Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the London Super Comic Convention at the Excel Centre. On top of that, I got to meet Stan Lee, the legendary comic book creator best known as the man who created the Marvel Universe, and got an exclusive, authenticated poster signed by him. Needless to say that poster is now the pride and joy of my collection and inspired me to share my experiences in order to bring up some helpful pointers about making the best use of your time while attending such rare comic book conventions.
Before attending the event, it is a good idea to first find out which artists and writers will be present. Usually comic conventions make their announcements fairly well ahead of time. Do your research and find out who they are, and what they wrote or illustrated. Spend some time planning what you would like to have signed by them; bearing in mind that the rarer the comic book the more valuable it will ultimately be. Doing your research and planning ahead of time will help you get through the hall entrance well prepared.
Postpone the pre-planned signing until the last day of the multiple day convention, unless the featured artists/writer is only available during a particular day or time. This will give you the opportunity to look around first, and make sure that you do not miss any great discoveries or deals being offered by the various comic book shops through their booth exhibits. Be prepared to spend some money though, as it will be very hard to limit yourself to merely browsing the valuable collectables. Try not to spend your time looking for the popular collectable comic books, as those will probably not be on display. It is best to first spend your time looking through the rest of the offerings which are made available, so you do not use up an inordinate amount of time searching only for your favorite comic books.
A great find comes from a copy of a comic book issue from a popular series that is not yet a big enough hit to attract everyone’s attention. For example, first appearances of characters are scarce enough to be rare and valuable, but are not publicized enough to spread massive awareness. Try to spend as much time as possible browsing for the unique copies, and make sure that the price is right as well. Expect to find items that are overpriced, which are usually offered for a cheaper price on-line. One benefit of attending a convention however is that you are able to examine the book’s quality and details much better than looking at pictures posted on-line.
The next step is independent publishing companies. These outfits are just starting out, and have just published some of their work in the hopes of getting a good exposure. Plan to spend some time visiting and checking out their exhibits, as they are very friendly and approachable. Moreover, they will sign anything that you buy from them. I had my interaction with the people from T-publications, who signed their copies of Twisted Dark, and even personalized it for me. Independent publishers are a goldmine for collectors. More often than not their comic books are of great quality in art and script as well as imprint. The majority have not yet reached the peak of their success due to distribution logistics, and lack of expensive marketing. Be sure to pay enough attention to them, look for the ones that have a good story, and invest some money on them. Not only are you helping independent companies, but you are holding comic books or graphic novels which could potentially be worth a lot if the writer and/or artist become famous.
And last but not least, enjoy it. Comic conventions are costly and do not happen very often, so just enjoy them. Look for comic book treasures and get as many of your items signed and authenticated as you can. Attend panels, observe, learn and mingle with other people who share your passion for comic books, who for a very limited time come under one roof.