5 Ways to Comic Con: Part Three
By George Rose
August 31, 2017
When you go to a Con, ALWAYS bring a backpack. Inside you should have a bottle of water, some small snacks, and other bags. Not the cheap, crappy Walmart plastic bags you have 1,000 of under your sink at home. Large plastic bags, like the thick ones at Hot Topic. Not all the shops have bags and it’s better to have one large plastic bag to help carry things than a bunch of small ones. Also, when you arrive at the Con figure out the layout. Usually, the shopping area is a bunch of rows that make up a large rectangle. The best thing you can do is pick a corner; in Philly I start at the bottom left corner and in New York we usually start at the bottom right. This is the corner you’ll find the comic books. Why is that important? Because most people don’t buy comic books. You want the bulk of the shopping to happen towards the end of walking the floor so you don’t have to carry massive bags around for the entire Con. If you browse the comic books vendors first then you can do so without distracting bags and have an easier time seeing some of the rare collectibles only a comic book nerd would have.
Once you pick a corner, go up and down the aisles, top to bottom to top to bottom and so on. Imagine how you would go up and down the aisles at the grocery store. Now, imagine the grocery store had a horizontal isle that cuts through the center of all the long vertical isles. DO NOT CROSS THE CENTER! If you make it halfway down an aisle and think there’s nothing good further ahead, you’re missing out on the chance to find those tiny hidden vendors that don’t have stuff sticking out you can see from afar and, more importantly, you will have a harder time remembering where you’ve been and where you’re going. Trust me. Up, down, up, down.
Eventually you will find yourself past the comic books and into the heart of shopping: t-shirts, Funko Pops and handmade collectibles. T-shirts are my favorite. Half the shirts you see are convention exclusives and the others are a wide range of standard comic book fare. I only shop for the exclusives. You can buy a Marvel shirt or Batman cup anywhere. What you can’t find anywhere are brand hybrids. For example, the shirt I wore to this Con (as seen on the homepage link for this article). Pokemon and Marvel aren’t both a part of the same company, so you won’t find a hybrid shirt of the two at the mall. At Comic Con, artists design up special shirts and sell them. One of my favorites is the hybrid shirt in the picture, The Evolving X-Mon (get it?!). Instead of Storm casting her lighting, it’s a Pikachu in a Storm outfit. These are the shirts that get the most compliments from other nerds outside of the Cons and the ones you’ll never be able to find again. Hybrid shirts are where 50% of my Con budget ends up.
The other 50% is for Funko Pops and other collectibles. The cheapest of which is also the kind that has the widest variety: pins. You can find all sorts of amazing little pins for $1 each and a cool nerd backpack is just the place to show them off. $5 isn’t even enough for one Funko Pop but it gets you a handful of pins that all can help identify what nerdy things you like. Strangers with certain pop culture common interests can see what you like and you can bond over it. Besides pins, I’m all about the Pops. They have every show and movie you’ve ever loved and they are just small enough and reasonably priced ($10 each) to give you something cool to collect. The trick is searching the selection for the one with the least damage and paint defects.
My hopes for Sunday was to meet Famke Janssen (X-Men), Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman), and Michael Rooker & Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy). The only autographable collectible I found on Thursday was a Lex Luther action figure for Eisenberg to sign. I had wasted my budget on shirts and my time taking pictures; even though Thursday tends to have less cosplayers (and those that are there have cheap costumes) it has the benefit of shorter lines for the pop culture set pieces. Even though this was Joe’s favorite part of the Con and he loved taking a picture on the iron throne from Game of Thrones, some people aren’t built for the Comic Con treasure hunt. Most people don’t want to wait while you sift through Funko Pops, compare shirt sizes or try haggling down prices from the gypsy sales vendors. Joe’s desire to leave cut the day short but I knew in my heart I would make the best use possible of Sunday. My wishes came true but at a huge cost. Check back next week to see how I found every collectible I would need for Sunday, only to end up making a complete ass of myself in front of four different celebrities.