You've never been to a comic book convention before, but you're taking my advice (because I'm so darn persuasive) and making plans for Dallas Comic Con. Good for you! But now what? I have some helpful ideas on how you, the newbie, can enjoy a comic book convention.
BRING A CAMERA. There will be a few people in costume. (No, you don't need to dress up.) Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of cosplay. It's amusing, but I feel like it creates a wrong image of the comic book industry. Watch any television news footage of a comic book convention, the interviews and b-role footage always go to the "weird people" dressed as super heroes. Cosplay is a part of the convention experience, but it's certainly not the only thing. That being said, occasionally a few cosplayers will win me over. Some people pick great characters. Wolverine is not unique, but if you dress as the Middleman (like this guy here), then I have to get my picture taken with you. Cosplayers are camera whores. They want to be photographed. They have poses and everything already prepared. Thus, bring your camera and have fun. Be silly. Post the photos on Facebook and Flickr. Your friends will love it. If anyone dressed as one of my characters, I would love them forever.
There will also be a few movie/television celebrities at the convention. I still regret not getting my photo taken with Carrie Fisher.
BUY SOME STUFF. Why on earth would you go to a comic book convention and not bring money? It's like going to a restaurant without buying any food, instead you just prefer sitting and watching other people eat. Go to the ATM. Get some cash. I would recommend avoiding anything that you could just as easily purchase at Amazon, B&N, or a local comic book store. Instead, buy something from one of the comic book creators (like me) and get it signed. Go to their table, look at their wares, and find something interesting. Most creators are friendly and easy to talk with, but not all. Don't let it ruin your day if a comic book creator has the personality of burnt toast. Shake it off, and move along. Also, spend your money on commissioned art! Bring a Bristol board notepad with you. Most artists will do sketches. Ask how much they charge (before they do the sketch, not after), and they'll people happy to draw almost anything.
WHAT NOT TO DO: (1) When someone signs a comic for you, do not say: "Who knows? This might be worth something someday!" To you, it may sound complimentary, but think how that sounds on the other end. By implication, is it not worth something now? Collectors and the speculation market nearly killed America comics. We're still a little sensitive to that "it'll be worth something someday" mentality. Look at the cover price. That's what it's worth. Read and enjoy. (2) Don't haggle with the artist on prices. Some people charge little, and some charge a lot. When you haggle, you're challenging them on the perceived value of their craft. Fighting words, pure and simple. You can haggle with vendors selling old comics and collectibles, but that's about it.
EXTRA SUGGESTIONS: (1) I would suggest leaving for lunch. Convention food is not always that great, and it's pricey. There will be a few nice restaurants nearby. (2) You should buy at least one thing from an independent comic book creator -- a print, a mini-comic, something. It's good for the soul. (3) Get something signed by an old pro. Talk with them, and bask in their wisdom. (4) Bring a friend. (5) If they offer any panel discussions, you should attend them. Even if you don't know anything about the given topic, it gives you an opportunity to sit for awhile and learn something new.
Please comment and post your own suggestions.