I fell into the convention circuit back in 2009. At that time in my life I was obsessed with the Sookie Steakhouse books and HBO’s True Blood Series. I met all sorts of cool fans during that time, some of them became my dearest friends. I was welcomed whole heartedly and this was my launching pad to the fan world. 2009 was the first year I attended the San Diego Comic Con. I had heard of it, but knew very little at that time. Luckily a friend had extra passes to share. (I don’t think he realized the con monster he was about to create)
Upon arrival at the SDCC I was blown away! A group of us waited for what seemed an eternity in line for Ballroom 20 where a lot of tv Q&A panels go down. We sat through some great (and some not so great) panels as we waited for True Blood to hit the stage. At one point, we ran out of the panels as fast as our Con Powers would allow to the floor for the autograph signing. Believe it or not, that adventure (and it really was an adventure) was my first exposure to “the floor". WOW!!! It was mayhem, but in the ultimate awesome way. After the panel, we headed out to get in line for the True Blood party. I should note, it was much mellower in those days and random fans had a chance to get into parties (I miss those days). We drank and danced the night away with fellow “Fangbangers". It was amazing and I will never forget it as we walked down the street side by side with zombies, Storm Troopers and luchadores. I was hooked.
There is an evolution I think all Con goers go through. I could never repeat that first year.
I went into the second year expecting the same fast paced crazy and got a more mellow experience. Although fun (the Flynns Arcade was awesome!) it took some observation on what to do to make the next year better. I am grateful for the mellow experience because it allowed me to slow down, absorb what was around me and learn. I took out my pen and paper and started taking notes. I got more comfortable talking to strangers and asking “what did you do to make this THE BEST CON EVER?!?” and was surprised how open and excited everyone I met was. Each year we now seem to get a little better at it. My SDCC history has the craziest list of “I CAN’T BELIEVE I DID THAT” all because the fan base was quick to share. I learned to stalk Twitter, Facebook, or any other Con source for special events and after parties. I became more comfortable speaking openly with other fans about leads to fun Con things to do off the beaten path. My life began to change in the most pleasant rewarding ways.
SDCC is the motherland of Cons and should be on any geek’s bucket list. There truly is nothing else like it. After years of planning and stargazing for the ultimate SDCC experience, I have found that I have started to enjoy the smaller conventions just as much. These days there is always a “Con” that anyone can reach if they put effort towards it. It also seems every city now has some sort of awesome convention (Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con, Chicago’s C2E2 and Wizard World, LA’s Comikaze and Wonderworld, Blizzcon, and the list goes on and on) making it more accessible no matter where you may be.
I just recently walked the floors of the Long Beach Comic Con. I realized how intimate some of the shows can be. I met great artists like Oscar Navarro aka Art of Sketch (@theartofsketch / The Art of Sketch) and got an AWESOME Friday the 13th Jason drawing. I went to Descender & Batman Lil Gotham artist Dustin Nguyen (@duss005) booth and talked with others that believe as I do - he may have the most beautiful art of any comics out there right now (IMHO). I also sat in a great panel with Elephantmen’s writer Richard Starkings where he talked realistically and passionately about how to make it in comics. Jimmie Robinson spoke of how The Empty (Image Comics) came to be and his love of formatting cells, drawing his characters and placing text in just the right spot.
I walked the floor and found a Flash Gordon action figure and spent WAY too much time with the vendor discussing how we will riot if they ever try to remake the movie (it’s perfect with Sam Jones, Max von Sydow and Timothy Dalton, not to mention SOUNDTRACK BY FREAKING QUEEN!!!). I scanned hundreds of Funko Pop dolls that I am convinced MUST be in my collection. (shh don’t tell anyone I bought a few). I also got to speak with Stephan Franck (supervising animator for The Iron Giant and story artist for How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda to name a few) on his new graphic novel “Silver” which is a continuation of the Dracula storyline (@stephan_franck / Dark Planet Comics). I can not forget to tell everyone as well… I MET JEM!!! Samantha Newark (the voice of Jerrica in the original cartoon series Jem and the Holograms) pointed me out in the crowd in my Jem t-shirt and called me over. I totally turned into an eight year old again. I will admit I was a little star struck.
…and how about the cosplay? WOW!
When it comes to costume play aka “COSPLAY” all facets of pop culture were covered. You had Robocop walking the halls with the Puppet Master. Harley Quinn waiting in line for coffee with Heath Ledger style Joker. You could find classic Superman chatting with newer Affleck style Batman. Oldies like Darth Vader was taking photos with the newbie Rey from Force Awakens. You can find awesome photos of our friends over at the Marvel Report (@TheMarvelReport) and their Agent of Shield coverage as well. The amount of artistic skill that goes into some of these costumes is amazing! That alone is worth you going to a Con for at least 1 day. Their dedication to these creations alone proves the love of Con.
My advice… dive straight into the convention circuit if you are a fan. Leave all your preconceptions and fears at the door. The environment is welcoming to any nerd, geek, egghead or Poindexter. Check out a full list on the Convention Scene site to find the next one in your hood and have a blast! We'll have a page dedicated to cons coming very soon to help you find one in your area!
I leave you with “The History of Jenny from the Con”…