When you’re at a “con” like Boston Comic Con, there are unspoken rules to follow before you gush in front of a sci-fi TV series hero or ask a big name comic book artist for a selfie. Here’s what to do and what not to do, according to the VIPs themselves.
Arrive early, stay late
With oodles of merchandise to browse and so many people to meet and nerd out with, “every minute is going to be exciting for you,” says comics legend Stan Lee. To get the most out of the event, he advises, “You gotta come early and be prepared to stay late.” Boston Comic Con founder Nick Kanieff recommends going Friday and Sunday, the con’s quieter days. “Saturday is absolute insanity.”
Don’t be shy
Most of the time, mere mortals are separated from performers by the red carpet, says actor Manu Bennett, best known from roles on “Spartacus” and “Arrow.” At cons, “conventiongoers are in control. If you want to get that autograph, you can get it, it’s up to you.” Bennett likes the more “brave” fans who “step up and ask sometimes surprising questions” during panel Q&As. “Way out of left field. Put me on the spot.”
You have to pay the price
For most autographs, photo opps, and chances to speak to a media guest, you have to buy a ticket. Prices range from $100 (Stan Lee) to $30 (Bob Morley of “The 100”). “Some people can get upset that they have to pay for a photo,” says Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira. She likens asking her for a free photo opp to requesting that a mechanic fix your car for nothing. “It is how we make our living.”
You might be tempted to get some one-on-one time with Stan Lee while he’s in transit on the convention floor. Don’t. “A fan will see you and say, ‘Oh can I talk to you a minute? Can you sign this?’ Unfortunately, you have to say no,” says Lee. Go to the booth like everyone else.
When in line, be patient, and be concise
“Make your comments fairly brief because there are people waiting in line,” Peterson says. Kanieff says that each star’s management is there to make sure that that celebrity generates as much money as possible. So keep it moving, people.
VIPs are people, too
“Remember, we’re sometimes trapped at a table for three days,” says local artist Ming Doyle. Be kind. “I’m a human being and I’m going to be tired,” says artist Jason Latour (“Spider Gwen”). “Some of these people are getting it from every direction.”
Latour says he’s “genuinely happy” to look at the work of aspiring artists, “if I have time, because people did that for me.” Lee says he avoids looking at portfolios. “I don’t want to tell someone that his work isn’t that great. And if it is good, this person will be able to make it on his or her own without any help from me. “
Be respectful. Behave
Be aware of a star’s personal space and stay out of it. “Don’t get too grabby with your hands,” says Peterson. “People who take photos with me, they’ll say, ‘Can I put my hands on you?’ Yeah. It all depends where.”