Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thoughts on a Con: TGD Attends C2E2

Can you spot the nerd? (Answer: Circle entire picture)

Transformer Generation Dad has just returned from C2E2. While there, he handed out fewer business cards than he had promised himself he would (on account of being very shy) but had a wonderful time over all. He will also conclude referring to himself in the third person upon the completion of this paragraph.

Was it fun? I managed to meet comic artists, photograph my wife with multiple impressive cosplayers, ooh and ah over old collectible action figures I wish I had, avert my sons’ eyes from the occasional randomly placed adult content booth and pick up a Bubble Bobble NES cartridge all while managing to resist the overwhelming urge to buy even one of the thousand t-shirts that were calling to me from all directions, “Buy us! Buy us! We are so unique that you must buy us!” much the same way zombies incessantly moan about brains. So, yes, I’d say the day was a resounding success and I would definitely do it again.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t do a few things differently. Perhaps it’s the parent in me (Get it out! Get it out!) that causes me to criticize my own past actions and perhaps it’s the pretentious, know-it-all nerd in me (Eww! Get that out too!) that wants to pass such information and lessons on to you, but I realize now that my tour at C2E2 is over that things could have gone smoother had I done a few simple things. Those things are as follows:

Bringing Kids? Make sure you both know what to expect. We took my sons, eight and six, and they started to become a little crabby. Standing all day, being surrounded by crowds and seeing three hundred dollar collectible figures that they want while they can’t comprehend why you would come to a place full of such unbelievably awesome things if you didn’t plan on buying any for them can take a toll on children. My wife and I spoke with my boys prior to our arrival and told them there was to be a lot of walking and a lot of waiting patiently while mommy and daddy looked at things. This laying down of ground rules (as well as the aforementioned Bubble Bobble purchase) might be the only thing that prevented a complete meltdown. If you really want your kids there with you that’s cool and I totally approve. That’s what this blog is all about. For your own sanity, explain things to them ahead of time. Another option involves a session with the kids and a session without. Our schedules didn’t permit that, but my wife and I talked about returning by ourselves. Maybe next time.

Bring a bag. You will acquire things you did not plan on acquiring. Then you will be left with nowhere to hold them but the plastic bag you got when you bought something at that other booth. That plastic bag will quickly get on your nerves as it becomes full and either cuts into the flesh of your fingers or threatens to snap free from its handles. To keep yourself from setting something you really wanted down and forgetting about it until you’re already on the other side of the convention, bring some sort of bag. But make sure it isn’t too awkward so that you don’t end up knocking an important piece off somebody’s carefully made costume and damaging their calm. You might also want to throw a firm folder in your bag to protect any smaller prints you end up purchasing.

Make time for conversations. I know that comic conventions are notoriously rife with the socially inept. If you can get past that, a big part of the fun rests in finding out more about the people there, especially those in the booths. While you are really impressed with their collection of vintage Transformers or that totally badass sketch of Batman they made just while they were sitting there, they might be equally impressed with your job or that blog you write. You’ll never know if you don’t take the time to talk.

Bring two credit cards. The vendors come from everywhere and your main card might shut down on a fraud alert when it receives charges from several different states within an hour. Chances are you can use your phone to get online and remove the alert, but when a sweaty, three hundred pound nerd waits behind you in line breathing heavily and invading your personal space as your credit card gets denied swipe after swipe, you would probably rather just pull out the back up card and get the whole experience over with.

Bring extra cash. While many vendors will whip out a little card reader that plugs right into their iPhone, other vendors aren’t equipped to accept credit. When you see the artistic, full color mash-up of all your favorite characters that you have never seen anywhere before and will never see anywhere again that you really must have now, that’s the guy who will only take cash. Your day would be better spent not waiting in the ATM line with the same guy from my previous bit of advice standing behind you. Furthermore, be safe with said cash. Keep it secure, preferably in a front pocket. Although I am a firm believer in the geek honor code, you never know when you might fall victim to the guy who showed up and decided to test his ninja training by deftly pickpocketing as many people as possible.

If you bring a camera, put it on a strap around your neck. I saw a few left behind at tables and could only imagine the heartbreak of the owner as they realized all their timeless snapshots of geeks in Star Wars outfits might be lost forever. Especially that one with the Sandtrooper where you posed as if you were performing the Jedi mind trick on him. Those memories are priceless.

That’s all I have for now. C2E2 continues through tomorrow for those of you in the area. For those that aren’t, maybe these tips would serve you well at a convention near you.

Or maybe you’re just too cool to attend comic conventions. Is that it? You think you’re better than us? Well, then I have one last piece of advice. Take it from someone who didn’t attend any comic cons until recently either, you’re the one who is missing out.

No comments:

Post a Comment