I can still feel the nervous excitement of my first comic con. It was 1994. I was 11. Commander Will Riker was set to speak. I had on my Beverly Crusher uniform, sewn by my mom. Every detail was set, right down to the blue lab coat, the proper number of command pips and Dr Beverly’s tricorder. As my dad and I entered the main convention floor in the Radisson Hotel on Edmonton’s south side, sitting directly in front of me was a fully geared-up Klingon security guard at the door. I gaped at his full costume, makeup in fine detail, previously unaware such a thing could exist in real life. He bellowed out to me as I approached: “Young Dr Crusher.”
You know when you have found your people. So the fourth Edmonton Expo is once again a chance for nerds, new and old, to reunite and find anew the places that most welcome them.
Comic cons are arguably at their height. Edmonton Expo attendance has grown from 15 000 to 47 000 last year—far greater than the Radisson’s conference facilities could accommodate in 1994. Typical nerd-zone topics have become mainstream. For the elder nerd this can be disorienting. We’re used to the rejected edges where we argue the superiority of Gary Mitchell over Khan. But the territory of the underground reject is no longer ours alone, so let’s welcome the newfound nerds with open arms and good advice.
Having a great con comes down to being prepared. You’re going to do a lot of walking and a lot of standing—good shoes are key. Bring water and snacks to save line-up time for more important events than the concession stand. You have priorities.
Search the schedule and know when the event you most desire is happening, and leave ample time to get there. Prioritize days, sessions, workshops, autographs and photos. You will get distracted by all of the artists, booths and cosplay on the convention floor itself.
Don’t skip Artist Alley. A piece of artwork of your nerdy dreams or a newfound comic artist will be found here. Check these out early, along with comic-artist tables. You can linger more easily then, as opposed to the height of mid-afternoon. If you have a specific piece in mind, get it early. Popular artwork and comic-artist tables can get backed up quickly.
The crowded mid-afternoon bustle is often a good chance to opt for break-out sessions and workshops over wandering the floor. Sundays can be a time for shorter lines for celebrity autographs and photos—just be sure your favoured celebrity is still appearing then. And I fully recommend autographs over photos with your favourite celebrity. It might be your best hair and makeup day, but when you stand in front of that camera every pimple that has ever appeared returns to haunt a suddenly jaundiced face. That photo will never see the light of your bedroom wall.
The process for autographs is much more rewarding. Stop and say hello. I often see people struggle to get their own names out and completely ignore the fact that they have someone like Stan Lee right in front of them. More often than not, the signers want to be engaged rather than write their name over their face for unending hours of the day. Don’t leave your pressing questions behind.
And perhaps the best advice for a good con: don’t be a dick. We all have to stand in those lines. We all want to shake Michael Dorn’s hand. We all love and admire cosplayers, but remember to respect boundaries and consent. These cons are a chance to create new lasting, respectful and open nerd communities. Let’s take it.
Fri, Sep 25 – Sun, Sep 27
Edmonton Expo Centre