I recently had a friend call me for advice. Her beautiful 13 year old daughter is an Anglophile, and as such, she has recently discovered the potential joy of comic conventions. My friend, who has never been to a convention before, reached out to me to with a few questions and concerns. Here’s some information I gave her which I am calling “The Ins and Outs of Cons for First Timers (and their teenage children).” I’m working on a shorter title.
1) Cons are generally meant to be family friendly events – this however does not apply to every aspect of the event. For example, meeting celebrities, trolling up and down artist ally and attending panels are generally pretty harmless. I did warn however that not all Cosplayers, celebrities or panels are going to exude PG-13ness. I have personally seen many scantly clad Slave Leias and gentleman Sailor Moons that I cannot unsee. So I told her to keep her mom hand at the ready to shield the kid’s eyes.
2) Bring your own food – my friend and her kids don’t have any diet restrictions as far as I know however, I know that she’s a sane person who probably wouldn’t let her kids eat nacho cheese and soft pretzels for three meals a day. Most Comic Cons have few to no restrictions on what you bring in. So aside from gaining a decent meal from home, you can effectively reduce the overall cost of your experience; con food is super expensive.
3) Encourage her daughter to pick up some odd jobs around the house or babysit locally – conventions are expensive for anyone. However, for a first time young person, the level of merchandise is unlike anything they’ve probably seen in the local Hot Topic. I encouraged my friend to speak to her daughter about the cost of three things in particular:
– Autographs/Photographs: For the tertiary level of celebrities autographs and photos can be as low as $20 – however if it’s Matt Smith you covet think more in the range of $90 for a photograph.
– Merchandise: No matter what your genre is, there will be merchandise that you love. I know that when I was thirteen I would have loved to turn my bedroom into the Starship Enterprise; however back in those days (think 1800s) there wasn’t really merchandise for that kind of thing. However nowadays, if you’d like a TARDIS toilet cover, dollars to doughnuts you can buy it at a Con.
– Comics and Artwork: A lot of comic artists are generally on hand to sign work they’ve done or even introduce new books at a Con. Coupled with a ton of limited edition artwork, Artist Ally can be expensive.
4) Enjoy all of the free things, especially the atmosphere – I have to be honest. Conventions are probably my most favorite place in the world. The atmosphere of acceptance, likemindedness and geekery feeds my soul. First timers may be intimidated by Cosplayers or crowds- my take on this is to enjoy it. Cons are a lot of waiting in line there’s not a lot of getting around that but there is just so much to see around you! I encouraged her to ask for photographs from Cosplayers. Most Cosplayers I’ve met are salt of the Earth people and are happy to pose for a photo with a fan. And since my friend’s daughter loves Who I would love for her to get a rocking photo with her and a Matt Smith cosplayer. How awesome would that be? Plus it’s free, and something she can show her friends when she gets home.
5) Charge all of your electronics and bring one of those battery chargers – cell signal sucks at Cons. Generally there’s no network service available to con goers so your phone battery is drained. Imagine how disappointed you’d be if your phone battery died and Jenna Coleman walked right past you. Epic fail. Those battery chargers work great, are small and compact and can give you a much needed energy boost for all the photos you’ll be snap chatting. (I think this is a thing kids are doing these days.)
6) For younger Con goers, have a designated meet spot – for smaller Cons, you may let your teenager wander a little bit but as previously mentioned, cell coverage sucks in there and you may not be able to get a text or call out to locate them. Bigger cons that occupy multiple floors make this an even bigger concern. Pick a spot and a time frame to meet up with your kids and assure them that using their phone to find you may be next to impossible.
Most of all, have a rocking time. I’d live at Comic Conventions if they’d let me (Squatting lawsuit pending)- There is so much to see and do, enjoy your time and use your best judgement. Be warned. Once you Con once, you’ll be hooked.
P.S. Anything else you’d like to add? What tips and tricks would you give to a newbie?
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