The DC Nerd dishes on comic cons

Photo by Joe Newman

If you would have asked me a couple months ago whether I was interested in attending a comic book convention, I might have shrugged and and told you that it really wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. But after attending my first one earlier this month at Baltimore Comic Con, I’m already looking at the calendar and trying to figure out when I can go to another one.

For me, as a hobbyist photographer, the reason is simple: There were just a lot of awesome photo opportunities everywhere I looked.

While most of the photos I took at Baltimore Comic Con where quick hits, I was still impressed at how well some of the attendees struck poses. In fact, before my Baltimore experience, I had no idea that there were so many talented cosplay models (some of them professionals) who attend these events. Hopefully, I’ll be able to line up some actual photo sessions with some cosplay models the next time I head to a con.

Luckily for me, before I went to Baltimore Con, I was able to get some great advice on what to expect from my colleague Chris “DC Nerd” Pabon, who has attended dozens of cons over the years. Chris, who attended Baltimore Comic Con dressed as The Shadow, really is one of the nerdiest guys I know. Of course, he wears that designation as a badge of honor. His office at work is filled with action figures, memorabilia and posters that pay homage to his love of everything sci-fi, fantasy and comic book related.

But before you head off to your first con, there’s a few things you should know, such as asking politely before you snap someone’s photo. Thankfully, Chris took a few minutes to give me some other great insights.

Cosmic Smudge: What’s the best piece of advice you could give a first time con goer?

DC Nerd: Buy your tickets in advance. Never at the door. Both cheaper this way and you get in quicker. And you are guaranteed of getting in. Also, have a bag you can keep in your pocket and then break out to carry stuff you purchase. Bring a bottle of water you can drink and then refill at a fountain. Its highway robbery to buy water inside a con. Wear comfortable shoes. Waiting in line is a fact of life and convention main halls are usually concrete and not carpeted. It’s a cash economy. Bring enough cash with you. Do yourself and the vendors a favor and go to your bank before the con and get a bunch of 10s and some 5s.

The Shadow

CS: You’ve scored a lot of great photos and autographs with celebrities at various cons. Who was your favorite person to meet and what was it like?

DCN: Sir Patrick Stewart was a HUGE thrill. I thought I was going to bust from sheer happiness from meeting him. It was so surreal for me to meet both Captain Picard and Professor X. Never thought this would happen.

CS: To dress up or not to dress up? What do you usually wear to a con?

DCN: Can go either way. I usually wear a t-shirt that is related to the guest I want to meet. I have a lot of t-shirts and will change shirts according to the person I am about to encounter. And my shirts help me stand out. Last year at ShoreLeave Con, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s spotted my shirt with a Scottish Terrier that said ‘Beam me up Scotty’ and she liked it so much she asked to take a picture of me so she could post it on her Twitter feed. She was very cool.

CS: It’s expected that you ask people permission before taking their picture at a con. Any other unwritten rule a first-time con goer should know?

DCN:  No touching–ever. Always ask for a person’s permission first BEFORE taking the picture. And if you are taking a picture of a kid, make double sure to ask their parents’ permission first.

CS: If you could go to any con, anyplace in the world, with all expenses paid, where would you go and why?

DCN: First, it has to be to a con I have never gone to yet. Until recently I would have said Emerald City ComicCon, but I scratched that itch this year. Most people would say San Diego, and I have never been. BUT it looks so corporate and way too packed with people. Toronto Con is also great but I have been there. New York Comic Con and Dragon Con are close enough I could reach them on my own. I want to go someplace a bit farther away. If its Kickstarter campaign works, I would like to go all expenses paid to HawaiiCon because, well, its Hawaii.


All images by Joe Newman. 

Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.