by Karina “Cinerina” Montgomery, contributing writer
If you’re just now joining this series, we have already discussed tips for out-of-towners, tips and tricks to make things easier, and attitude and manners. As you know, Preview night is TOMORROW and then it’s four wonderful days of action, adventure, spending, crowds, lines, and fun. Find a meet-up for your favorite group of folks, be it Marvel or DC cosplayers, Trekkers, Browncoats, Twihards, Steampunks, Homestuck, Furries, Night Vale, Sleepyheads – there’s something for everyone. Or rove the con like a leaf on the wind – sometimes that leads to the best accidental discoveries.
I’ve said a lot before about pacing yourself but this is Comic-Con! You can sleep Monday when you call in with nerd flu. Live it up – you have no idea how many people could not get tickets to this event.
Wireless access: It’s there! A booster antenna is planted every few feet in the convention center, but your fellow nerds have a LOT of tech, so it’s pretty glutted. Your batteries will drain faster than normal no matter how good they are. Post responsibly. That said, if you get a picture of yourself with Nathan Fillion giving you a high five, POST THAT IMMEDIATELY! The 4GB video of the cast of Falling Skies talking about script revisions: that can wait until you get back to wherever you’re staying. Public transportation in San Diego does not have wireless access. This means using Twitter to let people know where you are will be time delay nightmare. Text, or better yet plan ahead.
Quiet offsite places and/or good places to set pre-determined rendezvous points: Nerd HQ, Petco Park, the Sails Pavilion, the Mezzanine, the patio, the big steps on the front of the convention center, or one of the bars and restaurants nearby.
Your badge is a treasure coveted by many: keep an eye on it, and when entering restricted areas, have it out and ready to scan, even if you tuck it inside your costume to keep your cosplay pure. Badge access gets you into a lot of things, but there is a lot that goes on around the convention center that does not require a badge. Explore downtown and see all the fun stuff going on outside the convention center. Catch a concert or a show!
Julie, Your Cruise Director says plan, but don’t over-plan
By now you should already have looked at the programming schedule online. So now you are probably going “OK, at 2 there is this and at 3 there is this…” slow down, partner. Definitely add everything you want to do into MySched or on your iPhone/Android – it’s a phenomenal tool to use when the schedule is as varied and packed as SDCC’s is – but be sure to allow for travel time, bathroom or food breaks, and just be realistic. When will you even get to the vendor floor, where all the good people watching is? There is a ton of stuff to actually do down there, too, it’s not just shopping.
Fill up your schedule with stuff you want to see, and then pick out the ones that you really don’t want to miss. Or things that you are cool with seeing that are right before the thing you MUST see. And then line up some alternates in case the room is full or you get waylaid. Flexibility is key. You don’t want to Hulk out and ruin your own day.
Rest. Sit. Eat. Hydrate. Mints.
Walking around talking and snacking all day, cheering your fan favorites, or just gaping at all the wonders will give you sewer breath. Bring some mints and don’t be shy about sharing with those in need. It’s all about getting along.
Don’t make me call security.
Bring sunscreen! Sharing is caring.
Most true nerds come with a “Keep out of direct sunlight” label affixed to them somewhere, but at San Diego Comic Con, especially if you wait to get into Ballroom 20 or Hall H (or any offsite location), you will be in the sun, and it can burn you pretty quickly. I go into some additional detail about things to pack in part 2 of this series, but really, sunscreen cannot be dismissed.
When in line: keep a small footprint, keep the line tight so they can fit as many as possible without interrupting foot traffic flow around you. A gap means someone might not get in. Would you want that to be you? Be cool and help your compatriots out if they are alone and need to zip away for a bathroom break. Buy a loyal line buddy a snow cone if they hold your place.
This is the best place in the world to interact with fellow fans and chat with folks. Don’t just hide in your phone! You can tweet later about how you wish you had a hat or sunscreen right now.
DO NOT PUT YOUR BAGS IN THE CHAIR next to you unless you are for real saving a seat for a real person who is really coming. If you must sit on an aisle, put your stuff in your seat and stand up so everyone can squeeze in.
Darsek, Spice, GIL, Kalganids, Galleons, Crindars, Septim, and Credits
I’m here to tell you, if you aren’t tightly disciplined, it’s very hard to not spend more than you planned at Comic-Con. Whether it’s a chance to buy an autograph unexpectedly to the perfect t-shirt that sums up your personal philosophy, you’re going to buy stuff you didn’t intend to. Thanks to the future, many (but not all) vendor floor merchants can accept Square or a few similar phone-based payment services. Bring a bunch of one dollar bills for buying things like pins or stickers; using your debit card for that is just mean. Get registered with Square ahead of time (choosing email receipt by default) and you can make your transaction faster for everyone. You can also get into their system by using Square with your intended card at a restaurant or some such before you come to SDCC.
Despite the masses of humanity surging around you, enjoy it! It’s always an adventure but it doesn’t have to be miserable if you prepare. Being in a place with a trillion like-minded people who love what you love can be a unique and wonderful experience. Even if you are a person who is not into crowds, once you pick up your badge and actually enter the event, there is a place for you to enjoy yourself.
Do enjoy all the crannies, even if they might not appear to be your thing. The comics aisles are quiet and relaxing after all the crowds, and you might find the most unexpected things. Small Press is my favorite section of the vendor floor – it’s artists selling their wares directly to you, often self-published, or crafts/toys/art they have made themselves. It’s a great way to find exciting new titles or just awesome buttons. And meet Eisner-winners who are just sweet guys!
Don’t forget your towel, and be awesome!