Con Like A Pro – Tips For NEW YORK COMIC-CON 2014

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I attended my very first New York Comic Con without a plan and found myself wandering around aimlessly and dropping way too much money on trinkets I didn’t need, like a straight edge razor and a pair of samurai swords. Okay, I totally needed those samurai swords. But it was pretty much like attending a high-end mall in my Halloween costume, and I didn’t really have much to say about the experience.

My second year was a lot better. I attended various panels, got to meet artists like Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn) and Chris Burnham (Batman, Incorporated), and left with stories to tell.

Here are some tips I would give to a newcomer.

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 Tip 1: Keep Your Eyes Open!

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Walking through Times Square can be Hell. Throngs of slow-walking tourists stopping every couple of seconds to take pictures really make it impossible to get anywhere at a comfortable speed. Walking through the Javitz Center during Comic Con is way worse. There will be people posing for pictures every five seconds in your path. If you have a decent and recognizable cosplay, you yourself will be asked to pose for some stranger’s picture. If you don’t look where you’re going, even for a couple of steps, you will run into someone.

I have this unfortunate thing where my eyes literally spit out any contact lenses I try to put on. This gets in the way of my cosplay. The first year I dressed as the Joker, and decided not to wear glasses, since it would compromise the costume. Naturally, I often got lost, and also a little bit nauseated. The following year I decided to dress as the Clock King so I could wear glasses under a mask and nobody would know.

However, my clock-themed mask really narrowed my lines of sight (see my article ), so I treaded across the floor room slowly and carefully. Then some guy I couldn’t see knocked the wind out of me. The force of impact suggested to me that this little twerp was running through the floor like a madman. I never did see him, but I heard him yell, “Sorry!” as he kept running.

This year, I am wearing a mask with much bigger eye holes. You just can’t be too careful in a crowd.

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Part the Second – Bring provisions!

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The food at the Javitz Center is really expensive, and the lines of hungry geeks can be pretty long. Hell, the lines everywhere in NYCC can be pretty long, but I find it’s much harder to wait for anything on an empty stomach. The first year I attended NYCC, I bought my food on location. The second year, my girlfriend and I remembered to bring food. We chose to take our meals while sitting in line to see the panels.

Another thing to bring, in case you split up from your friends is a book or graphic novel or whatever. Trust me, to get the most out of NYCC, you’ll find yourself in a lot of lines.

If you do plan on spending money, make sure you bring plenty of cash. There are some ATMS in the Javitz Center, but who wants to pay those outrageous fees to the banks?

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Part the Third – Plan your schedule

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Two important things to remember when you get to the Con are:

  1. Nothing is clearly labeled
  2. The staff have not remembered every single event in every single auditorium.

Learn what events will be going on and in which rooms before you arrive. Make a schedule with the goal of attending at least two panels or screenings.

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Part the Fourth – Line Up Early

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There simply aren’t enough seats in the auditoriums for everyone to see any given panel, and no, they won’t let you stand up in the back. You’ll notice that most auditoriums will constantly have lines in front of them. Many of the people standing in those lines are not waiting for the next event, but the event immediately after it.

Here’s the good news, though: once you’re in the auditorium, you are in the auditorium! You can spend your whole day in one auditorium seeing events if you wanted.

However, please don’t be a jerk. Don’t attend a panel you’re not interested in, because you’d be taking up a seat that could otherwise go to someone who does want to see the panel. When you reach the front of line, simply tell the staff you’re waiting for the next event.

(Ed. Note – there is a NEW panel policy in place for NYCC 2014, that only affects the MAIN PANEL ROOM, where all the most important panels are held. The staff will be emptying the auditorium after each panel, so you can no longer claim a seat and stay all day. There is a bracelet system that will allow you to leave the panel area and return when your panel of choice is about to begin. It’s all detailed right here.)

Many panels also have a Q&A session at the end. Make sure you line up early for that, too. Last year at DC’s New 52 panel, when they announced they would start taking questions, two lines quickly formed. I was too busy fiddling with my costume – because I wanted the panelists to admire it – that I missed a chance to get an early spot in line. I listened to a long line of people accusing DC of not having enough diversity in their staff and others asking dumb questions like, “How do the members of the Court of Owls breath with those masks?”

Meanwhile, I had a brilliant question burning in the back of my mind concerning the state of DC’s space-time continuum and the fate of Eobard Thawne after DC’s Flashpoint event. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for my question, and to this day I regret fiddling with my gloves and mask.

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Part the Fifth – Artist Alley

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If you’re currently collecting comic books, you’ll want to spend a good chunk of your day in Artist Alley. It’s also a free way to pick up some meaningful souvenirs. Just find out which artists will be there and bring some comic books for them to sign.

If you do want to drop some money, many artists sell prints or can make art on commission.

Either way, for many of you, this will be the closest you get to meeting anyone famous at the Con, at least within the comic book community. I mean, you can stand in line for several hours to get an autograph from a celebrity, but there’s so many other things to do.

I hope those of you attending will enjoy the Con!

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About Author

Paul de Vries

Paul de Vries was raised by a pack of wild Dutch immigrants in pastoral Western Massachusetts. Having trouble connecting with the other kids in his neighborhood, he sought refuge in Greek Mythology. As he matured, superheroes started replacing gods and now he observes each new comic book day religiously. He currently lives in New York City where he performs stand up comedy.