Comic cons have become a big business. Packed full of guest stars and Hollywood panels with tickets that sell out in minutes, attending a con isn’t the experience it used to be.
For hardcore comic fans, this can be disheartening. While we all enjoy the thrill of meeting a hero, some cons seem to have lost that unique vibe that made them so special in the first place.
In their place, we have to turn to the small cons to find something that retains the heart of the convention.
If you’re feeling burnt out on major cons, then Gem City Comic Con might be the exact right choice for you. Even as it grows, it still feels like a con for comic lovers.
If you want to discover new artists, marvel over creators, and meet fellow enthusiasts, this guide can tell you everything to expect.
Buying your ticket/badge
Gem City Comic Con – or GCCC, which is less of a mouthful – is a comic con for actual comic fans. Star guests take a backseat, allowing comic books to be the real focus.
Without the rush to meet a Hollywood star, tickets are much easier to come by, and the whole event has a relaxed, personal atmosphere.
If you want to buy your tickets in advance, you need to head to Bell, Book and Comic. They’re the exclusive partners for Gem City Comic Con, and advanced tickets are sold through them.
If you can’t get to Bell, Book and Comic, then there’s no need to worry. Tickets are available at the door – and GCCC promise that as long as the printer is working, tickets will be available.
You can come at any time on the day, purchase a ticket, and head straight in.
Of course, there are advantages to turning up early, and a big one is that the tickets are half price. If you arrive between 9am and 10am, you’ll get this amazing bargain and early entry to the con.
Any later than that and the tickets are up to full price, but this is still fairly inexpensive
GCCC is a family con, and children under 12 are allowed in for free if accompanied by a paying adult.
Buying a ticket to GCCC gets you a wristband and all day entry. Weekend passes are available, and work out cheaper than buying a ticket every day.
What to bring to Gem City Comic Con
The Daytona Convention Center, where the con is held, is fairly well located. So if you discover you’ve forgotten something, you aren’t stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Money is the most important thing to bring. Take a mixture of cash and card. Although you’re probably going to be fine to pay by card at most tables, there might be one or two that can only accept cash.
Bringing a mix just ensures you won’t miss out
A phone and a charger pack are two other necessities. It can be a long (but fun) day, and you don’t want to lose charge halfway around.
Bags – and yes, we mean that plural. Take a backpack with some lightweight bags inside. The tables at GCCC are packed with exciting things to buy, and you don’t want to be stuck trying to juggle flimsy plastic bags.
Another thing that you’ll thank yourself for bringing: snacks and a bottle of water. Take something that will fuel you through a busy day at the con, and stop you from passing out with dehydration.
A packet of trail mix, some granola bars, and a sports drink are all worth the weight. The con takes place near quite a few restaurants, but you aren’t going to want to head out whenever your stomach starts to rumble.
If you’re attending as a family, snacks can be the difference between a great day trip, and a disaster.
There isn’t much opportunity for autographs at GCCC, but packing a pen and notebook won’t hurt. That way, you can ensure you get the signature of anyone who might interest you.
It’s also helpful for making a note of anything that catches your eye to look at later.
Finally, if you’ve chosen to come in costume, then you might want to bring anything needed for quick fixes.
Can anything ruin a con more than trying to hold your costume together as you walk around? Tuck some safety pins into your pocket, or even a roll of tape.
What to wear to Gem City Comic Con
Cosplay and costumes are a popular choice for GCCC. The whole center is packed full of comic enthusiasts, and they dress to show it. If you want to wear a costume, you’ll fit right in. Most years, GCCC even holds a costume contest.
If you don’t want to wear a costume, then the best outfit is one you feel comfortable walking around in. Convention centers generally have pretty good air conditioning, but dress in lighter layers.
Expect to spend most of the day on your feet, so comfortable shoes are an absolute must.
Easy Gem City Comic Con Costume Ideas
Comics and games are the big focus of the Gem City Comic Con, so finding easy costumes shouldn’t be a struggle. You might be surprised by just how many comic book characters wear fairly basic clothing.
For women after something easy but recognizable, Arkham Harley Quinn isn’t too difficult to pull together with a limited time or budget. Similarly, men have found plenty of mileage in Joker costumes that only need face paint.
Another really easy costume is almost anyone from Rick and Morty. (And as past guests have included writers for the Rick and Morty comics, it manages to stay on theme.)
Can you go to Gem City Comic Con without a costume?
Yes, there will be more than a few people at Gem City Comic Con without a costume. GCCC has a friendly and enthusiastic vibe, and they’re welcoming of everyone. It’s also a popular choice for families. Expect to see a mixture of clothing.
GCCC has tables full of artists, so keep an eye for t-shirts and jerseys with fantastic designs. These are great if you want to show enthusiasm, but aren’t interested in a full costume.
If you really don’t want to dress up, then don’t worry about it. Cosplay is welcomed, not mandatory.
However, if you are debating whether to go in costume or not, then it’s worth noting that in some years cosplayers have gotten discounted entry. It’s not a massive saving, but it does help to sweeten the deal.
Check the Gem City Comic Con website to find out whether the discount is running.
What to do when nobody gets your cosplay?
Almost everyone at Gem City Comic Con is incredibly enthusiastic about the art of comics. The people who come here have a real dedication, and a fantastic depth of knowledge. Which is to say: someone will probably get your cosplay.
If they don’t, then you can rest assured that people will be eager to learn. Even very well-thought-out cosplay might not be immediately recognizable, and someone will want to hear what inspired you.
There’s a real community vibe to GCCC, so what will be most appreciated is your passion for comics, and the effort you make. Even if no one “gets” your cosplay, they’ll get that you’re sharing an interest.
Guide to Gem City Comic Con lines and crowds
Lines and crowds aren’t a massive problem at Gem City Comic Con, although attendance does keep on increasing. You might find yourself needing to queue to get in, but the wait isn’t excessive.
Panels can get full, but you shouldn’t need to turn up hours in advance just to get a seat. There’s more of a quiet buzz than a rush for the front row.
Also, without the presence of massive guests, the crowd has a much more laid-back atmosphere. People are interested in discovering cool comics, and finding new obsessions.
Expect friendly conversation, and the great feeling that comes from connecting with people who share your interests.
Big name guests aren’t the focus of GCCC, so there isn’t the same reason to line up and queue. There may be some wait time getting to a popular table, but you shouldn’t need to waste your day standing in line.
Getting your comics signed
GCCC doesn’t attract the big name actors from television and video games, the focus is really on the comics themselves. That means the guests tend to be artists, writers, and creators.
Obviously, they’re still amazing, fascinating people to meet, and well worth the wait for an autograph. Charging for autographs isn’t common, and asking politely should be all you need to do.
How much money do you need?
If you’re an avid comic fan – which you probably are, if you’re attending GCCC – then you want to take a fair amount of money. There will be lots of interesting and exciting things to discover, and more than a few comics you can’t imagine leaving without.
Because the tables are so prolific, be prepared to find a lot of things you want to buy. GCCC is an opportunity for smaller artists and writers to show off their work. It can be hard to leave things behind when there’s so much to discover.
The big focus on tables does have its own type of money saving advantage – you’re unlikely to be paying for any meet and greets. You can put your money to other uses, which will probably be buying a pile of merchandise.
Although expenses actually in the con can be extensive, nearby eateries and the lower entrance fees means you don’t have to break the bank. The con is located close to several chain restaurants, so getting a bite to eat should be cheap.
With GCCC, it’s really down to personal choice how much you spend. Unlike other cons, there’s no additional costs inside the venue that end up pushing prices higher.
If you like to use cons as an opportunity to stock up your bookshelf, then be prepared with at least a hundred dollars. If you prefer to casually peruse and make one or two special buys, then you won’t need so much.
Some advice to remember – it’s worth taking more than you think you need. Costs can quickly add up when you’re surrounded by so many amazing creators.
No one wants to run out of cash and miss out on something they really love. Unless you’re working on a tight budget, it’s better to bring more than you estimate, to cover any unexpected expenses.
Don’t forget to bargain
GCCC is absolutely loaded with tables, with interesting writers and artists all over the place. Many prices won’t be completely fixed, so it’s worth breaking out your haggling skills to see if there’s any leeway.
A good way to grab a bargain is to buy multiple items. Artists are more likely to give money off if you’re making a large purchase.
If you’ve got your eye on a few different pieces, it’s worth asking if you can bundle them together for a potential discount.
Other tips for Gem City Comic Con-goers
If you’re used to big name cons, then prepare yourself for a very different atmosphere. Gem City Comic Con keeps the focus on the comics, and the people who create them.
The panels are fascinating, so be sure to swing by a couple. The discussions are often lively, and there’s a real chance to learn something.
Guests can offer an insight into the industry, and help you to understand their working process. Budding creators should head along to find some inspiration.
Another advantage of the panels? They’re the perfect excuse to sit down. The number one reason behind a ruined con is tired legs (…probably). It’s a long day, with very few chances to properly rest.
Heading to a panel provides the perfect moment to sit and relax, and you get to learn at the same time.
Games are another big thing at the Gem City Comic Con. Look out for the gaming tournaments, which are surprisingly fun to watch, even if you don’t play.
Local game developers will often exhibit as well, giving you a chance to discover something amazing.
If you’re a creator looking for a chance to get some eyes on your work, then Gem City Comic Con is a fantastic step on the ladder. Tables are normally sold on a “first come, first served” basis.
Gem City Comic Con was established by one guy – Jesse Noble – as a chance to sell some of their collection. And while other local conventions have exploded beyond recognition, GCCC has managed to retain its low profile, community feel.
The best place to stay if you want to attend the Gem City Comic Con is the Radisson. This is partnered with the con to provide discounted rates for those visiting.
It connects directly to the convention center via a skywalk, making it the place to stay for an easy visit.
Other than the Radisson, there are quite a few hotels in the nearby area, including chains like the Marriott and Holiday Inn. Expect to pay less the further away from the Dayton Convention Center you go.
If you do need to book a hotel, it’s best to get in early. Although this isn’t the largest comic con, it does still attract a decent crowd.
Also, GCCC can take place over a busy weekend, meaning it isn’t just fellow con-goers in the hunt for a room. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Car rental nearby
Avis Car Rental, Budget Car Rental, and Enterprise Car Rental are all located close to the Dayton Convention Center.
If you’re flying into the Dayton International Airport, this is located about 20 minutes from Dayton. Car rental via the airport is easy, and there should be more than a few options available.
Parking at the event
Parking near Dayton Convention Center should be relatively simple, but it is dependent on traffic/what other events may be happening.
As GCCC is located in such a busy area, there’s plenty of parking to be found all around. However, there can be competition for a space, and the roads do get blocked up.
Parking can be found at the Oregon District Garage, which is a block away from the convention center, and connects directly via skywalk.
Public transport to the event
The RTA, or Regional Transit Authority, provides the public transport for Dayton, Ohio. They operate trolley services 7 days a week. These trolleys run the length of the main Dayton area, and include a stop directly outside the convention center.
Another good option is a taxi or ride-share app. This allows you to get close to the convention center with minimum hassle, and you don’t have to worry about finding parking.
Dayton is a 20-minute drive from the Dayton International Airport, which is serviced by all major airlines.