10 tips and rules for a comic convention

These are my 10 tips and rules for a comic convention, based on experience and common sense. Since all of these should be used the order has no big significance, but I will refer to number 1 occasionally. I decided to compile this little list after my experience at Wizard World Nashville and with Geek Media Expo coming up this weekend. (November 1-3) I learned most of these things by prepping for WonderCon ’11 and the others after making it through all three days of it. Whatever your next con may be, I hope you’ll remember these 10 things to make your experience memorable.

Number 1

A comic convention (or anime convention) is a place you spend money to get in to so you can spend more money. Sure, you could go and not spend a dime once inside, but chances are you’ll probably spend a lot more money than you intended. If you’ll keep this rule in mind, you might set yourself a budget and walk away with some awesome souvenirs and still be able to pay rent this month.
Convention Cash Money

Number 2

Comfortable shoes. Not stylish shoes that you think are comfortable, instead try actual walking shoes like New Balance. Unless you’re going to cosplay you don’t need to worry if people are going to like your shoes. You’ll be spending most of the con on your feet, standing in line, walking around the show floor, or waiting in line for the bathroom, so make that time pleasant on your feet.
New Balance Convention Shoes

Number 3

Bring your own snacks, if the convention allows it. Convention food is generally overpriced and not healthy or filling at all. Salty snacks that make you want soda or $3.00 bottles of water. Take your own snacks to keep you going longer and healthier. Nothing worse than having to hold it as you wait in the bathroom line after eating a questionable hotdog. Your version of healthy may vary based on your own diet or health conditions. Me, I have no allergies but do have diabetes. I usually take peanut butter and crackers, some mild beef jerky, and low sugar granola bars with water and/or Gatorade.
Convention food - snacks

Number 4

Planning ahead can be very important. Most conventions of a larger size will have a map you can download and schedules of signings, photo-ops, and panels you can print. Take advantage of these things. If it’s a three day event and you’re going all three days. Try to space some things out to allow for some show floor wandering. That’s when some of the random con magic happens, such as getting your picture taken with an amazing cosplay of your favorite character, or discovering a booth filled with trades you’ve been wanting to buy for only $5.00/each. (Rule number 1)
10 tips and rules for a comic convention

Number 5

Speaking of cosplayers, let me lay out the con rules of cosplayers. You would think this would be a common sense thing, but common sense is one of the first things to go when you are suddenly plunged into a giant hall filled with all the things you love. If you want to take a picture of a cosplayer, please ask first. Unless they’re on their way to something amazing, or the bathroom, they will say yes. They didn’t spend all that time crafting that costume and putting it on for nothing. These people are artists, not exotic dancers at a questionable club, don’t grope them. If you do, a six foot six batman may just stay in character long enough to give you some Gotham justice to the face. By the way, you’ll totally deserve it.
Convention Cosplayer

Number 6

A well-adjusted comfortable backpack is your friend. You need a place to put all the awesome things you’re going to pick up and/or purchase. It also serves as a great way to transport items you’re getting signed by your favorite artist or writer. Make sure to pack your snacks in this as well. My personal backpack has two water bottle pockets on the side and tons of pockets of varying size. It’s also worth mentioning that I always carry a BCW Storefolio for any comics I’m going to have signed or may purchase. You may want to bring a few extra bags and boards for comics purchased at a creators table, just in case they don’t have some for purchase (or free) there.
Ogio Backback Convention

Number 7

Make sure to dress in layers. This is probably more important for the fall to spring conventions. The show floor will eventually be about 90 degrees from all the warm bodies moving around, but the side rooms with panels and workshops and whatnot will be about 50 degrees. Layer up from Summer time wear to Autumn warmth. You may never need that light hoodie, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You definitely want to at least be able to take some layers off for the humid heat of the show floor.
10 tips and rules for a comic convention

Number 8

Set yourself an agenda. I’m not saying you should try to schedule every single minute of fun for the weekend, but give yourself some structure. Lay down the times you want to go to panels, which are a great way to get off your feet for a while without collapsing at the nearest wall on the floor. Schedule yourself a few times to snack. Those snacks won’t do you any good if you don’t eat them. If you’re part of a group and everybody wants to do their own thing, set a couple times to meet up and nerd out. You can even use the map you downloaded and printed out to pick a general meeting spot.
10 tips and rules for a comic convention

Number 9

This a hard one, but try to be careful with your purchases. After all, these are things you have to lug around all day. Try to save large or heavy purchases until later in the day. I forgot this little tip at Wizard World Nashville and had to lug around a half dozen trades, in addition to the other things in my backpack, until it got too much and I walked all the way back to our car just to unload. It might be a good idea to avoid booths that have larger or heavier items until the second half of the convention, or if you have a group you could always distribute the weight.
5 dollar convention trades

Number 10

Sketches almost have their own set of rules, so I saved them for last.

  • It’s a good idea to bring your own paper just in case the artist doesn’t have any. I always take my 7 by 7 sketchbook, but my wife ran in to this situation at a smaller convention where the artist didn’t have paper on hand. So, she bought paper, against his will, from Ren and Stimpy’s Bob Camp.
  • Whatever you do, don’t haggle with an artist over the price of their sketch or commission. If you’re getting a commission, make sure you understand the price and what you’re getting before you give the artist the go ahead to craft your very own art. (Refer to rule number 1)
  • Some artists will only be available for signing or commissions. Don’t beg them into doing a sketch for you. They put their emotions and talents into their art, and you don’t really want a piece that says ” I resent this guy”.
  • The best way to avoid all of these is to contact the artist, or their representative, ahead of time. Find out what they’ll be doing at this specific convention and maybe give them a heads up of what you want, in case it’s something unusual for them.

Kyle Rayner - Stephanie Lantry


YI SOON SHIN: Warrior and Defender

YI SOON SHIN: Warrior and Defender is the first arc of a three arc run about a 16th Century Korean Admiral. I discovered this indie book at Wizard World Nashville 2013. I purchased the book (in collected Hard Cover) and read it back at my hotel room the same night. This is the greatest historical comic I’ve ever read. The events and characters could be read about in a dry college text book, but through the magic of sequential art, you discover living, breathing characters and become an eye witness to some of the most interesting battles in Korea’s history.

Yi Soon Shin Banner Poster

Saavedra’s lettering with Timpano’s art and De Los Santos’ coloring bring Kompan’s amazing story telling to life. Onrie Kompan certainly understands what words to use to describe a scene. Instead of just flatly saying that the Koreans blew the Japanese out of the water with canons, he says “A ballad of destruction deafens the invaders. The orchestra of cannon fire lets the oppressors know that their occupation is finally being met with fierce resistance.” The perfect words to accompany explosive illustrations. The opening battle is certainly not where the actions ends either; the entire first arc is riddled with conflict, both physical and psychological. The vile Baron Seo is quickly revealed to be the villain of Shin’s story thus far. And what a terribly evil villain he is.

Like many independent books, Yi Soon Shin was a labor of love.  It took Onrie Kompan a long time to assemble his team and get them moving in the right direction.  The direction was ultimately given by David Anthony Kraft, the famed Marvel and DC writer.  The influence of Len Strazewski cannot be understated.  Mr. Strazewski is Kompan’s mentor from Columbia College Chicago and an accomplished comic author.  His works include Starman, The Flash, Justice Society of America, and, one of my all-time favorites, Prime (for Malibu Comics).  The collected Hard Cover
edition features over 30 pages of behind the story, interviews, and concept art.  The single, Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender #1 as well as the start to the next arc, Yi Soon Shin: Fallen Avenger #1, can be purchased from Amazon right now.

Stay up to date with this book at: YiSoonShin.com

Wizard World Nashville 2013

This past weekend, I made the small journey to Nashville, TN for their very first Wizard World Nashville.  Looking back, it was a great time had with my wife and several friends.

Wizard World Nashville is the newest addition to the popular Wizard World convention tour.  For those curious, the next stop will be Austin, TX.  With a tag line of “Where Pop Culture Comes to Life” a Geek can almost know what to expect from the show.  Celebrities of popular (and long past) television shows and movies were a large feature with several popular artists and writers of a little medium known as Comic Books.  There were tons of talented cosplayers and quite a few amateurs strutting their stuff.

Elizabeth Wither Wizard World Nashville

If you’re a local to Nashville or it’s surrounding cities, then you know this isn’t the only con in town.  Other than Wizard World Nashville this year, there has already been MTAC (the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention) and the Nashville Comic Expo.  The next convention on the radar for locals is the Geek Media Expo.  The largest draws for Wizard World Nashville were Norman Reedus and Stan Lee.  The VIP passes for these two were almost redundant as it seemed everyone either purchased a pass for Reedus or Lee, which is what my wife and I did.  Fans of The Walking Dead did flock to the Nashville Comic Expo for Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan, but Norman Reedus’ newfound sex appeal with the ladies made him a huge target for the crowd.  The cohesiveness of a convention staff that are seasoned pros at this scene made all of the hiccups and growing pains of a newly birthed convention mostly invisible.  I have no doubt that it will be an even stronger convention next year.  The paid and volunteer staff members worked together to deliver an excellent fan experience.

Star Wars Dewback Wizard World Nashville

My five favorite things from Wizard World Nashville 2013 were:

  1. Mike Grell.  I felt Mr. Grell was very under appreciated at this convention.  This guy singlehandedly recreated the image of Green Arrow and turned him into a serious character worthy of his own story.  Besides his importance to the DC Universe, Mr. Grell is an amazingly nice guy who has a lot of love for the characters and some great stories to share about illustrating them.  Mike Grell Wizard World Nashville Green Arrow
  2. Sean Patrick Flanery.  He may not be starring in much right now, but give him some time.  Apparently a third Boondock Saints movie is in the works!  Growing up I thoroughly enjoyed The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.  The stories told through Mr. Flanery are some of the best in the Indiana Jones mythos.  Also, this guy is full of energy and RockStar charm.  Sean Patrick Flanery Wizard World Nashville
  3. Eric Powell.  Creator of The Goon and advocate for Creators rights in general.  Despite having recently completing a KickStarter to make a Goon movie, Mr. Powell was manning his booth signing, doodling, and doing some amazing commissions.  Eric Powell Wizard World Nashville Franky
  4. James Marsters.  This guy is on the same level of cool as Sean Patrick Flanery.  He will talk to anyone about anything and is just so endearing.  He was generally another big fan favorite, due to his spectacular performance as Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  It’s worth noting that Mr. Marsters was able to give a lot of insight to the creative processes of Joss Whedon.  James Marsters Wizard World Nashville
  5. All of the amazing Cosplayers.  Professional, amateur, and everything between.  The costumed heroes came to life at this convention in a big way.  They take the convention experience to that next level.  Below I am pictured with Kristen Hughey and Ridd1e.  Kristen Hughey and Ridd1e Wizard World Nashville

I would have liked to have seen more artists in Artists’ Alley and more big name creators.  Some odd book artists for the big two, Marvel and DC, were there with booths, but were not really sketching.  A few were taking commissions, but not many.  Truth be told, I’d have really liked to see more of the amazing talent being published by Image, Darkhorse, IDW, Archaia, etc.  People publishing original content in a fantastic way.  Being a pretty big convention for what it is, I only have WonderCon to compare it to.  WonderCon featured some fairly large booths by the independent publishers.  It’s my sincere hope that next year there will be more involvement from publishers other than Marvel and DC.  Considering it’s close proximity to my home and the variety that was presented, I cannot wait until Wizard World Nashville 2014!

Be looking for my review of Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender, the best historical comic I’ve ever read.  I got to meet and talk with Onrie Kompan, the series’ writer, at Wizard World Nashville.  Hands down, best independent book at the convention.

The Wolverine Movie Review

Let me begin by saying this: if you have NEVER read a Wolverine comic in your life then you will enjoy this movie. It flows nicely, the action is not extremely over the top, and adds a new depth to Logan’s, a.k.a. Wolverine’s, character.  On to The Wolverine movie review.

 The Wolverine Movie Review

The movie begins in Nagasaki, Japan… I am sure you can figure out that Wolverine survies the explosion and if you are asking, ‘What explosion?’ then you need to go back and study history. Anyways, Logan saves a Japanese soldier named Yashida. Fast forward 68 years and Wolverine is living in a cave. Apparently he has segregated himself from the rest of the world after he killed Jean, which she is ‘haunting his dreams’ in a fashion. They gave him a madness apparently. While living in the wilderness, as always, something brings him out and back to civilization and into a violent encounter with some hunters but he is stopped from killing anyone by Yukio, ward of Yashida, who is there to bring him to Japan.

I don’t want to tell you how everything plays out so I will give you the cliff notes:

Wolverine in Japan, meets older Yashida, Yashida makes him offer, Wolverine considers offer refuses, treachery occurs, his healing power gets suppressed (in a somewhat believable way but it’s still a stretch), he meets Mariko (instant attraction, duh what a surprise there for those of us who read the comics), Yashida “dies”, they go to funeral, ambush, fighting, running, more fighting, more running, peace, love, happiness gone, anger, revenge, Yashida lives (shocker), bad guys lose, everybody good and happy.

The Wolverine Movie Review

Now for the rant that I have since X-Men Origins: Wolverine that has to do with adamantium. If you recall Stryker shot Wolverine with an adamantium bullet which caused his amnesia to create continuiety for the first X-Men film. That was over stretched given that adamantium is supposed to be indestructable and they went even further with that in this movie. THEY CUT OFF HIS ADAMANTIUM CLAWS!!! I am really annoyed that Fox has access to the source material but continues to disreguard it whenever they want. It destroys the story and makes continuity impossible. But because of his healing ability he gets his bone claws back by the end of the movie which is where Fox decided to throw away continuiety all together.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: At the end of the credits Magneto and PROFESSOR X come back. It is a tie in to the next movie obviously, but WHAT THE FRAK! How in the name of Lady Deathstrike is that possible? If you can answer that before the next movie, kudos to you because it doesn’t make sense!!!
Big question that I know you all are asking, “Is it still worth seeing?” Sadly, yes it is. Although I suggest you see it in 2D to save money. I am loath to admit it, even though Fox is still ruining the franchise I am still drawn to see more with the hope (misplaced as it is) that they will wake up and correct there screwed pooch.