As you have no doubt by now noticed, we were at Comic Con. Not just any Comic Con, but the Salt Lake Comic Con: The Fourth Largest Comic Convention IN THE WORLD! While the numbers are still coming, it’s clear that far more people turned out for this event than anyone originally expected. As such, there were some unexpected hiccups that popped up here and there. Many of the pitfalls we encountered, however, were ones that happen whenever you put more than 100 people in the same room (they just happen to get much worse when you ramp that number up past 50,000).
To help you, our readers and listeners, we present you a list of tips for your next con. Some of these are common sense (that bear repeating) and some of these are things you may not have thought of before. Either way, we hope you find them useful.
- Hygiene is more important than you think! – There is no way around this issue, nor is there any reason to be ashamed of it: YOU WILL SMELL WORSE AT THE END OF THE DAY THAN YOU DID AT THE BEGINNING. So do everyone a favor and start the day as clean and fresh smelling as possible. It is inevitable that packing so many people into such a small space, things are going to get a little rank. This issue is made worse when many people are in costumes that don’t exactly breathe or flow. If you know you have issues that seem off-putting (maybe you sweat a lot for no reason, maybe you have a natural odor, whatever it is, it’s ok), enact measures to compensate for them. No one wants to be face to face with their idol and have said idol turn in disgust when you offer them your sweaty palm.
- Hydrate yourself! – Water is key at events for all the reasons your health teacher told you. It’s also important for another reason; it helps you out when you’ve been standing/walking for hours! The last thing you want is a cramp when you know you’re on the far side of the convention center from where you want to be, not to mention a few miles from where you parked. Drinking plenty of water will also help you avoid spending too much on the food at the center that is almost guaranteed to be both horrible and expensive.
- … but not with alcohol! – This is not some sort of judgmental religious thing. This is a human decency thing. You know that guy yelling at the sports game with the open cup of beer? Or the drunk chick dancing to music at a concert . . . long after the music stopped playing. That’s great that THEY’RE having fun, but no one around them is. If you need to get drunk to have fun at Comic Con, you should not be at Comic Con. Save the drinking for after the con at a local club or bar. Invite that cute girl/guy you just met in costume. Comic Con (any geek convention) is all about the social interactions you get to have with other people who share your interests, so use alcohol to help further those interactions. Not to drive everyone else away.
- Bring cash. – How much is entirely up to you. But bring it, and nothing but it. Technology has made it really easy to take payment over a phone from a credit card, and it’s incredibly handy. Cellular networks have a massive downfall; too many people in a single cell can halt all data traffic in the area. Your phone may say you have full bars, but no data is getting through. If that happens, vendors can’t take your card to pay for that awesome miniature they just made of you! And no, they won’t accept check for the same reason YOU wouldn’t accept a check from a stranger.
- Cosplay is not consent! – One of the coolest parts of geek conventions is seeing all the amazing (and incredibly creative) ways people dress up. More than a handful of people we saw came dressed in something different each day, and it almost became a mini event in of itself to see what they’d be each day! People who dress up do it to be noticed and so it’s no surprise to them that people would want to take pictures of them. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK! No one likes to have their picture taken randomly; we all look like idiots when we don’t know there’s a camera on us. The people put a lot of effort into their outfits and want them shown off in a special way (or haven’t you noticed that many of them have a specific pose for that costume), and they don’t like it when a camera suddenly snakes around them to get a picture of their breasts. Yes, that happened right in front of us.
- Get a room. – This one is largely optional, but it should be seriously considered. If you have a long way to travel to get to the con, maybe you should get a room. If you have small children with you, maybe you should get a room. If you have an elaborate costume, maybe you should get a room. There are a lot of reasons why you may want one, and it might seem like an unnecessary expense at first. But there is nothing like needing to get up at 5AM just so you can get into costume and get to the convention when the doors open. Or the knowledge that you are now trapped there all day in that costume. Or knowing that even though it’s your kids’ nap time, you WILL spend the entire day there because there is no way you can take them home and come back later. Trust me, it’s worth some serious consideration.
- DON’T BE A DOUCHE – Yes, this requires explanation. It shouldn’t, but it does. Vendors are people, just like you. Celebrities are people, just like you. Booth babes, cosplayers, and even other attendees are people . . . just like you. If you randomly ask a celebrity politely if you can have their picture, they will probably say yes. Take it and thank them for their time. After all, they didn’t come to see you. If someone next to you did that, feel free to take a picture at the same time (and also thank them). That expression “Time is money” is especially true to celebrities at cons, and you didn’t pay any of them! So be gracious; you’d be surprised how it’s returned!
This is by no means a complete list, but it should be the barest basic one. If you follow these 7 simply rules, you and your party will have a great con experience!