The very first genre-specific convention I ever attended was an annual horror-themed one, “Rock & Shock”, located in my hometown in Central Massachusetts when I was in my early twenties. I had gone for one very specific reason- to meet one of my favorite actors, Malcolm McDowell- and have him sign my very old and very beat up copy of “A Clockwork Orange” book.
I had never been to any type of comic convention before that. I was an avid fan of certain types of movies, video games, comics and books- but most conventions were far away- too far to get to- or seemed expensive. I discovered “Rock & Shock” completely by accident and can vividly remember excitedly heading over to my hometown’s event center after I had left work for the evening- clutching my book under my arm the entire time.
And it was there that a love affair was born- not between Malcolm McDowell and myself (although he really is the coolest)– but between myself and comic conventions and the people who attend them. While at “Rock & Shock” that night- I encountered so many passionate fans, incredible artists, fantastic cosplay- and way too much fun merchandise- that I knew right then and there I was hooked. I felt like I belonged- like I had a place where my enthusiasm for certain things and genres was not only welcomed- but matched by others, too.
I started attending “Rock & Shock” every year. Then I ventured out to Boston Comic-Con, Rhode Island Comic-Con, Super MegaFest, Walker Stalker, New York Comic-Con- and I even managed to make my way to mother of all conventions- San Diego Comic-Con- in 2014, where I tried my hand at cosplay for the first time and which was undoubtedly one of the most fun experiences of my life.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a seasoned veteran of the comic-convention circuits- I’m also by no means an amateur anymore. I cosplay regularly, I know where to go and what time to be there to get the best spots for panels/Q&As, and the typically stressful photo op process is now a breeze.
With Boston Comic-Con taking place over the course of this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday- I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks to getting through the weekend (relatively) unscathed- and share some of the more fun local events planned to coincide with the convention for those who don’t want to spend the entire weekend walking the floor of the Artists Alley or vendor booths.
PLAN AHEAD: This one sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often some people skip this step and find themselves scrambling around later on. Whether you’re making a costume or heading to the convention in your regular clothes- give yourself plenty of time to prepare so you’re not left frantically getting your things together the night before. Make sure you get your tickets in advance, set aside some time to work on any costumes/props so that they’re not just done in time- but completed early– and bookmark the convention’s official website. Not only that, but be sure to check the site regularly- since changes/cancellations/rules and regulations/and schedules can be posted and updated sporadically. HERE’S the schedule (for panels, contests and events) for this year’s BCC. Make a mental (or written) list of the things you definitely want to see- and get to the line early to snag yourself a seat.
Also, for the cosplayers- familiarize yourself with the rules for costumes/props. There’s nothing worse than working your ass off making something you’re really proud of, only to be denied entry to the convention because your costume/prop is made with the wrong type of material or doesn’t meet safety standards.
CONSIDER THE ELEMENTS: Regardless of whether or not you’re attending the convention in a costume- make sure to take the weather and temperature into consideration. Your Deadpool costume is awesome- but it’s also hotter than the surface of the sun that day. Or you spend hours perfecting your Daenerys Targaryen hair and makeup- but it’s pouring outside. Don’t risk heat stroke or ruining your stuff with water damage by not doing your research! The convention, from what I’ve seen over the years, is pretty lenient about letting people change/touch up in the bathrooms- so keep your wig in a plastic bag until you’re safely inside where it’s dry or keep your mask off until you’re within reach of air conditioning. Trust me- you’ll be happy you did and you’ll still look great.
EAT AHEAD OF TIME: You’ve worked overtime and you’ve put money aside for weeks leading up to the convention so you can buy some limited edition gear or memorabilia. So tell me why you’d blow some of that hard earned cash on $15 nachos or a $8 soda? Come on. It’s no secret that food vendors at any and all conventions put astronomical price tags on their snacks since they know they’ll make bank on hungry attendees who need to refuel. Save yourself some time and money and eat a decent (and filling) meal before you head over to the convention center. It’ll get you through the majority of your day. Need to hydrate? There are water fountains in the convention center and they work just fine.
SHOP AROUND: I love FUNKO figurines as much as the next person, and that Harley Quinn shirt is practically screaming my name- but what one booth charges $40 for, another booth across the convention center might be charging way less for the same exact product. While I have a few local companies I trust and shop with religiously- it never hurts to take a spin around the vendor area a couple of times- especially when you’re looking for items that aren’t necessarily hard to come by and aren’t considered limited edition or rare. Keep your eyes open and browse before you make a selection on merchandise.
REALIZE CELEBRITY PHOTO OPS ARE INSANELY FAST: I know doing an elaborate and fun pose with your favorite celebrity guest at a convention sounds almost too good to be true- but please keep in mind there’s going to be a long line of people thinking the same exact thing and that the guest, the staff, and the coordinators of the event have a pretty strict schedule to adhere to. Celebrity photo ops last about 5-10 seconds and you move right along so the next person can get their picture taken. The best thing you can do is smile and make sure you don’t blink or sneeze when the flash goes off so your 8 x 10 glossy print comes out fabulous.
Don’t get too discouraged, though. A lot of guests are really cool about posing for selfies/photos at their respective booths when they’re doing signings and meeting fans. You’ll also get more time to talk to them- but, you know- just don’t be clingy or anything.
BE RESPECTFUL OF COSPLAYERS – AND SPEAK UP IF YOU SEE ANYONE NOT BEING RESPECTFUL: There’s a lot of incredible handmade costumes/props to marvel at every year at various conventions- and you may want to take photos of some of those costumes/props- but please be sure to ask, first! Sometimes folks are heading to a panel or a photo op. Sometimes they’re trying to find some water or a restroom- and they may not have time to stop and pose. It’s always a polite and appreciated move to ask if you can take a photo, first (plus- they would probably want to pose so their stuff looks good in the picture- so give them a heads up!) rather than just snapping away when they’re unprepared or not interested.
And in a related note- always, always ALWAYS be respectful of the cosplayers. Be careful if you’re touching their stuff. Don’t gawk or grope. Don’t make inappropriate comments. Don’t behave like a pig, basically- and if you see someone acting like that- notify security immediately. People dress up for conventions for fun- not to be harassed or objectified. Stand up for them if you see anyone being less than courteous towards them.
FINALLY, HAVE FUN AND TAKE A BREAK IF YOU NEED ONE: I get it. You’ve been walking around- to and from panels, around the vendor booths, to the celebrity area, etc- and you’re exhausted. There are wall to wall people and you may start to feel a little overwhelmed. It’s okay! I’ve been there. Everyone has been there- and probably more than once, too. The point of a convention is to have a good time. Enjoy yourself! Don’t stress out about things too much. If you missed a panel, a Q&A, or couldn’t find that one artist you were trying to track down- it’s not the end of the world. You’re doing the best you can with the time you have in the convention center!
And if you need a break- take one. Don’t hesitate. There are plenty of places to sit down, cool off, and recharge without having to go outside or go home and risk not being allowed re-entry for the day/weekend. Find the designated resting spots and utilize them as much as you need to.
In addition to the scheduled events inside the convention center- there’s almost always things happening in and around the city to commemorate the weekend, too. Different bars and restaurants have deals (and additional discounts/specials for those of you who show up in costume!) so it’s always worth checking out Boston Comic-Con’s official FACEBOOK PAGE for info/active promotions.
One event in particular that’s going to be pretty great is the Star Trek/Boston Comic-Con themed night at Fenway Park on Friday. While the event is sold out at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to check out sites like StubHub for those last minute cancellations and freed up tickets.
From the MLB’s website for the event:
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek and the kick off of Boston Comic Con at Fenway Park on Friday, August 12th. The Boston Comic Con is the largest comic book and pop culture convention in New England (held from August 12-14th at The Seaport World Trade Center). Fans who purchase tickets through this special offer will receive this limited-edition Captain Kirk Red Sox figurine. Be sure to get here early to see the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, join us to throw out the first pitch, compliments of Boston Comic Con!
It may be hard to see the photo of the Captain Kirk figurine on the website, but seriously- how funny is this thing?
That alone is worth heading down to Yawkey Way for.
With all that being said, I’m ready to grab my Lucille prop and strap on my leather boots to dress up like Negan from ‘The Walking Dead’ again. I’ll be popping in and out of the convention throughout the weekend- so if anyone sees me- come say hello! Don’t let the bat wrapped in barbed wire scare you away!
I hope those attending have a phenomenal time! Have fun and stay safe, everybody!