So last week, once I checked into my hotel room for the Chicago con, I posted about my expectations for my first time attending C2E2 (you can find that here). I look back fondly at that post. I can honestly say that I got so much of that list right. This lets me know that a little preparation goes a long way. So, if you have read that post you’ll know that I can keep this one short, because I don’t have any real complaints about the convention. I only have a few additions to the positive ways to spend your time.
1.) Always be adaptable.
I showed up three and a half hours before the show floor opened on Friday to get a wrist band for the Jim Lee signing at the DC Booth. As you can imagine, that wasn’t early enough. Jim only had one hour to spend at the con, and those wrist bands went quickly for those who ignored their need to sleep. While meeting Jim Lee was priority numero uno on my list of con accomplishments, I wasn’t distraught at the inability to shake his hand and get my two most prized books of his signed. I realized that the show was full of creators with plenty of incredible opportunities still available. After all, the show wasn’t even 20 minutes in and I wasn’t going to be destroyed.
Fortunately, even though I made the trip to Chicago all alone, I made friends in line. When you show up before 7 a.m., and the show doesn’t open until 10, you’ve got plenty of time to get comfortable in line. While waiting I couldn’t help but notice the witty banter of some gentlemen standing next to me. As it turns out, they were super cool (of course) and we soon engaged in a friendly, yet spirited debate, about the merits of the latest Star Wars movie. This debate grew to include not only our immediate threesome and enveloped two others near us. You’re probably wondering why you should care that I am a social butterfly. Well, once the show floor opened, these gentlemen made a straight line to the CGC booth. I myself don’t worry too much about getting my books graded, but these guys made me laugh and a strange bond was formed. Well, I think fate was at work. It turns out that at the CGC booth was a private signing available for Jim Lee. We were the first in line and were able to get the books we brought submitted to have Jim sign them. While we missed out on the chance to shake the DC Comics co-publisher’s hand, we still got to get our books signed and graded (for a fee, of course). So, the moral of that overlong parable is that when you make friends and your carefully pre-planned schedule goes awry, be open to change. I got to get my books signed and make great friends (more on that later) because I was open to change.
2. That big plan you had? Keep it, it will serve you well, but be ready to add to it.
I had the fortunate opportunity to get my books signed by Brian Michael Bendis at a signing time slot that I only found because I was looking for the Mark Millar signing (which I had a ticket to attend). It was perfect, yet it took two hours away from the con plan that I had in my head (and on my printed schedule and C2E2 app). Believe me, it was worth it to meet the guy who has been responsible for almost the last twenty years of Marvel lore. Yet, that experience brings me back to one of the things I warned about in my previous post.
3. Pack light. You don’t need to bring your entire comic collection.
I was in a line for Brian Michael Bendis that did not move for almost 45 minutes. The talent showed up 15 minutes early, and yet the line slugged for what felt like infinity. When the first signee went walking down the line (with a thick stack of books that went from his waist to his head) we line dwellers all realized he was the inconsiderate fan who was only concerned with himself. Look, I won’t shame a fan for wanting to have an incredible moment with one of their favorite creators. I will, however, shame the hell out of a person looking to hawk books on eBay. When you attend a con with a bunch of creators and an exponential amount of fans, think about someone besides yourself. I don’t mean you shouldn’t ask for a selfie moment, but I do mean to avoid getting every single comic you own signed. Don’t overly consume the limited amount of time each creator has available for signing. We all have spent a decent amount of money to attend the con. Just be aware and…
4. Be cool and get ready to make amazing friends.
I can’t even tell you how far being a decent human being goes at a con or just in general. A solid rule of thumb in life is to be a good person. I won’t get specific, but being a nice guy got me into a few different lines that I initially didn’t have access to attend. So, at the end of the day talking to fellow fans, or people working the con, and being genuinely cool will open doors that you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy beforehand. I got signatures and met just the coolest creators by being just a nice dude.
Whether you attend a super helpful panel or make the most of the hours you spend in line, you’re going to meet some incredible like-minded individuals. I cannot express enough how awesome Kyle Higgins, Gene Ha, Jim Zub, or Michael Moreci were. They were all involved in panels and stayed afterwards to offer some of their knowledge and experience. That kind of information is invaluable to an aspiring creator.
5. Don’t just hang out at the big three booths.
I know what it’s like to want to spend your whole con experience at the booths of the companies you know. It’s tough to expand your horizons but look for the smaller publishers with booth space on the con floor. I was very happy to speak with the editors and publishers of smaller companies who were willing (and able) to chat with me. That is a great way to start your journey into the industry. Pleading with DC, Marvel, and Image for a book is silly. You’re not going to pitch your way into a major company at a con. You may, however, be able to network your way into the opportunity to pitch with a smaller publisher. That being said, be cool. You still need to be a decent human being to seal that deal.
6. Remember to be in the moment and enjoy the experience.
I made great friends and enjoyed meeting creators while I was at C2E2. I will be an annual attendee for the foreseeable future, because the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo was good to me. I avoided the Con Crud (thank you Emergen-C), and I managed to make friends and connections whilst satisfying my fandom. What more could you ask of a convention?
Brandon Evans is a freelance writer and comic book lover from St. Louis, MO. He is currently working to find his way into the comic book industry. You can find him on Twitter as @writingbrandon