The San Diego Comic Con is right around the corner, and while there are lots of repeat con goers, there is the first time newbie who has no clue on what to do to enjoy one of the most fun, but sometimes stressful places in the world.
Comic Con 2010 Pics
Comic-Con blends together pop culture with nerd culture and sometimes that can be a bit overwhelming. I’ve been going since 2007, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I realized what the panels were for. That was the aspect of the con that I had no clue about for the first two years and it is but one part of the whole experience I missed out on, because as a newbie sometimes you just don’t know who to ask. Well read on for some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way.
1. Schedule your time– What do you want to see? Want to check out a TV panel? Or a movie panel? Want an autograph or picture taking opportunities? Want to hear your favorite author? Or just to walk along the floor? Well as the con gets bigger each year (or so it seems) getting your schedule created before hand is a great and wonderful thing. Right now, there are a few movie studios and TV shows that have their schedules set.
Once it gets closer to the venue, comiccon.org will list more items, but what will ensure that you get your schedule straight is when you register for your pass. Last year, even if you didn’t have preview night access, you were able to register a day early which allowed people to study the book with every single panel and booth shindig for the four days. This will most likely happen again.
A good tool is the guidebook app which is supposed to help with convention scheduling. So far nothing for Comic Con, but there are quite a few venues already available.
One thing you to keep in mind though is you have to be very flexible with your schedule, especially as the hotels next to the convention opened its doors to include more panels. This will make the difference of what you want to see, to what you can live with out.
2. The early bird catches the worm– This can not be stressed enough. There are comic con veterans who know who and what they want to see, and will be out as early as 3am or 4am to make sure they get a spot to stand in line for a panel. But for people who don’t care about the panels, the one thing they avoid is the long line before comic con officially starts. It really depends on what you’ve scheduled for the day.
3. Lines, lines everywhere– Oh this is one of the most HATED things in regards to getting into panels, autographs and any free goodies the booth holder deigns to give out. Just know that comfortable shoes and clothing is a must. Plus it is also handy to have a buddy to swap places when you are tired, but know this: you must be a warrior when it comes to line standing if you want anything at the con. It is just one of those things that is part and parcel. And yes it sucks.
4. Outside venues – Now depending on your schedule, there are lots of things to do outside the convention center. Last year they had the Scott Pilgrim experience and it was lots of fun. The beauty of the outside venues is that you do not need a badge to attend. The other thing with being outside is that at certain times of the day you have people walking around with swag, from t-shirts and bags to energy drinks.
5. Exhibition floor – The floor is where you will get the bulk of your loot. From posters to books to bags, there are so many places to go that chances are you won’t get to every single place. For the last couple of years the WB booth has dominated the floor in regards to these one-of-kind loot bags. (Well they used to be one of a kind, now many studios have copied them. But I digress.) People are crazy for them, and sometimes you can get caught up in the mad frenzy as well. Keep in mind that there are lines for everything including the loot bags and these are done several times a day. But the free loot is not the only reason to be on the floor.
On one side of the floor you have the video game area, the artists’ area which is usually to the left as you come into the main door of the convention center. In the middle are the big studios which can make for a very packed walkway. Further to the right is the toy companies/collectible companies and as you continue on you get to the comics, books and misc areas, which you will notice is not as mad crazy as the middle sections. And for the last couple of years, in an effort to make the convention bigger, the hotels on either side of the convention center have opened up, so now you have an even bigger place to roam.
6. Study your map – There is a handy map inside the book you get when you register for your pass. Learn this well, as it not only has room information for panels, but all the booth numbers to help you navigate through the hall. And with the amount of bodies on the floor, good luck. Why? It may be air conditioned, but after several hours of people dressed up in costumes, people who are sweat prone, and some who may not know the meaning of deodorant, the scents that abound are not always pleasant.
7. Badge of honor – This is pretty much a given, but hold onto this as if your life depended on it, because without the badge you are SOL. Losing the badge will only allow you to the outside venue. While you get a lanyard to hang around your neck, the badge has been known to fall off. Your best bet is to pin it on your shirt or pants.
8. Backpacking it – Let it be said that packing light is a must, but you also need to bring some essentials, especially if you are in line for hours. A backpack is a must especially for women. Do not bring a purse. Again, do not bring a purse. Keep your wallet inside your backpack. People are known to snag things, which is unfortunate. So keep a small water bottle, some food (snacks if you get hungry) and your wallet. The purpose of the backpack is to keep your hands free for the loot. Oh and let’s not forget hand sanitizer. It is needed.
9. Cash or Credit – Carry cash if you can, because some places do not take credit cards. While there is an ATM machine within the convention, the fees are so high; you may have to use your house as collateral.
10. Park or not to park that is the question – Unless you pre-paid to park under the convention center, your next best place to park if you’re driving is Petco Park. Keep in mind while it is possibly the cheapest as well as closest (well except underneath the convention center) parking, it is $12 for every 12 hours, so if you are there longer than 12, yes you will pay $24. Now this was last year’s fee. It may be more. Not only that, parking can get as high as $30 or even $40. Having a car close by is key, especially if you find yourself getting loaded down with free loot or purchasing many items. There is the trolley which is super convenient as well as a cheap alternative, but beware because not having a car nearby you would want to limit the stuff you get. You can’t imagine how heavy those loot bags get after awhile. Seriously heavy and you don’t want to drag that around all day if no car to throw it in.
11. Purchase next years passes – This is key and a must. After this year’s fiasco with the ticketing system, chances are the lines for this will be epic. But by the time you get into this line you should be a pro line stander.
12. Extra batteries/chargers – This also should be in your back pack. Chances are you will be at the convention center for a long time and you don’t want to miss out on key things because you left your charger at home or that your camera ran out of fuel. I suggest rechargeable batteries. Not only do they last longer, but you can charge up several without having to bring a battery charger, though you could if you wanted to.
13. Be courteous and ask before you take a pic – There is so much going on at Comic Con that as a newbie your camera will probably be loaded down with pic after pic of all the crazy. But keep in mind that the people you see in costume are there to enjoy the con as much as you. Now there are those who get paid to be dressed up. They usually don’t mind if you take a picture, but chances are they are also passing out things from their employer so just ask, they usually don’t mind.
Then there are those who just love to cos-play. Always ask these folks irst before taking their picture. Chances are they love the attention hence the dress-up. Whenever I ask they get into the pose of the character (if it has one) and you can see that they take this seriously. While you’re at it, go on and have your picture taken with them.
14. Brown bag it plus water – The food at the convention center is very, very expensive especially for the type of food served. Definitely buy and bring your food with you, including a water bottle. Water is key; even with the a/c on all the walking you are going to get thirsty. A small 16oz bottle is the perfect size as it won’t weigh you down. Anything over that tends to get heavy as the day wears on. And keep in mind that there are several water fountains around. That way you can refill your bottle.
15. Coffee/Joe/Java – This is a must if you are a coffee drinker especially if you are getting up when it is still pitch black out. Energy drinks for those who don’t drink coffee, or tea. This is helpful when standing in long lines for hours. Yes I said hours, but with the extra kick you will be happy, especially if you are going all four days. Caffeine is your friend.
16. Too Much Loot! – Sometimes you have to be careful here. During the time you are walking through the halls or outside, there are so many people wanting to give you things for free that you feel obligated to take, or you just get so caught up in free loot. Take a deep breath and learn to say no, shake your head no, and just walk away with some dignity. I admit I have come back from the convention and could not believe some of the crap I let myself accept. Postcards of events and shows I’d never attend, to posters of shows I have no clue what it is about to comics that I really have no intentions of reading. Ever.
With that said, there is cool stuff to be had; you just need to filter out the crap from the awesome, because some things are comic con exclusives. Take for example my Goonies 20 year anniversary key chain. That was pure awesome and a bit of nostalgia from my childhood. I’ve received coffee mugs, key chains, books, posters, comics I do have an interest in, and playing cards, which are pretty cool collectible items. Before it went out of business, Inkworks was a staple of awesome, with their sealed pack of collectible cards that were usually comic con exclusives.
17. Posters – Another big staple of free loot is the poster. They come in all shapes and sizes. And unless you are under 20, or own a store where there is need for a poster, you really shouldn’t have one. But if you are getting them for your “nephew/niece/or other small person in your life”, then a good poster tube is key. For the past 2-3 years FOX fanfare has pretty much put the poster tube sellers out of business at the con, because they give out free ones. Chances are good that they will be there again with the tubes so even if you don’t bring one, one will be provided to you.
And a bonus tip:
18. Kinko’s and Starbucks are right there inside the convention that way when you over-shop you can ship, as well as refuel up on your coffee.
There you have it. 18 tips to hopefully get you through your first con. For those who are veterans did I miss anything? If so please add in the comments below.
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