Monday, September 20, 2021

Comic Con on a Budget

If you're like me with a budding career, a small family, and always bills to pay, you don't exactly have the money to buy great extravagant souvenirs at a convention. If you're like me, you might just feel lucky to get through the door. So if your budget is limited, but you still want to enjoy your next Con, here's what I learned about the experience at Fan Expo Dallas this year.


If you have a few bucks to spare, there are always great collectables and memorabilia. Be smart with it though. Cross-reference your purchases at the booths with prices you could expect with Ebay or Amazon. I remember finding a Digimon plush at FanX (and I love any Digimon merch), but Amazon had it for $10 cheaper. Pro tip: sometimes vendors will reduce their prices on the last day of the Con so they have less to transport out of the convention center afterwards. Bottom line: If you're going to buy merch at a Con, make it something you can't get cheaper elsewhere or something rare enough that the higher price is worth it.

Artist Alley

I have to pull myself away from Artist Alley sometimes because I love the artwork so much. I want to buy all of it but it'll be years before I have a man cave to display it all. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy it though. Until I have the space and money for that artwork, I've taken to following my favorite artists on social media so that I can keep tabs on their work. Let's me know if there's some art I want to buy and it feels my social media feed with something more joyful than whatever tragedy is happening today. Here are just a few of the artists I started following this weekend: Greg Horn, Dominic Glover, Brittany Ann, Judy Blu, and Brett Mitchell.


Meeting a celebrity is fun and exhilarating, but so very expensive. If you have some money to meet a celebrity, I would suggest seeing if they do photos at their autograph booths, instead of a professional photo--you get more time with them that way. You can also usually have multiple people in the photo op, so you can split the cost with a friend to make it more affordable--that's the only way I was able to meet David Tennant or Matt Smith. However if you're like me at Fan Expo Dallas this year and have zero dollar bills to spare for celebrities, your best bet for an interaction with them is asking a question at their panel. Sure, you're sharing the experience with hundreds of other people, but asking them a question gives you a moment of interaction with them for free. I still have my video of asking Jason David Frank about being a Power Ranger.


Speaking of panels, if you don't have any money for merchandise or artwork, you might enjoy spending your time at Q&A panels. Whether it's a celebrity panel or a fan panel, it can be a fun way to get to know others' perspectives with your fandom. Also, if you have been window shopping (which I often will spend hours doing), panels are also the perfect opportunity to rest your feet. Seriously, the only time I get more steps than a Con is at Disney Parks.


If you enjoy dressing up, cosplay can be another fun way to enjoy the convention. Budget can make this one hard, but I've written two blog posts about making it work on a budget (read part one here and part two here). If you're not comfortable dressing up but still enjoy the costumes, that's okay too. People-watching is one of my favorite activities at a Con. It's very affirming to have a stranger compliment your costume or to have someone ask for your picture. You can even turn this people-watching into a game. Last month I wrote about doing a Comic Con Bingo card. If you don't want something as strict as a bingo card, you can play your own game. For example, someone I met at Fan Expo Dallas was playing "Avengers Bingo". Basically he was trying to get a picture as many Avengers characters as possible (which worked out well because I was dressed as Captain America).

So take these tips into account when you're at your next Con and make the most of your time. It's a blast to be with friends old and new.

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