

First off, donít be the guy who waits till the last possible second before you take your comics out of the meticulously bagged and taped enclosures you have them trapped in, so that they are hermetically sealed till the very moment prior to being signed. There are people waiting in line behind you, and they too would like to see and meet the folks who create their favorite comics. Yeah, I mean you! Get em out, get em ready, and then get in line!

And while youíre at it, have mercy on the poor people doing the signing. Five or ten comics is plenty, there is no need to drop a short box on a guy who has been at the table all morning trying to sketch and sign his hands off just because he was dumb enough to agree to appear. If you like the guy (or girl), if you are a fan of their work, then take it easy on them. They need food, drink, and rest just like every other human being. Cut them some slack.

Donít be that jackass at panels. Anyone who has ever sat a panel with this guy knows exactly who I am talking about. He shows up late, asks at least one question that has already been asked and answered, and then thinks itís cute and funny to continue asking inane and inflammatory questions trying to get a rise out of the creators in attendance. Sit there, shut up, and if you do have a pertinent question, then be nice! Stand up so they can see you, use your big boy voice so everyone can hear you, and donít believe for a second that there is never a stupid question. Think before you speak, please. It will make for a far more enjoyable panel experience all the way around.

Avail yourself of the mounds of free stuff available at conventions. Please, do this. Thatís what itís there for. They want you to take it. But try not to flatten the ten-year-olds in the process. They are smaller than you are and need a bit of extra care so as not to be squashed. There will still be plenty of Wonder Woman buttons left when the kid moves out of the way, and if not, ask that guy behind the table, cause he has another box, trust me. Along the same lines, if you do take the free stuff, then take it. Donít grab it and then toss it in the trash. Someone else might want it, and itís wasteful. You keep asking yourself why Krypto the Super-dog doesnít get his own series, itís because jerks like you take tons of free stuff and then toss it aside just because you can. (And if they do in fact put out a Krypto series, itís my idea and I want a piece of it!)

Yes, that is a really cool Storm trooper costume, now get out of the way and quit blocking the isle gawking at the guy wearing it, he can't see anything in that helmet anyway.

If you happen to show up five minutes too late and the line you have been wanting to get into all day is now closed, (or Ďcappedí as the convention faithful call it) donít whine, donít beg, and donít try to cut in line. Everyone in the line bought the same tickets you did, drove the same distance, or flew that same red eye flight to get there. They didnít get in any earlier than you did; they just have better time management skills than you do. Work on it. (Incidentally, if you do find yourself in this sad circumstance, and you see me in line, I can be bought, but I ainít cheap.)

Sketches. Woo boy where to start. First off, try your best to know who the artist is you are standing there trying to get a sketch from. That way you donít look like an idiot asking Marc Silvestri to draw ďthat Spawn guy he used to draw.Ē Marc is a great guy, and will draw just about anything, but really, do the man the credit of at least knowing his work. Also, be very careful about using the term ďDraw whatever you want.Ē or donít be pissed off with what you get. Artists are a humorous and mischievous folk who tend to tire after 8 or 9 hours of straight sketching, and I have seen more than one bonehead walk away after an hour of waiting in line with nothing but a stick figure for his trouble. Use terms like Ďpleaseí, Ďthank youí, and Ďwowí. They go a long way toward getting you a better sketch. The creators arenít there because they have to be, they do it for the fans. So donít abuse them.

Take the time before the show to familiarize yourself and those you brought with you with the basic layout of the convention, so you know where to meet if you get separated and donít have to run around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to find each other. Almost all major cons provide a map with every single ticket sold, so use it. A bit of prior planning goes a long way.

The one unifying principle that should always be followed at conventions is courtesy. To those you are there to see, to those who are volunteers, and to your fellow convention goers. Itís a big event, there is a lot to see and do, and the basic truth is, you may not get it all in. Thatís why they do these things every year, and in more than one location. Be nice, be friendly, be helpful, and have fun! Things tend to come back those who treat others with decency, so try it. We will all be happy you did.

And you never know, that kid handing you his self-published comic while you are standing in line with nothing better to do may just be the next Jim Lee, or Michael Turner. And you knew him whenÖ


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Cary
post Mar 6 2011, 09:56 AM
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Part 2 of Con-etiquette: Survival of the fittest.

Sadly, as much as I might have tried, I didnít cover everything a potential convention attendee needs to know, so here we go again!

When you get to the convention, get ready to stand in lines. This is natural, and the bigger the convention the more lines you will stand in, and the longer they will be. Donít whine about it, you paid to be there. Itís sort of the whole nature thing played out for you in a convention center. What adds a sort of balance to this rule is, the larger the convention, the more guests they will have, and thus you have an increased chance to see more creators with less of a wait, if you follow some very easy to remember guidelines.

First, get an itinerary. This is pretty easy as they almost always give you one with your ticket. Wizard and the SDCC have them online far in advance of the show for your downloading pleasure, and while these may not reflect any last minute changes to the schedule, they will give you more than ample information to start planning. Some creators only attend the show on certain days, and your schedule/ itinerary will reflect this. You want to pay special attention to this because who you get to see and when you see them will be dependant on when they will be at the show. So, youíre sitting there in line with your friends, looking to the front of the line every so often, just to see if something is happening. Use the time! Look over the schedule and match that to who you want to see. If Michael Turner is only going to be at the show on Saturday, then you had better be in his line when it starts to form to even get a chance to see him. You have to consider the creators popularity, as well as his or her current projects in here as well. Some creators donít make many shows and so are in huge demand, where as some others end up at every show you could possibly name, and arenít nearly as in demand. This doesnít mean you should take anyone for granted, it just means pay attention, as some creators will be easier to see than others. You donít want to be the guy that walks up to the line to see the kid in front of you holding a sign that says ďThis line is SO cappedĒ. You will be happy you used your handy dandy schedule, trust me.

Along the same lines, check out not only who will be at the show and when, but also what panels, if any you will want to attend. This will save you time and heartache down the road. There is nothing worse than waiting in line for an hour to get your books signed only to find that you have to get out of line if you want to be somewhere else to make a panel on time. With a little prior planning, things will go far smoother and your convention experience will be much more enjoyable.

Lastly, at least for scheduling, be flexible. Making plans based on a schedule is great, and important. I do this at every con I attend, and it works very well. But at the same time, be fluid. Have a fall back plan. If you were late getting out of the View Askew panel, which is entirely likely as Kevin Smith tends to run over a lot, donít let that kill the rest of your day. So you didnít make it out in time to be in the Jim Lee line. He will be there the rest of the weekend, so move on to your backup plan and make the best of it. Flexibility is a must have at conventions, because you never know what is going to change at the last minute. Those that roll with the changes come out the other side far happier creatures.

Next on the list is sketches. Now there is a growing trend at conventions for artists to charge for sketches, especially if they are in artist alley and not on the main convention floor. One reason for the increase in charging is that a ton of these sketches end up on ebay. Most of the artists who are doing the sketches for free have an issue with people turning around and making a buck off art they did for free for a fan, and I can totally see their point. I have noticed that a small reassurance that you will be keeping your sketch goes a long way. Asking for them to personalize it to you helps as well, since most people wouldnít buy a Jim Lee sketch that says ďBest Wishes Cary!Ē. Now having said all that, if they are charging, thatís pretty much the end of it. Many artists will be sketching for charity as well, so take that into account. If they artist is charging, make sure you work out in advance what the cost will be, so you arenít taken by surprise, and they arenít out time and money in the end. Most artists who are charging will have a pricing sign somewhere on their table. This isnít a starting point to haggle from. If you donít want to pay for an original piece of their art that no one else in the world has, then donít. Be courteous and move along so the guy behind you can get in on some of that action.

When shopping for comics, either buy the comics, or donít. Some dealers are perfectly willing to haggle and negotiate, usually depending on what you are buying and how much money you are talking about putting in their pockets. You donít want to be the person that pulls out a comic from a box and scoffs at the price before shoving it back down and stalking off in a huff. Comics are priced largely subjectively. What is worth ten bucks to you might not be worth a dollar to me, and to another guy it might be worth far more. If you donít like the price tag, be nice and ask if his price on that book is firm. If he says it is, then be nice, put the book back and move on. There will be about fifty odd dealers in the same room who also have the book, so finding a better deal is always possible, but you canít walk back across a burned bridge. These people make their living selling comics, so keep that in mind.

Keep your things in order and with you at all times. Any time you get large crowds of people together there will be some bad apples in the bunch looking to rip people off in various ways. Many people carry a wide variety of bags, boxes, totes and other means of transporting multiple comics around the convention to get them signed. Looking at this crowd with a thieves eye you can see the potential here. If you follow the same principles as you do with a purse or wallet you should be fine. Donít set your box down and then turn away from it. Keep it at hand all the time. Donít trust someone else to watch your stuff while you walk off into the crowd. I canít begin to count the number of times people have asked me to watch their stuff, Ďjust for a minuteí and then simply disappeared. Fortunately for every person who has every asked me to do this, I am an honest person with plenty of my own stuff to lug around, but all people are not the same, and you will get ripped off if you do this sort of thing. Make arrangements to either store the vast majority of your things in a locker on site, or only bring what you need with you each day to lighten your load. If you have kids, keep in mind they set things down as they see new and interesting things, and then forget them. Every show I go to I see some poor kid who has set his comics down only to finally remember he did so and finds them gone. Help everyone at the show by taking care of yourself and your stuff.

Keep in mind that courtesy is, and will always remain, the best policy. Creators especially love to be engaged in human conversation. Saying things like ďI really love your workĒ or ďThe last issue you did was simply incredibleĒ makes a huge impact on the people signing your books and doing sketches for you. They love to hear what you have to say. This is however not the best place to air your problems with the work in question. If you donít care for the persons work, what are you even doing in line to get stuff signed for? Donít use the signature and sketch lines as your time to be a critic. Be friendly, be positive, and be encouraging. Anything else might get you mobbed.

Cameras of all types are welcome at comic conventions. Those pesky costumers are more than willing to pose for every camera in sight, and you will get some great shots without a doubt. Please, if you intend to take pictures, keep it to a minimum in places like panels and in signature lines. The creators and mass media folks will be happy to pose with you for a photo, but itís distracting as hell for a guy to be drawing a sketch with flashes going off every ten seconds!

Keep your kids on a leash! I have kids ranging in ages, and I have taken several kids both my own and others to comic cons. There is nothing worse for the rest of the poor people attending a show to have little kids running amok without proper supervision. A comic convention is not a 15,000 member baby sitting commune. Donít foist your bad behaving brats on the rest of us who have kids who know how to behave themselves. Give them frequent breaks, do things that keep them interested and enjoy the time spent with them enjoying the show. We will all thank you!

At the end of the weekend, a good show all depends on the attendees. The guests will have a good time after hours and often will blur right past the masses they encounter during the days on the floor. If you are paying 40 bucks and up for tickets and want to have a good time, take these things to heart. You can have a great time and thoroughly enjoy yourself, or you can come away miserable never to return. Itís all up to you.




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jaydee74
post Mar 7 2011, 12:18 PM
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Wow, that's a lot of stuff. Here are some things I can think of off the top of my head:

Wear comfortable shoes. Lots of walking
Make sure you shower. Maybe bring some D.O in a backpack to reapply during the day. Maybe even some cologne or perfume?
Prepare ahead of time. Figure out who you want to try and see and figure out where they are. Figure out what booths you want to go to first and figure and where those booths are going to be located. It may turn out you don't get to do everything you want but at least you'll get to do a good amount.
Be polite. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
Have fun. Again, pretty obvious. wink.gif
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Chaz
post Apr 21 2011, 11:44 AM
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QUOTE (jaydee74 @ Mar 7 2011, 12:18 PM) *
Wow, that's a lot of stuff. Here are some things I can think of off the top of my head:

Wear comfortable shoes. Lots of walking
Make sure you shower. Maybe bring some D.O in a backpack to reapply during the day. Maybe even some cologne or perfume?
Prepare ahead of time. Figure out who you want to try and see and figure out where they are. Figure out what booths you want to go to first and figure and where those booths are going to be located. It may turn out you don't get to do everything you want but at least you'll get to do a good amount.
Be polite. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
Have fun. Again, pretty obvious. wink.gif


I actually did bring bring D.O with me mainly cause i came from work and wanted smell slightly better.
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