5 Ways to Comic Con: Part Five
By George Rose
September 13, 2017


The end is here. 5 Ways to Comic Con has finally reached its fifth and final part. That doesn’t mean the good times are over forever… or even for very long. With this final entry, you will have all completed your comic book convention basic training but there is still so much to learn. You started with a crash course about my first few Cons and then got a detailed look at my most recent two day experience. Now, we are going to take everything we’ve learned and give you the concluding chapter. What should we call this final article? Oh yeah, how about… 5 Ways to Prep. And what better way to list how to prepare than by using my upcoming visit to Heroes and Villains Fan Fest as the example?! So, without further adieu, here are the five ways you can best prepare yourself for the next convention making its way to a city near you.

Way to Prep #1: Research

What I’ve known for several weeks now is that on September 16 I will be heading to Secaucus, NJ for a two day mini-convention called Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. I’ve only ever been to Comic Cons in the past but there are too many celebrities now to stuff them all into just a few conventions. So, just like there are TV celebrities and movie celebrities, and DC comics and Marvel Comics, there is Comic Con (the best) and everything else (including Heroes and Villains). Comic Con only makes two stops near me each year, Philly in June and New York in October. Once you smoke some comic book convention from your crack pipe, the addiction spreads quickly. I am in full blown crackhead mode and I can’t get enough of the Con.

Travis, Heather and Michelle (the friends that gave me my first convention high) are now introducing me to Heroes and Villains. Just like Comic Con, there will be shopping, autographs and photo-ops. I have been warned that it’s more similar to a small Philly Comic Con than an epic New York Comic Con. This actually pleases me as you can accomplish more in smaller settings. Even though I’m a Heroes and Villains virgin, I’m a master of the Con and I’m not too concerned with being unfamiliar in a small convention layout. As with any Con, if you have the benefit of knowing in advance that you’re attending the event you can eventually find the list of names, times and prices for each autograph and photograph available.

Weeks ago something became very clear. Movie stars don’t attend this little convention. The majority of the attendees are TV stars. Also, it seems clear that the majority of those TV stars belong to DC Comics related series. This leaves me with mixed feelings. Generally, I prefer Marvel over DC. Also, I prefer movies over TV. However, I think it is semi-common knowledge that TV is the one place where DC has a tiny edge over Marvel. Then again, I don’t really watch DC or Marvel shows. Movies, yes, all the above. TV? Not so much. Do you think this is going to deter me? Not in the slightest.

Why would I waste my time spending money and time on celebrities when I don’t watch the shows they are appearing at a convention to promote? Because it doesn’t matter why they are there or what they are promoting. The fact of the matter is, celebrities show up and take your cash no matter what you are stalking them for. The biggest shows appearing at Heroes and Villains are from Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and Agents of Shield. I couldn’t tell you a single thing happening on any of those shows. Most of the celebs showing up are from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, neither of which I have seen even thirty seconds of. But, with a little research you can find a treasure trove of reasons to meet them. To show you what I mean, here is the list of the celebrities I’m excited to meet, along with the reason they are there and the reason I care to meet them:

Stephen Amell. This is the biggest celebrity of the convention. His picture and autograph will cost the most money. Famous for: Arrow (title character). Why George cares: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (Casey Jones).

Robbie Amell. He is the cousin of Stephen but not as famous, though I find him more attractive. Famous for: The Flash (Firestorm). Why George cares: The Duff (hot guy).

Brandon Routh. Despite once playing Superman, he is now relegated to second tier status on DC TV. Famous for: Legends of Tomorrow (The Atom). Why George cares: Superman Returns (title character) and Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Todd Ingram).

Katie Cassidy. Aside from the Amell’s and Routh, many of these names probably aren’t familiar to you. Famous for: Arrow (Black Canary). Why George cares: Monte Carlo (because I love cheesy Selena Gomez movies).

Willa Holland. Again, I’m so happy celebrities I love are finally getting some attention because I feel like most people don’t know who Willa is. Famous for: Arrow (Speedy). Why George cares: The O.C. (oh yes, Mischa Barton’s little sister).

David Mazouz. I’ve never met a teenage celebrity so I can only imagine how I’ll ruin it. Famous for: Gotham (young Bruce Wayne). Why George cares: I don’t but it’s Batman.

Way to Prep #2: Dress Code (this does not discuss cosplay since I haven’t done that… yet)

Stephen Amell will only be there Sunday so that means the Stephen/Robbie double photo-op that we have tickets for is on Sunday. Why is knowing this important? Because that means Sunday would be the day to wear a shirt that somehow idolizes one or both of those actors. Since The Duff was a small movie, I don’t have anything to wear for it. Robbie is my favorite star at this convention, though, so I had a custom had made in his honor. Since I don’t care about Arrow, that means between the Amells’ show/movies I care about most that I have a related shirt for is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s probably what I’ll wear for Sunday.

That leaves four other celebs I care about on Saturday. I don’t have a shirt for The O.C. (sorry Willa) and I don’t have a shirt for Monte Carlo (sorry Katie). I do have Batman and Superman shirts, though. Oh, wait a second… The Justice League movie is coming out soon! That has Batman, Superman and the Flash, all of which are also currently appearing in variety of different TV shows. Since the Justice League movie is coming out, merchandise for the comic team-up has been readily available. It’s not a problem that I’m not wearing any of the individual DC show shirts because the Justice League shirts I have are from the comics, not the movie. Everybody loves the classic drawings and I have just the shirt to help spread the DC comic book love.

Way to Prep #3: Autographables

Now that you know who you care about, you can know what to buy in advance to have ready for signing. Even though I want to meet a celebrity for an unrelated reason, sometimes the best thing to get signed is from the reason the celeb is attending (it could be worth more money later). Case and point: neither Monte Carlo or The O.C. have memorabilia worth signing, to me anyway. I don’t do posters and headshots are kinda bland. As you have learned from the article series, I’m obsessed with Funko Pops. Here is what I have purchased in advance to get signed: Stephen Amell (Arrow & Casey Jones Funko Pops); Robbie Amell (Firestorm Funko Pop); Katie Cassidy (Black Canary Funko Pop); Willa Holland (Speedy Funko Pop); Brandon Routh (Superman & Todd Ingram Funko Pops); David Mazouz (Batman Funko Pop).

Now that you know what I deem worth autographing, here’s what I’ve learned about where to get them. Ebay is the best place for the exclusive Funko Pops (the ones with stickers on the box). Ebay sellers are usually collectors and take proper care of the Funko Pops when shipping them. Amazon, however, was a total nightmare. I had to return several damaged Pops and buy them again from Ebay. Amazon is better than Ebay though when it comes to returns and non-exclusives. Walmart is the best though for cheap Pops because you can do store-pickup and immediately return the ones you don’t want as you pick up the ones you do. Amazon selection is better than Walmart but no store pick-up. Then you have the off-line options. The stores that carry exclusive Funko Pops are Hot Topic, FYE, Gamestop and Barnes & Noble. Other stores have some exclusives but these are the main stops on my weekly shopping tour.

Way to Prep #4: Packing

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again: your backpack is your best friend at Comic Con. Your friends won’t carry your stuff and there’s a good chance some of the vendors don’t have bags. In your backpack, you should have something to drink, a snack, some ziplock bags (I put small things like magnets and pins in there so they don’t get lost), and more large bags. Every time I purchase something, I want it to have its own bag so I can remember how many times I made a purchase (it helps later when reviewing my credit card statement). Each vendor goes into one small bag, like you’d find at Walmart. Once you have a few small bags, it gets uncomfortable to hold. That’s when four or five small bags gets placed into the one giant plastic bag (I like the ones from Hot Topic), also conveniently bundled up into my backpack. Then throw in some of the other things your OCD requires of you; I pack Purell, tissues, a backup battery charger for my phone, gum, mints and maybe a flask, depending on my mood.

Way to Prep #5: Memories

What we forget more often than not is that this is all supposed to be for fun. Sure, autographs can sell for more money later and celebrities are these amazing god-like creatures that walk among us mortals. But this is a chance to take pictures with your friends, a chance to tell Robbie he is the hotter Amell, a chance to tell Willa you’re proud she didn’t follow Micha’s path to drug abuse, and a chance to tell Katie you loved her southern sass in Monte Carlo. These conventions aren’t just about autographs and buying merchandise, they are about meeting people you idolize while you’re with the friends you love. The list of celebrities is rarely the same so most of these opportunities are once-in-a-lifetime. Heck, after missing Carrie Fisher last October it’s safe to say any chance you have to meet a celeb could be your only chance.

It may not matter to most people but celebrities matter to me. Robbie taught me not all jocks are cruel dirtbags. Katie taught me that southern charm is as helpful as southern sass. Willa was in The O.C. and that show dominated my college years. Some of these people aren’t just celebrities. They are a part of you. Maybe not you but a part of me. They raised me and taught me most of what I know. And if I don’t use these chances to thank the people that helped me grow into the movie fanatic I am today, I may regret it for the rest of my life. I know missing out on the chance to meet Carrie Fisher when I was all but a hundred feet from her less than a year ago will haunt me forever. I have learned from many conventions mistakes and hope you enjoyed having them passed on. The lessons aren’t over though. Check back next week to see how five articles of prep is still probably not enough to save the Heroes or Villains of Fan Fest!