Bringing The Room Down: The DON’Ts of Comic Con

Written by Russ Dobler

Did you find last month’s Pulp article on making the most of your convention experience useful? I did. I wasn’t able to make it to the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo, being based across the border, but this month, thanks to the wicked cool Massachusetts crew at Adventures in Poor Taste, I did attend the United States’ biggest comic convention, New York Comic Con.

You read that right. According to Reed Exhibitions Group, the organizer of NYCC, 2014’s gathering brought in 130,000 people, as many as – if not more than – this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, which caps its attendance at that figure due to space restrictions. Despite that, the show floor was reportedly 40% less congested due to the implementation of microchip-outfitted badges, to combat apparently rampant counterfeiting.

From the NYCC Twitter page.

Not to humblebrag, but that’s just a skosh more than the Expo’s 2014 attendance of 47,000. Nonetheless, the advice of what to do from my more northerly nerd bros proved to be universally valuable. But I can only control my own behavior. September’s article glossed over the more negative aspects of con culture: those things other fun-seekers do that just grate on you, in an (understandable) effort to get to the good stuff. After battling long commutes and sardine-like conditions for three days, I’d like to offer the counterpoint to every “convention experience” piece you’ve ever read.

F*@! your happiness; here are four things you SHOULDN’T do to make MY convention experience better.

Don’t Let Your Cosplay Get out of Control

A lot of these are expansions of things mentioned in passing last month, and this one’s 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? Not even on the streets of New York, believe me.

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 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. The Javits Center, home of NYCC, 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 were supposedly official places for cosplayers to show off and soak in the flash bulbs, but that didn’t stop anyone from mobbing the Sailor Moons and Groots on busy avenues like paparazzi trying to chase down Madonna.

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 me, “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 Get Mad at ME Because YOU Weren’t There

Which brings me to my last point, this time for the folks not fortunate enough to attend. I was incredibly lucky to see and do so much at NYCC this year. It was a blast and not nearly as irritating as I make it out to be, and I wish everyone could experience it. But sadly, Saturday tickets and three-day passes sold out after being available only for a couple hours. I guess NYCC really has hit the big time, as even the scalpers have taken notice.

I had a ton of fun, but I got in because I was there to work. While others gallivanted and shopped, I suffered the toils of the damned waiting to get a word in edgewise with any creator I could harangue, only to be met with quizzical stares when I asked them, I’m sure, the dumbest questions they’ve ever heard. One said to the artist next to him as I walked away, “How do you make a living doing that?” “I don’t,” was my matter-of-fact response.

But thankfully, there’s a simple way to procure New York Comic Con tickets without fighting online slowdowns, and it’s much more pleasurable than staring at the multi-colored beach ball as it spins. Reed Exhibitions’ new annual event, Special Edition: NYC, is a celebration of the reason for the season, the comics themselves, and offers the first chance anywhere to get NYCC tickets in June. So swing by, chat with some artists and buy some back issues, and I’ll see you at the big one next year!

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