Villains and Heroes and Cosplay... Oh My!
A Newb's Guide to Their First Comic Con
Thanks the Malone Chamber of Commerce and some amazing volunteers--heroes in their own right--I was able to attend my first Comic Convention (or Comic Con for short) last year.
I am someone who does enjoy super hero movies, pop culture, and board games, but am not a self-proclaimed nerd or geek. In fact, seeing the culture of Comic Con can be somewhat overwhelming to those like myself who enjoy the pleasures of the comic world, but who aren't die-hards. That is why last year I was so excited to go to the Malone Comic Con--it was a smaller, community-oriented event that would allow a new person (or newb, for short) like me to sink their teeth into the culture without feeling overwhelmed.
This year the Malone Comic Con returns on Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at their new location at the Franklin Academy High School. I'm positive that there are other "newbs" out there who, like me, may be a bit nervous about attending their first Comic Con. So here are a few tips I'll share to help prepare you to enjoy the 2017 Malone Comic Con to the fullest.
1. Don't get caught up in "cosplay" - unless you want to
Costume Play, or cosplay for short, is the act of dressing in costume of famed pop culture, comic, and movie characters. If nothing else, this is what Comic Cons are known for. I was consumed with questions - do I have to dress up? How dressed up must I be? What qualifies as actual cosplay for a Comic Con?
After speaking with one of my friends who helps run the event, I was assured that I could come as I was, or enjoy the art of cosplay as any character I liked--from Netflix series' characters to comic character to anime. The point was not to show off my knowledge of fandom, but rather to have fun. Comic Con was a place for me to enjoy the company of others, show off my creativity (most cosplay costumes are hand-made), and have a little excitement getting in character.
So don't get caught up in the idea of cosplay and don't let that determine whether you attend or not. I admit I didn't dress up last year, but I was still welcomed with open arms. And it's worth it to go, just to be impressed with what others put together for their characters. And who knows, maybe a streak of creativity will hit and I will be someone I'm not for the day. (There are prizes, after all).
2. Set a budget - and try to stick to it
I attended my first Con knowing that there would be comic dealers there--but I had no idea how much other stuff would be available! Knowing that I'm not one to read comic books, I was not prepared for how quickly money would burn a whole through my pocket looking at not only comics, but board games, custom artwork, cute figurines, and more.
Last year there were even artists who worked right in front of you, drawing and sketching fantasy and realistic characters and landscapes. There were also book authors signing copies of books you purchased... all things that I ended up coming home with. This year at the Comic Con there is an entire vendor room, so I can only imagine that my money would go quickly. My goal for this year is to set a budget for the things that I would like to come home with.
3. Ask questions - the insight from artists is awesome
This year vendors, cosplay actors, and even real-life actresses (Noelle Hannibal, who has appeared in Star Trek, Buffy, and other shows and movies) will be on hand. So ask away!
I learned quite a bit of comic culture after speaking with authors and cosplay actors last year, in a way that was exactly what I wanted to know. I wasn't bombarded with facts and figures, but rather had memorable conversations with people who truly enjoyed their craft and were excited to share their knowledge.
One awesome takeaway from last year was also the ins and outs of the game of Catan, a famous strategic board game. I had always wanted to play but never had anyone to play with nor the wherewithal to start. The game room was the perfect place for me to start and to get to know people with the knowledge of the game.
This year I hear not only is there an entire game alley, but also a gaming corner with electronic games! There will also be discussion panels, from '"Game Design on a Zero Budget" to "How to Turn Your Creative Dreams into Reality." So be prepared to ask a lot of questions!
4. Plan your schedule - there is a lot to take in
Last year was a great starting year--everything was housed in one large room--so I could walk around and be sure I wouldn't miss anything. This year the event has expanded to include the areasI mentioned above, plus meet and greets, Q&As, and more. So before heading to the event, I want to make sure that I plan for all that is going on.
One thing I didn't account for last year was the time it would take me to actually play the board games. While I had the opportunity to start a few games, I wasn't able to finish them as I had to make the decision to complete one game, or try out a few of them. Since there were a lot of games I never had the opportunity to play, and some I hadn't even heard of, I chose to dabble in a few of them. I would have loved to finish one or two.
So when you are planning your day, make sure that you schedule time for meet and greets with artists and authors, discussion panels, gaming on consoles and board gaming, shopping in the vendor room, and your conversations with fellow attendees that are bound to happen!
5. Have fun
With all of my tips above, I don't want to forget the most important one - have fun! The entire point of a Comic Convention is to enjoy yourself, whether you are dressing up in cosplay, playing board games with your friends, or expanding your mind with discussion panels. So get out there and HAVE FUN!
I'll see you there.