Product Review: Con*Quest Adventure Journal [Updated]

Disneyland Autograph Book

These days they just cram every piece of art they can fit on the cover.

If you went to Disneyland as a kid, you remember those little souvenir autograph books: it probably had a picture of Sleeping Beauty castle, an assortment of princesses, or the Fab Five on the cover. Maybe you stopped collecting those character autographs as you got older – or maybe, like me, you continue to marvel at how the Cast Member inside Mickey manages to scribble that name so well while wearing an unwieldy four-fingered glove. Either way, flipping through those old autograph books (or any other old scrapbook) is a nice trip down memory lane.

So why don’t we have something like this at conventions?

These days, it feels like all our “scrapbooking” at cons is done digitally – our tweets, Instagram photos, Vine videos, and Facebook statues tell our internet followers and friends the story of our con adventures. But who actually spends an afternoon scrolling through their old social media posts like they’re a scrapbook?

ConQuest Journal

The canvas-covered Con*Quest Journal, closed with elastic band.

Enter the Con*Quest Adventure Journal, which is essentially a scrapbook for con-goers. Pre-printed pages give you space for autographs, artist sketches, panel & vendor notes, and even a page for notes on your favorite spots around the city. It also includes sheet protectors for your photo op prints, a super-convenient zipper pouch for all your loose items, and a business card holder (great place to store those cards you pick up so you’ll remember to return to an artist’s booth later).

While I’m sure there are plenty of adults who would love one of these, those old Disneyland autograph books make me think young kids would especially enjoy toting one of these around a con. Seems like a great way to let your junior geek take charge of their convention experience without handing over your expensive electronic toys.

I’ll be at Long Beach Comic Expo this weekend to give the Con*Quest Journal a test spin – check back for an update next week.

[Update 6/8/2014] Last weekend I brought the Con*Quest Journal with me to Long Beach Comic Expo to give it a trial by fire and see what others thought. (More photos of the journal in-use have been added to the gallery below.)

Quotes from panels at LBCE.

Quotes from panels at LBCE.

The general consensus was positive. If you’re the type to spend the whole weekend addicted to your smartphone, however, it’s not for you. Attendees thought it was clever and useful, and artists were more than willing to do their sketches on the journal’s pages (sorry I don’t have any sketches). The zippered pouch in the back was invaluable, giving me somewhere to stash all those flyers and freebies that vendors love to hand out. Another thing vendors and artists love to give out? Business cards – and having a spot to keep those organized was great. The sheet protectors, intended to store your celebrity photo op 8x10s, fit the con map & events guide perfectly. Score! And the pages with spots for panel quotes was fun, since typing notes in panels on my tiny phone keyboard is a pain at best.

Using the journal to trade contact information, on the other hand, is a little awkward. Most young adults (aka my age group) expect to keep all their contact info in one place: their phone. Asking them to write down their email address or phone number? On paper? You’d think I would have asked them to take a bite of rancid yogurt. Proof: I had a lovely conversation with a group of twentysomethings about San Diego Comic-Con tickets while in line for a panel. We traded Twitter info (since, as you likely know, I tweet about that stuff incessantly). It’s much easier to just pull up the Twitter app on your phone and follow the other person right then and there.

One other piece of advice: if you’re like me, you like to grab an artist’s business card to remind yourself which booths you want to circle back to. Move the business card holder from the back to the front, where the Vendor Quest page is. While I wish the Vendor Quest page had business card holders built in, this is a super easy fix that keeps your notes on booths & artists next to their contact info.

If you’re a minimalist who likes to travel ultra-light and have your entire life stored on your smartphone, the Con*Quest Journal isn’t the droid you’re looking for. But if you’re in the market for a genuine one-of-a-kind souvenir of your weekend, look no further.

The Con*Quest Adventure Journal, $40, is available from One Less Nemesis on Etsy or at Indy PopCon (May 30 – June 1) at booth 912. Note: One Less Nemesis provided a free review copy.

More photos of the Con*Quest journal: