On June 2nd, the Philadelphia Convention Center will welcome Wizard World Comic Con, the four-day spectacular featuring some of your favorite movie stars, comic book artists, and thousands of eager fans dressed in costume as their favorite Marvel superhero or Game of Thrones character. Check out all the info here for tickets and scheduling if you haven’t already.
If you’ve never been to a Comic Con before, they can be overwhelming. There are dozens of vendors lined up from end to end, peddling their exclusive comics, one-of-a-kind artwork and Avengers t-shirts. While the Philadelphia Comic Con experience may not yet be up to the obscene levels of San Diego or New York, it’s still packed with excitement and energy, and tons of things to spend your hard earned money on, whether you’re a die-hard fan of superheroes, fantasy shows, WWE superstars or Japanese anime. This year, Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and old favorites like Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future) are just a few of the big stars expected to be in attendance.
If you’re like me, and don’t want to drop June’s car payment to take a picture with Chris Evans—or even some of the lesser, cheaper celebs in attendance—fret not. There are still thousands of items you can take home with you from the show’s collection of vendors. I’m a comic book guy myself—primarily old X-Men and assorted Marvel titles—and I enjoy going from vendor to vendor haggling about prices and flipping through bins in search of a hidden gem.
Last weekend, I took a stroll through Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Con, an awesome little precursor to the madness that will ensue at Wizard World in the coming weeks. I compiled a list of things to keep in mind if it’s your first Comic Con experience and how to get the most of your dealings with the various vendors, but most importantly, how to make the most of all the great items up for grabs.
Buy Your Tickets In Advance
It may seem like a simple tenet for pretty much any function, but it’s especially true here. While you’ll still have to check in and get a wristband, it’s a much more seamless process. You can save yourself $5-$10 by purchasing your tickets in advance, and the line to buy tickets on site is generally long. Five dollars might not seem like a lot, but every little bit helps, as you’ll soon see. If you’re planning on doing autograph and meet-and-greet sessions with stars, you must buy the tickets in advance to secure your place in line. If you’re going on Thursday, check a secondary site for a deal that could save you almost 50% off the asking price, like this one from LivingSocial.
I understand that most people my age really hate carrying cash with them. If you or your company doesn’t allow us to swipe our debit cards then we really have no use for you. But I implore you, men and women of all ages, bring some cash with you to Comic Con. From a practical standpoint, most vendors only accept cash for purchases. There should be an ATM close by, but save time and aggravation by making a withdrawal in advance. Secondly, and most importantly, paying in cash allows for you to negotiate better with vendors. Always tell them that you’re paying in cash and I guarantee it will save you a few dollars, as long as you…
ASK FOR A DEAL
Whenever you’re asking for something you want, always remember the worst thing someone can say is “No.” No one is going to kick you out of Comic Con for trying to finagle a deal, but please approach this delicate situation with caution. Don’t press a vendor who is disinterested. If he or she has put thorough time into the pricing of his or her products and stands by them, then you have to respect that, but it never hurts to ask. Here are two examples from last week’s Boardwalk Con of simple negotiating tactics that are guaranteed to save you a few bucks.
At one table, I spotted a comic I coveted, Limited Series Wolverine #1. I was with two friends who were buying some assorted $5 and $10 comics from the different bins on the table. I combined all of our purchases and simply said, “If we buy all these (handing him a stack of about 6 comics, Wolverine being the most expensive) and pay cash, can you do anything for us on the price?” He could have simply said, “No, those prices are firm, sorry.” Instead, knowing that we were good customers who were making a sizable purchase, he properly read the situation and took $10 off the total. It might not seem like a lot, but that money can go towards parking, or in my friends’ case, they basically got a comic or two for free, all because we asked.
On our way out, I spotted another comic I had eyed up earlier, Secret Wars #8 (first appearance of Spider-Man’s black suit). This copy was already cheaper than any other stand had it listed, and we were on our way out the door, so took a shot and said, “Is this the best price if I pay cash?” The vendor looked a bit ticked, probably because he was busy and he already had a competitive price on the sticker. But instead of saying no and potentially losing the sale, he knocked five dollars off the price. Within seconds, I paid cash and was on my way with another great deal in tow. Vendors want to move the product, so if you finesse the situation correctly, they won’t lose a sale over a few dollars.
Take a Lap
First and foremost, Comic Con is an awesome time. You get to hang out with fun people who share your common interests, meet new (and often masked) faces, and you can buy so many cool items. It’s a fun day, but it can also be a sensory overload with all of the merchandise for sale, not to mention all the cosplay. When you walk in, take a lap and soak it all up, especially if it’s your first time. Enjoy your time there from the moment you walk through those doors and see the first person dressed as Jon Snow or Captain America.
By taking a lap, you also get to take mental notes of all the items up for sale. Locate a few items you like and compare prices with some of the other vendors before you even think about taking out your wallet. When dealing with comic books especially, there can be a tremendous price disparity among vendors, all things—like quality of the comic itself—being equal. The Wolverine #1 I purchased for $40 in Atlantic City was for sale at another vendor down the aisle for $100, in the exact same condition. I experienced similar issues with Secret Wars #8, which ranged anywhere from $45 (what I paid) to $85. Amazing Spider-Man #300 (First full appearance of Venom) was at most stands for $200+, while one stand had it in good condition for $120. Uncanny X-Men #266 (First appearance of Gambit) was at one stand for $120 and another for $60, both in similarly great condition. Don’t be the person that overpays because they were impatient.
Soak it all in, enjoy your Comic Con experience, and by all means ask a vendor if that price is the best they can do.