Photo by Jason Biundo

So, You Wanna Go to Comic Con?

The nerds are coming. Actually they’re already here, but for one weekend, they’ll all gather in one spot – Wizard World Ohio Comic Con. Besides being the biggest trade show this side of Endor, Comic Con (Oct. 31 – Nov. 2) is a safe space for people to nerd the hell out for just about anything. As an event attendee for 20-plus years, I’m here to help ease first-timers into a weekend of nerdy nirvana.

One of the biggest draws will be Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame (he’s big with the ladies). Fans of Evil Dead or Nightmare on Elm Street will have the pleasure of seeing Bruce Campbell and Robert Englund. Or maybe you were a fan of 90210 back in the day? Because Shannon Doherty will be there this year…for some reason. *crickets chirping*

Know that face time and signatures will set your budget back a few rupees. “Budget” you say? Oh yes. While you can’t put a price on timeless memories, someone else can. And they do. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still check out panels where creators and stars interact with crowds about various aspects of the industry.

Next, plan to spend plenty of time walking the floor. Ogle the GI Joe Aircraft Carrier your parents never bought you. Or the vintage My Little Pony, mint, in-box (if you’re of the “Brony” persuasion). Or any one of the millions of comics, toys, posters, T-shirts, or various treasures that will captivate you and woo your dollars away. You just have to weigh the joy you’ll receive from a Lord of the Rings collector’s chess set versus getting an autograph from Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings, or Rudy, for non-nerds).

Also, make a point of strolling down artist alley. You’ll find dozens of local creators eager to share their work with you. These are the unsung heroes of any Comic Con. Original creations and self-published comics are hidden gems that often rival the work of major publishers. I recommend checking out 2 Headed Monster, Nix, and Broken Icon for examples of excellent work. Support the little guys. You never know who’ll be the next Brian Bendis, Jim Lee, or Robert Kirkman (get to know them if you don’t already).

Last, let your freak flag fly! Wear your X-Men T-shirt or Green Lantern ring. Carry a light saber, or arrive in full cosplay gear. What might be scoffed at in the mundane world will be fully embraced at Comic Con. Likewise, don’t be afraid to admire the costumes of other attendees. Perhaps a frighteningly life-like Predator, or a portly gentleman in a Slave Leia bikini? Just remember not to screech and point every time you see a fully decked-out supernerd; you’re outnumbered here. By a lot.

But once you’re indoctrinated into our world, you’ll forever be one of us. So if 2014 is your first year, I’ll be thrilled to see you there. And again in 2015.

Jason Biundo is co-owner of Late Night Slice and ECT Pedicab, and (614)’s go-to nerd in many editorial emergencies. He has traveled all over the country with his favorite Spider-Man figure, and often lets us borrow his ninja sword.