By a show of hands, how many of you have attended a convention - okay, that's a trick question, I'm pretty sure EVERYONE I know has, but thanks for humoring me. I LOVE conventions. Love them. So much fun, honestly.
I've been attending sci fi conventions for many years, now, and started going to comic book conventions a few years into that. I've attended both as regular paying attendee, as volunteer and even as staff. But the past four years or so have given me an entirely new appreciation for the event, as I've now seen the conventions from the other side of the table, as a guest.
And seriously, what's not to love about conventions? Thousands of fans from hundreds of fandoms, all shoved into the same physical space for a weekend, mingling with some of the very creators of their favored constructs. It's pretty much nerd heaven.
Emerald City Comic Con is a fantastic show - the fine folks who run it are friends of mine, and it's in my hometown, so of course - but if you're in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend going. Also, their "Tales from the Con" comics are an amusing way to get a feel for the show, so you should check that out, too. But here are a couple tips:
Crowds: The crowds can be a bit of a challenge, yes, so if you've got an issue with lots of people, I can recommend Friday attendance (when the con has them) or Sundays - attendance on these days are slightly less than the Saturdays.
Hydration: Bring water. The convention floor gets pretty warm, and unless you're dressed up in a fully enclosed spacesuit or something, you may not be aware of how much you're sweating. Water, water, water. And vitamin C. Tales of the Con SARS (or Con Crud, or whatever they're calling it this year) are rampant. Stay healthy.
Walking Shoes: the only thing you'll do more at a con than stand is walk. Bring a good pair of shoes, and don't spare the arch support. Also, chances are you're not leaving the con empty handed, so having a nice messenger bag can be helpful.
Fandom: look, let's break this down - it's a big convention, full of people celebrating the things in contemporary entertainment they love the most - be it anime, Cthulhu, Star Trek/Wars, or My Little Ponies - and it's your one chance to wear that Doctor Who shirt and not only NOT get teased, but to actually get about a hundred different people holding up their sonic screwdrivers in respectful salute. So let your geek flag fly, you'll be kicking yourself if you don't.
Checklist: Plan out a few things you really want to do in advance. You'll still spend about 80% of your time wandering around seeing things you didn't expect, but check out the convention's website (if they have one) and look at the list of guests, exhibitors, artists. If they publish their schedule, check that out, too, and plan accordingly.
Media Guests: Important note, here - if you're planning on visiting one of the special media guests - actors, usually - plan on a wait. These are generally the bulk of your time, so prepare yourself for it. Be nice, follow the rules (some shows don't allow "candid" photography, so if they tell you no, please don't argue with them), be mindful of how much time you spend when it's your turn, and, above all, no leg humping.
Thank Your Hosts: What makes a con even remotely possible is the generous efforts and selfless time and energy given by the convention staff and the volunteers. I've been pretty spoiled - all the conventions I've been to as a guest have been staffed by the most amazing and helpful and friendly people, which perhaps is part of why I'm so pro-con (ha!), but sincerely I can't say enough about how wonderful their work has made my own personal experiences at the conventions. You folks are awesome!
Well, that's all for today - - I actually need to do some more work to prep for my next convention, which will be at the Rose City ComicCon in Portland on September 20-21. I'll be in booth R-06, right over by the Media Guests, so swing by if you're in the neighborhood!