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A Geek Girl’s Guide to Surviving Comic Book Conventions


The only season I love more than Christmas is convention season!

Mom said that if I were good all year long, the Geek Gods would create a Valhalla of discount comic books, C-list celebrities, and D-list strippers.

And lo, it was so!

Whether you’re a comic book convention virgin or just a virgin going to a comic book convention, there’s always a bit more to fear than Lou Ferrigno getting angry (hint: you wouldn’t like it). As a comic book convention veteran, I’ve collected a few guidelines for surviving among the unwashed masses at this summer’s upcoming comic book conventions, with special side notes for chicks.

1. BRING CASH

Bring more than you think you’ll need.   Most booths don’t allow credit cards, and those that do require a minimum purchase. There are sometimes ATMs available, they charge ridiculous fees (like swearing your allegiance to the Dark Side), and the line’s always pretty long. If you end up with extra cash, no worries. It’s not like they’re Chuck E. Cheese tokens.

2. GO TO PANELS

Cheap comics and expensive autographs are cool, but you should make it a point to go to panels. You’ve got the best talent in the industry talking about doing what they do best. And Dan Didio is always a riot.

3. BRING COMFORTABLE SHOES

This also applies to any costumes you might be wearing. Twelve Darth Vaders die every year from heat exhaustion.* Give your costume a trial run before committing to wearing it for six hours where you’ll have a maximum of three inches of personal space at any given time.

4. COSTUME CONTESTS

Costume contests are generally won by children and strippers. Unfortunately, few females have bodies that have earned the right to dress as Emma Frost. I would love for the winners to be those who spent the most time and money or those who have designed the most creative costume, but that’s rarely the case. Have fun, and don’t throw a diva fit over losing.

5. DRESS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED

I know I’m treading on shaky ground here, but I never understood why women in their skivvies objected to being ogled. Ogling can venture into creepy territory but is – on its own – harmless. Unsolicited touching is absolutely NOT okay, and taking pictures without asking permission falls into that gray area between personal privacy and choosing to wear skivvies in a public place where people frequently take pictures of women in their skivvies. That said, no matter what you are wearing, if you feel threatened or stalked, alert convention personnel and security IMMEDIATELY.

True geek girls want geek girl numbers to grow, and feeling comfortable at a convention is one way to make this happen.

6. BE POLITE

If you want to take a picture with a costumed attendee, make sure you ask first and refrain from groping/creepy comments (this means you, too, ladies). Anyone who wears a costume and doesn’t want to take pictures is an attention whore (feel free to argue in the comments).

7. PACK SNACKS

The convention food is about as expensive as ballpark food and may in fact have been fished out of its dumpsters. Snack during the convention, and leave for major meals if you can do so without moving your car and paying twice for parking. Actually, even then you’ll probably break even.

8. GET ORGANIZED

Make a list of comic books/action figures/ancient 12th century replica swords you want and the ones you have ahead of time. Having a list of the things you have ahead of time will remind you what you need to look for, and having a list of things you already have will stop you from getting doubles on accident.

9. COMPARISON SHOP

If you’re out for trade paperback comic books, look at a few different places before you buy. Some have flat rates ($5-10 per book) and others are 50% off.

In my experience, Marvel titles can generally be found at the $5/book rate, while DC titles are more likely to be in the 40-50% off range.

If you want to snap up something rare, make sure you get it ASAP. If you think it can wait or it’s something common (e.g., Ultimate Spider-Man), sometimes the prices drop a little on Sunday and you can get a good deal.

10. LEARN TO NEGOTIATE
Don’t be afraid to bargain with a vendor. Women can sometimes have a hard time asserting themselves in general, let alone at such a male-dominated event. Vendors don’t want to pack up as much shit as they came with, so if you’re making an especially large order, you can sometimes get a few bucks knocked off the top.

There is no harm in “dressing for the occasion” if you are planning to bargain shop.

This is an especially useful tactic at the end of the last day of a convention.

11. BRING A BACKPACK

Bring a backpack to carry your snacks, camera, phone, wallet, and purchased goodies if you don’t want to make mid-convention trips to your car or have a room reserved at an attached hotel.

Notice I said backpack and not duffel or messenger bag or extra-large purse.

Pick something that goes over BOTH shoulders if you don’t want to look like Igor for the next two weeks.

Any other tips?

*Probably not true

To read more of Jana’s writing, check out the Quality Logo Products blog.
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