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As part of the Wikia Superfan Crew program, I attended Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia. This was my first con, but I've always wanted to go to one. Wikia made that happen for me and I'm very grateful.
As someone from a rural area (my town is probably smaller than most airports), I had some adjustments to make just from being in a city, which was a bit overwhelming. Still, I felt like I was in my element at the con itself, being surrounded by so many other fans.
The main convention hall was staggeringly huge, with so many booths and vendors. I lost hours to just walking around and seeing what was for sale. I bought some things I didn't know existed, some things I'd always wanted and saw so many other things I was pleased to see were as well-loved as I love them.
One thing I was totally unaware of was the art community making a living at such cons. Fan artists selling their art at these conventions was not something I expected to see. I think its a wonderful thing that they can do that. Many of them were so good I think they should be drawing the official products, too. It was impressive.
I was able to go to an advance screening of Mad Max: Fury Road. I've never seen the other Mad Max movies, but I'm sure I will be soon. Despite that, the film was not hard to follow. It was so stupid. And that's why it was so awesome. I still don't know what I watched, but it was awesome. Well worth a look, especially if you're a fan of action movies.
Saturday featured a plethora of panels with celebrity guests. It was impossible to attend every one I wanted to go to, with the times conflicting and all. I never thought I'd have to make a decision between going to a panel on The Walking Dead and one on the Power Rangers, but here we are (The Walking Dead was my decision there, more on that on The Walking Dead Wikia, here). That's part of the beauty of an event like this – there's more to do than its possible for any one person to do!
The highlight for me was meeting and getting the autograph of Charles Martinet, the voice actor for Mario. I wrote a blog post about his on the Mario Wikia if anyone is interested in reading a more detailed account. That can be found here.
One challenge for me was walking around without accidentally photobombing someone every few feet. I am not a small man and I was so absorbed in the con I would sometimes not even realize I was about to walk between a photographer and their subject.
On that note, here are some tips for anyone else attending a con. I certainly know what I won't be doing next time.
My first big mistake was how much stuff I bought on the first day of the con. I had a decent chunk of pocket money with me to spend, but I could have walked away with more stuff had I waited until Sunday to buy certain things. For example, I bought a plastic Master Sword and plastic Sting for a total of fifty dollars. I would have only paid thirty-five had waited until Sunday.
Another tip is to really plan ahead and look at the event schedule for each day. Have your days planned out in advance. Know what you're going to be doing and take part of the first day to get the lay of the land so you don't get lost in the convention center. Efficiency is key. You'll never be able to do every single thing you want to do, there's simply too much to do. But planning in advance should help maximize what you get to experience. I'll certainly be more prepared next time.
If you're going to be at a con on Saturday, bring your lunch with you. Saturday is the most crowded day and you'll be standing in line for lunch for a over an hour if you don't bring something with you. I'm thankful I did indeed bring something with me that day, but it was not planned and was ultimately a happy coincidence. Just glancing over at the lines for food made my jaw drop.
As I said before, I live in a rural area. I do not own a smartphone. Wikia provided me with one to use at the event. If you're one of the seven people out there in world like me that doesn't have a smartphone, get familiar with the one Wikia will lend you. I managed to have mine in airplane mode for a day and a half and not know it and did not figure out until Sunday how to change the phone from “selfie” mode to a regular camera (after having had it in regular mode and accidentally changing it to “selfie” mode without knowing it earlier in the weekend).