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  • Writer's picturePat and Alexis Kenrick

Starter Guide to Fan Conventions

So you wanna go to comic conventions?

At Amourable Art, we live, breathe, and eat pop culture. We love attending our fan events, comic conventions, and maybe even anime conventions in the future. You see our posts on facebook and instagram. You love seeing all our photos with customers, cosplayers, and the general geeky community. You want to join in on the fun, but don’t know where to start? Look no further than our Starter Guide to Fan Conventions.

First, you need to figure out which event you want to attend. You can start by searching google. Search with your location and the type of event you want to go to. For example, if you live in central Ohio and love Marvel movies, you might search “Ohio Comic Conventions”. This will pull up a list of show that exist. Look at their websites, dates of the events, celebrities that might be coming. If you are still in the research phase, you could Like the events on Facebook and keep an eye on news announcements. Another option to decide an event to attend, is to look at our Convention Schedule and choose an event where we will be showing off Pat’s art! That way you know you already have at least one friend at the event!

Next, you will want to procure tickets to the events. You’ll need to keep an eye on the social media pages of your chosen event. When tickets go on sale, you will need to purchase them. You can usually buy one-day passes or multi-day passes. Decide how long you want to be at the event. Is your favorite celebrity only going to be at the convention for Saturday? Then you know you will have to pick up a Saturday badge. If you want to immerse yourself in multiple days of all things geek, a multi-day pass could be the right choice.

Now you have your event chosen and tickets purchased. The next step is figuring out parking and lodging. Is the convention close enough to home that you can go sleep in your own bed each night? Lucky you! Many people choose to get a hotel close to the convention. Almost all conventions have a partner hotel or two. These hotels will be listed on the convention website. If you book a room with one of the partner hotels, you’ll be close to the action of the event, nearby if you want to change clothes or cosplay, and able to pop in to take a mid-day nap if your feet need the rest. What about parking? Convention center websites often have information about parking near the event. Your hotel may also offer parking, often for an additional charge.

You have tickets, you know where you are staying, you know how you are getting to the event. What is next? Planning your time at the event. As the convention draws closer, you are going to be getting excited. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrity autographs and photo sessions to purchase online, in advance of the show. You will want to buy these highly sought-after sessions before your event, as they often sell out prior to the convention starting. It would be sucky if you wanted a photo op with your favorite voice actor, and they were sold out. So buy those autographs and photo ops as soon as your get the chance.

Besides photos and autographs with celebrities, you have a ton of other fun ways to nerd out at the convention. There will be panels to attend. Unless listed with an additional cost, all panels are included with your pass to the convention. Panels can be with celebrities, voice actors, behind-the-scenes talent, or even other fans. Some of my favorite panels are the smaller fan panels, as you get to geek out with other fans from the series you love. I went to one fan panel, where Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans argued on stage about which franchise is better. They took audience participation, and the crowd was very interactive. It was fun, and no one went home without a smile on their face. (The consensus was that both series had their positives and negatives. Not really a “winner” but we all had fun.)

Another big aspect of a convention weekend is the vendor floor and artist alley. At some events, these two shopping areas flow seamlessly in the same room, and sometimes an event must place the two shopping areas in different rooms, for size and spacing reasons. Take a look for both areas, as the vendor hall and artist alley both have unique shops that you won’t find outside of fan events. Artist alley is all about the handmade fan goods. You will have 2D traditional and digital art, and in many conventions, you will find handcrafted 3D art and crafts. I have an artist friend who sells her earrings in artist alley, so you never know what handmade creation you will find in the artist alley.

In the vendor hall, you’ll find a mix of handmade artisans and uniquely sourced geeky goods. You will find Amourable Art in the vendor hall at our events. We love the large spaces we can set up our display in, so we try to spread out as much as possible. You’ll also find funny t-shirts, lego minifigures of every superhero you know, battle-ready lightsabers, nerdy oven mitts, or that elusive comic book you need to complete your run of Supergirl. Bring a wad of cash, as some vendors don’t take credit card, and you’ll bring home the best the convention offers.

Almost every aspect of fan conventions are optional. You don’t have to shop in artist alley, you could never attend a panel, and you could skip the late-night parties. Another aspect that is entirely optional is Cosplay. Cosplay is dressing up like your favorite character. Many people love to make or buy costumes, wigs, and accessories to become Superman, Captain America, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Totoro, and any other character you could imagine. Cosplay is an integral part of conventions, but you do not have to dress up. There will be plenty of cosplayers to take pictures with, so if you want to just arrive in jeans and your Metroid t-shirt, that is cool. Of course, if you want to cosplay, the community is so amazing and supportive of new cosplayers. Just remember, cosplay is for everyone, no matter their size, skin tone, gender, or abilities.

That is the basics. Wear comfortable shoes, eat regularly, and enjoy your first fan convention. We hope you’ll stop by our booth and say hi!

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