Before I get into any Baltimore Comic-Con posts, I just have to share some of the photos from my shoot with Depth of Light Photography. She’s semi-local, from the Frederick area. I had asked her a few weeks ago if she was going to be at BCC after seeing her Otakon photos. She actually didn’t know about the convention but after I pointed it out to her, she said yes! I scheduled a 30 minute shoot with her on Saturday and man, she was a blast to work with! She’s lovely and just really easy to work with. I knew when she had a good picture because she’d get super excited. It really did a lot to help with my own confidence when doing the photos. I’m not a model and I only do cosplay photos maybe once a year? Honestly, not event hat often! The last time I had photos done was SDCC a few years ago with USO Hawkeye! Before I share the photos, I have to give credit and a shout out to Lady Shepard Cosplay for my amazing tops. She did a fantastic job and it was worth every penny! If you’re ever in need of a commission, be sure to check her out! And now onto the photos! These aren’t all of them, but just a few of my favorites! If you like what you see, be sure to go give Depth of Light a “Like” on Facebook! And if you’re in the area, I highly recommend her!
I can’t believe Baltimore Comic-Con is this weekend! While the show includes Friday, I’ll only be there Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I’ll be dressed as Elektra from Daredevil (Netflix) and Sunday I honestly have no idea what I’m wearing yet. I’m skipping the wig for my cosplay which means if you see a short haired Elektra, it’s me! It was causing me too much stress and I figured, screw it. It’s supposed to be fun and I want to be comfortable and have my photos look good. Speaking of photos, I have a session with a photographer on Saturday at 1PM and I am super excited! I can’t wait. She’s local to the area and if anyone else is looking to have photos done, check out Depth of Light Photography. She’s only there on Saturday though, keep that in mind!
As far as panels go, here’s what I’m hoping to check out:
11:00-12:00 – Cosplay on a Budget
You know you want to cosplay, but how can you do it without draining your wallet? Come check out some simple and creative tips and tricks for maintaining a budget while making epic cosplay.
1:30-2:30 – DIY Cosplay
As cosplay has grown, many have seen very elaborate cosplay that may cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Many do not realize however that sometimes, many of the tools and props needed to cosplay we either have right at home or can be made on our own. In this panel, we will talk about how some cosplays that we want to make may be right under our nose. Hosted by Harry Crosland.
11:00-12:00 – Black Mask Comics: Debuting Tomorrow’s Legends
Fresh off a dazzling 2015 with breakout books Space Riders, We Can Never Go Home, and Young Terrorists, Black Mask has made a name for itself as the hottest launchpad to debut new talent and as the home for some of the coolest, most provocative comics around. Join Black Mask co-founder Matt Pizzolo (Young Terrorists, Godkiller) and creators Kwanza Osajyefo (upcoming Black), Tini Howard (upcoming The Skeptics), Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank), Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim), Tyler Boss (4 Kids Walk Into A Bank), and more special guests for a wide-ranging discussion of how new creators and new ideas are changing comics and how YOU can be a part of it.
1:00-2:00 – Hayley Atwell Spotlight
Hayley Atwell first appeared as Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, and reprised the role in other films and for two seasons on ABC’s Marvel’s Agent Carter. This fall she can be seen in the new ABC series Conviction. Join us for this lively look at Ms. Atwell’s career!
As you can see, my panel schedule is pretty light. I might pop into some random rooms to see what’s going on. I plan on checking out the costume contest on Saturday as well. I’ll probably spend most of my time walking around the floor and filling my sketchbooks with some new art. At the moment I plan to get an Elektra and a Holtzmann added! I might get a new Hawkeye in my Hawkeye book too. We’ll have to see how the money situation is. I really don’t have a list of artists I want to check out besides Katie Cook. Normally at my local show I just wander around and until I see some art that grabs my eye. It’s a really nice way to find some new talent! Oh and on Sunday I’m meeting Hayley Atwell again! I’m getting another photo and autograph. This will be my 3rd time meeting her. I know, I have a problem but it’s Hayley! I plan on having her sign this Marvel’s Agent Carter: Season One Declassified book. I really recommend it if you’re into Art books, or just want to know more about what went on in making the show!
And that’s it! If you plan on going to the show and see me there, be sure to say hello! If you’re from Twitter, be sure to mention your handle because I’m horrible with names! I know this weekend there are a few conventions going on around the country, including Dragon*Con. Are any of you attending any? Let me know! And if you are, have a great time!
I attended my first San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. This was back when you could just get up and go. Seriously, I think Melinda and I decided to go a few months before tickets went on sale. It was back when you could just get on the website and order tickets. The days before a waiting room and Member IDs! Ah, those were the days. In total I’ve attended SDCC four times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) and honestly I have a blast every time. But this post isn’t about me, it’s about trying to help you. I’ll do my best to share what I can but at the end of the post you’ll find some links to some awesome resources. My first post is going to focus on costs/budgets!
This is probably the hardest part of attending. It’s not cheap. Yes, you can do it on a budget but for some of us it’s harder than others. I live on the East Coast which means I have to buy airfare. That can add up quickly. I normally use Southwest which helps with baggage but I’m still looking at close to $500 (if not more). If I’m lucky I can catch a sale but that’s not always an option. I know people who come from the UK and they’re looking at easily over $1,000. If you’re thinking of attending in the future and you’ll need to fly, start looking at what prices are now. Use that as a baseline for saving! Assume it’ll be higher because airlines, but it’ll give you a solid idea about cost.
Of course then you have hotels. Look, the prices aren’t horrible. I believe the highest via the hotel lottery is $350-$400? I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure it’s close to that. There are more affordable options too of $199 a night and everything in between. The best way to save money on a hotel is to obviously split it with friends, the more people the more you save. Just make sure everyone is 100% committed and that you’re not squeezing too many people into a room. I like saving money, but I like having a little space too. I know some people have had 6 people in a room but that’s not my style. If you aren’t worried about staying Downtown in the Gaslamp area, you can save money that way too. Personally, I love being in the Gaslamp. I’ve done Hotel Circle before and it’s just not for me. Just like with airfare, start looking around now to get an idea about your budget. Start asking friends if they’re interested in attending as well. Another option is to look into renting a condo. I’ve done this twice and while it use to be a great way to save money, the prices have risen a lot in recent years. Believe me, the people that live in San Diego know the deal and know they can get what they ask for. A condo is a great idea though for those of you with a large group. You normally have laundry and a kitchen which are simple ways to save money. If you’re thinking of going that route, start looking now. Seriously, once SDCC 2016 has past, start contacting them. I normally use sites like VRBO and Homeaway.
As far as spending money goes, well that’s where it all depends on you. Do you plan to eat out every day? Are you into exclusives? Are you attending events or parties that require a ticket? I’ve taken as much as $1,000 before to as low as $500. You know your spending habits best. Keep in mind, it all depends on how long you’re in town for as well. I’m someone who does about a week when I go. I try to get in on Sunday/Monday and stay until the Monday after SDCC. Obviously the longer you’re on vacation, the more money you need for basic needs like your room, spending money, and a rental car if you have one. I’ve only had a rental once and that was my first year. If you’re Downtown, you honestly have zero need for one. Hell, with shuttles even if you’re away from the action you really don’t need a car. In some cases that can add another $40 a day to your daily costs because of parking.
Random Tip: Even if you don’t plan on getting into town early, I highly recommend staying Sunday night at least. The last thing you want to do on the last day of the convention is rush around to pack and check out, plus worry about storing your bags. If you have to pick between coming in a day early, or staying an extra day, pick staying an extra day. You can thank me later.
Here’s what I spent in years past:
2011: $1,185 (super rough estimate)
The reason 2010 and 2011 are on the low end is because I managed to have free flights from Southwest. Using rewards or gift cards is a great and easy way to save money on your San Diego Comic-Con vacation! 2013 was reasonable because Mel and I managed to find a condo for around $800 for the entire week. You won’t find that these days. I still don’t know how we found it then. I know for 2014 I paid around $800 for my part of the condo and $530 just for airfare. That alone is $1,330! If you want to see the full details here are my posts from When Nerds Attack: The Cost Of Comic-Con 2010 & 2011. There’s also a post that features cost breakdown from friends and readers here. Here’s another that my friend Erin submitted. When you take a look at the different posts, you really see that costs are all over the place. Something to keep in mind too are your “at home” costs. Do you need to park at your local airport? Do you need a pet sitter? These are all things you need to make sure you work into your budget.
So, I know there’s a lot here, and I’m not even sure any of it really helps since every budget is personal but I hope it at least points you in the right direction. If you have any questions please feel free to drop them in the comments!
If you’re looking for more helpful posts about San Diego Comic Con, be sure to check out When Nerds Attack, The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog, and The Nerdy Girlie. If you’re from the UK, you’ll want to check out An Englishman In San Diego. Don’t forget about the Friends Of Comic Con forum too!
After my Wizard World post, I had people ask how to find out if a convention is good or bad. Luckily with social media and the internet, it’s never been easier to find information on a Con. Here are a few tips to make sure you pick the right show to throw your money at.
Yup, they’re still around! I highly recommend checking out Friends of Comic Con. They mainly focus on San Diego but they have forums dedicated to other shows as well like ReedPop (NYCC, C2E2), Wizard World, and tons of others. Everyone on the board is very helpful and honest in their reports. You might even see me posting there from time to time! The Female Geek Bloggers G+ group is another great place to ask questions about conventions.
Most conventions now have hashtags which means you can easily check out live reactions to a show. Plus most, if not all, conventions have social media pages. Be sure to check out their Facebook pages to see if attendees have left reviews or to see how a show responds to any issues. There’s no such thing as a perfect show, but how they respond to issues is very telling. Did they apologize? Did they not address any issues at all? AwesomeCon in D.C. had issues a few weekends ago but the organizer took to their Facebook page to make a statement and to answer fans concerns. It was really nice to see and would make me feel comfortable in perhaps checking the show out next time.
Do you have friends (online or IRL) that attend a lot of shows? If you do, ask them! While we’re all looking for something different when we attend shows, most of us always expect things to run smooth and for issues to be handled properly. Even if your friend hasn’t attended the con you’re asking about, chances are they might know someone who has. Do you follow a lot of creators on Twitter or Facebook? If you do, pay attention to what shows they always support. If a convention treats their guests well, there’s a good chance they’ll treat attendees well too. If you see a celeb mention that they had to drop out of a con for financial reasons (not being paid by the show), take that as a huge red flag.
I guess this pretty much covers everything I wrote above but do those searches! There are tons of nerdy websites out there, including sites dedicated to conventions. Do they have any write ups about the show you’re interested in? Are most of the headlines that pop up positive? Or are they negative? Don’t forget to check out the comments too. I know, most of the time we’re told not to read the comments but in this case it could help. If a show has big enough problems, it’ll grab the attention of the local news and media as well. Just do a search for “Space City Comic Con” and you’ll see plenty of local news articles about it.
In the end, there’s no guarantee you’ll pick the right show for you but there are ways to try and make sure you do! We all have different opinions and they should all be taken with a grain of salt but if you see constant bad reports about a show, it’s probably best to stay clear. I’ll even admit if you’re someone who’s not there for the celebs, Wizard World might be OK for you depending on the city. Keep in mind too that if a show is new, to maybe expect a few hiccups. Putting on a convention is hard work and sometimes all it takes it for one thing to go wrong and you can get a domino affect. If a show is around 2-3 years old, they might experience some growth issues as well. It happens! If you’re someone with ADA questions, be sure to try and ask ahead of time what you need to do. Some shows give badges for you and your attendant, others don’t. Some have special line up areas as well. It’s all about being as prepared as you can be.
I know a lot of what I posted here seems like commonsense but sometimes we just need that little reminder that hey, there’s tons of information out there just waiting for us to find it! And if you follow me on Twitter and have questions about certain cons, let me know! I’ll try my best to help or at least try to find someone else who maybe has attended if I haven’t. What advice do you have for people looking for a convention to attend?
While sharing photos of new sketches I had added to my book, Usagi basically asked what the deal was. I thought I had done a post about my sketchbook but maybe I’m wrong! I probably just wrote one talking about them in general and how they work. It’s simple really, instead of buying a ton of prints, or having sketches done solo, I have them placed in a sketchbook. It helps save space and keeps all my art together. At the moment I have two different books. I have one that is Hawkeye themed and the other is basically whatever I want. There’s really no limit on the number of books or themes that you can do! Melinda has an anti-hero theme, Deidre has a Gambit book, and Manda has a theme that centers around the style (chibi) instead of a character.
As far as what book I use, I have a Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Album. It’s 5 x 8.25 and is pretty great for any medium (ink, water color, markers). I’ve had numerous compliments on the quality of the book and it’s what I recommend to all my friends. It’s a smaller book which again helps with storage and sometimes helps get me a deal when it comes to artwork. Plus it’s easy to throw into your con bag and won’t weigh you down!
Now onto the fun stuff! Here’s what I currently have in my Hawkeye sketchbook. There’s a few quick sketches from Skottie Young and Phil Noto plus tons of amazing stuff from other artists.
And this is my “whatever” book:
I wasn’t kidding when I said it was “whatever.” I have Jurassic World, Jessica Rabbit, Marvel, and other random stuff thrown in. Honestly, if you aren’t super in love with one character, I suggest having your first book be a very loose theme. That way it’s fun and not stressful. But I’m sure you’re wondering about costs. I have sketches from free to $100. I think $100 was the most and that was the Skottie Young Winter Soldier. The Katie Cook Hawkeye was only $10. The “secret” to a free sketch is to take advantage of signings at booths like Marvel. If Marvel has a booth during a convention, they’ll normally host signings by writers and artists. This is where you might get lucky and be able to score a quick sketch for free. Now, it’s easier to do at a show like C2E2 that isn’t super crowded. I don’t know how it would fly at say, SDCC or NYCC. Of course the artist could always say no, but it never hurts to ask! Some of the bigger artists like Skottie Young only take X amount of sketches a day. If you want to make their list be sure to head to their table ASAP and on the first day if you can. Some artists might take 10 the first day, but if they overbook or end up taking longer on commissions, they might not take any or even a more limited number the following day. As far as how long they take, some might keep your book until the next day, others might be done within a few hours. Most of the time the artist will ask for you phone number and they’ll send a text when it’s ready to be picked up. It’s good to keep a little list of who has your book, and if you’ve paid yet. Some ask that you pay when you drop off, others might wait until you pick it up.
And I think that’s it really! Always remember to have your contact info inside your book in case you misplace it. I just have a label that has my name, phone number, and address. As far as how to ask for a sketch, the best thing to do is to check out their style. Are they fun? Do they have a certain look they go for? When the Roller Derby artwork caught my eye at a table, I knew I needed a Peggy version. Sometimes it’s as simple as what catches your eye when you’re strolling around AA. If you start a friendship with an artist (I’m now good friends with Michael Duron), you can sometimes request something really out there but still be confident in knowing it’ll work. I try not to give too much instruction since they’re the artist and I want them to be comfortable and confident in what they’re creating. In most cases artists will offer different price points depending on the medium (B&W vs. Color, Pencil Vs. Water Color), type of sketch (head shot, full body), and how many characters you’re asking for. Honestly, there really is someone who will fit every budget in Artist Alley. You just have to take your time and look around.
If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer!