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Comic-Con 2012 – How to Prepare For The Worst

Hey friends! As you no doubt know, I'm a pretty big geek. Like TMNT and Other Strangeness (that's right, Palladium RPG bitches!), have a DuckTales collection, own my own katana kind of geek. And, as you likely know, I go to Comic Con down in San Diego just about every year. Everything from TV shows, movies, video games, and, oh yeah, comic books all under one roof. It's amazing and terrifying. Here are some tips I've gathered over the past few years to help you navigate this icon of pop culture.

1) Make a schedule.
If there's a panel you want to see, a booth signing you need to attend, or some other event happening - WRITE IT DOWN. The more popular SDCC gets the more things are stacked one on top of the other. Knowing what you'd like to see ahead of time is very helpful. You're definitely gonna find a panel you like at 11am in one room and another panel happening in another room across the convention center at 11:30. You won't make both, but jot them down. In the event you miss one you can always try for the other.

Know which rooms your panels are in, or where on the convention floor those booths are located. Memorize/consult a map or ask your nearest friendly con volunteer. It's easy to get the Ballrooms confused or Room 25ABC mixed up with Room 23BC, etc.

2) Make back-up plans.
In the very likely event your event is full, have a back-up plan. Either another panel or just wandering the floor and getting food or whatever. This takes the stress off. You want to enjoy the Con, not freak out because of every panel you missed. And trust me, you WILL miss panels. See below...

3) Arrive early.
This is a biggie. If there's something you want to see odds are there are at least another 200 people who feel the same way. As geeks we tend to be singular in our passions amongst our friends (who may very well be geeks of another color themselves), so it's hard to fathom someone else enjoying what we enjoy. I'm the only person I know who remembers and still watches replays of the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. I digress. Panels fill up quickly. People don't leave. Let's say you have a panel bringing back the entire cast/creator of a beloved cult sci-fi hit that was cancelled too soon. This is gonna be huge. Hopping in line a half-hour before the panel is a bad idea.

Sometimes you need to do a little fancy schedule investigation to properly plan your day. I know the aforementioned panel is happening mid-day but the panels in the room before it are also going to be fairly popular. Therefore the line to get into the panel I really, really want to see will also be full of people wanting to get into the panel before and so on. So I will need to get in line BEFORE those panels. And probably at least an hour before. Con has line-up rules you should be aware of if you intend on staying overnight to get into that special panel...

Basically you need to decide how long you are comfortable waiting in line for something and make decisions from there. It's OK... most of these panels will be online shortly after the con anyway. Don't freak out. Last year I got in line for the Game of Thrones panel 2 hours before it was to begin. The line was already snaking around the convention center and into the marina. It was nearly a mile long! And the room was ALREADY FULL. Yes, some people may bail, but you gotta work the numbers here. I realized I wasn't getting in and managed to catch a very funny panel for Archer in another room. I was happy (and word on the street was I didn't miss much).

4) Convention Floor
The convention floor is full of wonders. It's also huge, smelly, and packed to the gills. Before attempting the floor try to plan your attack. Locate the entrance closest to the booth you'd like to visit. The edges of the room are generally less crowded than the middle. The artist tables are generally easier to navigate (and full of way more interesting/unique stuff) than the t-shirt vendor at the other end of the hall.

Set prices in your head for what you're willing to spend on things and stick to your budget! It's easy to want to pricecheck everything and do your due diligence before purchasing. In the real world that's smart. On the floor it's suicide. If you see something you like and the price seems reasonable, just get it. Trust me. I walked around a convention searching for a lightsaber for a certain price and never found it and walked away empty handed. My sadness at not grabbing this seminal piece of nostalgia from my childhood trumped whatever money I might've saved.

5) Get OUT!
Con is great but sometimes you need a break. The Gaslamp district is probably the grossest part of San Diego by far, and the restaurants are expensive to boot. Jump on the trolley or a shuttle bus and travel outside of the Gaslamp. Grab some food on Hillcrest, or pack a lunch and make a picnic at Balboa Park. San Diego is a beautiful city with loads of great options for all food types. You gotta grab a taco at Lucha Libre!!

Now for some short tips:

- Hall H is huge, but the huge screens make any panel seem close. Don't worry about sitting in the back. Same goes for Ballroom 20.

- Sometimes the best panels happen far from the maddening crowds in the hotel ballrooms.

- Parties happen every night. If you want an invite to these things, well, get to know someone with a press pass.

- Check Twitter feeds for special announcements from attending celebs and properties.

- Be nice. Mean geeks are some of the worst people in the world. I will kick you if you're mean.

Here's my schedule. If you're at con come and wait with me! And above all else HAVE FUN!

Posted by Dom

Filed under: Geekery Comments Off
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