San Diego Comic-Con is over for another year and I can look forward to twelve months blissfully free of half my compatriots complaining about being on the convention floor, and the other half ulcerating because they aren’t. Myself, I haven’t been to the Nerd Prom in years, and frankly, I don’t miss it. Not that it didn’t have its allure, but because when I went, I was working, not fan-girling. Believe me, attending SDCC and working SDCC are completely different experiences. (Also, working small press or web comics at what has become a comics-lite, pop-culture extravaganza tends to make one a little bitter. But I digress.)
Now, despite that well of Comic-Con antipathy bubbling in the cauldron of my cold, black heart, I do understand why so many people love it, dream of it, scrimp, save and plan for it every year. To that end, just this once, I’m using my powers (and experience) for good, to create a list of helpful tips to get you would-be attendees ready for next year.
1. Get your room now.
Not kidding here, not even a little bit. Gone are the days when there were “hidden” places to stay and deals to be had. Those affordable nights spent at La Pensione in Little Italy are history. Once the herd found it, it was all over.
Find a hotel (or hostel) you think you’ll be able to afford and reserve it right now. Don’t panic, they won’t charge your credit card until your stay, and you can cancel (or even sell) your reservation until almost the last minute (24-48 hours before the day, depending.)
2. Have a plan.
As with the above, it really helps to map it all out as much as you can beforehand. Make a list of things you’d like to see, people you’d like to meet and panels you’d like to attend. Even if you don’t know for sure what guests and panels they’re going to have yet, use this year’s schedule as a template and fill in the blanks later.
This will cut down on a lot of stressful indecision when the enormity of the con smacks you upside the head that first day. Think of it this way, you’re invading a country, the country of Comic-Con. Plan your strategy, marshal your resources and then you can, with confidence, lay seige.
3. 1, 2, 5
This is a rule I stole from a friend of mine, who, in turn, stole it from someone else, who stole it from god-knows-who, and so on. But it’s a common caution on the convention circuit, and it goes like this:
ALL OF THESE THINGS. EVERY DAY. No hedging on this.
4. Pace yourself.
Go ahead and pack your schedule, but be prepared to blow some of those items off. Also schedule in some non-negotiable down time. Remember, you’re spending all this money on travel, lodging, food, swag and maybe even cosplay, in order to have fun. Don’t treat it like a marathon. It would be a shame to spend all that time, money and effort only to make yourself miserable.
5. Don’t be that jerk.
There are many ways to make an ass of yourself at a convention, especially one the size of the Federated States of Micronesia. There are a few that stand out however, and it behooves attendees to prepare accordingly:
And while I’m at it, exhibitor space is expensive and hard won, especially in small press areas. Be respectful. Don’t use someone’s table as your personal lounging post. Plunk neither thy bags nor thy buttocks upon an exhibitor’s work space.
6. Hope for much, expect little.
You may get the chance to show your portfolio to a Pro. It will be an exciting, nerve-racking, and maybe even terrifying dream come true. What it won’t be is the day you’re discovered and instantly made a star.
The same goes for getting that autograph from your celebrity crush. High hopes and feverish fantasies are great, but keep your expectations realistic. You’re going to have a great time and leave with tons of purchases, memories and maybe even some new friends, but you’re not going to become besties with the cast of Game of Thrones.
Well, there it is. That’s the least you’ll need to get you started on the road to attending Comic-Con (or any con, really) and enjoying it. I have more experience and, of course, more advice, but let’s save that for another column, shall we? I’ve already overstayed my word-count welcome for this week.
Until next time, may your escort missions be few and your drops plentiful.
1. By Kristin Dos Santos from Los Angeles, California, United States [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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