How To Have a Great Time at the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is coming up this Saturday and Sunday, September 8th and 9th, at the convention center in Baltimore, Maryland.  You can still buy tickets on their website, up to September 7th.

As part of my continuing coverage of the show, today I'm offering suggestions on how to best enjoy the show.  If you have never gone to a big show like Baltimore, it can be overwhelming at first.  (I know I was when I attended in 2010.)  Even show veterans can forget a thing or two if they aren't prepared.  (This happened to me at Heroes this year, where I missed out on some things by ad-libbing it.)

Below are some ideas that have worked for me in the past to help me at the show.  Most are good advice for any con, but a few are Baltimore-specific.  The biggest thing is to just have fun, enjoy the moment, and don't try to over-plan yourself.  Let things flow, but be mindful of a few key ideas that can make that flow happen.  (NOTE:  Some of this advice is a carryover from last year.)

  • Bring something to read while waiting in line. The entry lines are pretty long at the start of the day. You might get lucky and talk to someone cool, but you might also get the tool who spends the whole time talking about why Poison Ivy shouldn't wear pants. Plan accordingly.
  • Spend the first hour or so just walking around.  Figure out where the best vendors are, look for a  hot creator who hasn't been found by the majority of the showgoers yet, and note the location of the bathrooms.  All of this will help later.  I got to get my book signed by Sergio Aragones with almost no wait because I was working the floor.  Had I gone somewhere else first, I'd have lost an hour later on.
  • Con maps are fine, but always be on the lookout for hidden gem.  Baltimore is a big enough show that it's easy to miss something.  Don't rely 100% on your map.  Explore!
  • If you are looking to buy comics or trades, shop around. There are a ton of vendors at the show for those who want trades or singe issues. While it might be tempting to stop at the first place that looks good, pretend you're actually on the internet for a minute. Take the time to find a good deal unless it's a must-have item. Odds are you can find it cheaper, and if not, you're not out much in the way of time.
  • Speaking of spending, set a budget and stick to it. Get cash if you can. Leave your credit card at home unless you have a strong sense of restraint. There is going to be a strong urge to buy everything you see that you like, and down that road leads madness. Whatever you do, don't hope to be able to get cash at the show. That's sage advice for any con, really.
  • There's nothing wrong with appreciating and taking a photo of a person in costume. But always ask first and please don't be one of the many creeps trying to take pictures of women from the back. That is just so low class it's not even funny.
  • Make sure you stop by artist alley. Not only is it a place to meet your favorite well-known creators, sometimes you'll run into a favorite that you weren't expecting to see. Last year, I stumbled right into Jose Garcia-Lopez that way.  Also, a lot of these guys have things for sale, ranging from their prior work to sketchbooks and the like. Always nice to support them with a sale or get a look at art you might never get to view otherwise.
  • Plan your panel-sitting carefully. Baltimore is killing it with their panels, but if you only do panels, you can't see the artists, and that's a big part of the appeal of the show. I'd argue for at least a 50-50 ratio of panel to con-roaming.
  • Eat and drink.  For the love of God, eat and drink.  There are water fountains at the con, if I remember correctly, or you can buy there, though it's expensive.  There are plenty of eateries nearby within quick walking distance.  Take a break and get a burger somewhere.
  • Lastly, buy at least one thing outside your comfort zone. Like Superheros? Awesome, so I do. Buy someone's autobiographical work. You might like it. Only read webcomics? Give a small trade paperback a try. See what happens when the story has a beginning and an ending, all within 150 pages. Find yourself gravitating to known publishers, no matter how small? Pick up at least one self-published title. Any one will do. Self published doesn't mean bad, it means complete creative control. Never touched a Superman? I challenge you to go and find a new series to try that involves powers and the fight of good against evil. Open your boundaries! That's what these shows should be for!
Have a great time at the show!  See you there!