Greetings from beautiful San Diego, California! From my hotel, I have a great view of the convention center, and there’s already a lot of hustle and bustle surrounding the con, and it doesn’t even open to the general public until 6:00 tonight. The excitement is building and I feel like a kid on Christmas morning—you know, because my parents charged me $75 and then made me wait in line for two hours before getting my presents. While I wait, I thought I’d jot down a few tips and tricks and hints for getting the most out of your Comic-Con experience!
1. Don’t panic. Naturally, there’s a lot of anxiety over getting the exclusives. Don’t let it turn you into a nervous wreck. Get the facts. Know your booth rows and numbers. Look for and read signs posted at the booths.
2. Be nice. For the most part, the Comic-Con crowd, and geeks in general, are helpful, decent human beings. Don’t let anxiety, aching feet or a hot costume turn you into a monster. Be courteous, be polite, be friendly. This has saved me many times. If you’re a vendor holding an exclusive, who will you be nicer to? The guy who comes up, demanding information and criticizing the whole process? Or the guy who throws in a please and thank you? It works wonders. This also applies when asking for pics or autographs.
3. Look out. It’s crowded. There’s no escaping it. It’s not just people, either. It’s people carrying bags, wearing costumes, stopping to pose for pictures, all while pushing a double-wide stroller. It’s that kind of crowded. Keep your cool. Watch where you’re going. If you’re carrying a valuable piece of merchandise, consider taking it back to your room or shipping it directly from the convention center. Avoid the agony of seeing your MOC stormtrooper get bent by an actual stormtrooper.
4. Protect yourself. There are a couple of different issues here. First, make sure you have your money, wallet, ID and phone in a safe, secure place on your person. Don’t let these things just hang out of your back pocket. In a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, stay alert. Second, there are all sorts of people who would like to exploit you: solicitors, press, film crews, etc. It’s gotten much better over the years, especially as the entertainment industry has taken over the show, but there’s still a “look at the freaks” element lurking outside the convention center. Again, stay alert.
5. Visit Artist Alley. Years ago, I would avoid this area because it lacked the glamor and elaborate staging of the rest of the con. Then, one year, I took a stroll through the rows of artists displaying, signing and even creating their work, and became an instant fan. It’s now my favorite part of the con. So, show the artists some love.
6. Have a Plan B. Panels fill up. Autograph lines get cut off. Events get canceled. Have a back-up plan. Over the years, some of the best panels I’ve attended have been because I couldn’t get into the panel I wanted. If the Avatar sneak peak is full, take the opportunity to learn more about a smaller property, or attend a Q&A with a writer or artist.
7. Have fun. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve witnessed many a meltdown over the years due to bad planning, exhaustion and frustration. You always see those families at amusement parks fall apart. Well, a con is no different. There’s no place to sit down, except the lobby floor or inside a panel room. Go outside, get some fresh air. Have a snack. Re-fuel. Stay hydrated. It’s a marathon.
If you’re attending, even for one day, I hope you have a fun and memorable Comic-Con 2009 experience! Now, get the f**k out of my way! Because I will cut you.
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