Countdown to Comic Con Part 1: What I Wish I’d Known for My First Comic Con

Rejoice! San Diego Comic Con 2012 is less than a month away and we’re getting ready with our Countdown to Comic Con. We’re starting with a list of quick tips for all the SDCC virgins out there. Last year was my very first Comic Con experience and I was nowhere near prepared for how insane the Con can get. So for those of you heading to SDCC for the first time, here’s a list of tips I wish I’d known last year:

1. Dress comfortably:

We know you want to dress to impress with your favorite geek chic accessories, but just remember that you’re going to be at the convention center all day either standing in lines, walking around the exhibit floor, or making a mad dash to the next panel. Comfortable and practical footwear shouldn’t be taken lightly. Flip flops might seem like a safe option, until you think about the hordes of people ready to trample all over your feet to get to that free SWAG before you, so stick to sneakers and tennis shoes. San Diego temperatures can very from mild to hot during July, and the convention halls can be anywhere from chilly to stuffy, so dress light, but bring along a jacket or sweater just in case.

2. Pack light:

Sure a backpack with your laptop, a few of your favorite trades, and that Game of Thrones book you’re hoping to get signed, won’t be too much trouble right? Think again. Backpacks are bulky hassle, a better option would be small messenger bag or sling bag to carry the essentials. With all the freebies being given out, you will definitely end the day with more than you started. The smaller your personal bag, the easier it will be to carry your gigantic filled-to-the brim SDCC swag bag.

3. Bring a poster tube:

Of all the items I didn’t think to bring to last year’s SDCC this was the one I wish I had the most. It’s practically raining posters inside the show room (so many paper cuts!!). While you’re likely to toss most of them, there’s going to be a few that you’ll want to keep. If you’re a print collector, you’ll definitely need a poster tube to keep that new Mondo piece in mint condition. Last year’s swag bag had a poster compartment, but they did very little to protect from all the people pushing past you to get their hands on a free collectible. A sturdy poster tube will protect your new posters from being crushed by the crazed hordes.

4. Power up . . . and bring an extra battery:

Live bloggers, tweeters, and social media butterflies, this applies especially to you. Whether it’s your phone, tablet, or laptop, at the worst possible time during a day at the Con, your battery will die and you will be without your precious interwebs!. Wifi and 3G service are notoriously unreliable inside the convention center and trying to get a decent connection is going to drain your battery before you even make it inside Hall H. Sure, there are charging stations, but they aren’t always going to be conveniently located. Make sure before you head out each day that all your tech gear is fully charged. If you plan on being on your mobile devices a lot, consider getting an external battery pack.

5. Know your way around:

Before you hit the exhibit floor, get an idea of where your favorite and must see booths are (the website and SDCC info book will have a list of the booth numbers and locations), especially if you plan on getting exclusives from Mattel, Hasbro, Mondo, etc. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time searching, which could cost you that last collectible. The exhibit floor is going to be guaranteed chaos so it’s good to know ahead of time what direction you should headed. Additionally, on your first day of the con, make a mental note of where all the hotspots both inside and outside the convention center are, including, bathrooms, charging centers, the line entry for Hall H and Ballroom 20, etc.

6. Have a back up panel . . .or 3:

No matter how carefully you’ve planned your SDCC line up, there will be more than one panel that you’re just not going to make it to, especially if you plan on going to some of the larger, more popular panels. Remember those crazy Twilight fans last year who camped out overnight last year? This year may not be as extreme, but just in case you have to miss out on your first choice, have a few backs ups. Smaller panels, while they may not have as much hype, can be just as much, if not more fun, and the smaller setting can actually be a more exciting, intimate experience.

7. Bring snacks/water:

With all the chaos of the Con, food and water tend to be lower on the list or priorities when you’re planning your day. However, when hunger and thirst do kick in, your options inside the convention center will be limited, expensive, and there will definitely be a line. Save yourself some time and money by bringing along a refillable water bottle and some light snacks to tide you over until you can get some real food in the nearby Gaslamp Quarter.

8. RSVP to after parties:

In recent years, SDCC has become much more than just the convention itself and has expanded into the surrounding Gaslamp Quarter. During the day, many exhibitors will have their own lounges, fan experiences, and displays at restaurants, hotels, and parks just across the street from the convention center. At night, those same locations become venues for SDCC after parties, both elite and casual. While you may not be able to get into the more exclusive parties, such as IGN, MTV, or Nerd HQ, there will be plenty of events catered to the fans. Many will require an advance RSVP so keep an eye out on Eventbrite, Twitter, and FB in the next few weeks for information on how. When the Con, gets closer, we’ll have a more definitive list of SDCC after parties.

9. Use social media:

Social media presence gets bigger each year at the con, and this year is no exception. Last year, I used Twitter to network and arrange a tweet-up, which is how I came to meet the guys of BabbleOn 5. Exhibits like the South Park Fan Experience partnered with Foursquare and gave a free shirt with every check in while Cowboys and Aliens tweeted the whereabouts of some mysterious golden bricks (which contained pretty sweet shirts and toys, as well as a chance to win tickets to the movie premiere). Whether it’s checking in on FourSquare for a freebie, using the SDCC app to find a back up panel, or following your favorite SDCC nerds on Twitter for some inside scoop, social media is going to your lifeline for knowing what’s what at SDCC.

10. Take your time:

Even for the comic con veterans, SDCC can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to get sucked into the pressure of rushing to experiencing everything. There’s always another panel to go wait in line for, another celebrity signing you just have to be at, or elite party you have to get into. Unfortunately, no matter how awesome whatever panel or party or random happenstance you’re at, you’re going to be missing out on something else going on, and that’s ok. What’s important is that whatever you’re doing at the moment is epic to you. Slow down and enjoy yourself. You’re finally at San Diego Comic Con!

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2 Comments

Filed under Comic-Con 2012, Conventions, Learnings, Reviews, Upcoming

2 responses to “Countdown to Comic Con Part 1: What I Wish I’d Known for My First Comic Con

  1. Ugh my first year I wore sandals…I couldn’t feel my feet be the end of the first day…lesson learned.

  2. Crazy4ComicCon

    Great list Aileen! Very helpful to the noobies!

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