My dears! For those who may not know me in real life, I actually live in San Diego county, and it’s that time of the year when we all put aside our cynicism for a weekend and act like the geeks we are inside.
I wasn’t able to get a badge this year (oh well…) but I have attended Comic Con for many, many years. My first time was back in 2002, when you could walk up to the window and buy a ticket. It was glorious.
But I’m putting away my grumpy, old hag speech today to give you weekend attendees some advice. This weekend means that more people are off work and will be flooding the downtown area like an angry mob. But since you can’t be Moses and part the People Sea, I’m here to dispense some tips on how to survive the weekend flood at Comic Con.
1. Mind the Temperature
Thank god that the weather is being kinder this year. In the past, Comic Con attendees have had to battle some pretty sweltering heat waves. This weekend looks to be in the balmy 70s, so you can wear your cosplay makeup without worrying about it melting off your face.
Still though, all that body heat has to go somewhere, so don’t be surprised if you’re feeling the heat inside. Don’t bother bringing a sweater, even the evenings can be warm here. Drink lots of water!
2. Take Breaks and Step Outside
When it’s time to eat, avoid the lines at concession and head out to the Gaslamp District for some local eats. There’s TONS of places to go. On the Hyatt side of the Convention Center is a little village called Seaport Village. It’s a tourist trap to the extreme, but has a Seasons 52 (more upscale restaurant), Cheesecake Factory, and food court. There’s plenty of space to stretch out on the grass and take a nap, or take some beautiful cosplay photoshoots at the Marina next door. And when you’re all rested up and fed, head back to the Con!
If you need to rest your feet for a while, take a seat out in the hallways by the anime viewing rooms. Bring a book or your Nintendo 3DS and take a break along the wall. However, I heard that security is starting to shoo people away from sitting at the walls. If you want a chair, step into one of the anime viewing rooms that sounds to your liking and take a siesta. They’re rarely full, unless it’s a popular show.
The Marriott and Hyatt hotels are once again playing host to the Nintendo and XBox Gaming Lounges. These are also great places to take a break and try your hand at some upcoming games. All you 3DS users, prepare to streetpass like there’s no tomorrow.
3. Give Yourself Time
Unfortunately, Comic Con’s line and panel policies remain the same: they don’t clear out rooms between panels, so get there early. Even the smaller panels have a chance of getting full. Go by the size of the room. If it’s small give yourself maybe less than an hour to grab a seat; medium-size room, give yourself an hour or more if possible. If the room has “ballroom” in the name, give yourself at least an hour and a half to two hours to get in. Hall H? Unless you camped out the night before, forget about it.
4. Cash and Credit
I’m just going to dispense this advice that my parents have instilled in me: always carry cash on you. Thankfully, 99% of vendors take credit cards or use those clever Square readers at their booths. What’s more, if you’ve used a Square reader before, they already have that information on file, so you just have to scan and run.
But should something happen to your card (magnetic strip doesn’t work, gets lost/stolen, or vendor’s machine is broken), then have some cash on you. I always carried at least $80 on me. If you’ve set a shopping budget for yourself, I recommend carrying cash to divvy it up, instead of whipping out the card. It’ll save you from a lot of tears when that credit card bill comes back to haunt you.
5. Have a Game Plan If You’re Shopping
I’ll admit it, since I’ve been attending, my focus has been shifting from going to panels to hitting the exhibit hall instead. What can I say? I love to shop. Comic Con is the place for exclusive items. I have developed a huge appreciation for the independent book and comic sellers in the back. A lot of vendors that sell graphic novels often have the author/artist right there in the booth! Take some time and meet them, pick up a graphic novel or two.
But I digress…have a game plan! The exhibit hall is HUGE and there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing you have to trek to the other side for a single purchase you’ve been dying for. It’s even more stressful if you’re trying to make a panel at the same time.
Every attendee is given a map of the hall and a list of the vendors. If you already know what you want, take a look at the map before your head out and mark off where you want to go. Sweep from one side to the other, instead of zigzagging all over the place. I guarantee you’ll feel much better once you have all your shopping done.
On that note, also bring a comfortable bag! While the Con supplies attendees with a bag, they’re cheaply made and can be super uncomfortable as the day goes on. Bring a messenger or side bag that you can easily reach, for stashing your wallet, phone, keys, and smaller purchased items. Fill it with snacks too!
Comic Con is the Disneyland of geekdom. It’s all about the lines, baby. Got a step counter? Watch that baby rack up the miles throughout your day, it’s phenomenal. Cosplayers, you may think those boots and heels are mad cute, but you won’t be so happy at the end of the day when you’re poking your blisters. Sneakers are your friend; Dr. Scholls inserts are also your friend (I swear by them); moleskin bandaids are your friend. Like I said above, take breaks too! Sit down!
7. Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff
The biggest production names will be there along with the biggest celebrities. You may even rub shoulders with one or two. But don’t forget that Comic Con is about the artists and authors too. Take a moment to explore Artists’ Alley or the independent sellers on the other side of the hall. Some people are surprised to find that big name publishers like Harper-Collins and Penguin Books have booths here. They even give out free books and advanced reader copies. FREE. BOOKS. Dude. So if you’re getting tired of fighting for a free poster at the Marvel booth, head to either far side of the hall for a walk on the calmer side. The artists in the alley are friendly and fun to talk to, some taking commissions too.
So there you have it, seven tips to get you through the weekend. Now go forth! Fly, my pretties! Keep Comic Con fun and fresh, so that it can stay here in San Diego forever.