A Saturday or so ago, I hit up London Super Comic Con! LSCC is medium-sized and very much comic-book focused, and the experience was a little different to the big ones that have a broader pop-culture agenda like London MCM Comic Con or San Diego Comic Con. I got to meet Mirka Andolfo and Terry Dodson, saw some brilliant cosplayers and spent way too much on new comics and art.
I’ve been going to cons big and small (including a tiny one in Ireland focused exclusively on Discworld) since my university days in my Australian hometown. They’re tons of fun, but they can also be crowded, overwhelming and exhausting! So I decided to share my wisdom – and I asked veteran fans and comic book creators on Twitter to weigh in. If you’re a comic con first timer, this post is for you!
Like Batman, you must be prepared
- Buy your tickets in advance! It makes things so much easier on the day – less queueing and no stressing that tickets will run out. Lock that shit down.
- Just one day or the whole shebang? It depends on your budget and commitments, but if you’re going for one day, go for Saturday – that’s when all the best stuff is on.
- Meeting celebrities is always cool, but look outside the “special guests” section and see if any of the writers or artists in your collection are going. Really big names like Stan Lee usually charge for signatures, but most creators don’t. You can chat to them and ask them to sign your comics/prints/shirts/body parts, and it’s totally free.
- OMG, your favourite artist is going! Look them up online and see if they’re doing commissions. Sometimes they have a pre-show commission list; sometimes you can ask on the day. Fees will vary, but if you’re quick off the mark, this can get you personalised original artwork.
- While you’re being hella organised, check the schedule for panels, big-name signings and photo sessions to plan your trip. You can also just walk around and soak up the atmosphere – but either way, be realistic, says Martin Gray, comics reviewer at Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Pace yourself – it’s tempting but don’t try and fit everything in; you’ll fail, and be knackered!”
- There will be tons of stuff for sale and you are going to want, like, all of it. Set a budget. “I treat it like a casino in that I walk in with the amount of money I am comfortable with losing/spending,” says Twitter comics veteran @53rdCard.
- “Cosplay. Even a little effort makes you feel so involved,” is my husband @will2bill‘s biggest tip. You can keep it low-key or just wear your favourite geeky shirt – it’s just an opportunity to be unapologetically proud of your passions. And don’t forget to bring some pals! As an example, here are some photos of me, my husband and our friend Emily at LSCC. Do we look like dorks? Yes. Do we look like dorks who are having an excellent time? Definitely yes.
(The amazing Wonder Woman cosplayer above is @KatyaFern, by the way. She was lovely, let me hold her sword and got an honorable mention in the cosplay contest!)
Today’s the day!
- Dress light and wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to bring anything you want signed, and plenty of cash.
- “Take water! The con halls get super hot and sweaty!” says @ceearrbooknerd, experienced geek and a book blogger at Dora Reads. The Doctor DC podcast also recommends bringing snacks! Food options can be pricey with long queues.
- Jess Dorio, fellow comics blogger at Hippo Planet says: “If you plan on buying stuff, bring a solid book bag/shoulder bag. SO much easier to carry stuff than with a regular shopping bag.”
- Jess’s other, very important tip: “Get there early! Arrived at NYCC at 10am last year (when they open) and took us 2 hours to get in the door!”
- @53rdcard knows the score with panels: “Stake out any panels early that you have your heart set on. Easy to get lost + lines often form while the previous panel is in session.”
- Find Artist Alley on the map to meet creators, buy cool art for your walls and have stuff signed. Keep your mind open for new material, too – independent creators often sell their comics here. At LSCC we got talking to the excellent and friendly Joe Glass, who led a panel on diversity in comics and wrote LGBT comic series The Pride. His advice: “Always remember: small press now may be the big pro of tomorrow. It’s a chance to find the next ‘big’ creator before anyone else.”
- The legends behind The Legend of Wonder Woman, Ray Dillon and Renae DeLiz, say the one thing they love and wish fans would do more of at cons is “supporting creator-owned projects just as much as mainstream ones.” Funnily enough, Renae is currently crowdfunding her very own superhero series, Lady Powerpunch, on Patreon – go take a look.
- I was super shy about meeting my favourite artists, and you might be too! Shea Fontana, writer of DC Superhero Girls and currently kicking butt on Wonder Woman, is here to put our minds at ease: “Creators love to hear from fans. A lot of fans are nervous about approaching creators, or think that they’re annoying us, but we’re there to interact with you. Be mindful of how much time you’re taking if there are people in line, but I’m always down for a chat.”
- Get your comics on the floor, yo. The comics stalls are great for back issues, rare issues, trade paperbacks and variant covers, but it’s luck of the draw as to what you’ll find. Go in with a mission and enjoy the hunt. I found seven of those gorgeous Jenny Frison Wonder Woman variants!
- Talk to strangers! I love the atmosphere at cons – everyone is so open and friendly. Compliment awesome cosplayers, go to meetups and bask in the sense of community with your fellow geeks. (Always respect people’s boundaries and don’t put up with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.)
It’s not over ’til you stop talking about it
- I try not to schedule anything right after the con or the next day because I’m always exhausted. Your mileage may vary on that.
- Get on the interwebs! Use the con hashtag and @ the creators you met and the stalls you bought from. They always appreciate it and it feels good to share the love.
- Enjoy your new shiny merch and reading material!