Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guest Blogger: Stephy Young's 5 Tips for your First Convention.

Hey there! 
I'm Stephy Young, and I'll be your guest blogger today. You can find me over at StephyYoung.com on regular days for more content, but I figured I'd give you my most recent advice regarding comic conventions while it's fresh for me. 

This weekend, I went to the Wizard World Comic Convention in St. Louis. Wizard World Inc. is actually a publicly traded company that runs geeky comic conventions in a giant number of cities throughout the U.S. If you're looking for a more low­key convention (as opposed to the chaotic glory that is San Diego Comic Con), check and see if you have a Wizard World convention near you!

This is my umpteenth convention, and my second time going to the St. Louis convention from Wizard World specifically, and I've learned over the years what to expect from different conventions.
So, this guest post today is a series of tips for first time comic convention guests.

Going to your first convention is always super exciting, but it can also be really nerve wrecking if you don't know what to expect. Here's 5 tips I wish I had known before my first convention.

1) You might be spending a seriously large amount of your time in lines if you're at a large convention. Accept it.
Source: Fan Expo Canada

If you're going to a panel that contains popular characters or a show with a huge following, you're going to wait in line for a long time. Possibly an hour or more at smaller conventions, definitely almost all day if you're at SDCC.

You're going to wait in line for food. You will wait in line to meet the celebrities or characters at their tables. You might wait in line at merch. booths.

You're going to wait in line. Embrace it. Make sure you have some form of entertainment for yourself (bring your phone, a friend, a book, chat up the people behind you, anything) and just accept the wait time. It's gonna happen­ and if it doesn't, you're lucky. Take it as a blessing from the comic gods.

2) It can cost serious money, or you can do it on the cheap. You have to choose your path and stick to it. 

If you're choosing to go for the convenience and total experience, you might spend a lot of money. In between the expensive convention food, all the different souvenirs, trying to meet celebrities (and paying for autographs or pictures), and the initial convention cost itself, you can spend several hundreds of dollars easily. It doesn't have to be this way, but if you don't plan, you might spend a lot of money or end up going hungry/home empty handed.

If you're trying to save money, sometimes you might miss out on some things. But, you'll still have a perfectly good time, if you plan well. Ration your money for souvenirs, skip the line of autographs/pictures, pack your foods beforehand and either bring them inside or eat them outside or in your car (if you can have re­entry). You can attend almost all panels (some panels cost an additional fee­ it's very, VERY rare for this though. Most are free and included in the cost of your admission.

3) Speaking of panels­ figure out which one(s) you want to attend, know your schedule, get there with plenty of time, and make sure you're in the right place for the proper panel. 

Source: Play
 Some people see lines and just hop in, hoping for it to be something cool. Some lines are so close to each other that they merge and people don't realize that they are in lines for two different things and they walk into the wrong thing. Some people forget to plan and try to sneak in the line last minute. A lot of chaos can happen, and the best way for you to be prepared is to figure out what you want to attend, in ranking order, find the right line (ask an attendant, not just persons around the line, often you're hear "I think this is ....."), and get in line with TONS of time to spare. A lot of conventions don't empty the room between each panel, so there are some people who enter the con room at 8am for a panel at 5pm, leaving one less seat for people who show up later. But trust me­ it's better to be that person there hours early than the person turned away at the door. Make a plan, pals. It will save you many headaches if you've got a plan.

4) Another note on panels. Prepare articulate questions, if you're going to ask them.

I can't tell you how many people I've noticed get so excited for the chance to ask a question to a celebrity that they forget to plan their question. What comes out of their mouth might be a jumble of words vaguely resembling a question, and embarrassment or fear can take over. It can be a bummer and I know it's scary.

So, for your own sake, make sure you:

a] prepare a real question to ask that you NEED answered (no "You're hot," "do you like your coworkers," etc. nonsense. I'll answer this for you: they know they're attractive, they probably like some coworkers and not others but remain respectfully polite, etc.). Don't harass them, try not to make everyone really uncomfortable and please ask a real question.

b] try to say it to yourself several times to make sure you've got the wording right and so it makes sense. Mini rehearse it before you get to the mic. It'll make you feel better.

 c] try not to take up too much time. I'm sure your question is awesome, but they don't need a backstory to your question (generally), and they know you're a fan of your work (you are at their panel). You can quickly mention 'hey, I love your work. I was wondering XXXXX?", but try not to say "Hey, I'm ____, I'm from ____. Thanks for coming here. I love your movies ____ and _____, and I'm so excited to see you. This is a five part question, and an additional two parts for everyone else......." Please. Please don't be the latter. Thank them fast, ask your question, and revel in hearing their probably glorious answer. This will also allow more fans to have their day made by getting their questions answered, and you learn more about the actors this way.

5) The thing I cannot stress enough­ Get there early.

Seriously. Everyone gets really excited, typically, and goes early in the day. Don't head out at 2pm­ you're gonna miss awesome costumes, celebrities while they are in fantastic moods, fresh people, etc.

Trust me. Be excited, go early, stay as long as you can stand, and then get a good nights sleep (and repeat the next day if possible).

6) Some other quick tips:

Wear comfortable clothing (including shoes), shower before you go, check three times to make sure you have everything you need, charge up all your electronics, be a decent human being and have a good time.

Another quick thing I want to mention is cosplayers: Cosplay is not consent.
Source: Geek Girl Authority
Don't touch people without permission, even if they are in costume. Ask them if you would like a picture. Try not to be a jerk.

For more tips­ including attending your first comic con in cosplay, how to have a good time with your family, how to take good pictures, and other general tips, check out more from me at

Thanks guys!