This article is a guest post by John Babula and Diego Salas.
So you have decided that you are ready to attend your first comic bookconvention. But the real questions is, “Are you ready?” and “Do you have any idea whatone of these events is like?” Well, just recently my comic book friend Diego and I attended the Baltimore Comic Convention held in the Baltimore Convention Center inthe heart of Baltimore. We feel like this experience is one that allows us to give you, the first time comic book convention attendee, some insight into what one of these events is really like, because if you have never been, you definitely do not want to get caught off guard or worse yet, not make the most of your outing.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!!!!!
First off, you need to do your homework and no, I am not talking about the kindyou get from your teachers in school. I’m talking about a little research. The conventionyou are attending, for example Baltimore, will certainly have a website. Check it out to see what events they are having, what famous people might be there that you want to meet, and which of your favorite artists will be attending. I would suggest creating a list. Diego and I sure did, and it helped us keep track of everyone that we wanted to meet.
MAKE A LIST.
Once you have your list done, you will want to think about who is most important on your list and who is the least important. Although I am sure there is a chance that you will be able to meet everyone you want and see everything you hope to see, the chances that this will happen are not great. So it is best to decide who you really want to see and who you would like to see, but if there isn’t enough time, you won’t get too upset. In my case, first on my list was Ron Wilson. He was the artist who drew many of the old Masters of the Universe comics and because I am a huge Masters of the Universe fan,and because I have never met him before, he was a must for me. Had I not met him,gotten some autographs, and a sketch, I would have been devastated. Luckily, I knew he was my top priority and I was able to meet him. Diego, on the other hand, had David Finch at the top of his list. David Finch is currently drawing Batman and has done somework on Ultimate X-men as well. This was a must for Diego and he too was lucky enough to meet him as well. However, in both our cases, had we not went to our mustsee artists first, we probably would not have met them because after a while their lines became quite long.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT?????
Now that you know you are going, you have your list, and you have put your listin order of what and who is most important, there are certain other things that you can doto make sure you have a successful convention.
First, you should know ahead of time that there are going to be a lot of people there. You will have to spend a lot of time standing in line to meet some of your favoriteartists and writers. For example, Diego spent three hours in line to meet David Finch.He knew this going into the show so he was not surprised. He was also able to plan out his time knowing that most of his day would be spent in the David Finch line.
Second, some artists charge money for sketches. Bringing some money with you is definitely a good thing. If there is an artist that you really love, you will probably be willing to pay for him or her. I can tell you that at Baltimore Con, Ron Wilson was very reasonably priced and did sketches of any one you wanted for about 20.00. David Finchwould do head shots for 60.00 and full body sketches for 300.00. Herb Trimpe, who drew G.I. Joe and also the first ever Wolverine, did sketches for 60.00. At the same time artists like Ron Frenz, who drew Spiderman did head shots for 30.00, and Chip Wallace,who drew JLA, did sketches for 15.00. So as you can see, different artists will have different prices. It will be up to you to decide how much you want to spend and for whom.
After reading the top portion, you might be saying to yourself, “How am I evergoing to afford a sketch by my favorite artist?” Well, you could always ask for a “free”sketch. Basically, you walk up to your favorite artist and ask him or her to draw something quick. Artists will do this from time to time and the sketches, although they won’t be the greatest sketches ever, are still sketches and better yet they are FREE!!!! At the same time, there are many artists that will not do this. Frank Cho, who draws Liberty Meadows and Spiderman, will not do a free sketch no matter what!!! Diego and I both asked him and he said “NO” right away. However, artists like Joey Linsner, who draws Dawn, and Don Rosa, who draws Scrooge McDuck were more than willing to do free sketches for fans. So take a chance, hey you never know you might just get a free sketch from an artist who normally charges money. You have nothing to lose.
If you are looking to get comic books autographed, you do not need to worry. Artists and writers are very willing to sign anything and everything and in most cases if you just want to get a comic book signed you can even cut the line and have them sign your books in between sketches that they are doing for other fans. Even Frank Cho will sign an autograph.
MORE THAN JUST ARTISTS, WRITERS, AND SKETCHES………….
The Baltimore Convention, which we have used to give you an idea of what acomic book convention is like, is more than just meeting artists, writers, and gettingsketches or autographs. There is also so much more. For example, at Baltimore Con there were panels were your favorite artists and writers would go to talk about what theyare currently working on and also to answer questions that fans have for them. In addition to that, you also have many comic, trade paperbacks, and hard covers for sale.Many comic book stores get tables and sell their stuff for very reasonable prices, and if aprice is a little high you can always bargain with the vendors in order to make a deal.Lastly, you will also see many toys for sale. If you are into toys like Transformers,G.I.Joe, Star Wars, or Marvel Universe, you will certainly get your fill at a comic book convention. At BaltimoreCon, there were many toy vendors and they had everything your heart could desire. They even had San Diego Comic Con exclusives like Blazing Sword Voltron, Cobra Commander, Starscream, and Queen Marlena.
BE READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED!
Even with your preparation, there is still a chance something will happen that will divert your attention or spark a new and wonderful idea. For Diego, it was the idea of having David Finch signing a Batman comic book. Not only did Diego want him to sign it, but he wanted CGC to witness it and then grade the actual comic. For those of youthat are unfamiliar with CGC, they are the go to company when it comes to grading comics. Grades range from a perfect mint 10 to a not so perfect 1. Depending on thegrade and significance of the comic, a CGC grade can boost the value of any comic.Now, this genius idea of Diego’s came with 15 minutes left in the show, so time wascrucial. After going through 10 different comic shops, Diego found the comic he waslooking for, rushed to CGC, cut the line for David Finch and had 1 minute left to spare. Now he will wait a few weeks to receive his final grade. This goes to show that someplans can always change. Sometimes it’s a new idea and sometime it could be an unexpected guest like Sal Buscema showing up unexpectedly when he was not originally scheduled to be at BaltimoreCon.
ARE YOU READY NOW?
Now that you know the ins and outs of the comic convention, do you feel moreready to attend? We hope so. Everyone is different and what makes one fan happy does not necessarily make another fan happy. For me, meeting Ron Wilson and getting asketch from him was probably the highlight of the BaltimoreCon, whereas for Diego it was all about David Finch. What will make your convention an enjoyable one is totally up to you, but we hope that after reading this, you will have a better idea of how to goabout achieving your happiness.-John Babula and Diego Salas