NYCC begins this Thursday, and Therefore I Geek is bringing out a post from the archives to give you some handy tips on surviving a big convention!
New York Comic Con is fast approaching and preparations must be made. This year will be my seventh NYCC (there have been eight, for the record) and I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me survive and more thoroughly enjoy myself.
Planning: Take some time to figure out what you want to do. In the next few days, check out the NYCC website and get an idea of what panels interest you and what guests you might want to go see. If you want to get stuff signed, figure out who will be there and what you want to get or bring for them to sign. NYCC has an awesome, super helpful app for your smart phone with all kinds of info like guests, panels, exhibitor locations and a map. I recommend you download it before you get there as there will be lots of people who haven’t and by that point, it’ll be a pretty sizeable download. By the time con starts it won’t need a data connection, all the info will be on your phone aside from some last minute changes.
Packing: It’s not a bad idea to bring a larger suitcase than you need. While you might be able to fit everything you need for con into a carry-on sized bag, don’t forget that you will be bringing all kinds of extra things back with you. Even if you don’t buy that much, there are tons of exhibitors giving away free stuff (a friend of mine came home with forty-two free books). If you really don’t want to do that because of checked bag fees or something, you can always back an extra duffle bag. Another alternative is to mail really heavy stuff to yourself. I did that a few years ago when I went to the Phoenix Comic Con. It may have cost me $25, but that is still better than $50 for an overweight suitcase. Be sure to have a backpack or other kind of bag with you to carry around all your stuff while you’re at the convention, but remember that coat checks are available and I highly recommend using them if necessary.
Clothing: It should go without saying that you should wear comfortable clothing (costumes are the obvious exception, and by all means, please cosplay—and send us pictures!). The most important piece of clothing, though, is your shoes. You will spend all day on your feet walking around and if you don’t have good shoes, you’re toast. Two years ago I wore what I thought would be good shoes and I had two blisters on each foot by the end of Thursday, and there were three full days of con left. I’m not saying I didn’t have fun, but my feet were killing me the whole time and I have since switched to wearing a pair of running shoes with really nice insoles. Don’t forget to check the weather reports before you leave. The forecast calls for rain on Saturday and Sunday so don’t be caught without proper rain gear.
Money: Bring whatever money you want and spend whatever you want, but I would recommend setting yourself a budget and sticking with it. There are lots of really awesome things to spend money on, but it’s also really easy to overspend. I also recommend bringing and using cash as much as possible and bringing a mix of bills. The bank teller may give you dirty looks when you ask for $50 in singles, but the guy selling dollar comics will love you for not having to break a twenty.
Hygiene: For the love of God, TAKE A SHOWER EVERY DAY! Seriously, everyone old enough to be at a convention is old enough to realize this is important. Nothing is more disgusting than being very tightly pressed in against someone who hasn’t bathed since the last presidential election (been there, done that, scarred for life). Reality is that because of the crowds of people, it is going to get warm, and most of us will be sweating at least a little bit. If we’ve all showered there won’t be a problem.
Food and Water: NYCC is an all-day event and you need to eat and drink. While there are snack food and drinks available, like at most big events, they are overpriced. Do you really want to spend your hard earned money on a bottle of water when you could buy another comic book? I didn’t think so. Bring a water bottle from home and refill it at one of the drink fountains. As for food, bring along some substantial snacks. There will be times when you are hungry, but aren’t in a position to get food at that moment. Those are times where you can break out your snack so you can make it to lunch or dinner. I like to bring Clif Bars because they’re fairly substantial/filling and they come in a large variety of flavors.
Take a Break: You don’t have to go non-stop all weekend. In fact, that’s a really bad idea. If you try and do that, you’ll be a barely functional zombie by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around. On Saturday afternoon the show floor is an absolute mad house, so why not take a little bit of a breather and go check out a panel. You’ll get to sit down and maybe find out something interesting. Your feet and sanity will thank you for it.
Rest: In keeping with the idea of taking a break, make sure you get your rest at night. I’m not saying don’t go out and party every night—I certainly plan to—but make sure you get some sleep. The amount of running, walking and standing you do at NYCC is insane and it takes a lot of energy. If you’re tired, hung over, or both, your con experience could be much less enjoyable.
Be Polite: This one doesn’t just apply to NYCC, but it is worth touching on. There are a lot of people in the convention building and they are bound to bump into one another. If you happen to bump into someone a bit hard, just say you’re sorry. Also, have the common courtesy to actually wait on the line. Nothing makes you special enough to cut the whole line of people who have been patiently waiting to see a panel.
Be Social: We harp on this one a lot here at Therefore I Geek, but it’s an important one. You are at an event at which there are thousands of people who share your common interests. Get to know some of them! As I just mentioned, you’ll spend a lot of time waiting on line. This is a great chance to strike up a conversation with someone. I’ve met some really nice people that way. Don’t be afraid to hang out with these folks. Everyone has to eat and it’s a great way to relax a bit after a hard day at con and get to know some people. And of course there are afterparties. Several different groups throw parties at various NYC venues on different nights. Who knows, you might even run into one of your favorite comic creators there.
Take Advantage: The sad truth is that you can’t do everything at NYCC. Seven years ago it might have been possible, but now there is no way. Understanding this and admitting it will help you out immensely. If you’re a video game fan, go ahead and take thirty minutes and wait on line to demo a new game you’re excited about. Maybe this means you spend less time going down that aisle at the other end of the hall, but it’s probably worth it. There are all kinds of different things going on, so keep an open mind and be willing to check things out. Also, you’re going to be in New York City, one of the greatest cities in the entire world. Get outside the venue and see what the city itself has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.
Follow Up: All weekend you will be given a whole mess of stickers, business cards, fliers and other types of handouts and freebies. When you get home, take an hour or so and look some of this stuff up. Maybe you’ll find a new web comic or online retailer that you’ll really like. Maybe that artist you loved has more stuff on their website for you to check out. Also take a look and see what everyone else enjoyed. It’s possible you missed something cool that you should check out after the fact.
Hopefully some of my lessons learned will help you enjoy your NYCC experience even more. Many of these have been learned through trial and error, sweat, and in one or two cases, blood as well. For those of you veteran convention goers, what lessons have you learned that you wish someone had told you about?
If you’re looking for a group of fellow geeks to meet up with, look no further!