C2E2 2013: A Pre-Show Guide

Smell that? It's con season, baby. Consider your money already spent, and don't plan on getting any sun while you peruse the aisles of the large, open floors of exhibition halls. Hunt down those deals, get those autographs, and wear your most comfortable shoes. And most importantly: get your game plan together early. 

C2E2 is still three weeks away, which gives you plenty of time to decide who you want to see and what you want to buy. In addition to our usual tips and tricks for conventions (see last year's guide), having attended three out of the last four years of C2E2 we have a few closely guarded secrets to share as well.

Make A List
This is always a good place to start. Write down everything and everyone you'd like to see, then prioritize because you most likely won't get to see everything. Attending the Patton Oswalt Q&A on Saturday will no doubt require a chunk of time spent standing in line. Attending the costume contest will also require careful planning. The panels have already been scheduled, so if you're not planning to go all weekend you will find that looking at the schedule will help you narrow down your day of choice as well. 

Budget Yourself
Now that you know who and what you will be seeing, you can decide how you'll spend your money. Give yourself some wiggle room for impulse buys as well because you'll always find something on the con floor you can't live without. For example:

$30 for limited edition tees
$100 for sketches
$20 for food
$50 for back issues
$60 for signed picture of (insert guest television star)
$50 for impulse buys

Only bring cash if you don't trust yourself to stay on budget (and vendors always prefer cash). If your budget is modest, have no fear. One can go to a con and have just as much fun spending hundreds of dollars as those that only pay the entry fee. This is especially true of C2E2 where the programing is the real draw for many comic fans.

Get To Know Artist Alley
It's difficult to make a budget for art purchases if you don't know who will be at the show, so be sure to check ahead of time to see who will have a booth in artist alley. That way you won't be disappointed when you realize your favorite webcomic creator is in town but you didn't budget enough to purchase a print. Some of the bigger name creators will even have sketch sign ups before the actual convention which means they could potentially be all booked by the time you make your way to their table (Cliff Chiang was one such artist last year). 

Start A Sketch Book
This is one piece of advice I have yet to undertake myself. Buy a nice sketchbook with thick bristol board paper, choose a theme, and pass it from artist to artist throughout convention season. For example, you could have a sketchbook that is comprised of your favorite characters eating hamburgers. Or you could create your favorite rogues gallery as teenagers. The best part is that each time you pass it to a new artist, they get to see what each artist before them has done. Once it is filled you'll have a unique and varied piece of artwork unlike anything else in your collection.

Download the C2E2 App
How many conventions have their own app? Reed Pop has clearly made interaction with con-goers a top priority. No need to carry around that multipage program (though we won't judge you if you still do), you can access the con schedule straight from your phone and stay up to date with changes as they happen. You can even plan your schedule with the app, ensuring that you won't miss a panel or signing.

Tweet Your Favorite Food Truck
As we stated in last year's guide, there are plenty of good eats around McCormick if you're willing to drive a few minutes, but if you want to stay in the immediate vicinity of McCormick, your options are limited. There is a mall-like food court and a few snack stands, but none of it does the city of Chicago justice. If you would like to see more options, contact your favorite food trucks and let them know about the show! We know at least one will be parking nearby, 5411empanadas, and we plan to tweet more of our favorite sweet and savory food vendors as well.

Plan Post Con Activities
If you have friends coming into town just for the show, know where you'd like to have dinner at the end of a busy day on the con floor. Plan a trip to the Hyatt bar to rub elbows with creators. See if anyone around town is having a Doctor Who viewing party of the new episode. Where there are cons, there are after parties.

Be sure to follow us on twitter as we'll be sharing our con schedule in the upcoming weeks! See you on the con floor.