Nathan's Laserium: Calgary Comic Expo! Time!

What are you doing this weekend? I am working nightshift. But don’t cry for me, rather just go have tons of fun at Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo! Yeah it’s that time of year again, so I am happy to kind of rerun my convention-attending-helps-you-out-some-guide. Best thing about it is, it works for any comic convention!

There’s so much going on that every person can have a completely unique and almost infinitely-customizable convention experience. You could grab a convention-exclusive action figure, hit up a panel discussion on writing queer and queer-friendly comics, get a one-of-a-kind sketch card from a professional comics artist, see a massive movie star hype her newest movie and take pictures of the most amazing cosplayers in their hand-made costumes of your favorite characters, all by noon on the first day. And you still have three-and-a-half days to go!

It's all about modulation. Not moderation, modulation. By all means gorge and binge and binge and gorge at a con, but do it wisely using these tips.


Money: You want to carry quite a bit of cash on you, as many vendors are cash-only. If you really want to make life easier on them, have a wad of bills smaller than a $20. Everyone pays in 20s, and then the vendors run out of change very quickly. Now, what should you do with your money? Completely up to you of course, but I like to get stuff that you can't get anywhere else. Sketches, convention exclusives, that sort of thing. Autographs and photos with celebrities are not my thing at all, but it's a huge part of a convention. Where else are you going to have a second or two to chat with Sigourney Weaver, say, or George Takei? Everyone bemoans the fact that Comic-Cons aren’t about comics anymore, but I advise against buying comics- you can get those anytime, right? One exception being independent comics purchased directly from the creators.


Time: There's so much to do, especially at big conventions like SDCC. You can easily lose hours just waiting in line, or getting to and from the convention center. There are things you want to go to or do that you will miss out on. Not a lot you can do about that, I guess, though cutting down on time-wasters like hitting the snooze button can help. Bringing food also helps, then you don't have to stand in line for meals or going off-site. Which brings me to...


Blood Sugar: Sex magic? No, but close. Managing your blood sugar is probably the single-most effective piece of advice I have on pretty much everything, conventions included. Don't want it too high, don't want it too low. Eat your meals, preferably healthy ones, and bring snacks to refuel throughout the day. Apples and power bars are very effective. Also, try to drink water rather than soft drinks. You don't want to have a sugar crash. When you're hungry, everything becomes an annoyance, if not an excuse to full-out hulkify. But when your stomach is happy, you are happy. Things roll off that much easier.


Body Odor, Hygiene, and Personal Space: Do everyone a favour and wear deodorant. Use mouthwash. It gets hot, you get sweaty, that's natural. You can cut down on eau de convention just by maintaining your personal hygiene. Change your clothes at least once a day! If you have a massive backpack, try to be aware of where it is when you are swinging around. No one likes getting hit in the face with someone's backpack. And DO NOT put your bag down on a vendor's table, especially on an art portfolio. The convention floor can be pretty crowded, but if you are relaxed, don't do sudden stops and swerves, it goes pretty well. Be patient! And if taking photos with cosplayers, keep in mind that even though they are smiling and pleasant, most of them would prefer if you didn't put your sweaty, germy arms around them. And please, please, please read your convention's anti-harassment policy and be diligent about following it. Cosplay is NOT consent. Some cons don't have such a policy, so just pretend they do and follow it anyway. Don’t harass anyone, cosplayer or not. Right? Right!

Everyone thanks you.

Personally, I love taking photos of cosplayers, and prefer not to ruin the photos by having me in the picture. If you are polite and choose the right moment (ie. not when they are sitting down for a bite to manage their blood sugar or something) the vast majority of cosplayers are happy to pose for you. Try not to block traffic, and asking them about their costumes is a great ice-breaker, as long as you're genuinely curious and not just testing them on their geek knowledge.

It’s easy. Just don't be a dick, right? So easy. Makes it fun for everyone.

- Nathan Waddell