Sunday, October 7, 2012

NYCC: Diva Shares Her Convention Tips (Part 2)

Just less than a week, and the second largest comic convention Stateside will be happening!

NYCC 2012 kicks off at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center next Thursday on 11 October, with tons of cool comic, anime and pop-culture guests. This year's event is a sold-out show with expected attendance of over 100,000, so do be safe and get prepared for a human crush.

And if you are new to New York City or any comic convention, Red Dot Diva hopes some of these tips might prove to be useful.

(For Red Dot Islanders heading to NYCC, she hopes you have checked out her pre-convention, travel planning tips in this blog article!)

Study the Jacobs Center Layout
Now, this is important. Not kidding.

Unlike the San Diego Convention Center or better-planned buildings, the Jacobs Center is quite the gigantic logistical maze.

Javits Center (at NYCC 2011)

There are two different sections within the center and different doors for different types of passes, so do enter through the right door to collect one's passes.

One of the section is called the North Pavilion where this year's Artist Alley is located. It is at another end of the building so don't miss heading out in that direction to get up close and personal with one's favourite artists.

Then, there is the basement (or actually Level 1) where the panel rooms and the IGN Theatre can be found. There are again, different halls A, B and C in this level with tunnel-like pathways leading from one hall to the next. The rabbit warren layout makes it confusing to get one's bearings, especially if one is in a hurry.

So....  study the floor plan of the convention center carefully, and either print it out or grab a NYCC guide and carry it with you. Those with tablets or smartphones should download the useful NYCC App for convention info. Do give ample time to search for the panel rooms, or familiarize with the actual layout during Preview Night or some time beforehand.

Strategize Where You Wanna Be

The key thing about conventions is to have lotsa fun, meet fellow like-minded friends and say hello to the featured guests or artists of one's desire.

There are tons of things to do during big comic conventions like NYCC, and many exhibitors would have their own special guests too, and their own autograph or meet and greet sessions. Therefore, it is not a good idea to attend NYCC and expect to just "wing it".

With the hundreds of people milling around the convention center that weekend, one might find that it may take a longer time to get to one point to another. Or, you may have to line up for hours in advance for panels. The rooms are not cleared between panels, so if there's a popular one that you want to go to - let's say like the one for "The Walking Dead" TV series or for popular "Harry Potter" movie actor, Tom Felton - you may jolly well have to sit through a few others that you might not be interested in.

(Note: The layout of the rooms in Javits Centre kinda suck too. There are several pillars within the rooms which may block your view of the stage, depending on where you are seated. That may be one other reason why you might want to give yourself time to be early in the line for a certain panel - so that you can seats with a good vantage point.)

Red Dot Diva advises that one should sit down and pore over the NYCC schedule alone or with your friends, and decide what one might want to do before heading to the convention. Or at least decide on the options if one is somehow unable to make it for the chosen signings or panels.

Also, do check out the website, Facebook page or Twitter feed of one's favourite exhibitor, publisher, writer or artist to see what they may be up to during the weekend.

Plan To Do Different Things

For convention newbies, Red Dot Diva advises against planning to go to too many panels. After all, with the digital age, someone is definitely going to be recording it and putting it up on YouTube, or a media blogger would be having a live stream up on their website as soon as the panel is underway. Go for the panels with the guests whom you really want to listen to or "see" from a few feet away.

Pace yourself and do a variety of things -- stroll the show hall and take time to check out the goodies at the various exhibitors booths or head on to the massive Artist Alley (Red Dot Diva's favourite area!) and meet some well-known comic book artists. There are surprising gems to be found at Artist Alley, and one may even spot someone who may not be popular just yet but has the talent and a unique art style. The area is one of the best places to make new friends and connect with the host of creative talent.

The other wonderful creatively inspiring section is The Block (previously known as the Cultyard), where one can find the astoundingly display of designer toys, pop-tech, fashion, etc. Here is where one probably can catch Andrew Bell under the Dumbrella umbrella, and the other brand names like Tokidoki, Kidrobot, Uglydoll and the like.

One can even mark out some time to just check out and take photos of the different cosplayers roaming around the center.

And unlike Comic-Con where practically the entire San Diego city is transformed to a convention hub, there are tons of alternative things to do at Manhattan. One could consider taking a good lunch break and head out of the convention centre area to a nice restaurant/ diner and rest those tired feet. Or finish off the convention slightly early and then head out to watch a dinner and a Broadway show. The list is endless!

The Digital Blackout
SDCC used to have a problem with wifi connection, but this year's Comic-Con was actually a breeze when it came to staying online. Thumbs up for that.

When Red Dot Diva was at Javits Center last year, practically the entire zone was a frustrating digital blackout! It was near to impossible to get any kind of wifi signal (unless one purchases it from Javits itself - the price of which may not be worthwhile) or even a reliable cell phone signal, especially down at the basement (Level 1). Even the NYCC Press Room's internet access was not working for the computer terminals. It was quite a logistical nightmare.

Maybe this has improved considerably this year with the Wifi HotZone at the concourse, and free wifi access at the Food Court. But Red Dot Diva is not sure how strong the connection would be though with the number of attendees expected that weekend! She is curious to find out how internet access is like from this year's attendees. Feel free to drop a comment if you will be at NYCC next week.

Just don't have high expectations of sending/ receiving text messages within seconds, nor being able to tweet constantly while at Javits. It is best to work out a designated meeting point with friends at a certain time beforehand, or as and when you are able to get hold of some kind of cellular network.

Take Note Of Transport
The nearest train station to Javits Center is Penn Station. It is not very near. In fact, it is a good 20-minutes' walk away -- which may be too far for some. Considering that one may be carrying precious exclusives, freebies or large purchases during the convention.

Another thing is to take note of the time one is leaving the convention centre. The cabs around the centre are hard to come by around the evening rush hour. One may have to walk a couple of avenues away in order to hail an empty cab successfully.

And if you are intending to cab it for dinner, another outing after the convention or back to the hotel, do try to share a cab with friends in order to save some transport costs.

One thing that Red Dot Diva and her convention roomie @eserei27 like to do is to book a hotel really nearby a convention venue. Despite the accommodation costs, it is sometimes more convenient to be able to dump those heavy toys and books acquired during the day, freshen up and rest for abit before heading back to the convention an hour or two later. If budget is a lesser concern to you than drama and inconvenience, this suggestion may be worth considering.

Don't Be That Guy/ Gal
Be the considerate human being during convention weekend and leave the jerk-douchey-you at home.

At conventions, Red Dot Diva's pet annoyances include fans who tend to hog the celebrities/ artists time with endless stacks of things to sign, or stand there chatting for the longest time ignoring that there are many others waiting in line. Most guests are really polite and kind and will not kick up a fuss publicly, so if the line is long, spare a heart for the other fans who have been waiting to meet them and keep the line moving.

The other annoying thing is the fan who lines up during question time at a panel and spouts the "It's my birthday/ I'm handicapped/ dying from too much squee from seeing you 50 feet away, so can I get a hug from you? And oh by the way, I want your name placard... yadda yadda yadda... " Panel question time is usually short and precious. Seriously, take awhile to research and think and then, ask a question that counts.

And please SHOWER and/ or put deodorant. (What's wrong with people and the lack of basic hygiene? It's something Red Dot Diva can never quite understand, since the weather in NYC is way cooler and less humid than Red Dot Island!)

Pack The Convention Survival Kit
Even if one is not intending to buy lots of stuff at the convention, it is handy to bring a backpack with you. With a backpack, one would have hands free to take pics at the convention, as things can happen really randomly and quickly.

The backpack can contain those convention survival essentials:
- Water
- Snacks, food (lunch can be expensive at the Javits, and the lines can be very very long.)
- Extra bags, if one is hoping to do a lot of shopping!
- Extra power for one's digital babies. It's not easy to find places to plug in for recharging all those gadgets!
- Book/ comic/ electronic game, if you tend to get bored easily waiting in line
- Sketchbook + sharpies - for art collectors and autograph hunters
- A good camera that you already know how to use
- A portable light raincoat or umbrella -- the weather during NYCC is unpredictable and it could turn rainy within minutes. Noting that one may have to walk quite a distance away to get transport, you might not want to get thoroughly drenched and get a cold.
- Deodorant, breath mints....  (see previous tip above!)
- Ca$$$$h

And if you love collecting posters, remember to bring a portable poster tube with a sling to avoid crushing those lovely (maybe autographed) pieces.

Oh, and Red Dot Diva has another one last important tip......

Wear Comfortable Shoes!!!!

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