The Comic-Con (store) Crawl
Or, how to create a comic-con experience while staying socially distant.
By MJ Wilke
With all of the large comic-cons being canceled or postponed until 2021, we need to find other ways to create that feeling of being at the con. One way is to plan a comic-con crawl day, locally or in a city a half a gas tank away.
Note: The “half-a-gas-tank” concept is about limiting the amount of interactions you have by not stopping at a gas station and not staying overnight someplace. If you pack a lunch, that eliminates another interaction.
Start by compiling a list of all the comic shops and/or independent bookstores in your chosen city, and map them out. Then look for places on the map, such as a park, to have a leisurely lunch while paging through your morning acquisitions. Make a schedule just like you would for a con, and add in a new place you haven’t been before along with your favorites—or go all new! Sketch out a budget, keeping in mind how much you would have spent at MSP Springcon or on the exhibit floor of Emerald City. And make a list of special items you have been looking for.
Create a badge, because it’s not a con without a badge and lanyard. One version of your badge can be a list of all the places you plan to go, then have the clerks check it off when you get there. Consider commissioning a piece of original artwork from a local creator for your crawl day badge, as a way of connecting with comic creators like you would have by roaming Artists’ Alley. To give the feeling of attending panels, play past panels in the car as you travel from location to location. Many of the large conventions have been making past panels available. )
This comic-con crawl concept is easily scalable to whatever level of stay-at-home, travel restrictions, or store openings you are under or feel comfortable with. Many stores are doing curbside pickup, so you can still control the amount of interactions you have with others. Want to do the crawl with your regular con-going group but need to be socially distant? Do it like a shotgun start of a golf tournament: Plan for the same day but with each person driving separately and starting at different locations. Meet up for lunch at a park where you can be 6 feet apart and chat about your finds from the morning, just like at a con. Then meet up again at the end to talk about the day.
Here is just one example for a crawl in the St. Paul, Minnesota area where there are over a dozen comic shops and bookstores:
Start at Half Price Books - Ford Parkway for a browse at used comics, new and used pop culture stuff (I like the nerdy post-it notes), and pulp fiction classics. Then on to Uncle Sven’s Comic Shoppe; it may be small but it is mighty with its floor to ceiling comic shelves. Next we jump the river, and venture just a bit into Minneapolis for Dreamhaven’s Neil Gaiman collection (Minneapolis has even more comic shops and bookstores, but that’s for another day). Head back over the river for lunch on the vast greenery of Como Park. After lunch is a peruse of the Midway Used & Rare Books shelves, which are full of hidden treasures. Then spend the rest of the afternoon at Source Comics & Games’ sizable store and finishing at Fantasy Flight Games Headquarters’ Gaming Center and a take-home order of their Poutine (gravy covered cheese curds and French fries). To end the comic-con crawl day, go online and order a commission from local comic creator Otis Frampton, maybe a Jawa in University of Minnesota Golden Gopher colored robes.
In the words of Stan Lee – “Excelsior!”
MJ Wilke is the founder of Wayward Nerd. She is a road warrior. A nerd. A trekkie. A whovian. A Star Wars fanatic. She will go where no one has gone before, come back and post it here.