Come one, come all! It’s that time of the year when geeks of all factions co-exist. That time when it’s acceptable to dress up as a superhero, an anime character, a Disney princess, or a video game avatar even though it’s not Halloween. That time when fans of all ages willingly wait in long lines, pose for awkward pictures, and eat bad convention center food. That’s right, it’s time for San Diego Comic-Con.
On July 20-23, San Diego Comic-Con will take Southern California and crush its existence into a geekdom oblivion. As a SDCC regular, I decided to bring you GeekFeed’s first ever survival guide for your full SDCC experience. Whether this is your first time or your 20th, this survival guide can serve as your checklist to what you need to take, need to remember, must do, and must avoid.
Note: This list doesn’t solely pertain to SDCC. It can work for all the other upcoming entertainment conventions you plan to go to: Pax West (Sept. 1-4) Long Beach Comic-Con (Sept. 2-3), New York Comic Con (Oct. 5-8), and more!
BE SURE TO TAKE
- Backpack: Take a backpack! Comic-Con is very well known for mountains of free stuff so you will need a place to put it all. Also, you will be tempted to buy things!
- Money: The place to buy collectibles, books, trades, comics and t-shirts is here! The convention floor is where everything will be accessible to you if you bring money. Otherwise, you will experience a whole lot of window shopping and regret. Side note: Cash is better, but dangerous because you’ll want to spend it all in one place.
- Water: Even more important than a backpack is water. It gets crowded, it’s hot, and you walk a lot. Keeping yourself hydrated is very important. One water bottle will be enough since the convention center is full of water fountains where you can get free refills.
- Comics: Say what you will about how this event is “more about entertainment than anything else”, but it began with comic books and there are chances to get the autograph of some of your favorite creators. If you do your research, you can figure out who is going to be there and where (Check SDCC’s webpage for that information). This is the moment where you would take your comics to be autographed by creators. Don’t make the same mistake I made my first year and get all your autographs on a lousy piece of paper. (This goes for whatever other merchandise you would like to get signed.)
- Sketch Book: I can guarantee that most of your favorite comic book artists will be at Artist Alley. If you are one of the sorts of people who like artists’ sketches then do not forget a sketch book. (Money will be handy here too.)
- Comfortable Shoes: I can not stress this enough — You will walk a lot! Take comfortable shoes and if your costume does not require heels, then do not even consider them. Seriously, after H2O, those rubber, orthopedic soles are the most important thing while there.
- Toothpaste & Deodorant: It’s a crowded space that accumulates a lot of body odor. Do the rest of the world a favor and take the necessary precautions so you do not add to the odor stampede. (Spearmint gum is also welcomed.)
- Snacks: I sometimes forget to eat, and at Comic-Con there are a lot of distractions which will, most likely, make me miss a meal. So take a snack, it will help you get through the day. If you can, try not to take junk food. Think of healthy snacks that won’t burn you out.
- Hat & Sunglasses: If you plan on going to panels, it is likely you will be in line for quite some time. It is also likely that the line will be so long that it will reach the dreaded outside. Be prepared and take a hat and some sunglasses, just in case.
- Friends: My first year at SDCC was pretty lonely, because I went by myself. If you want to enjoy this experience fully you need someone to “geek out” with. If you are going alone, remember that the people there are all comic book/video game/anime geeks like yourself. Don’t be afraid to make new friends!
- Ask Questions: Panels usually have a Q&A section where audience members can go up to the microphone to ask questions. Don’t be shy. People in the industry are truly interested in your questions. If you are interested in heading to the mic, be sure to think your question through. You don’t want to be the guy/girl who confuses Adam Hughes for Robert Kirkman. (This actually happened once.)
- Don’t Be Shy This one goes in hand with the previous two. Don’t be me at my first convention; talk to people, cosplayers, other people in line, and celebrities. While this isn’t 100% factual for every person there, remember that this is an event people attend to celebrate all of those nerdy things they’re passionate about. Of course, be prudent and don’t hog the people in the industry, but feel free to chime in on conversations where you might create lasting memories.
- Charge Your Electronics: Preferably do so the night before. There’s nothing worse than having to stop mid-shenanigans to look for an outlet and charge your iPhone. Plus, they will most likely be all used up by other attendees that didn’t read this article. Also, if you have an external battery to charge your electronics with, fully charge it the night before! Believe me, you’re going to need them to play Heads Up while waiting in multiple lines.
- Arrive Early!: Throughout the whole experience you will be in lots of lines. The longest one will probably be to get the line to enter the convention. If you want to attend the convention center to see… anything, then get there early. 9 am is too late!
- Sleep: Get a good night’s rest so that you are ready for next day’s shenanigans.
- Take Pictures: There will be cosplayers all over!
- Sideshow Collectibles: One of the highlights of the convention is the Sideshow Collectibles booth. It is one of the largest and most breathtaking exhibits of collectibles you will ever see. Take pictures and hit the exhibits before noon so you don’t get clobbered by the thousands of people trying to do the same.
- Buy Comics & Trades: The convention is the perfect place to shop! Comic books that you need to complete your collection will probably be there, be sure to shop. Also, this is the best place to buy trades since they are usually 50% off.
- Cosplay: This is the place where you won’t get judged for your attire. If you’re creative enough and want to show off your costume-creating abilities, this is where they’ll be most appreciated. I made a lot of friends because I gave cosplaying a chance.
- Cafeteria Food: Do not eat the food, it is bad. Period. There are plenty of restaurants outside of the convention center.
- Convention Center Parking: If you’re driving to the convention, it might be cheaper to park off-site (like at the Old Town transit center) and take the trolley to the convention center.
- Booth Babes: They are pretty to look at and take pictures with but remember: They are only doing their job, so don’t even try. (You know what I mean)
- Fanboys/girls I don’t think that it’s necessary for me to point this out, but, like on the internet, there are a lot of fans who love to hate. Try to avoid these people and focus on your fellow geeks.
Hope you guys liked and found this guide helpful. If you have any Con experience at all let us know if we missed anything to maybe update this for next year’s convention season.
San Diego Comic-Con will be arriving in Southern California from July 20 to July 23.