Anatomy of a Comic Con

Anatomy of a Comic Con

Lauren PesinFriday,19 June 2015

Art, merchandise, celebrities, costumes, and, of course, comic books make up the components of your average comic-book convention (comic con).

According to UPCOMINGCONS’s website, comic cons are events that focus around the pleasure, often the buying and selling, of American comic books. Some comic cons are one-room, single-day events that focus entirely on buying, trading, and selling comics while bigger entertainment expos focus on meeting guest artists and learning about some new upcoming series. Although comic book cons are just one type of fan convention, more than 98 comic cons are still slated for 2015, providing some insight into the popularity of comic cons.

My inspiration for this article was my recent attendance at Awesome Con 15 (comic book and pop culture convention), held in the heart of Washington, DC. I chose to go Friday, the less crowded day where lines weren’t as long, the aisles clearer, and the chaos was definitely on the lower end of comic con drama.

I describe myself as a great comic fan, having collected several Marvel storylines for more than 15 years. I have a comic book budget and routinely look forward to Wednesday new releases. However, I’m not the type of fan to memorize all the Marvel or DC Universe character names, series titles, or book numbers and I don’t dress up for conventions. For conventions, I make a list of the comics I’m missing and the artists I want to meet. Therefore, my take on comic cons are from a comic book nerd perspective. Don’t judge me.

The major components of a typical comic con include:

The Exhibit Hall: hosts retailers, publishers, manufacturers, distributors, and artists. Typically, a designated Artist Alley is either next to or part of the Exhibit Hall, as well as a vendor city with lots of merchandise related to comic book characters for sale.

Special Guests Area: usually the trendy celebrities of the day, such as actors who’ve played comic book characters — usually superheroes, villains, or mutant — and admired and legendary comic artists and writers. In addition, overpriced and often sold old opportunities to be photographed alongside and get signatures from artists, writers, or celebs are offered.

Lots and Lots of Comics: trades, and books, ranging from new to old, mass produced and popular to the more obscure, independent, and limited edition books. It’s where you go hunting for the missing and discover the new.

Dress-Up: in addition to the comic books, merchandise, and associated peeps, there are typically events designed for children, gamers, and the theatrical. Some fans dress in costumes, ranging from a retail Marvel tee shirt, to the minimalist home-made variety, to the professionals. The members of cosplay subculture (costumed players) mill about gaining favor and attention, participating in costume contests. This usually involves intricate costumes of fan favorites mostly comprised of slutty looking nerd chicks dressed as Wonder Women, Black Widow, or Poison Ivy; additionally, you’ll find adult star versions of male characters (including Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor), or well-endowed or lust-invoking women dressed up as video game, sci-fi show, movie, or book characters. Male cosplay-ers also exist, but everyone knows the women of cosplay really are what attracts the geek crowd.

The more well-known celebrities, such as William Shatner and George Takei, were scheduled for Saturday, but I was able to catch a glimpse at the Black and Red Power Rangers on Friday afternoon. Bonus. On Friday I had ample time and space to peruse the artist alley, visit vendors, check out overpriced comic figures and t-shirts, find 8 of my 15 missing comic books, and purchase multiple pieces of original artwork. Magneto and Silver Surfer will look great in my library. I’d say all-in-all, the day was a success for me.

Whatever your nerd level or interest in comic books or movies, I suggest you try a comic book convention at least once. If nothing else just go to see the sights and sounds and to be able to say that you’ve been. You might even find a comic or artist that you never knew about before.

No matter your choice, I’ll continue to go to comic cons in search of great finds and also in a hope of one day (before it’s too late) meeting the comic great Stan Lee.

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