I’m sitting in traffic on a Chicago highway. Apparently, it’s a mistake to be on the highway at this time of day, but my flight was delayed. Nothing like flying two states west when you are trying to only go one state east. The Uber driver tells me we should take the side streets. I oblige, he is friendly enough, but I’m eager to get to my hotel room to begin finalizing my attack plans for C2E2. For those who don’t know, C2E2 is the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. It’s the annual event where people from all over flock to the Midwest in a comic book and pop culture induced frenzy. In preparation, I’ve been plotting for months on how to get the most out of my first time attending.
I’ve been to a few comic conventions in St. Louis, but this is my first large out of town convention. I have a few reasons for attending. Chiefly, I’m a massive comic book fan. So, being able to meet and greet a plethora of creators and publishing companies is simply irresistible. Then the celebrity appearances are pretty neat, too. But, if I’m being honest, the main reason I decided to travel for a con is the ability to network. My end goal is to find work, as a writer, in the comic book industry. As far as reaching out to make those connections goes, there is simply no better place to start than a con. So here I sit, now in a hotel bar, typing away and plotting my plan of attack for the show tomorrow. I’ve spent a decent amount of money to get here, as I’m sure every other attendee of the show has, and I’m trying to maximize my success here. So below, I’ve listed a few things that I’ve pieced together in my plan so far.
1.) Plan…Plan like you’re trying to overthrow the world.
C2E2 is just massive. I mean truly, for a first-time attendee, the programming has been almost overwhelming to just read. Then trying to meld that information into a mental visualization has been, well let’s just say it’s staggering. So, the best way to approach the whole situation is to use the c2e2 app. It has super useful information that is constantly updating. I even used it to create an in-app schedule to help me plan which creators are signing at what times, which panels occur and where, and what photo ops are going on. Use the app, or the website to find printable floor maps. Those have really helped me formulate a good game plan to find artist’s alley, the DC and Marvel booths, and the panels. They also have really useful things like coat check, check in for badges, and even a quiet room for people who need a calm place to chill and decompress during a show.
2.) and then Plan some more.
The creators attending are pretty apt to post their signing and appearance schedules on their social media accounts. These are really helpful in setting up a timeline for maximizing your fan time at the con. I’ve used Sean Gordon Murphy, Mark Millar, and several others to efficiently plot a course through the show floor map.
3.) Pack light.
Of course, that sounds super obvious, but by pack light what I really mean is bring the luggage—that’s basically empty—so that you have something to put the swag you purchase at the con in. Nothing says “I didn’t really plan for this” more than trying to shove super sweet lithographs and original art into your carry on. Also, and this is truly where I struggled, don’t bring all of your comic collection with you to get signed. I know this is counter intuitive to everything that is fan core inside of you. I spent an entire week, with stacks of my super sweet comic collection spread out on the floor around me, agonizing which books I could bring with me and which books had to languish behind. I’ve got so many books by Brian Michael Bendis and Tom King, yet I tried to keep the fact that C2E2 had 80,00 attendees last year in mind. Yes, you want to meet your favorite creators. Yes, you want to get your books signed. But you also want to keep the creators and other fans in mind. Don’t spend too much time in line. Many of the lines have max of items you can request to be signed. Remember, you are just one of a myriad of awesome fans that want to have a personal encounter with a writer/artist/celebrity/editor/colorist/letterer/cosplayer/etc. Be mindful of the time and excitement of your fellow fan.
4.) Assume the worst and the prepare for it.
I’ve learned from following the social media feeds of various creators that there is this thing called comic con gunk. Basically, if you go to a mass event, you expose yourself to massive possible instances of contamination. Accordingly, I’ve been drinking an Emergn-C daily before each leg of the convention. I’ve got too much to do, to come down with a debilitating affliction during or after the convention. So, when you see folks preparing for the zombie apocalypse, don’t shrug them off. Just preemptively medicate.
5.) Know why you go.
This also seems obvious but take a moment and think about why you’re attending this convention. You’ve no doubt spent a decent amount of money to be here. Why? Is it to meet the creators or celebrities who bring you favorite characters to life? Are you here to showcase your killer cosplay outfit? Or are you here to network and try to meet people to sell you ideas to? Maybe it’s a bit of all the above? Well just remember, you’ve only got so much time at C2E2. There are a lot of panels focusing on important creator topics, as well as phenomenal cosplay tips. Know what you’re here for. Don’t get caught up in fandom if you’re goal is to find editors to pitch your ideas to. Again, if you’re here to solely get books signed, that’s definitely fine. If you’re here to meet potential prospects, that’s also great. Just be careful with the time you a lot to each endeavor. If you play your cards right, you can be a fan and a potential creator. Just do it properly.
6.) Have fun.
Going to a con can be so overwhelming. Just remember, at the end of the day, you’re here to have a good time. Don’t get bogged down with ideas of what you should be doing. Have fun. Go meet other like-minded individuals. Get your books signed, get some artist commissions done, and then go grab a photo op with your favorite actor. At the end of the day this whole thing is about enjoying your fandom. So, do that. Don’t let some silly list dictate what you’re going to do. Enjoy yourself, plan your con, and make some memories.
I’m posting this, but I will post a pre C2E2 post as well. I just want to share what my expectations were vs. the reality. Have a great weekend. See ya guys on Monday!