Normally before a show, I write a "You Should Go To" post. However, that's not necessary for Rose City Comic Con, because it's practically sold out! There aren't any more weekend passes to be had except a handful at local stores, and only some day passes left. So obviously, there's no need to convince you to go to the show--you've already bought your ticket, if you're a comics fan in the Portland, OR area.
So instead, I'm going to go straight to giving you a guide to this year's show. This post will focus on the show itself, and a second post will look at who to see at Rose City when you're there!
Now in its fourth year (and its third as a sizable convention), the Rose City Comic Con is a two-day show held at the Oregon Convention Center, just across the river from downtown on the East Side of Portland. This will be my third consecutive trip to the show, making it the one of the three comics shows I've attended most often. It's more of a mainstream show than, say, the Small Press Expo (or even Baltimore Comic Con), so it's not as much of a convention for those seeking out mini-comics, although there are plenty of them available in Artist's Alley. It's more of a place to tap into a general love of comics and the media surrounding them, and a chance to see a lot of the folks who are working on a mid-major level, such as creators doing comics for local publisher Dark Horse, as well as to indulge your inner geek and stand in line to see Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols.
Oh, and if you're a Star Wars person, someone you may have heard of will be there too: Carrie Fisher. Could possibly be of interest to you, maybe?
Rose City is broken up into roughly three sections, which makes it great to negotiate what's of greatest interest to you. There's the Celebrity Guests, who live in a special section with lines that won't interfere with the rest of your show (something I really wish other Cons would do, because trying to see Matt Kindt by fighting the Scott Snyder line at one venue was really annoying). That's not really why I come to Rose City, but I'm happy that for those who do, there's a really nice format for easy navigation.
The second section, where I spend most of my time, is Artist's Alley. That's where you'll find everyone from the Amelia Cole gang to Kel McDonald to Periscope Studio. It's also where your mid-range creators will be, as well as the special guests. You can easily spend hours upon hours wandering the aisles, and I'll have a few suggestions for who to see in a second post to follow this one.
And last but not least, for those more interested in collecting comics and memorabilia than in meeting creators, there's a whole section for comic stores, comic collectors, toy vendors, cosplay materials, and more. Sometimes there's a few creators/publishers mixed in here as well, so never overlook a potential gem sitting next to those statues of Batman. It's worth going over here to look, if you have the time, as there's usually a good bargain on old trades or perhaps even a Godzilla shirt for next to nothing on offer.
In addition to spending time at the show floor, you should also do panels. Panels are what really make or break a show for me at something the size of Rose City. When I go to Linework NW or SPX, I'm there to find new indie creators. Panels are a bonus. When I go to a larger show, where there are less likely to be new people to discover--though I'll always find a few, because that's what I set out to do--it's the panels that determine if I had a great show or just an okay one. Heroes in North Carolina is a great example of a show that knows how to do panels well. I have to say, though, and more on this in the second part of this series, Rose City really did an awesome job coming up with panels this year, and I can't wait to attend them. Look for more coming up in an hour!
I'll end this section, however, with a few comments on how to have a great time at Rose City. Some of these are just generally good show advice, but others are centered on Rose City itself.
- Make sure you eat before you get there. Look, I know convention centers have food, but no matter how good it is, it's expensive. Plus, if you eat before you get there, you can spend more time on the floor and in panels before you need to take a break.
- Make sure you bring something to read. I'm press, so I get to go in as soon as the show opens. But my first year, I was just plain old Rob, and let me tell you, there's a VERY long line to get in. You'll want to ensure you've got a good book or comic to keep you company. And make sure it's an analog book, because...
- Your phone will lose its charge. This happens at every con. Service use is high, and that means delays. Delays eat battery life, and that's before you start snapping pictures of cosplayers. Speaking of which...
- Cosplay is NOT consent. I don't think any Panel Patter readers are jerks, but it's worth repeating. Folks who are in costume definitely want you to appreciate their work, but leering/touching/acting creepy is just shitty. I'll never forget seeing men outright staring at the ass of a women dressed as Ms. Marvel (before the Carol Corps explosion), nor how angry they were when I photobombed them. Taking ass shots with the cosplayer's back turned is low class. Not that I'd expect you to, but don't do that. Also, make sure you ask before taking a photo--or, as I sometimes will do, take your shot while others are doing the same. That way the cosplayer can move on. And last but not least--DO NOT block the show floor when taking your pictures. Rose City has plenty of space outside the show floor, and even a cool background. Take advantage of that.
- Drink. Water preferably, but I'll leave that up to you.
- Take a food break. Whether it's overpaying a bit for con food or going outside (there's a Burgerville, Denny's, Subway, and more within a few blocks of the show), you will need food to keep going. It's a long day, even longer if you do any post-show events, like the Dark Horse stuff. Yes, you can go without eating--I've done it--but you WILL feel like crap afterwards. Losing a bit of time at the show is worth it for self-care.
- Make sure you know where your favorite panel is before you try to get there with five minutes to spare. I'm not sure how much of the Convention Center Rose City has this year, but usually, the floor itself is immense and takes up the entire basement area. There are smaller panels held across from registration, and the larger panels are upstairs, across from the main entrance (where the Dr. King statue is). Knowing where you want to go will help a ton later, trust me.
- If you're in a group, pick a meeting place and time. Did I mention the immense show floor? It's VERY easy to get lost or turned around, even though the sections themselves are pretty orderly. Given how crowded the floor can get, it's much better to say "Meet me by registration at 2pm so we can get food" or "See you outside at the Max station at 3pm" rather than, "Oh, I'll find you." Because you won't find them, and now you're losing time at the con trying to meet up.
- Remember that kids are comics fans, too. Rose City is very kid-friendly, and we want them to have a good time and grow up to be amazing comics fans. Don't ruin their day by pushing and shoving them or acting like a jerk. Let's ensure the next generation gets a good experience, too.
Okay, that's it for now. at 1pm, look for a panel preview, and later in the day, a preview of some of the creators you should find at Rose City this year!