April 16, 2018
Issue 3 2018

A first-timer's guide to comic book conventions

If you are a long-time comic book, anime or gaming fanatic, there’s a good chance you already had Easter Weekend highlighted on your calendar — for a reason other than chocolate bunnies and religious convention. Wellington recently hosted its 18th annual Armageddon Exposition. If you weren’t one of the thousands of people in attendance and you’ve been thinking you may want to roll up the next time this sci-fi, circus of sorts is in town: fear not. Your girl smashed back a bottle of rosé, dug around the dress-ups box and mingled with some of the best dressed folk in town. So, without further-ado, here’s the 411 on comic book conventions.

Tip #1: Plan ahead

Just how far ahead you need to plan, all depends on how extra you want your attire to be on the day. Cosplay (which of course is a contraction of the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’) is a subculture hinging on my deep-rooted wish that every day could be Halloween. Expect people to go all out and invest a wild abundance of time, creativity and/or money into their cosplays for events such as these.

Armageddon is of course costume optional. But as the creator and passionate advocate of the adage, “it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed”, I say at least make some semblance of an effort. Anecdotal evidence (along with my own pseudo social science) concludes the following: the more obscure a character you are wanting to reference, the more authentic you will want to be in your portrayal. The more easily recognisable (read: basic-bitch friendly) the character, the more artistic license you have. While an accurate recreation of The Stalk from Saga may have taken more than the day and a half I had allowed myself, an incredibly loose interpretation of Selena Kyle (aka Catwoman) just required some cat ears, a leather jacket, thigh high boots, a party dress and a cage bra.*

*Cady and the rest of ‘the plastics’ would have been so proud.

Tip #2: Get Your Tickets Early

While Armageddon doesn’t have precedence of selling out due to the scale of the venues in which it is held, tickets to the VIP events can go pretty fast. A disarmingly convincing Jack Sparrow (who I even met in the rum tasting section of the liquor stall) informed me that the cocktail party was the event to go to. With only 160 VIP passes being released per convention, be sure to keep an eye on Armageddon’s social platforms well ahead of time to find out when tickets go on sale. If you’ve got the cash and the fortunate timing to get one of these passes you will find yourself brushing shoulders with the guests Armageddon has shipped in for that expo.

Tip #3: Know your Slade Wilson from your Wade Wilson

While it’s definitely not a prerequisite to be able to list every Robin incarnation, some rudimentary knowledge of relevant franchises might be helpful. At the very least, show some reverence for what a faux pas it is to mix up Marvel and DC. Some of the key fandoms that had a lot of presence at the event this year were these fundamental comic empires, Star Wars, Pokemon, RWBY, and a great number of video games. Check out the schedule and guest list on the event’s website if you’re looking for an excuse for a movie night and you may just find your latest obsession just in time to meet one of its stars or starlets in person.

Tip #4: Pack with self-preservation in mind

In the word of the token ‘mum friend’ of the group, wear comfy shoes, dress in layers and stay hydrated. Even if you haven’t just skulled back seven standards prior to entry you’re going to probably do a fair bit of walking so make sure you bring or buy plenty of water and snacks. This is particularly true if you’ve come in costume. I was advised to have an exit strategy if you plan on wearing anything particularly heavy or constricting as fainting is not unheard of at these events.

Tip #5: Come with friends and leave with more!

While I ran into a great number of solo Armageddon-goers, something can be said for bringing a metaphorical safety blanket in the form of some fun friends. If your squad isn’t down, however, don’t worry! Comic conventions bring with them a great sense of community. When asking participants if they had any advice for newcomers, Joseph Maugaotega — who was masquerading as Edward from Assasin’s Creed on the day — told me [not to be] “afraid to ask people how they made their cosplay”. The stallholders are also exceptionally friendly and happy to help if you’re looking for gifts or recommendations.

Tip #6: Don’t forget to bring your manners

Lastly, just cause the costumes have you feeling like you’re walking around in Tortuga or onboard Serenity, that’s no excuse for forgetting basic social cues. Most Cosplayers are happy to pose for photographs but don’t forget to ask them prior! Same goes for physical boundaries. It’s easy to forget there is a real life human underneath that Deadpool mask — even if he insists his real name is Wade when you interview him.

Wellington’s convention and Harry Potter’s beautiful Miss Bonnie Wright may have already breezed through town, but it’s not too late to get tickets to Armageddon’s Tauranga, Christchurch or Auckland events. More details can be found at www.armageddonexpo.com or check out their Facebook page for more regular updates.