Alright… the season isn’t really a season anymore as there are great conventions throughout the year and all over the country, but back in the day starting with Easter and running through Labor Day, it was convention season. I’ve previously mentioned my love for cons and that I’ve been attending them since I was a wee child. Everything from the local comic cons that last a day in my hometown to the amazing SDCC. I have not made it to Dragon*Con in Atlanta, yet, but it’s on my bucket list. I also have not made it to any conventions outside the US… but that too is a goal for the future. Let me get my real life sorted first.
I hadn’t attended any conventions in years when I got back into it in 2004. “Buffy” and “Angel” had just ended their television runs and there was a “huge” con scheduled for August in Oakland. Since it was only a three hour drive from home, it was doable. However, 2004 was what I like to call “the great year of unemployment” and thus I had no money to go. But a lot of my friends were going and if nothing else, I could always crash in their rooms and just hit the parties. However, I have an amazing friend- Stacy- who decided that wouldn’t do and so gifted me with a pass. So… I spent the weekend with some great friends (including my bestie) and got my geek on. The pics with guests are featured on the People I Have Met page.
I avoided a lot of events until the end of 2005 when my now roomie and I attended the Serenity Flanvention in Burbank with my lil friend Cate. I was due to graduate- finally- with my bachelors degree and the event was a gift to myself. It was an amazing weekend. The pics are also posted on the meeting page.
In 2006, I moved to Chicago and was a broke graduate student until in November 2007 I learned that two lovely gents that I adored- Nicholas Brendon and Steve Carlson- would be guests at a convention out near O’Hare. It was a “Supernatural” convention- a show that I had never seen- and a friend from southern Illinois was going to attend. So I bought the cheap weekend pass to spend time with her and enjoy the silliness (I didn’t do nearly enough silly things when I lived in Chicago). Snagged photo ops with the gents as well because I’d never had the chance to meet them before (well, I’d met Nicholas but that was a cute photo with my BFF… I wanted a solo pic). And then, sitting in the panels with the “Supernatural” boys they endeared themselves to me and I had to start watching their show. It’s OK… it’s a good show.
Moved back to California in 2008 and got my first chance to attend SDCC that summer when Evil Squirrel Comics sent my brother and I. My brother had been going off and on for the previous decade or so but the boys (he occasionally went with a friend of ours) never took us younger siblings. It was amazing. And HUGE. And I was glad to have my brother with me. So many people in attendance- it would be scary to be there alone. In previous years, he’d stuck mainly to the dealer floor in the exhibition hall and not attended panels but we had the whole weekend and so after making our game plan, we achieved many panels as well as thorough viewing of the dealer room. I learned so much that weekend- first and foremost being use a backpack and NOT a messenger bag. I now own an awesome “browncoats” backpack. Secondly, pack snacks that can sustain you throughout the day, and water. SDCC convention food is edible but the lines to get will kill you. And it is expensive. If you can carry a sandwich, do it. (Action Chick recently was asked for tips for attending a con and I shared that last one). Also… comfortable shoes. You’d think this would be a no-brainer but… you would not believe how many people fail to think about how much time they’ll spend on their feet or walking on crappy floors. This was the basis for one of my CosPlay Rules.
In 2009, I trekked back to Chicago for the first time to attend a convention theoretically based around Torchwood and John Barrowman. However, the weekend before the con, one guest had to cancel. Two days before the con, John Barrowman had to cancel due to breaking his ankle and having a bloodclot in his leg and not being allowed to fly. And the day before the con, another guest was hit by a bike messenger while touring downtown and broke his arm. Thankfully, a few other guests were able to show up and fill in and John was awesome and skyped in, so at least if we couldn’t have him there, he made the effort to participate. It wasn’t a perfect event… but it was fun to spend time with a good friend and joke around with Gareth David-Lloyd when he kept hiding with us from the the crazed fans.
Made a second trek to SDCC in 2009 and got groped by John Barrowman. I’m not complaining. Actually, my only complaint is that I don’t have a pic of it. ha!
2010 saw a third trek to SDCC with the brother and the brilliant chance to attend the final “Smallville” panel. Hey, don’t mock this- we’d made it in to see Joss’ panels the prior years but the line to even think about the panels for “Smallville” and “Supernatural” killed us, every time. We still haven’t made it in to see the “Big Bang Theory” panels!
A trek back to Chicago in 2010 led to attendance at Wizard World Chicago (my first Wizard World con). It also led to being one of the many con staff for Nicholas Brendon and others. I’m trying to remember if my friend and I made it to any panels that year- I think it was just the William Shatner one. But we had a glorious time wandering the hall. She even began her collection of zombie portraits.
I ended 2010 with a trip to Creations con here in LA… I had a great time with my friends at this con and an even better time getting to visit with awesome Whedon guests. Having Eliza Dushku enjoy the cookies I made for Nick- so much so that I ran back to our room to get more for her- was very cool. This was a great weekend spent with friends. However, I will never give money to Creation again- and you shouldn’t either.
2011 led to a trek to NOLA for a Wizard World con and more assistance. There was a venture to Anaheim, and more assistance. And another trip to Chicago and more assistance. I’m seeing a theme. And I’m liking it. The really fun part of helping out at the cons is getting a chance to talk to fans. I’ll be hanging out at a table keeping an eye on things and giving fans the info for when the guest will be back and they start asking questions. The thing is, you start picking things up- so I have some great answers. It’s pretty fun to chat with the fans and encourage them to come back when the guest returns to their table.
And now we’re knee-deep in 2012. I’ve ventured down to a day of WonderCon and plans are afoot for SDCC. I’m hoping to also have a press pass this year- that’d mean lots of new stories to share.
The point of this post was to give tips- helpful hints for attending a con. Hopefully you picked up that conventions are amazingly fun. And you’ve learned that backpacks and comfortable shoes are important. The food thing is not necessary, but I recommend it. At least throw a power bar or something in your bag. And above all else- have fun! Conventions are a chance to let go- to let your inner geek shine through without anyone judging you. Everyone is a giant geek at these things! But you can also meet amazing people. I’ve made some great friends- from artists to other fans.
I have, somewhere, lists of amusing memories- would anyone be interested in those posts? They won’t make too much sense to many people because they were designed to be triggers. But looking at them is ought to give ideas about the fun of cons and spark the mind to try and figure it out. Also… I plan to dig up some of the photos from the cons- the ones that aren’t of me with people- and post them. And if you’re really interested, I have posted videos from conventions on my youtube page. Conventions (a mix) and SDCC playlists. I have other panels… specifically from that 2004 convention, but the sound isn’t always great so I haven’t bothered to post them.