5 Ways to Comic Con Part 1
By George Rose
May 3, 2018
For many, this is the best weekend ever with the release of Avengers: Infinity War. I don’t want to diminish that experience for anyone but this weekend is bigger than that for a lot of us. If you happen to live in the Philadelphia area, this weekend is also one of TWO upcoming Comic Con weekends. Oh yes, this weekend is the Infinity War debut AND Philly Comic Con. How do you choose between a 5 Ways to Prep article for those two glorious options? You don’t. You write two articles, especially if it is your job as a member of the press.
That’s right, I called myself press. That word had never crossed my mind as a possible identifier but now it rolls off the tongue. A few days ago I was doing my routine check of celebrity appearance updates prior to the convention - this was while watching one of the films in the Marvel Universe in preparations for the new Avengers - and I noticed a link to apply for a press pass for this weekend’s Great Philadelphia Comic Con. As a casual writer for BOP, I never thought to see what gifts this privilege could bestow upon me. I clicked the link and, much to my dismay, the expiration for the application was a week earlier. My heart was broken.
I scrolled down to see what the pass was about and it basically grants you free entry into the event. You don’t get to skip lines and you don’t get free autographs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Not automatically giving me something doesn’t mean I can’t have it, right? If you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it. I continued down the press pass page and saw an application link still available. I clicked it and it worked. The next page was just a few simple questions about who I am, what publication I contribute to and why I deserve a pass.
I loved BOP as a kid almost twenty years ago and I am blessed they allow me to send them articles for publication. Writing them is so much fun and they are easy to do because I love movies, and because I grew up reading BOP and obsess over box office analytics. A year ago I started writing for BOP and found joy in creating a 5 Ways to Prep for the new movie coming out each week. Sometimes I would change it up and write about Comic Con. A year later I stumble onto a link for a press pass to the event I love and used the website I love as my credentials, because I had coincidentally written articles about prior Cons. Despite the week-old expiration, I submitted an application because the site still allowed me to. The very next day I got an email. I was approved.
That wasn’t all. Inside the email was a standard request to write an article BEFORE the event. The plan was always to write an article. No movie dares being released the weekend after Avengers so I was actually going to surprise you all next week with a 5 Ways to Recap Philly Comic Con. That article is still coming. The surprise, however, is ruined. Comic Con email robots asked for a pre-Con article and karma demands I give it to them.
Thank you BOP for raising me and giving me a home for writing about movies. Thank you Great Philadelphia Comic Con for approving me for a press pass. And thank you to (hopefully) the handful of readers that keep coming back each week which (hopefully) encourages BOP to keep me around. Avengers + Comic Con + press pass = the best weekend of my nerd life. I want to speculate this will lead to red carpet events but, for now, let’s prep for Comic Con!
#1) CONVENTION DISCOVERY
Just like you don’t get cool things if you don’t ask for them, you don’t know about Cons if you don’t look for them. It took a rather simple search of “pop culture conventions near me” to get a list of different events in my area. After weeding out the car and garden shows, you’ll start to see some interesting options. Turns out I just missed a nearby horror movie convention with celebrities like Tim Curry (the original IT and Rocky Horror Picture Show), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) and several of the Jason Voorhees stunt actors. That would have been cool.
Philadelphia Wizard World is a big comic book convention in the May/June timeframe and is located right in the city. I’ve attended that twice now with a third time planned for next month. Never before had I seen “The Great Philadelphia Comic Con” and it was only a few months away. Being a lesser-known Con these days is a good thing, as long lines and fan madness can make larger conventions uncomfortable. Not only had I never discovered this small gem just 30 minutes outside of Philly, I learned they had the one thing I desperately needed for my collection: Power Rangers. The Green/White one is everywhere. Blue and Black usually attend New York Comic Con in the fall so I’ve met them. Pink never comes around. I met the first Red one before and he’s a greedy jerk, though he’ll be at this Con too. Who they also have are two Yellow Rangers, the second Red and Black, Alpha 5 and… BULK AND SKULL!!!
I digress. The point is, there’s a Con near you ever few weeks or months if you look hard enough. For now, we are prepping for the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. I believe tickets are still available for those in the area that want to come hang with me and my press pass.
#2) PRE-CON GUEST LIST
Once you know you’re going to a Con you need to check the guest list and check it often. People cancel and come onboard all the time, sometimes at the very last minute. A few weeks ago my initial interest grew because of the following guests: James Remar (Raiden in Mortal Kombat 2), Audra Dubois (Yellow Power Ranger), Karan Ashley (second Yellow Ranger), Johnny Yong Bosch (second Black Ranger), Romy Sharf (Alpha 5), Paul Schrier (Bulk), Jason Narvy (Skull), Michael Colter (Luke Cage), Jim Cummings (every animated voice ever) and Brian Herring (BB-8 from Star Wars). There are still more that I like but since I get Funko Pops autographed I tend to focus prep on who I can get Pops signed from.
There were late additions to the Con as well. During my early search, I saw a convention in Baltimore, MD this same weekend and that Con had the second Red Power Ranger attending, who I desperately need on my Megazord Funko Pop to help complete the set. Well, I almost purchased a ticket to both conventions and planned on a two-hour drive mid-day to try and collect all the autographs. By waiting to buy tickets and by constantly checking the guest list, I saw the Red Ranger canceled on Baltimore and joined Philly. This was PERFECT!!!!
Oh, yeah, and Val Kilmer (the second cinema Batman, among other gems) decided to join less than two weeks out. While this is incredible news and a great celebrity for this unknown convention to give us, fans need more than a week to purchase a collectible to get signed. Luckily for me, I’m a rabbid Funko collector. A few clicks and $25 later, a Pop was purchased.
#3) PRE-CON WARDROBE PLANNING
This doesn’t mean Cosplay. Wearing costumes of our favorite characters makes people want to take pictures with you, which makes shopping and autograph hunting much harder. In lieu of a costume, I try to dress in the attire most relevant to the celebrities I’m meeting at the convention. Since the only day I was able to go to before was Sunday and several of my targets are from Power Rangers, that seems to be the brand I should bank on. I already have a perfect shirt for the occasion so that makes planning rather easy. Now, all I need is a hat. Oh, wait, I’m sorry… I’M MOTHER F-KING PRESS! That means now I can go two days! What shirt should I wear? There’s so many choices! I’m just kidding. If Batman comes, you wear Batman.
#4) PRE-CON PURCHASES
The celebs not listed earlier don’t have Funko Pops or I couldn’t buy them in time so I won’t be hunting their autograph, so they won’t be mentioned in this prep article. The only ones that don’t have Pops that I mentioned are Bulk and Skull from Power Rangers. With so many Rangers present, they got added to the list because it’s basically a Ranger Convention. So, I need to buy a Power Ranger hat to match my shirt and that’s what I’ll have them sign. Hats make a great non-Funko option for an autograph collection. All the other celebs on my list have Pops and I have acquired the one needed for them in advance, although for a slightly higher price you can try to find them the day-of at the conventions themselves. Pre-Con options for purchasing include EBay and, again, a simple Google search. Tons of collectors sell online.
#5) PRE-CON PACKING
Don’t forget your backpack with your cell phone charger, some water, a snack, some paint pens for autographs (you don’t want to rely on the right celeb having the wrong pen type/color), some hand sanitizer (because I’m OCD) and all the goodies you tend to take with you on day trips. For those not simply attending a convention for the leisurely stroll or some light shopping, you’ll need something bigger and safer than a backpack to carry your collectibles. For under $30 you can buy a small wire cart on wheels to bring with you. You don’t see many fans with them but I’ve gotten tons of compliments on mine. It really is helpful to be able to push or drag around the bulky boxes you need with you at all times. You can’t leave them in the car or you might miss you autograph opportunity. Kind of like a press pass, there are times when lightning strikes and stars align. You just have to search for the opportunity and be brave enough to ask.
Check back next week during your Avengers: Infinity War recovery period to see what trouble I got into with my first ever press pass at the Great Philadelphia Comic Con!!!