A Beginners Guide to Comicon

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Sir Smiley gave me a fantastic present for Mother’s Day…tickets to our city’s Comicon! I will confess, I have never actually been to a Comicon before. The main reason being I didn’t have a significant number of geek friends who actually want to go. But this year my hubby decided to bite the bullet and take me! To recap my experience I’ve decided to follow a similar style to my blogs about our family trip to Disneyland. So for those of us new to Comicon, here are some tips I’ve learned.

Spring for a full event pass: We originally only planned to go for a day or two. But the price for the entire weekend wasn’t much more so we just bought passes and got passes for our kids too. We ended up going an extra day and bringing the kids so it was nice to have that flexibility.

Go to the preview day: Being new to the whole Comicon thing, I don’t know if all Cons do this, but ours had a preview night on Thursday night. We went with our kids and had a blast. It wasn’t very busy so we could easily see all the displays and booths, talk to people, etc. and our kids were easier to keep track of.

Dress up: A term everyone should know going into a Con is cosplay. Dressing up and acting like your favorite characters is called cosplay. I didn’t dress up (cosplay) for the preview night and that was one of my few regrets. I did cosplay on Saturday and Sunday and I had a blast! You really stand out if you dress normally…at the very least dig out some geek shirt or comic hero hat so you won’t stand out too much. But aside from that, cosplay significantly increases the enjoyment of a Con. I went as Codex and the first day had about twenty people ask for my picture. Every few minutes I had people cheering at me, complimenting me, or striking up some conversation with me. It was awesome…a chance to feel like a celebrity without all the other junk (or the money). Side note, next year I’m dressing the kids up too. As always, if you make your kids super cute people are more apt to forgive their behavior when they try to pull down a display, wail when you won’t let them eat that unknown object off the floor, or have a melt down when you won’t buy them the $200 light saber.

Ask questions: I went to a panel with Dean Cain (AKA Superman) and enjoyed it thoroughly. I wasn’t planning on going up to ask a question as I didn’t want to be “that girl” who was ogling some famous guy. Why? Pffft…who knows. But I came to my senses just in time to go up and ask the final question. So I had a chance to stand feet away from my favorite superman actor and have a (albeit brief) conversation with him. Don’t miss out on a chance like that!

Embrace the geek: I even managed to drag Sir Smiley into a LARPing session (live action role playing). I’ll be honest, probably not something I’ll do again, as it’s a little intense for my taste but it was an experience we both were glad we had. It’s something you want to at least try once just to say you tried it. We met some fun (and strange) people and had a good time.

Roll with it: Not everything will go according to plan so you need to just roll with the punches. Two examples of this for us. First one happened on Saturday night. Once the Con was winding down, we walked a few blocks north to a movie theater to watch the new Star Trek movie. When we got there (about a mile and a half from where we parked, mind you) they wouldn’t let us in. Why? Because we were armed. I had a fake plastic staff and Sir Smiley (who had dressed up…cosplayed as Indiana Jones) had a whip made of duct tape. I was excessively annoyed as we slowly walked back to our car and was ranting at Sir Smiley how ridiculous it was. Mid rant I froze…and just stared. Standing on the corner waiting to cross the street was Wil Wheaton! I was able to go up, introduce myself and shake his hand. He even complimented me on my cosplay and everything. So even though I couldn’t get into the movie, I got something better (and to top it all off, we were able to make it to a different theater and still see Star Trek so it was a completely happy ending for all….and Star Trek rocks by the way). Second example happened the next day, when the fire alarms went off and thousands of us had to go streaming into the street. Still had fun and it added a bit of excitement to finish off the event.

Pay for events that are important: Because we’re cheap, I skipped the Wil Wheaton panel that cost money in lieu of the free panel. Well apparently I’m not the only one, as I couldn’t get into the free one. In hindsight (which is 20/20) I should have just sprung for the babysitter and tickets to see his panel considering he was the person I was most excited to see. Next time, I will. Of course this is all moot since I did actually get to meet him!

Plan your purchases carefully: We paid 10 dollars for parking the first night, but for the rest of the Con we managed to find street parking. We had to walk further but we saved at least 60 dollars in parking. Also, we didn’t buy food at the convention center and packed our own lunch…and for dinner opted to drive down the road a mile or so to a great Mexican restaurant that we know and love. For 15 bucks we both ate until we were stuffed and took away about half a dozen Mexican pastries to eat throughout the rest of the night. At the con we would have gotten a couple of ice cream cones for that price. All this saves money to spend on that shirt, photo, autograph, or event that is more important to you.

Overall, I’m hooked. We will definitely be going every year. Oh, and a special thanks to my parents for taking our kids overnight so we could actually spend time at the Con just the two of us without three little munchkins to look after. (there’s a tabletop pun for those of you who get it…)