I’ve made no secret of it. I love Las Vegas. I love comic books. So when something comes along that combines them both, I just have to talk about it. That something is called “Amazing Comic Con” and it’s taking place from June 23rd to June 25th, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the heart of Las Vegas. There is literally nothing about that last sentence that doesn’t appeal to me.
It’s rare you find two things you love merged into one. Sure, you can dip donuts in hot sauce while receiving a massage from Jennifer Lawrence, but the opportunities for that sort of convergence are rare. Mixing Las Vegas and comic books just feels like chocolate and peanut butter. It’s one of those potent combinations that just feels right.
Now, I’ve gone to multiple comic cons in various cities. Some are small. Some, like the New York Comic Con, are among the biggest in the industry. If you’re new to cons, scenes like New York can be pretty overwhelming and I’m not just talking about the insane work people put into their costumes.
That’s not Photoshopped by the way. That’s real. That’s the kind of awesome stuff you’ll see at a comic convention. That makes a scene like Las Vegas, where it’s not unusual to see Elvis impersonators and men dressed as pirates walking the street, a perfect combination. So if you love comics and Las Vegas, this is quite possibly the best event for you that doesn’t involve free donuts.
“Amazing Comic Con” might not be on the same level as New York, just yet, but it still has all the features that make conventions great. There are artists, vendors, cos-players, and celebrity guests. Those names include the likes of Stan “The Man” Lee, Adam “Batman” West, Ray “Darth Maul” Park, and Rob “I Created Deadpool, Bitches!” Liefeld. If you can’t get excited about at least one of those names, then you’re just being difficult.
That said, it’s not just enough for me to encourage you to check out “Amazing Comic Con.” If neither Las Vegas nor comic conventions appeal to you, then chances are you’ve stumbled onto this blog by mistake and for that, I apologize. If, however, those things get your blood flowing in all the right directions to all the right body parts, I’d like to help.
Just getting there is the easy part. Las Vegas is literally an oasis of high-end resorts, full of every possible amenity meant to make you want to stay. There are any number of discount flights and vacation packages available, which you can find right here. Las Vegas wants you to be there. They’ve gone out of their way to make it as easy as possible.
Once you’re there, though, that’s when the real challenge starts. There’s so much to see and do in Las Vegas. There’s so much to see and do at a comic book convention. The human brain may or may not be equipped to handle so much spectacle, but that never stopped anyone from enjoying it as much as humanly possible.
So in the interest of encouraging everybody to go more comic cons and enjoy the sexy spectacle that is Las Vegas, here are a few tips on having an awesome comic con experience. Some of this may sound like common sense, but trust me. When you’re surrounded by comics, gambling, and beautiful women offering you free alcohol, you can’t expect to think straight. So here’s how to make the experience as awesome as it should be.
Tip #1: Arrive An Hour Early (But Not Much Earlier)
It’s always good to be proactive, but like bacon grease and ice cream, you can overdo it. In my experience, arriving an hour early, but not any earlier, works best. You won’t be at the front of the line, but you won’t be stuck at the back either.
If you arrive too early, you’ll get in first, but you won’t get much else. You’ll just be stuck standing around for hours on end, worried about losing your place in line. Odin help you if you have to go to the bathroom at any point. Comic cons are not like standing in line for a blockbuster movie. They’re in big, spacious convention centers. There’s plenty of room. Getting there really early won’t do much for you.
Now, the only exception to this is if there’s a very specific panel or event you want to attend. If that event is happening early or you know it’s going to get crowded fast, then showing up a little earlier would work. Outside that specific circumstance, don’t bother. You’ll just waste time and energy standing in line that you could put to so many other uses in a town like Las Vegas.
Tip #2: Carry Between $100 to $150 Cash (In Addition To Your Credit Card)
This is something I learned the hard way early on. At most comic cons these days, vendors do take credit cards and debit cards. For some merchandise though, as well as autographs and photo ops, they only accept cash. I’ve missed out on a few very critical autographs because I was stupid enough to not have enough cash. Don’t make that same mistake.
Again, most vendors still take credit cards. It’s not 1997, for crying out loud. Plus, unless you’re a high roller or cos-playing as Richie Rich, it’s not a good idea to have a lot of cash on you. Save that for the casinos. Unless you’re looking to buy something really rare, like one of Jack Kirby’s old pencils, $100 to $150 should do the trick.
Tip #3: Buy (And Keep Charged) An External Battery For Your Smartphone
This is probably the most serious tip I can offer. If you scoff at every other word I’ve written on this post, at least take this seriously. Make sure you have a fully-charged external battery for your smartphone and keep it on your person at all times. Even if you’re cos-playing as the scantily-clad Starfire, find a way to include an external battery.
At every con I’ve been to, I’ve seen huge swaths of people hover around wall outlets as though they’re the lone source of heat in a Siberian winter. People will literally fight each other to access an outlet to charge their phone or tablet. I’ve seen it happen. It can get pretty ugly, especially when they’re dressed as Mortal Kombat characters.
That’s why it’s prudent to invest in at least one external battery. It doesn’t matter where you get it. Just make sure it works and make sure it has at least two full charges. You’ll probably be taking a lot of photos and videos. If you’re going with friends, you’ll probably need to stay in touch with them somehow. If, by chance, you get a cute cos-players phone number, you better make damn sure your phone is active.
Again, and I can’t belabor this enough, make sure you’ve got a battery. Make sure you can charge your phone at a moment’s notice. Nothing kills the comic con experience faster than having a dead phone.
Tip #4: Make Sure You Can Store What You Bring (And Buy)
This is especially important for cos-players. If you’re going to wear a costume to “Amazing Comic Con,” even if it’s a small one, make sure you have a place to store it. The Las Vegas Convention Center, and most convention centers in general, have storage areas that you can use for a small fee. Unless you want to lug a ton of crap around, it’s a worthwhile investment.
I wore a costume to the New York Comic Con last year. It wasn’t a very bulky costume, but it became somewhat of an annoyance when I needed to change out of it for a panel. Not having a storage locker made that really difficult. I had to wait in line at a crowded bathroom to get out of it. That was not a pleasant experience.
It helps that the Las Vegas Convention Center is attached to a hotel. Even if you’re not staying there, the staff will go out of their way to help you store your crap, so long as the price is right. Las Vegas is a very service-oriented town. They will accommodate you, so long as you’re not insultingly cheap.
Storage lockers also are a must if you plan on buying a lot of gear. Whether it’s posters or collectors items, a locker ensures you can keep exploring the convention without lugging around all your stuff. If you don’t plan on buying much or don’t have much cash to spend, just bringing a simple backpack will often suffice.
Tip #5: Be Polite To Cos-Players (And Don’t Be A Dick)
One of the best parts of comic cons are the cos-players. They help make conventions the wonderful spectacles they are and in a city like Las Vegas, which was built on a foundation of spectacles, expect to see plenty of wonderful sights. For better or for worse, you’ll see men, women, and children dressed in some of the most astonishing costumes ever.
Most of these cos-players are happy to pose for a photo. Just being polite and asking nicely will suffice. Every cos-player I’ve met, male or female, have been wonderful. They will literally drop what they’re doing to pose for a photo. Some will even go out of their way to talk comics, which is something you just don’t get with a random Elvis impersonator.
“Amazing Comic Con,” and every con these days, makes a big deal about harassment. I don’t think that needs to be belabored here. If you’re going to be a dick to a cos-player, especially a female cos-player, you can expect to get thrown out or arrested. Remember, you’re in a big convention center full of people dressed as superheroes. Do you really think you’ll get away with being an asshole in that environment?
Tip #6: Know The Layout (And Note The Restrooms And Food Vendors)
Anyone who has ever had to navigate a convention center usually learns this the hard way. Some of these convention centers are huge. I got lost multiple times at the New York Comic Con because the building was so damn big. I’ve been to the Las Vegas Convention Center before. It’s one of the biggest on the west coast. Make sure you have a map of the place and always keep it handy.
I know that may be common sense, but having a map and using it right aren’t the same thing. I usually get a map at every convention center I go to, but those maps aren’t always easy to read. In my experience, it helps to get an official map of the entire convention center. That tends to be more detailed.
In addition, make a note of the restrooms and food vendors. Comic conventions tend to get really crowded. That means you’ll encounter many long lines at the restrooms. To avoid that, make a note of restrooms in areas that aren’t usually crowded. Sometimes you have to really go out of your way to find them, but when you really got to go, that knowledge can be invaluable.
The same goes for food vendors. I once stood in line for a half-hour just to get a small order of chicken and fries. It cost me nearly twenty bucks as well. Some food vendors will gouge you if you let them. If possible, make sure you eat a good meal before the convention and have a plan on where to get a bite when you need one. The less time you spend hungry and in line, the more time you’ll have to enjoy yourself.
These are just a few tips to help your “Amazing Comic Con” experience. Use them or don’t use them. If you can’t find a way to enjoy yourself at a comic con or in a city like Las Vegas, then you need help I’m not qualified to give. For everyone else, this is a beautiful convergence of pop culture and sex appeal. That’s a potent combination and in a town like Las Vegas, that’s saying something.