Convention Queen for a Day, by Martha Thomases
With New York Comic-Con receding into the fogs of memory, I’m girding my loins to face another season of conventions. Last year, as part of the ComicMix Inaugural World Tour, I went to more shows than I had ever attended before. However, with the long lull between Mid-Ohio and New York, I managed to block out some of the more disturbing experiences that typify what it means to go to a comics convention.
NYCC is not a typical show. It’s huge, it’s crowded, it’s noisy, and it has attitude. That’s because it’s in Manhattan, but it’s also because it wants desperately to be San Diego. People come to see movies and television previews at least as much as they come to see comics. And that’s cool. Maybe some of these people will also buy a few comics.
Still, it does make for long lines and the attendant short tempers. If you want to enjoy a comics convention, go to Heroes World or Mid-Ohio, or Baltimore. The size is manageable, you can meet a few of your favorite pros, and you can hear yourself think over the noise of the crowd.
However, any show would be more fun if everyone followed these simple rules, which I will enforce when I’m named Queen:
• Conventions are most common in the summer. They usually last for at least two days. If you’re going to travel to one, please remember to pack more than one shirt. Even if you plan to bathe, please, for the love of God, pack more than one shirt.
• No back-packs. I know you need something with which to schlep your stuff, but carry it in your hand or on your shoulder. That way, when you knock someone over, you’ll see what you’ve done and apologize like a human.
• Just because someone is wearing a company logo or a headset doesn’t mean that person knows what’s going on. If you ask a question and don’t get an informed answer, don’t assume you’ve been insulted. Say “Thank you” and look for someone else.
• The best part of being required to go to comics events used to be that there were never ever any lines for the ladies’ room. Thanks to Friends of Lulu and the popularity of manga, this is no longer true. If you’re planning to attend the show in your Catwoman patent leather jumpsuit, please try to change at home. The bathroom is for people who need the bathroom.
• Similarly, if your costume requires you to carry a weapon – whether it’s a light saber, or an axe, or Excaliber – try to carry it on your shoulder. If you drag it on the ground, someone (i.e. me) will trip on it.
• Please, if you can’t bring more than one t-shirt, at least rinse it out in the sink.
• Remember that humans are involved in all transactions. Even your favorite artist, who has a panel you’ve awaited all year, is a human who might be having a bad day. If she describes working on a project you don’t think you’ll like, try to wait until you’re out of the room before you announce that it sucks.
• Similarly, if you’re a prominent creator, remember that your fans are humans, and might be having a bad day. If someone asks for a signature when you’re not at your table, smile and tell him that you’ll be happy to sign at your table. If they don’t have the book opened to the most convenient page to sign, try to smile and calmly tell them what you’d like.
• It’s hideously rude to use those suitcases with handles and wheels to carry your purchases. If you’re going to buy more than you can carry, go to the FedEx and ship your purchases to your home. Sure, it’s expensive, but I won’t need to sue you for banging into my shins over and over.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess of all things ComicMix, is almost looking forward to San Diego this year. She’s pretty sure this feeling won’t last all the way to July.