Rhode Island Comic Con: A Crash Course

A self-proclaimed nerd offers her Comic Con survival guide for newbies.

This weekend, Providence will be overrun with thousands of comic book enthusiasts, film buffs, television addicts and gamers, a.k.a. fanboys and fangirls (this blogger included), thanks to the fifth iteration of the Rhode Island Comic Con (RICC).

The state’s unconventional convention is coming to the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Dunkin Donuts Center from November 11th to the 13th and is promised to be bigger and better than ever. And how can it not be? This year’s con will not only see the return of celebrity guests, vendors and panels (want to rip Neegan a new one for that scene from “The Walking Dead” premiere? Now’s your chance!) along with special events like Sci-Fi Speed Dating and an epic Super Smash Bros. tournament, but will also be host to quite a few irresistible new attractions.

The biggest is Stan Lee’s final New England appearance. For the uninitiated, Lee is one of the original masterminds behind the Hulk-sized (hah) Marvel enterprise. But he’s just one of a whole slew of brand new famous faces to the Ocean State, so it’s no wonder RICC is expecting to see their biggest turnout yet, with a majority being newbies to Comic Con culture.

If you’ve found yourself amongst this crowd, then let me be first to tell you: Comic Con is not for the faint of heart. Even if you’re only planning to attend just one day out of the three, a little preparation will go a long way. But fret not: This self-proclaimed nerd has a few Comic Con attendances under her belt and is willing to share her top ten tips in a handy survival guide.

1. Check RI Comic Con’s website/mobile app/social media accounts regularly.

You’ve hopefully already checked the events tab before purchasing your tickets, as some celebrity appearances and events are only scheduled for one day. But that doesn’t mean you should clear the page from your browser history. Seriously, all of RICC’s informative digital platforms can answer any and all of your questions (not sure if the replica swords that complete your "Deadpool" aesthetic are allowed? Check the FAQ page) as well as keep you up to date on the latest in canceled appearances, panel time delays, event room changes and more.

2. Arrive early.

If you’re planning to see a certain celebrity or go to a specific panel, arriving twenty minutes before starting time won’t cut it. There will be thousands of like-minded visitors in attendance, so I’m talking at least an hour early.

3. Dress up! 

And I don’t mean in a swanky suit or a fancy dress. In this case, it’s called cosplay, a contraction of the words “costume” and “play,” and it’s an art. Sure, some people will double dip from their Halloween costumes, but the super-dedicated will pour hours into hand-sewing their very own Sally getup from The Nightmare before Christmas or perfecting the gaunt, crazed look of their Joker makeup. Don’t have the time, money or energy to go all out? You can still blend in with a Dr. Who T-shirt or rounded Harry Potter glasses.

I’m calling it now: The most popular cosplays this year will be Eleven from "Stranger Things" (think: pink dress, blonde wig, Eggo waffles box), some variation of a Pokemon trainer (or even an actual Pokémon) and Harley Quinn (did you see all of the blue and pink-tipped pigtails bobbing around on Halloween?). I’m also setting myself the challenge of getting photos with at least one of each. Check back next Monday for our best of RICC cosplay roundup to see if I succeed!

4. That being said, wear sensible shoes.

Even if your cosplay calls for otherwise. Or, at the very least, bring a backup pair. Yes, I know Harley Quinn wore killer (literally) heels throughout the entirety of Suicide Squad, but you better believe that Margot Robbie got to sit/take those things off in between takes. You, on the other hand, most likely won’t have the luxury of sitting, outside of panels. The convention centers are huge, so there’s a lot of walking around from booth to booth, ballroom to ballroom, and lots of other people will also be in the same boat, aching feet and all, so floor space to pop a squat will be scarce.

5. Prioritize your time and cash.

Although online pre-sales are sold out, photo ops and autographs will be available for cash purchase at the convention. So, what’s more important to you: easily shareable evidence that you met a celebrity or actual face time with said celebrity? A photo op is great if you want a professional, high-quality photo but prepare for a “factory” experience. Forget planning a wicked Spiderman pose with Stan Lee; you’ll barely get to say “Hi” before the light flashes and the photographer shouts “Next!”

On the flipside, autograph signings will ensure that you can at least let him know how much his work meant to you growing up in the thirty seconds it takes to walk up to the table and for him to sign his name. If you don’t have anything for your favorite celeb to sign, RICC can supply you with a picture of said celeb for a small fee.

But one of the best parts of RICC are the panels, which are already included in your admission ticket price. The panels allow you to see more than one celebrity at once, and there’s usually a chance to ask fan questions towards the end.

6. Bring water.

Nobody wants to pay $4 for a twenty-ounce water bottle, but you’ll need to hydrate regularly. It may be November but with that many bodies in one space, it gets pretty dang hot (especially when costumes are involved).

7. But don’t shy away from the booze. 

Like I said, it’s a long day with a lot of waiting. Plus, they’re doing a special this year: Bucket Brewery’s Rhode Warrior Pail Ale and RICC’s self-published comic book, "The Rhode Warrior #1," will be sold at all concession stands as well as the after-parties on Friday and Saturday evenings (two more activities I’d highly recommend and that are deserving of their own spot on this list, but then I wouldn’t have a nice, neat list of ten tips).

8. Ditch the bags.

Bringing a purse or backpack will mean bag checks, which will mean longer waiting time to get in to the facilities. I know I just told you to bring water, but if you’re mostly bringing in smaller items, think about keeping them in hand or in pockets until you’re inside and can use the plastic ones you will acquire from buying things. Which is a nice segue to…

9. Prepare to spend money.

“Yea, right,” you say, “I already spent enough on the admission ticket and various photo ops and/or signings!” But don’t say I didn’t warn you when you catch yourself on the arena floor swiping your credit card for that awesome Tardis coffee mug, adorable Khaleesi Funko Pop doll or that special issue of "The Flash #9." (I know that last one is not a real thing, comic aficionados, so please don’t come for me.)

10. And my last bit of advice that really just applies to anyone who is ever planning to leave the house, ever: Bring a phone charger.

It’s a long day. Too much precious battery power is spent documenting everything on Snapchat. (Cue the shameless plug: Follow us at @rimonthly to see what we get up to at the con.) 'Nuff said.

So go forth, my dear Padawans, and enjoy your very first Comic Con adventure! If you do it right, I can almost guarantee it won’t be your last.


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