Now that comic book conventions occur in every month of the year, I’m not sure when convention season officially kicks off. But, since I’m presenting at two conventions next month, I’m going to say February is the start of convention season – at least for 2018. If you’ll be at Wizard World St. Louis, I’ll be doing a panel on fan art on Saturday, February 3. I’ll also be presenting two panels at Capricon 38 in Chicago. One discusses the legal issues surrounding creations of works and adapting works from one medium to another, and it will be on Friday, February 16. The other panel is an overview of intellectual property, and it will be on Saturday, February 17. If you’ll be at either of these shows, please stop by.
Since I’m declaring it the beginning of convention season, I thought I’d list some of my convention tips. Mind you, these are things I’ve discovered over the years that enhance my enjoyment of a convention.
1. Walk Artist Alley
Whenever I go to a comic book convention, the first thing I do is walk to artist alley. I love browsing the art and comics people are selling, and I want to get an idea of what’s available for purchase. Also, if you’re looking for original art, getting there early gives you the best shot at buying something unique from a creator. My favorite piece of original art I’ve bought was purchased within 10 minutes of walking on to a show floor.
2. Go easy on the prints
Over the years, I’ve bought a lot of prints from artists – too many of which are still in poster tubes. These days, I try to focus on original art, but I still end up getting a few prints per show. If I buy a print these days, I try to buy prints only from artists who have worked on the book/title/character of the print they’re selling, and I try to get it personalized in some way.
3. Take a chance on an unknown (to you)
While you’re walking the show floor and artist alley, take some time to listen to the creators pitching their works. If one strikes your fancy, take a shot at buying their book. It means a lot to them, it usually doesn’t cost too much, and you might discover something neat before everyone else. Even if you’re afraid to risk your cash on self-published books, it’s a low risk to take a chance on a creator-owned book published by Image, Dark Horse, Vault, or any other number of small publishers.
4. Cash is king
Most exhibitors take credit these days, and it’s a good thing. You can only bring so much cash with you. However, cash is still king on the show floor, and if you can pay in cash, you might be able to negotiate yourself a nice deal.
5. Go to a panel
If you’re sick of walking the show floor and spending money, go to a panel. Most conventions have panels throughout the day discussing anything from who’s the greatest comic book artist to how to protect your intellectual property (naturally). There should be something you’ll find interesting.
Bonus tip: Bring a snack
You’ll be walking a lot, and you’ll likely be standing in a lot of lines. Convention food can get pricey, and healthy options are limited. Pack a small nutritious snack such as granola bars, nuts, fruit, or crackers to keep up your energy.