Saturday, October 1, 2011

Comic-Con Do's and Don'ts

For about 18 months I was the Editor-in-Chief of The site is going to shut down in November so I'm going to be reposting some of the pieces I wrote there on this blog so they can continue to live on. You can check out the original link for this post here.

You can take a look at my daily Comic-Con 2011 posts, in order, here, here, here, here, and here (lots of cosplayers in this one). 

If you're planning on going to Comic-Con 2012 you better plan ahead. Hotel rates are ridiculous during the week of the Con and the price of airline tickets fluctuates wildly no matter where you're going. If you're not a member of the press be sure that you buy your passes online the day they are made available. This year tickets for Comic-Con sold out in 8 hours. Eight! Considering that there were about 125K attendees, that's pretty impressive. 
What else should you do to prepare for next year's Con? Read this post. Originally I was going to write about a few things that could make Comic-Con significantly better (reduce the number of people attending, rotate the location where it's held, let press actually get press access, clearing rooms after panels) but since those are things that'll never happen, some Do's and Don'ts for attendees made more sense. 
Going to your first Con? Been to the Con before but it's been awhile? Go to the Con every year but are frustrated by the crowds? This post is for you.
Counselor Troi and Worf were at the Con.
- Underestimate the tenacity of the crowds. Don't get me wrong, everyone I bumped into (and it was A LOT of people) was very polite. Almost everyone said "excuse me" or "sorry" when you couldn't help but bump shoulders, but the crowds at Comic-Con are like a tsunami. Unavoidable. And if there's a line of people, they can be unforgiving. Lines form much earlier than you'd ever expect for big panels (days in many instances) and they are never ending so plan accordingly. 
- Come unprepared. This means a few different things. First, bring your own water bottle to stay hydrated. Bottles at the Con can cost you $3 a pop. That doesn't sound like a lot but it will add up after awhile. Be sure to dress comfortably. You will be doing a lot of walking. The SDCC is huge and chances are that unless you have a ton of money, you won't be staying that close to the convention center which means even more walking. Be sure to bring a backpack too. If you're so inclined you can use the giant bag all attendees are given when they check in. I found these unwieldly so I used a backpack instead. And finally, be sure to bring plenty of cash. Some dealers only take cash and it's easier to negotiate with as well. 
- Be inflexible. Unless you are seriously committed to making a panel you will miss something you really wanted to see (Twilight fans were camping out Monday for the Thursday panel. CRAZY!) . The good thing about that is that there is always something going on at the Con. So have a backup panel that you're more likely to get into if the panel you want is packed. 
- Forget to have a positive attitude. The fans at Comic-Con are both the best and worst thing attendees have to deal with. It's fantastic that there's this cool pop culture event that the worlds of gaming, TV, movies, and comics pay attention to. But it also sucks that there are so many people you have to fight through to find the things you (and as it turns out lots of other fans) are really into. Don't sweat it, it's the nature of the beast. If you let it get you down you won't enjoy your trip, which is counterproductive. Instead, commit to the things you MUST see and enjoy the ride. Comic-Con is one of the few places in the world where people with so many unique similar interests hang out together. Make the most of it.  

All jedis are required to visit San Diego in early August.  

- Feel free to dress as crazy as you want. If you dressed like Han Solo at work, people would think you're weird. If you dress like Han Solo at Comic-Con, people will not only take your picture but they'll also probably smile at you and actually call you "Han". Where else in the world will that happen? If you're geeky and love to dress up, the Con was made for you. 
- Bring cash. Did I mention this already? Well, I'm going to say it again. Cabs, tipping, being able to flash cash in negotiations with show floor dealers - cash is invaluable. Oh, and be sure to get it from your bank before you come to San Diego so you avoid ridiculous ATM fees at the SDCC. And most importantly, set a budget for yourself. Take out only as much cash and you're willing to spend. If you use a debit or credit card, you'll likely spend more money than you probably should. Use cash to keep yourself from going on a spending binge you'll regret later. 
- Book a hotel far in advance. With more than 100K attendees descending on San Diego during Comic-Con, hotel rooms are at a premium. My brother and I booked our hotel room in January. January! This worked out well for us as we were able to give a friend who got a press badge late (June) a place to stay. If not, our friend would have had to break the bank to attend. 
- Have a camera ready at all times. This isn't just for all the cosplayers you'll see, and there are A TON, but also for the celebs. As a first time attendee I was shocked at how chock full of celebrities Comic-Con was. I got plenty of celeb pics (I didn't post any on this site but if you follow me on Facebook you'd see a few) but missed out on a lot of others I could have had if I was prepared. Lou "The Hulk" Ferrigno, Chris "Captain America" Evans, and Elijah "Frodo" Woods are just a few of the people I could have snapped if I was ready.
- Make time to see the sights. In my opinion, this is the #1 mistake convention goers make. You're going to a cool city like San Diego and all you're going to see while you're here is the convention center?!? Are you crazy?!? Are Coronado Island, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Sea World, or a chick having sex with a donkey in the back room of a seedy bar in Tijuana not interesting to you? What's your problem dude?!? All business and no play make Homer something something. So take a break and play tourist for a bit, or better yet, arrive early or stay after the Con and be a tourist then. You won't regret it, trust me.  

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