Convention Etiquette

I spent a fabulous weekend at Denver Comic and arrived home Sunday night a weary-to-the-bone but happy fan girl.

This was the convention’s second year and it seemed twice as large with twice as many in attendance. Initially, I was a little disappointed because I really enjoyed last year’s small, homey con. However, bigger did mean better, with great guests like George Takei, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day and The Shat. The dealers’ room/artist alley space was huge and took hours to get through. There were some great panels on geek culture. I especially enjoyed the one on geek girls, which included a lively discussion on whether or not the label is still relevant.

I also enjoyed seeing lots of children. This was a kid friendly event and whole families turned out, some dressed in costume. One of my favorites was dad dressed as the fourth Doctor, mom dressed as his Time Lord companion, Romana, and their daughter costumed as a Dalek. Adorable!

Unfortunately, bigger also meant lengthy line for just about everything, particularly registration, where the lines were hours long.  Inside the convention center, lines to see the guests of honor and even some of the panels wound around the hallways. The dealers’ room/artist alley aisles were usually packed with people.

It was a saving grace that most people were polite. Since this is convention season, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over a few basics of con etiquette.

Do Not Cut in Line
Yes, the line is very long and you really want to get in, and you really shouldn’t have to wait for two-three hours. Suck it up. It’s first come, first served, and the people at the front of the line probably arrived at 5 a.m. and deserve their spot. Holding a place in line for up to five people is acceptable. More than that should go to the back of the line.

Ask Permission Before Taking a Photo
It may be assumed that all cosplayers are exhibitionists who want their pictures taken at any time. False! For example, if cosplayers are sitting down at a table and eating lunch, they don’t want to be bothered by every fool with a camera. Those who want their pictures taken usually make themselves available in some way. Catch them when they’re strolling around the concourse, not otherwise engaged, and always ask permission. This gives the cosplayer(s) time to stop and pose, and give you an awesome shot.

I asked the zombie’s permission before entering his cage. He rewarded me by trying to eat my brains!

I asked the zombie’s permission before entering his cage. He rewarded me by trying to eat my brains!

If you like a popular fandom, such as “Game of Thrones” and “Doctor Who,” chances are there will be a group photo shoot. In this case, you don’t need to ask permission, but you should wait until the cosplayers are posed before you start photographing.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, you should ALWAYS ask a parent’s permission before photographing a young child. The one exception is a group photo shoot, when permission is implied.

Save a Reasonable Number of Seats
It is reasonable to save up to two seats on either side of you. Trying to save a whole row makes you a jackass and no one will respect that.

Respect the Artists and Dealers
You might not like all the art you see on Artist Alley. Keep those remarks to yourself until you are out of earshot of the artist. You might think a dealer booth is overpriced. Fair enough, but don’t haggle unless the vendor seems open to it. For example, you show an interest in a $20 item and the dealer offers to give you two for $30. Don’t place your stuff on their merchandise. Anything that damages their merchandise is their monetary loss and they are at the con to make money.

Last but Not Least: Hygiene!
You are going to be at close quarters with lots of people. It is a much more pleasant experience if everyone in the room bathed or showered and brushed their teeth that morning. Deodorant is a must, but lay off on the heavy scented colognes and perfumes.

In the end, at cons as well as regular life, it is always best to follow Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick.

Convention Season

Convention season is upon us and I hope all my fellow geeks out there have at least one fun con in which to romp. I am geeking out in a major way, spending two consecutive weekends at three conventions.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I headed to San Jose for the joint conventions, Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy. I have to shout this out to San Francisco Bay Area folks who aren’t in the know. For a $50 preregistration fee, you can spend four days at two conventions. It’s an incredible value and tons of fun.

Fanime is all things anime and manga, as well as a bit of Asian cinema thrown in. The attendees love to cosplay, i.e., dress in the costumes of their favorite characters. It’s like a four-day costume party that goes all day and all night. Just so you know, this is a very young crowd and the majority tends to be in their teen and twenties.

There’s a lot going on: video rooms, panel discussions, live bands, karaoke, swap meets and a 24-hour game room. There is a large dealers’ room where you can buy all kinds of anime-related paraphernalia. This year, the Artists’ Alley was enormous. This is where you can buy creative pieces by talented fan artists.

In the dealers' room with a Cthulhu plushie. Who knew an elder god could be so huggable?

In the dealers’ room with a Cthulhu plushie. Who knew an elder god could be so huggable? (Photo credit: Teacher Jennifer)

Clockwork Alchemy is all things steampunk. If you love Tesla and Jules Verne, this is where you want to be. The crowd is more mixed, with younger and middle-aged folks mingling equally. If you like the technical and/or historical side of the genre, there were plenty of informative panels as well as an art gallery and hands-on exhibit. There was an authors’ salon where writers could attend panels hosted by published genre authors. The convention also included a dealers’ room, a martial arts studio, dance lessons and three nights of live performances.

Steampunk fans love to cosplay, too. I got into the spirit and put on some steamy duds. Huge dioramas were placed around the con for posing purposes.

Oh the humanity! I watch in thrilled horror as zeppelins battle above me.

Oh the humanity! I watch in thrilled horror as zeppelins battle above me. Photo credit: hostess with the mostest Susan.

This coming weekend, I will be attending Denver’s Comic Con. Can’t wait for that, though I’m glad I have a few days to rest up before I get my con on again.

Does this all look and sound like a lot of fun? Well, it is! And you can do it, too. Check out this website, Upcoming Cons, for current information on upcoming conventions.