Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tea and Text's Guide to Surviving the Calgary Comic Expo Part 3

Survival Guide Part 3: Calgary Comic Expo 2013

Part 1 on the Where/What/When can be found: HERE

Part 2 on Convention Etiquette can be found: HERE

This time I'll be covering the all important:

What to Bring: 

  • TICKETS/BADGE - you can't get in without them. Tickets will be exchanged for a badge and wristband that you must keep on you at ALL TIMES. These are NON TRANSFERABLE after you redeem the ticket - so don't go trying to pass them off to someone else because I'm pretty sure that wristband is going to have to be on your wrist all weekend - you know the kind you have to cut off?

  • COMFY SHOES - I cannot stress this one enough. Dr. Scholl's that bitch because you will be on your feet 90% of the time waiting in lines, running from panel to panel and chasing down the best price for that rare N64 game.
    • If you HAVE TO wear high heels as a part of your costume, bring some flats tucked into your bag or something. Your feet will thank you. Last year there was a smokin' hot Wonder Woman in these uber sexy leather stiletto boots with 4 inch heels on Friday, come Sunday she was in flats with a tensor bandage on her ankle (ouch!). 

  • CASH - (Canadian Dollars for those coming from abroad) most vendors deal exclusively in cash. The Autographs/Photo ops are done ONLY IN CASH. So make sure you bring enough, it's a terrible feeling to get to the front of the line for that Peter Dinklage autograph just to find out you're short $10. If you run out, there are ATM machines (they charge a fee) or if you're lucky enough to bank with BMO there's a BMO ATM right outside of the BMO center - this one is also relatively empty compared to the ones inside.
  • A Backpack - if this is your first time and you think bringing a backpack is weird (I did), I now assure you it's not. It's a complete lifesaver. You can stuff your purchases in here, carry food, spare batteries or your very tired child (kidding..).
  • A Hard Cover Folder - Just something to store your autographs/photos in so that they don't get lost or crushed in your bag.
  • Camera - seeing everything will completely overwhelm you and odds are you won't remember every awesome detail. So capture the moment where you saw a great costume or actors at a panel. Bring plenty of empty SD cards and charge your battery (or bring spares) each day! Just follow the picture taking etiquette rules I laid out HERE.
  • Water Bottle/Drinks - you'll be walking around all day and squeeing at nerdy things, you'll need a drink. Juice boxes are handy for a quick sugar boost, there's fountains around the outside of the Corral that you can fill your bottle. There are places to purchase drinks but the lines are extremely long and just a bottle of water is insanely expensive (upwards of $4). 
  • Snacks and or Food - in all the excitement of running around time flies and before you know it you've missed lunch. Pack some easy snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, or the all time favorite beef jerky! There is concession stands that you have to wait in line for some really small, greasy and questionable but expensive pizza and the like. The next day we just grabbed a sub from Subway for lunch later, or you could pack some sandwiches or if you're brave you can head out and try some of the restaurants around the Stampede Park.  
  • Hand Sanitizer - you'll probably be touching a lot of stuff other people have handled, there's lots of people grouped together and maybe even shaking hands with your favorite celebrity. So please reduce the odds of catching a "Convention Cold" by slathering a bit of alcohol based hand sanitizer once in awhile. Last year the mini swag bag they handed out at the door came with a little bottle so that was super handy. 
  • A Fully Charged Cell/Smartphone - if you're in a group a cell will be a life saver when you get separated in the hordes of people moving from one location to another when panels get out. Just resist playing games on it, if it dies and you get separated at the end of the day and you can't remember your buddy's number and he's your ride home - it's going to be havoc trying to find them. That being leads me to the next item.
  • Portable Gaming System (optional) - to pass the time while waiting in lines.
  • Notebook/Pens - for impromptu notes or autographs, or to doodle on while you wait. Bring a Gold or Silver Metallic craft pen - These can write on virtually any surface, and they'll show up against a black background. Most autograph tables have something like this - but better safe than sorry. 
Plan Your Weekend:

You only have 3 days to get this all in and it can be overwhelming.

Realistically you might not get to see everything you want to, or certain things will conflict with each other. So decide right now - before you even get there what you want to do and who you want to see and what sacrifices you're willing to make. 

First: Check THIS SCHEDULE out for all the panels and activities.
  • All cell phones these days have a calendar/scheduling function - USE IT
  • plan out what panels or activities you want to see - write down the time and location!!
  • Do you want to do a photo op? - these are scheduled (Schedule HERE
If you need some planning ideas below is my tentative schedule.


I use opening day to shop, orient myself to the environment because:
  • A lot of celebrities will not arrive until late in the afternoon, or until later in the weekend. BUT this is a great time to walk around the autograph area to find out where they'll be stationed, the autograph price is usually posted as well as a time schedule of when they'll be there - so take note of these. But if the celebrity I want happens to be there that day you can get it now.
    • There are also a few celebrities who use "Autograph" passes that you may have to buy in advance. This is a great day to do that. Last year you needed one of these for Stan Lee's autograph.
    • It's generally one item per one autograph fee. So if you have more than one item you'd like to get signed you may need to pay an additional fee (One guy last year had a set of Avenger guitars and he had to pay for each one to be signed by Stan Lee)
  • If you came to the expo with something you wanted to buy specifically in mind - GET IT THIS DAY. Because it might not be there tomorrow - like the Camilla d'Errico canvas prints that sold out in less than a half hour into the start of the expo last year.
  • If you've never been to the BMO center and surrounding buildings - this is a good time to find out the location of the panels you're interested in or the location of your photo ops (so you don't waste time the next day trying to find the place).
  • Panels/autographs/photo ops
  • This is the day usually reserved for the most popular panels such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones - so I kind of camp out in the Corral almost all day...
Any suggestions or tips feel free to add them in the comments!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Tea And Text's Guide to Surviving the Calgary Comic Expo Part 2

Survival Guide Part 2: Calgary Comic Expo 2013

You can find Part 1 of the Survival Guide HERE and it covers the Logistics such as tickets and how to get there.

Next Up:

This isn't completely about saying your pleases and thank you's because you should be doing those anyways. This is more about where/when/who can you take photos of, the absolutely inexcusable line jumps and such.

First up:


You're going to see an amazing bunch of stuff and you'll want to memorialize it all in photos - but have some decency.

Cosplayers: They're dressing up to be seen and to show off their fandom, but that doesn't necessarily mean they want a less than flattering photo immortalized on the internet. 

  • ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION - while one can argue that "oh they're in a public place I can take photos of them" see the explanation above. 
  • If they say no don't argue it or try and take a sneaky photo that is just creepy and you'll probably end up on the outside of a very cool convention if it comes to blows. 
  • Now...there is a bit of a grey area. If they're posing for a horde of other people with their camera's out and flashing then it's likely okay to snap one then, otherwise see bullet point 1. 
Celebrities: There's generally a photo area for photos WITH the celebrity - and you'll pay a hefty fee for it ($25 - >$100). (Photo Op Info HERE). But if you don't want to go that route you can:

  • Take photos during panels but NO FLASH. This is especially horrible in the smaller panel rooms where you'll ruin someone else's attempt at a photo, irritate the crowd and disorient the celebrity. 
  • Another option is if you're getting their autograph you can politely ASK PERMISSION to take a photo of them. Most will say yes - given that you DON'T USE FLASH (get the theme here people? I know a lot of you use the "auto" function on your cameras and it resets itself after you turn it off [I've been kicked out of museums for this], so really try to shift it to the no flash mode and leave it there). 
    • If they don't say yes - don't take it personally or get angry people, just say thanks and move along.


Waiting in line is Hell (if you watch Supernatural you'll remember this). But as a part of conventions it is inevitable especially since the expo SOLD OUT this year!! So 60,000 people have to move around in an orderly fashion. Let's be civil folks.

  • If you're going to a panel in one of the smaller rooms like Boyce theatre or the Palomino rooms you'll want to be at least 15-20 minutes early as the seating is very limited for these rooms and if it fills up - that's all there is. You should be fine to show up on time for events in the Corral - there's plenty of space and screens that project the panel up close for those who can't sit near the stage.
  • People with VIP Passes - get to go to the front of the line NO MATTER WHAT. So if they have a fancy schmancy badge, let them through, they paid for that exclusive access. I saw a few people get really irate when they got cut out of a panel because the only seats left were reserved for VIP's.
  • But on another note: if YOU have a VIP pass but your friends DON'T. That doesn't mean you get to take your friends on a ride with you to the front of the line. Either you go in without your friends, or you wait with them. 
  • Line Jumpers - you know, the people who casually stroll by and slip in where people aren't watching...or their friend is "holding" their spot for a group of 10 people?
    • This is really up to you, I enjoy telling people "HEY BACK OF THE LINE!!" - especially if I've been waiting there the whole time and some guy in front of me is going to let his 5 buddies budge in.
    • But there's always exceptions, so this is really at your own discretion. If it's a guy waiting for his girlfriend or a parent meeting up with their kid - just let it go. 
  • We're all here for the same thing: to have fun celebrating our fandom. So make friends with people in line - you'll be surprised how quickly time passes. However, if a "Which is better Star Trek vs Stargate?" (or what have you) argument comes up....just let it go.
  • Unfortunately in the smaller panel rooms like Boyce theatre you are NOT ALLOWED to stay in the room if you saw one panel and want to see the next one too. They make you leave and by then you end up at the end of a very long line - Unless you have a VIP pass.

  • They don't kick you out for panels happening in the Corral, so you can stay!

So you've got a costume to show off - great! I'd really like to take a closer look at your spear, but if it ends up in my eye there will be hell to pay.

    • common sense people!
  • Long trailing robes/skirts/Wings
    • Know where the ends are at all times, trying to walk down a hallway packed shoulder to shoulder with people is tricky enough without a wardrobe malfunction.
Don't forget your standard "please", "thank you" and "excuse me" and you'll be just fine! The next guide will be on what to bring to survive a day at the expo!

If you have any more etiquette suggestions leave them in the comments below! 
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