Updated: Jun 24
Considering going to Comic Con for the first time? It may be different from what you’ve heard or imagined. Make sure you know what to expect so you’re prepared.
WHAT IS COMIC CON?
Comic Con is a convention celebrating all things related to the comic books industry, not just comic books. From movies and TV shows to toys, games and fantasy literature, Comic Con is where people come together for an entire weekend to enjoy a slice of geek culture.
Most Comic Cons have four major draws for attendees:
A venue for cosplay (dress up like some of your favorite characters and interact with others doing the same)
Booths where guests can interact with artists, comics creators, vendors (for crafts, exclusive merchandise, even tattoos) and other related entities
Celebrities you can meet who will sign merchandise and take pictures with you
Panels where celebrities and experts talk about all aspects of the industry
WHAT TO EXPECT AT COMIC CON
It’s important to know what to expect from Comic Con before you go, since tickets can be an investment, and you may want to plan your experience ahead of time. I’ve only been to a few cities’ conventions, so I can’t speak for all of them. But chances are you will probably encounter most of the below when you visit your local Comic Con.
If you’re extroverted, being around SO MANY other people with similar likes and interests can be a novel, energizing experience
If you plan on going multiple days, you can purchase tickets that offer admission for the whole weekend
Similarly, it’s really cool to see people cosplaying and, if you’re so inclined, to take part in that scene, too
Great place to find old single issues of comics, all kinds of merch, comic art and more stuff you can purchase and take home
The panels offer a close-up look at celebs and big names in comics, as well as insight into the industry and the chance to ask them your own questions
You can take pics with some celebrities and get them to autograph merchandise
They sell out fast – very fast
If you’re lucky enough to get them before they sell out, they’ll run you around $60 for Thursday, Friday or Saturday and $40 for Sunday (2017 prices for Dan Diego Comic-Con)
If you’re buying them from StubHub or some other resale vendor, be ready to pay even more than that (a Saturday ticket to New York Comic Con can cost $200 on StubHub)
You might feel like you’re paying admission to a shopping mall if you don’t plan on cosplaying or attending panels
Most Comic Cons are jam-packed with people, worse than the mall at Christmastime (to the point that even the Penny Arcade comic below jokes about it)
If you’re an introvert, you may go home feeling very drained by the end of the day from being around so many people for an extended length of time
Quality of cosplay can vary based on which convention you attend
Panels can sometimes fill up before you make it there, or there may be two that you’re interested in that show at the same time
Don’t expect your question to get answered if you plan on asking one
Photos and Autographs
Lines to take pictures with celebrities or get them to sign things can be long (but often move at a decent clip)
Prices for pics or autographs can run you $40-100 on average
Because they have to keep things moving, you don’t get much time to interact with the celebrities, and so your exchanges can sometimes feel less personal and more transactional
Sometimes, photo ops can sell out in advance, before you even get the opportunity to get them
Usually, it’s cash-only, so don’t try to write a celeb a check to take a selfie with them
The Right Fit?
Friends who aren’t as into comics culture can get bored quickly or overwhelmed by the culture they’re less excited about than you are
While Comic Con offers a lot of comics-adjacent geekery, if you’re looking for a convention centered more around board games or video games, you may instead want to check out PAX or E3, respectively
Not all conventions are created equal: you’ll often see bigger celeb and creative names at the bigger cons, like New York or San Diego than at, say, St. Louis
Research who will attend your local Comic Con in advance, to help decide if you’d like to attend your local convention as opposed to traveling to a more popular one
SHOULD YOU DRESS UP FOR COMIC CON?
Don’t feel like you have to dress up for Comic Con! Jeans and a T-Shirt are fine. That being said, some folks find it more fun and immersive if they participate in cosplay, or just represent their favorite character somehow.
HOW MUCH IS A TICKET?
A ticket can cost around $60 for Thursday, Friday or Saturday admission and $40 for Sunday (2017 prices for Dan Diego Comic-Con). That’s if you’re lucky enough to buy a ticket from the website before they sell out, which is hard to do.
StubHub or other resale vendors obviously charge more. Be ready to budget for a couple hundred bucks per daily ticket for some of the bigger conventions.
WHERE IS THE BIGGEST COMIC CON?
Comic-Con International: San Diego (or “SDCC”) is not only the largest of the Comic Cons, but it’s also (allegedly) the largest show in North America and the largest comic convention in the world.
WHERE IS COMIC CON?
You can find your local Comic Con in this comprehensive list that ComicShopLocator.com put together.
If you’re considering traveling to a comic convention instead of attending your local one, here are a few worth the trip:
Comic-Con International: San Diego (San Diego, California)
New York Comic Con (Midtown, Manhattan, New York)
Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (Chicago, Illinois)
Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, Washington)
Rose City Comic Con (Portland, Oregon)