Hello friends! I am resting my feet at the moment because I just got back from Day 1 of C2E2 (Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo). I’ve been going to this con for a few years now, because it’s local for me and because lots of writers and artists and other people I respect and whose work I enjoy are always there. For the next three days, I thought I’d share with you some keys to getting the maximum success out of your con experience, while also sharing some stories of my own.
(These hints will apply to any con, not just C2E2!)
1. Get a Pro Pass, if you’re able
Starting last year, since I was actually employed at a library, I was eligible to apply for a Pro Pass to the con, which I HIGHLY reccommend you do if you qualify (to qualify you must be one of the following, as per the C2E2 website: an artist, buyer, creator, editor, educator, librarian, licensor, producer, publisher, retailer, or writer. As you can see, it’s a pretty open category). In addition to making the weekend cheaper, it also gives you access to the exhibitor floor one hour before the general public on Friday (10 am as opposed to 11 am). One hour may not seem like a lot of time, but it was AWESOME – I wasn’t able to enjoy that perk last year, but this year I was on that floor as close to 10 am as I could make it. I got to walk around the hall with no crowd, see exhibitors setting up, and chat with some lovely people from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Quirk Books. I was going to try to use it to get some comics signed before the creators I wanted to meet grew huge lines, but even though that wasn’t possible, the rest of Artists’ Alley was also wonderfully uncrowded. It takes a lot of the stress of the first part of your day.
2. Plan for a lot of options, but don’t try to see everything
I always note down a ton of panels to go see, which frequently end up overlapping; obviously this means I don’t get to see everything I might want to, but it gives me lots of options. This is important because something might happen which prevents you from getting into a panel; for example, I had Scott Snyder’s Q&A on my schedule, but I dropped that real fast when I saw the line and realized I’d spend the first ten minutes just waiting to get in. No thanks.
3. Don’t be afraid to make conversation with the people you’re there to see
There might be creators out there who are brusque and more interested in moving people through their line than actually meeting their fans. Luckily, I’ve never encountered one. Just today, I met Gail Simone (writer of DC’s Batgirl, Birds of Prey and Secret Six; Dynamite’s Red Sonja; Dark Horse’s Tomb Raider; and others); Greg Tocchini (artist of the incomparable Image series Low), Nick Dragotta (artist of Image’s East of West), Ant Lucia (he did all those amazing DC Bombshell covers) and Jonathan Hickman (writer of East of West and Image’s The Manhattan Projects), and they were all not only extremely nice people, but more than happy to answer my questions and chat a little while they signed my books. Dragotta answered a question I hadn’t been able to ask at the EoW panel I saw, Gail Simone and her husband were happy to chat about my work at the library and my friend’s experience playing Tomb Raider, and so on. Don’t be afraid to let creators know that you appreciate their work and are happy to see them.
4. Be conscientious about their time
At the same time, be aware that they are professionals and their time is valuable. Tip well if the sketches and signatures are free. Buy some art! Don’t overstay your welcome! Simone is well known for signing as many things as people bring her; don’t be like the guy in front of me who brought 25 issues and had her sign each one (and didn’t tip for her Hero Initiative fund jar). They’re people, not machines!
Tomorrow I’ve got more panels on the schedule, and I’ll be in cosplay (Gogo Tomago from Big Hero 6!), so expect some words of wisdom about those topics tomorrow night. If you’re in the Chicago area, consider checking out the con!