How to Convene – Comic Book Convention Etiquette and Tips

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Me getting ready to convene

So I’ve been to a few comic book conventions now (as it is one of the perks of my job), and I feel I should help out some of my geeky brethren and sistren who’d like to attend one, but are potentially scared of what they’d see there. Here’s a few pointers to keep in mind.


– on health

When attending a convention, you are willingly subjecting yourself to a full-scale assault by viruses and bacteria. It is at least as taxing to your body as being belted by cosmic radiation, but without the helpful side effects of receiving superpowers. More likely, your only reward will be the dreaded spectre called “con crud”, which manifests itself as a lingering cough and stuffy nose. Con crud is seemingly omnipresent by the second or third day of the convention, but can easily be avoided. This is why, like Batman, you should be prepared for every eventuality: pack a multivitamin for every day you’re at the convention, and supplement your arsenal with strategic deployment of zinc and echinacea. Also, Purell is a great idea, especially if you plan on greeting your favorite creators with a handshake.

– on costumes

If you’re the type to show your appreciation for a favorite comic character by dressing up, by all means do so. There’s plenty of places online that’ll help you with getting an outfit together. My advice here is for people who don’t dress up. First, be aware that your proximity to people in costume often determines the speed at which you will move on the convention floor. Avoid groups of costumes like the plague if you want to get anywhere on time, as they often have difficulty moving quickly and are magnets for people who want to take pictures. Second, while obviously someone who dresses up in the skimpier sort of superhero garb wants to be looked at to a certain extent, (I’m speaking to you especially, Power Girl and Vampirella cosplayers) don’t leer at them too long as it makes them uncomfortable. Besides, if you’re at anyself-respecting convention, there should be tons of people in awesome costumes walking around, so why waste time on looking at just one?

Grant Morrison and I

– on creators

When speaking with some of your favorite creators at the convention, it is of utmost importance to keep your cool at all costs. PROTIP: I find that drinking some cocktails beforehand will get you into an amiable, not pitiful state of mind. Never denigrate the work of other people when speaking with a creator; in the comics world, people tend to stick together. Above all else, if the creator ever gets a “deer in the headlights” expression on their face, you’ve gone too far, just say thank you and walk away.


– Identify booths early on that won’t get too crowded based on what they sell. These might include anime publishers with huge floorspace, TV shows that no one’s heard of (and that don’t have a famous person signing at them), purveyors of extremely expensive items that you’d be out of your mind wanting to take home on a plane, video game demonstrations, etc. These booths will make excellent short cuts through the exhibition hall later on, although you might receive some flak from booth attendants, but whatever.

– If you don’t get in to see the panel you wanted, any other panel becomes extremely interesting with the addition of four or five margaritas beforehand.

The Author

Matt Bowes is a self-proclaimed cultural commentator/arbiter of good taste from Edmonton, Alberta. He enjoys movies and books, and writes about them sometimes at


  1. Here’s another good PROTIP: Before trying to talk to a creator, google them and figure out what they look like. That can get you out of some tough situations, like figuring out which twin is Gabriel Ba, and which is Fabio Moon.

  2. Pingback: Making the most of your Expo experience | the pulp

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