Another con right around the corner (tomorrow, actually), here's Part 2 of some of the things I've learned over the hears on how to survive comic conventions: (you can find Part 1 here)
- Force Yourself to Mingle - This is something I'm particularly bad at. I'm fine when people approach me at my table. But having to walk over to someone else's table and engage them in conversation is always horrifying to me. Especially if I've never met the person and am trying to compliment them/ask them a question/nerd-sweat all over them. After the show, there are usually comics mixers of some sort that you would benefit from getting around and talking to people, as well. I'm still struggling with this (I'd rather cut off my arm than try to approach people and engage them in conversation), but it's definitely beneficial to get out and meet your cohorts in the realm of comic making. I've met so many amazing, pleasant, wonderful people at conventions that it's worth all the awkward encounters and nasty people I've come across. It might make your skin want to shrink up and fall off but - definitely go talk to people. And remember - you're ALL comickers, so there's a pretty big chance you all have some social anxiety in common. After all, you like sitting in a room by yourself drawing all day.
- Preventing Powering Down - Making sure you're eating and drinking throughout the day is key to keeping your energy level up. It may not look it, but sitting and standing in the same place for hours on end is surprisingly exhausting. (Possibly because it involves simultaneously being pleasant.) One thing that helps is to make yourself get up and walk around every now and again, even if it's just to do a lap. Or offer to go get everyone coffee, just so you can see the sun and remember it's still out there. It's difficult to remember to eat regularly when food at conventions can be few/far between/only fried products, so you might want to pack snacks ahead of time. Even if you try to eat healthy, move, and drink lots of water, you're still probably going to feel exhausted at the end of the day. And what happens next - the endless search for the post-convention restaurant - is going to take some energy (and some patience stopping yourself from tearing your fellow comickers apart from hunger). It helps me to stop by the hotel briefly and refresh right after the con but before PRE-dinner search. Just don't flop down on that hotel bed. Ohhhh no.
- Take Inspiration Where You Can - When you do get up to walk around, you might be hit with what I like to call the Smack Down. You'll see amazing work everywhere that will make you feel like crap and that you should no longer do comics. But the only thing to take away from this is admiration and a desire to do increasingly better work. I mean, there's always going to be someone doing it better than you, right? So whatever. You're already here, just keep on chugging. (And resist buying TOO many beautiful prints ... so many to want ....)
- The People - This is the important part of the convention - the con-goers. These people paid good money to come in and look at comics (and maybe even your comics!). They are the true reason for going to these shows, the true meaning of Christmas. Treat them well and appreciate the fact that they love comics as much as you do (and may be as terrified of talking to people as you are). Having someone come up to you and tell you not only that they read your work but LIKE it is incredible, and makes it all worthwhile.