The Pros of Cons

The Pros of Cons

September 28, 2016 3:46 pm 1 comment


Ever been to a comic book convention (comic con)?  If you have, then you know how much fun these events are.  If you haven’t, why not?  Think it’s just a big room full of people selling and talking about comic books?  While that was predominantly true when they first started in the mid-60’s, modern day cons have been popular culture events.  Most major metropolitan areas, as well as many smaller cities, have at least one con a year.  Some are small, held in a hotel conference room, and it’s what a lot of people think; just people there selling comics.  On the other end of the spectrum, though, there are multi-day events held in massive convention centers and feature media celebrities, comic industry personalities, discussion panels, exclusive items, gaming news, toys, world premier events for things like movie trailers, TV show previews, video games previews…the list goes on.  Read on to get a little flavor into the experience.

Choose Your Own Adventure – Before venturing to a con, make sure you understand the type.  As mentioned earlier, there are some that are nothing but comic book sales.  No frills, no bells, no whistles, just lots and lot of comic books and usually for good prices.  The next step up would be ones that allow other types of vendors, like toys, collectibles, or cards.  Will there be talent there?  Many local shows bring in local talent.  Just because you’ve never heard of someone doesn’t mean their stuff might not be awesome.  And don’t let the size of the show fool you.  I’ve been to some smaller cons that managed to secure some impressive talent from the comic industry.  In that smaller setting, it’s a great opportunity to spend some time talking and getting to know them than at some of the larger shows where that same person could have a line 50 people deep.  And then there are the big ones.  There are two major cons in the US these days; San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) is the largest, with New York Comic Con (NYCC) closing the gap fast in recent years.  Aside from those, there are loads of multi-day cons that happen all across the country.  Wizard Entertainment is a publicly traded company that produces Wizard World shows annually in over 15 major markets.  These aren’t solely comic-centric events, but billed as pop culture events.  Still, a large part of today’s pop culture content comes from the world of comics.  For a nationwide schedule of conventions, I use the following site:

Cosplay – This is a combination of the words “costume” and “play”.  In a nutshell, people dress up as some of their favorite characters from comics, movies, TV shows, anime, video games, or whatever.  Costumes can be something simple like some make-up or something store bought, like a Halloween costume.  Others are incredible.  I went to NYCC and saw someone had built and was wearing a full scale (like almost ten-foot tall) Iron Man Hulkbuster suit.  It’s turned into a major sub-culture in the con world and most of the larger events have contests for people to show of their creations.  In most shows, you can’t swing an enchanted hammer without hitting a cosplayer and they LOVE having their picture taken.  No, I wasn’t being sarcastic.  Most of them put a lot of thought, time, and effort into their costumes and they’re wearing them for a reason…to get attention.  Ask any cosplayer if they’d mind posing for a pic and they’re be more than happy to do it.  For my kids, posing with the different cosplayers has become a favorite part of the cons for them.

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Artist Alley – Personally, this is what I go to cons for.  A lot of shows will being in talent from the comic industry for you to meet, chat (sometimes only briefly), snap a pic, or get them to sign some of their works.  The term generic as there are more than just artists usually in this area.  You can also meet writers, colorists, inkers,  and letterers.  I’ve met so much great talent at shows, both modern day giants and legends.  For many, you end up waiting in line to meet them (often long) and there is a charge for them to sign books (I’ll explain why in a future post).  Many artists also have 11 x 17 prints of some of their work for sale and some of their books.  If you’re comic nerd like me, it’s absolutely awesome meeting the people who create the books you love to read.

Celebrities – While to me, the people who make comics are my celebrities, for most it’s the people in movies and TV shows.  There is so much content on screens these days that either come from comics or get adapted to comics after their time on screen, that the people who play those parts have become a huge draw to large conventions.  They usually have set times where you can pose for a pic with them, then a booth where you can have them sign stuff.  There is a fee for each, and they’re not cheap, but it is a chance to meet the stars.  Two years ago, my wife and I sprung for the VIP package to meet her favorite at the time, Steve Amell, star of the CW show Arrow.  We each had one of our boys with us and posed for a pic.  Later, she queued up in line and got him to sign a couple of her comics with him on the cover.  It was a great experience, despite the assembly line fashion in which they manage these events.  Earlier this year, the big con in Philly included:

Chris Evans (Captain America)

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

Tom Hiddleston (Loki)

Anthony Mackie (Falcon)

Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier)

Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark, Jesse Custer on Preacher)

Frank Grillo (Crossbones)

David Duchovny (X-Files)

Stephen Amell (Arrow)

Norman Reedus (Walking Dead, Boondock Saints)

Michael J. Fox (lots of stuff)

 World Premieres – There are two major cons in the US these days; San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) is the largest, with New York Comic Con (NYCC) closing the gap fast in recent years.  Many publishers, movie and game studios hold their major announcements for these events.  At this year’s SDCC, attendees were treated to things such as:

A new trailer for The Walking Dead season 7.

A new trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

World Premiere showing of Star Trek Beyond.

New characters revealed for the Injustice 2 game by NetherRealm Studios.

Merchandise – There are comics.  I love leading in with the obvious.  In addition, though, there are usually toys (vintage and new), statues, figurines, prints, posters, original art, exclusives versions of comics or toys, shirts, pants, hats, props, lamps, glasses…stuff, lots of it.

If you’ve never experienced a con for yourself, check out the website listed and find one in your area.  Do a little research on the show’s website or Facebook page to make sure you manage your expectations going in.  Stop at the bank beforehand and get cash.  Chances are, you’re going to find something you’re going to want to buy and while most vendors accept plastic, bartering is an option with a lot of con vendors.  And as corny as this sounds, just have fun.  Open your mind and immerse yourself in the experience.  If you’ve been to a con, you’re probably saying “what he said” right now.

By: Just-A-Bill, Resident Comic Nerd imjustabill

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