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How To Get The Most Out Of Comic Con

comic con london
comic con london

Last month, I attended MCM Comic Con in London. This was my fourth Comic Con, having already attended two in Manchester and one in Birmingham. As someone who loves games and fictional worlds, attending Comic Con has held huge appeal to me. But, as someone who also experiences social anxiety, it has also been challenging.

I’ve learnt quite a few things about getting the most of these experiences which I’d like to share with you now.

Have A Budget

Let’s start with the boring, what your parents or guardians would say, stuff. Sort out a budget. There is so much amazing stuff you can buy at Comic Con, from signings to merchandise and much more! With all that’s happening, it’s very easy to spend a small fortune and have buyer’s regret when you get home.

Everyone will have a different idea of what a small fortune would be. The important thing is that you decide on your own budget before you get started. This will allow you to avoid excessive over-spending, but also be a bit more selective with what you buy. This should mean that everything you've brought will be something you'll treasure.

If Possible, Attend All 3 Days

The first three times I went to Comic Con, I only purchased tickets for one day. But this time, I purchased a three-day weekend pass and I felt like I got a lot more out of it. This may sound obvious, but before you attend an event like this, it’s hard to appreciate how much there is to see and do. Booking three days will not only mean you’ll get to see more, you’ll also be able to be a bit more relaxed.

There are valid reasons for only doing one or two days. These include cost (remember your budget) and your available time. But you also might be unsure if Comic Con is the event for you. If you’re not sure getting a one-day ticket will allow you to dip your toe in and decide if this is your scene. If you leave thinking you wish you’d had more time to do and see more, that’s a good sign that this is your scene. Then next time, you can go ahead and book a full three-day ticket!

Highlight Events You’re Interested In But Leave Time For Free Roaming

As I’ve said before, there is a huge amount to do at Comic Con. You're probably not going to be able to see and do everything you want, even if you’re there for the full three days. That’s why I’d recommend having a look at the events schedule beforehand. This will allow you to highlight the events you’re interested in and make time for them. You can do this by going to the convention’s website, or download the app if they have one.

It's also important to have a bit of what I call ‘free roaming’ time with nothing in particular planned. As well as all the events, there is so much going on that’s best discovered by happening upon it. You could easily spend lots of time wondering around seeing the incredible amount of cosplay. On top of that, there are the merchandise stands and stands that offer free experiences too. In our latest Comic Con adventure, my partner and I went to a Dungeons & Dragons stand, where we got filmed fighting our way out of a gelatinous cube! There’s also features like the side-quest zone where you get to play retro games to your heart’s content!

comic con tweet pic

Don't Feel Like You Have To Be 'On' The Whole Time

So, you’ve decided to go to Comic Con. Great decision! You then decide that you’re going to cosplay as your favourite video game character. That’s brilliant! Cosplaying is one of the great things about any Comic Con event and I’ve found it immensely rewarding. That said, there are one or two things I’ve learnt through doing this that I’d like to share with you.

It’s an incredible feeling getting to inhabit a character that you associate with or who inspires you. You might even get an opportunity to impress other people by doing a good impression of them. I had an incredible moment at my first Comic Con in 2017 when I cosplayed as Solid Snake, protagonist of the Metal Gear Solid series. On top of that, David Hayter, the man who voices Snake, was there giving a talk. I went to the talk, not expecting anyone to notice me at the back. But I was noticed and I was even asked up on stage! Then, I saw someone else in the audience stand up, cosplaying as Snake’s in-game rival, Liquid Snake! We somehow launched into acting out a scene from the game in front of hundreds of people! I then got to shake Mr. Hayter’s hand before returning to the audience unable to believe what had happened!

Moments like that are incredible, but they are very energy intensive. As an introvert, being at a convention with hundreds and thousands of other people is also very energy intensive. The takeaway from this is don’t feel you have to be your character the whole time. It sounds simple, but it’s important to remember that you’re not your character. You are someone who is dressing up as a character that is important to you. That’s a brilliant thing and other people are going to appreciate it!

I have to admit in past instances I’ve found myself trying too hard to put on a show. As a result, I’ve felt anxiety over whether I’m doing a good job. I’ve also drained my social stamina and sometimes I’ve intimidated other people. In 2019, I cosplayed as Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2. When I spotted fellow game character, John Marston, I addressed him with my best Arthur Morgan voice. I was then greeted by a nervous glance as he quickly walked away.

Aside from the legendary David Hayter moments, my favourite cosplay moments have been natural moments when I’ve not been in character. Sometimes it can be a simple case of approaching someone and saying you like their cosplay. If you're ever shy about doing that yourself, I can guarantee that it's a great feeling when it happens to you! It can be tempting to put on a show for others, and sometimes if the conditions are right and it feels right, go for it! That said, it is also rewarding to connect with fellow fans and talk about your mutual interests.

These kinds of social challenges are especially difficult if you’re meeting people you look up to. Most of the times, this has happened, I’ve had my mind go completely blank or made jokes that missed their mark. In these moments, I find it’s best to keep things simple and keep things factual. Tell them what work of theirs you’ve enjoyed or what stuff of theirs you’re looking forward to. Or there’s the tried and true “Are you having a good Con?”

Final thing I’ll say about this topic is that it’s ok to have a time out every now and again. Once again, you’re not your character and you do not have to act like your character the whole time. It’s ok to take off your Big Boss eye patch or your Darth Vader helmet and take a moment to ground yourself. Even though Comic Con’s full of the things I love, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Whenever I’ve taken a quiet break, I’ve always felt the better for it and more able to enjoy all that’s going on.

Don't Be Afraid To Put Your Hand Up First

One of the great things about Comic Con is its opportunities to connect with industry professionals and creators. I tend to spend a lot of time at the Creator’s Stage attending talks for budding creators such as myself.

When it comes to the Q&A part of these events, I usually end up thinking “I could ask this? Should I ask this? Maybe someone else will ask this? OK I’ll ask this.”. What I will say on that is that if you have a question that you do want answered, go ahead and put your hand up. The advantage of going first is that you’re guaranteed to not ask a question that’s already been asked. And if they don’t answer yours first, they’re usually quite good at remembering who’s had their hand up longest.

One of the great things about Comic Con is that it embodies a culture of diversity and acceptance. This mean that whatever you have to ask (within obvious limits) will be accepted open-heartedly and will add to people’s experience of the event. I’ve previously asked voice actors how they take care of their voices and gotten advice from successful games writers. This has resulted in some great moments all because I was willing to put my hand up with a half thought out question. I’d very much encourage you to do the same!

And that’s my Comic Con 101! Are there any of these points that you can relate to from your experiences? Any important points I missed? Are you thinking about attending your first Con anytime soon? Let us know on our social media @zatugames!