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Philadelphia Comic Con 2010: The Pros and the Con

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Okay, trust me on this one. As a long time comics creator, I know the comic book conventions in this area backwards and forward. So pay heed Philadelphian Noob who is thinking about attending the show. I am a professional.

The Philadelphia Comic Con is still run by Wizard World   It used to be called Wizard World Philly, Photo:http://www.oclnn.com/files/2010/04/comic1-400x273.jpgbut the company is trying to rebrand themselves. Wizard is also the same company that puts out Wizard Magazine, which covers the comic book industry. Although, in my mind, Wizard had a terrible reputation when it came to conventions, I happen to know the new guy running the show and he’s making a genuine attempt to turn the boat around.

What to Expect: Comic book conventions are really more pop culture conventions across the board. Some shows, like Heroes Con will stick very closely to just comic books, old and new. PCC has morphed into more of a media con with dozens of autograph guests like Patrick Stewart  and Linda Hamilton.

When you first walk in, you’ll see large booths of merchandise containing everything from comic books, movie posters, T-shirts, toys, games, artwork and just about any other pop culture thing you can think of. Most of these booths are operated by stores, companies or what’s called “a dealer”. A dealer sells this kind of merchandise, usually online and at conventions exclusively.

Mixed in with the dealers on the right are the media guests. They tend to have long lines and specific times to sign stuff. You may have to wait in line and get a standby ticket. Come early if you like to get autographs. Also, bring money, because they are not free. To offset the cost of bringing in guests and to make money, the guests charge for autographs and pictures. This is not up for negotiation. This is how some of these people make their rent. The good news is they usually have some photographs available to purchase for signing. Bring something to carry them in if you’re an autograph hound.

Finally, to the left of the room is Artists’ Alley. This is where myself and local and non-local creators usually sit unless they are a really big name. (http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/wizardworld/2010phillyfloormap.pdf) You’ll be handed a guide on Tony D's Table!the way into the show and everyone is listed by number. Find my name, number of table, consult the map and then come over and buy all my comics. Either that or just come by and call me a whore for so blatantly pimping myself and this event. (Just make sure my pimp, Big Daddy G, doesn’t hear you.) Creators will have their comics spread out on the table for you to examine and perhaps purchase. No, they are not free, although they sometimes have giveaways and I don’t know of any artist alley participant that charges for an autograph.

(My table at Phoenix Comicon in Arizona two weeks ago. Behold the Webcomic Factory Media Empire!)

What to Bring: As I said, autograph seekers should bring a folder or something to carry your autograph pictures in. Comic book fans usually can get by with a knapsack or you buy a white storage box and a small hand truck. It kind of depends just how much stuff you want to carry around.

Bring some money. Nothing is more annoying than you lookie-lous wandering around the convention hall mumbling, “Sorry, I don’t read comics.” Although the bigger booths can usually take credit cards, we frugal souls in Artist Alley usually can not. Also, the ATM’s tend to run out in the convention hall so go to the bank before you schlep over. Autograph pictures run around $20 to $50 a pop depending on who is doing the signing and whether or not you’re buying the picture or bringing one. (Yes, you can bring one, but you’ll still have to pay a fee.) If you’re a serious autograph seeker, I wouldn’t bring less than $200.

Old school comic book fans looking for deals on back issues can usually find them. It requires some bit of searching through the boxes. New “hot” comics are usually anywhere from $5 to $20, depending. Back issue guys should bring about $100-$150.

Very old comics, like those over 20 and 50 years old require big money: hundreds even thousands of dollars. We call those customers “high rollers”. If you’re one of those guys, you can’t carry that kind of cash into Philly. You’ll be doing credit card sales.

Finally, new comic fans and fans of webcomics should hit Artist Alley. Comics run $1 to $20 depending on the length. The average comic these days has just creeped up to the four dollar mark, so most of the independently produced comics in Artist Alley are around five bucks. Original sketches and art can also be had in this area from artists accepting commissions. These run anywhere from $5 to the sky, depending on the artist. If you just want comics, bring at least $50 so you can buy a bunch. If you think you’re getting some art, bring close to twice that.

Local creators like myself and these guys need your support. The good news is, it’s not just all superhero stuff. We have comics and webcomics for just about everything you can think of.  It’s very retro hipster, don’t miss it.

The Fans: The fans are awesome. Don’t be an a-hole to them. If you’re stopping by ironically Comic Con Fans- BE NICE!!to gawk at people in costume, get a life. The fans like to dress up. Just because you’re too uptight to have fun don’t bring down everyone else. Be polite. Bring a camera, take pictures and make your snide comments in the privacy of your own home later.

Events: While the tables and booths on the main convention floor are open all day, the scheduled events are called panels. Panels will feature one or more of the convention guests for a discussion. Sometimes this is a comics creator touting their new work or answering questions about the business. Sometimes it’s an actor or group of actors answering fan questions about their show and/or movie. The Star Trek actors are great at this and there are about a half dozen coming, including Brent Spiner (AKA: Commander Data).

Food: The convention center has food, but it’s usually kind of pricey for me. Since the center is right in Chinatown, I usually eat there. You can try to smuggle food inside the convention center, but they will stop you if you get caught. Like promiscuous activities, it will feel good if no one sees you, but it will be a total embarrassment if you get caught.

The Etiquette: Only take pictures with permission from your subject. Do not assume anything is free. Do not negotiate or complain to the autograph guests. Do not hold food or drink anywhere near merchandise. If you so much as drip on it, you’ll be buying it. Get a program when you walk in and find whoever you need by looking them up on the map. Do not use the word “fanboy”, that’s our word. Never look Patrick Stewart directly in the eye (Just kidding!!). Buy my comics first and then go to the rest of the convention. (Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just tell them to you.)

The Secrets: Just between you, me and the Internet, here’s some of the secrets for getting the most out of a convention:

1: Bring a knapsack: Smuggle inside food and drink and carry your comics out. You’ll save a crap load of money by doing this.

2: Sunday is Bargain Day: If you want to get good deals, buy your comics on Sunday. People start to get desperate and slash their prices to make the convention profitable. You can bargain with just about anyone that’s not signing autographs for a living.

3: Get your artwork the same day: If you do buy original artworkA convention sketch of Archie as Aquaman from an artist, make sure you pick it up the same weekend. Once an artist leaves with your money, you might have to track him down to get your commissioned work.

4: Ask Questions: Fanboys (ie comic book fans) are notorious for being social misfits that shy away from questions. Don’t follow that lead. If you need to know something, ask. Also, artists will usually draw you whatever character you want for a price, even stuff they don’t draw for a living.: Don’t be afraid to ask questions

5: After Hours Fun: Want to meet the creators and some celebs in person? You have a good shot of running into them at the nearest hotel bar. Many of my fellow creators and celebs are stuck in town for the evening and they have nothing better to do than to go downstairs in the hotel and hang out. Usually after the show ends for the day, they go to dinner, so give it a good two or three hours. Then stop on by and get yourself a drink, but be cool. Don’t make me get Lou Ferrigno  to stomp you.

 

I’ll be in Artist Alley promoting my comics Super Frat  and the comics on The Webcomic Factory. Like most webcomic creators, I also have print versions of my comics for sale and hand outs of where to see my comics on the web.

Philadelphia Comic Con 2010
Wizard World Convention
FRI-SAT-SUN
June 11-12-13, 2010

Show Hours:
Friday, June 11, 2010 - 12 NOON - 8pm
Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 10am - 7pm
Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 10am - 5pm

Tickets Details:
- All Tickets Gain Entry to Philadelphia Comic Con 2010 Wizard World Convention
- Important: Bring your printed out e-tickets to the event to gain admittance.
- Save $5 by ordering your ticket in advance.
- Tickets are non-refundable.
- Children 10 and under get in FREE when accompanied by a paid adult
- Credit card will be charged at time of purchase.
- Autograph fees may be required for some guests.

Tony DiGerolamo is a New Jersey screenwriter, novelist, comic book writer, game designer and actor.  He is best known for his work on The Simpsons and Bart Simpson comic books.  He has also been a joke writer for Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, a scriptwriter for Space Ghost: Coast to Coast  and a blogger for Comedy Central’s Indecision ’08 website. Check out Tony at www.superfrat.com

To contact Tony, email him at tonyd@philly2philly.com

Spiderman Photo: http://www.gameguru.in/images/spider-man-game-1.jpg