It’s that time of year again! The comic convention season unofficially kicks off this weekend with Anaheim, California’s WonderCon, the kid sister of the granddaddy of them all, San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
And this intrepid AiPT! reporter will be there! I love going to cons and meeting all the great people who attend, but let’s face it, we all have some bad habits that make things more difficult for others. So I now present the counterpoint to every “making the most of your convention experience” article ever published.
Here are four things you SHOULDN’T do to make EVERYONE ELSE’S convention experience better:
Don’t Let Your Cosplay Get out of Control
This one should be the most obvious. Some people go to cons just for the costumes, and that’s totally cool. Where else are you going to see Lady Deadpool roll up with Finn from Adventure Time and Steampunk Sherlock Holmes?
But I ask the incredibly creative and passionate cosplayers of the world to also have a little empathy for the cramped convention drones walking past you. Angels may be your favorite thing in the world, but crafting wiry wings with a five-foot span might not be the most considerate thing to do when people already have to perform pirouettes just to get by.
Amazingly well done, but how many took that umbrella to the eye? Taken by Alex Erde of Mild Mannered Cosplay Photography.
If the inconvenience of others isn’t enough to clip your ambition, consider what could happen when you encounter someone with similar initiative. I once saw some kind of cyborg get his boot hydraulics tangled with a warrior guy’s sword, halting them both in their tracks. As I shuffled along my way, I watched them squirm and pull for a good minute, seemingly never getting closer to ending their Gordian predicament. I’m not entirely convinced they aren’t still there, in an empty hall, locked in an eternal struggle between genres.
Don’t Stop Short, and Get Your Damn Bag Out of My Face
This one’s related, and goes out to the photo snappers who just have to hold the cosplayers up to get their perfect pic. For example, the Javits Center, home of New York Comic Con, is a fricking huge 1.8-million square feet in size and spans six city blocks, so you’ve got to hustle to make it from one end to the other. Sudden human speed bumps not only slow you down, but can cause multiple geek pile-ups when the people behind you can’t stop in time. There are supposedly official places for cosplayers to show off and soak in the flash bulbs, but that doesn’t stop anyone from mobbing the Sailor Moons and Groots on busy avenues like paparazzi trying to chase down Kim Kardashian.
And it’s fine that you brought a bag with you. We all did. It’s the utility belt of comic conventions, holding water, swag and yeah, you may even need that Bat-shark repellant (the police call it mace). But don’t forget that it’s on you and start braining people when you turn around. While checking out a booth, try to stand sideways instead of sticking it out into the walkway like you were a JanSport Quasimodo.
Don’t Harass the Line
The worst part of any convention is the lines. If you want to see a panel that’s even the least bit popular, you’d better get there with almost two hours to spare. Standing and watching the world go by is trying enough without being questioned by the lucky walkers, free of your now-stationary existence. Don’t ask, “What is this line for?” because it’s obviously not something you’re interested in, and if it is, you’ll just run away screaming after seeing this convoluted, serpentine beast that stretches three times around the food court.Yes, this is ONE line. From the NYCC Facebook page.
Once you’re in line, say to talk to a creator, don’t forget there are other people behind you. It might make your lifetime to discuss elf-hobbit hybrids with Sir Edmund Shirepants, but you’re not on a coffee date with the guy, so wrap up the convo after covering the first two trilogies. I’ve got important questions to ask, too, like what his favorite beer is!
Don’t Be That Guy
Which brings me to my last point, and it’s all about attitude. Don’t forget that you’re lucky to be there. We all know how quickly tickets to the big cons sell out, so if you were able to hold the queue and madly type F5 faster than a few other people, remember how easily it could’ve swung a different way. You’re not entitled to anyone’s time and attention, keyboard warrior, just because you had nothing better to do for three hours on a Thursday morning.
And don’t hate on the things at the con that aren’t for you! I’m an old-school comic guy myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna run around and slag the people there for the manga or a Bates Motel sneak peek. That kind of geek culture ubiquity is buoying the entire industry and making sure things like this are even able to happen at all. As Forbes contributor Robert Salkowitz points out, there are a ton of different, differentiated cons out there now, so you might have to just choose more carefully if you’re trying to avoid teenyboppers or TV enthusiasts.
In other words, if you come to New York’s Five Points Festival this May for the comics and toys, don’t complain to me about the craft beer and food trucks. It’s the Lower East Side. What were you expecting?
A version of this article was originally published for the pulp press, and is used here with permission.