This past weekend was a busy one, what with Emerald City Comic Con happening in Seattle and River Region Comic Con taking place in Montgomery, Alabama. I attended the previous one last year, but this year I was at the latter one, which is a growing con that I expect will get bigger and bigger every year!
It’s been building for the past month or so, but I consider the 2019 Comic Convention Season to be formally underway!
FIRST, ABOUT THIS YEAR’S RIVER REGION COMIC CON
As much as I love the larger cons, it’s fun to go to one on the rise occasionally. River Region CC, according to what I heard, expanded from a one-day con to two days this year (Saturday and Sunday), and it was enjoyable!
As usual, I was helping Richard Rivera sell Stabbity Bunny, and he was listed as a guest for this event. We did well, and it was the kind of experience that helped us get back in the swing of things for the rest of the year while being a great con in its own right.
There were several “special guests,” as they called them, and that included comics pro Fabien Nicieza, Blue Ranger David Yost, GI Joe writer Larry Hama, and actor John Anderson, among others. The rest of the floor had vendors, artists, and comics creators including Brett Brooks (from Deuces Wild and Dust Bunny) and horror comic creator Keith LaPorte (Vicious Circus and Scissor Sisters). Look for those last two to appear on my podcast in the coming weeks. It was also fun to talk and interact with comics creator Bryan Silverbax, who made several excellent sketch covers for Richard.
The con was held in a section of a sports arena that allowed them to put some creators on an upper level and gamers and panels in a lower level. They did provide some food to the Special Guests, but the rest of the attendees weren’t allowed to bring in food. If we wanted to eat in the building, we had to buy from a food vendor there.
The attendance was pretty good but, like many smaller cons, they had trouble getting everyone into the convention in a timely manner on Saturday, which was the busiest of the two days. It took an hour for the line to get sifted in. Next year, I’m sure they’ll sort all that out.
It was an enjoyable con that will only continue to grow each year, so I think them for a press pass that helped me have a great time!
MOVING INTO CON SEASON
While I would never try to list all the conventions in this column (there are so many, with many weekends having two or three big cons taking place), I know that C2E2 is coming this weekend. Again, I won’t be there although I’ve enjoyed it a lot in past years.
Like others going to yearly comic cons, I find it helpful to plan ahead. I have to look over the places I want to go to, and then budget money to pick up great Indie comics and some other cool items such as the occasional action figure or comic I managed to miss and am looking for.
If the con is local, you save money on travel and a place to stay. If not, you also have to consider travel and hotel expenses, of course. Then you have to pay to enter the con as well.
You also have to factor in just who is going to be there. If you are interested in autographs, for instance, you might be trying to gather all the signatures of the original Power Rangers, as one person at this con was doing. He’d completed his collection by getting the Blue Ranger’s autograph, but he’d had to drive 7 hours to get it.
So I recommend that you check out cons within the travel distance you’re okay with. See who’s going to be there or what they’ll be offering to find out if you can afford it or get time off from work to take in that convention.
THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF CONS
I often used to go to conventions by myself. I would walk around the floor and listen to the stars I wanted to hear, but I’d get bored after a few hours and go home.
It’s been very different since I’ve been going with friends. When you can share this experience with someone else who enjoys things you enjoy, it’s a wonderful time.
If you don’t have friends like this, I highly recommend you find them. I know of many fans of genres I enjoy who don’t know other people locally. They find it tough when the people around them don’t like what they like.
There are many groups you can find if you check out social media. Often, you’ll find people who enjoy what you do. But cons are also great social events.
Granted, not every social interaction will turn into friendships. It often turns people off if you expect that (and they can often tell), so I’d be slow to anticipate friendships. If you do find someone wants to, say, continue a conversation at another time, that’s a good sign that they enjoyed your initial talking time. If not, just be glad you made that contact and accept it as a sign that there can be more to come.
I often like to chat with people I’m standing in line with. After all, we’re all there bored, so why not make the time go by faster by talking about things of interest.
Sometimes fans take a comics pro’s friendliness as a desire for a friendship. I’d say, instead, that you should not expect that to happen. Be cordial and don’t push it! But express your appreciation in terms that might not sound threatening.
I once interviewed an author for my podcast. I had done my research, so I knew what I wanted to ask about. I had read his blog entries recently, after all. Well, I approached a subject I had read there, and the author got quiet. I realized he was concerned and couldn’t figure out how I knew what I had just asked about, so I quickly pointed out that I had read that on his blog. You could hear the relief in his voice as he actually answered my question.
A con can be a great place to make friends. Just don’t assume the other folks want to be your friends unless you get more than one signal. Enjoy your cons without making others uncomfortable!
It’s the 2019 Con Season, so enjoy, enjoy! Pick your cons, plan your events, and maybe even make some friends on the way!
What do you think? Are you ready for the upcoming conventions? Are there ones you prefer you think others should know about? Have you made friends at cons? Whatever your opinion or experience, please feel free to share them in the space below!