On this episode of The Game of Nerds podcast, I’m sitting down with our resident zombie expert and my “work-husband,” Jon Hicks, to talk about our adventures on the convention floor. Before Andy was on the floor doing conventions with me, the rule was Jon had to be going to the convention for me to go. So over the past six years, we’ve racked up a lot of convention time between the two of us. As SDCC@Home 2021 begins this weekend, it only seemed fitting for Jon and me to talk about our convention experiences as well as tips and tricks. Before we jump into conventions, though, Jon gives us the low down on the Pokemon card situation at Target and how he’s deep into old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. I’m convinced our parents just showed us the show to behave and not do something crazy with friends.
As we begin chatting about conventions, we accidentally started with the best/worst example. Heroes and Villians, Fan Fest, or Walker Stalker Con, whatever you want to call it, is a prime example of how a convention with a great idea can turn bad quickly. It’s considered the Fyre Festival of conventions. Here at The Game of Nerds, we’ve reported multiple times on Fan Fest Events, the legal trouble of its own James Frazier, and the outcome of the now-defunct convention. But there are plenty of great conventions to talk about, San Diego Comic-Con is the most popular out of all of it. It’s over 50 years old, and Jon happens to be the only one on staff who has actually attended the convention. The Game of Nerds has applied for press passes for 8 years now only to be denied by new rules and requirements every year. We talk about Jon’s venture to SDCC and how it’s basically impossible to do everything. Just like all the movies and shows depict, people are lining up days in advance to camp out for a single panel at Hall H. If you are too busy camping you can’t really do anything else the con has to offer. Many convention attendees will get worried if they are missing days, but Jon assures listeners that there is usually so much going on and around the convention that you don’t really have to worry if you are missing tickets.
Jon and I detail how some of these larger conventions work via lotteries for tickets, panels, and booths. This is when having a team or a system is extremely helpful. While Jon says getting the tickets for SDCC was the best moment of his life, it was the most stressful. He only got his tickets by sheer luck and friend’s helping. Would he do it again? For him, once was enough. SDCC is for the die-hard fans and for those there to make money. Larges Conventions like SDCC are known for vendors having special convention exclusives or limited amounts. Some people strictly follow these conventions to pick up the merchandise to turn around a “flip” it for profit. If you’ve ever heard us say “Fuck Flippers,” this is where the word comes from. It’s when someone buys something to sell it for more profit. This is where I discuss my problem with SDCC and how I feel it’s nothing but a money grab. While it’s supposed to be a fan and media event, both these groups of people aren’t being represented well. Tickets are limited for fans, and the media teams who are getting “free tickets” don’t even care about the event.
The pandemic was a doozy for everyone, and the conventions scene is no different. Many conventions weren’t sure they were going to see the light of day again. So we are aware that conventions are trying to make their money back and that conventions are indeed a luxury. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be accessible to everyone. Reed Pop and Wizard World were two companies that quickly pivoted when the pandemic shut down conventions. They both started offering online panels and memberships for exclusive access to events. This system seems to be working for them as people decide whether they are ready to return to unperson events. We go on to talk about ECCC or Emerald City Comic-Con. 2019 was the first year Andy, and I went. It was the first time Funko ever saw Poppin Hopper. For as miserable as I was, it was the best convention ever. We had just found out we were pregnant with Marvel, for those who don’t remember, and I was extremely sick with HG. One of our favorite memories was from the Fugitive Toy Event, and this went down:
Conventions are really a great way for fans and friends to get together and support our local comic book shops. It also gives cosplayers and artists a way to share their creations with the world. New York Comic Con is another huge convention that neither of us has attended. Silicon or Silicon Valley Comic Con is still Jon and I’s favorite home convention to attend. We will be back on that convention floor in August. It’s been the convention that has allowed our cosplay creations to really soar. Some other great notables are C2E2, Fan Expo, DragonCon, and Designer Con. We’ve talked about Creation conventions multiple times on this podcast with Meg, especially in the Supernatural Podcast episode. Over the years on The Game of Nerds, we’ve put out many convention articles with tips and tricks, but here are some of our major ones:
- Check out Groupon or deals as the convention comes closer for tickets. If you can’t afford tickets, some conventions offer volunteer opportunities.
- Have a plan but know that plan will go to hell at some point.
- Pretend your Gumby. If you are nice and wait for everyone, you will never get anywhere on the convention floor.
- If you can fit a foldable chair in your backpack, do it.
- Rule #1 of Conventions: There will always be a line, and the wait will be a long one.
- Be realistic. You can’t do 4 photos ops or signatures in one day.
- Remember, no refunds. Most conventions will not refund tickets, photo ops, or autograph sessions except for celebrity cancellations. A convention, though, will not refund your tickets if 1 guest cancels.
- If you are planning to stand in line, have a backup person.
- Photographs and autographs are NEVER in the same place.
- Just because you have VIP passes doesn’t mean you won’t wait. You will still have to wait, just in a different line.
At the end of the podcast, I ask Jon how he would get someone who has never been to a convention to attend? I’ve always equated it to being dropped on another planet for a day. But Jon has a great way of really describing it. Frankly, you would have to really have a different elevator pitch for everyone. “There is a good chance you will find something you love and didn’t even know it existed because you were never exposed to it until you went to a convention. There is literally something for everyone.”