Do you see the smile on my face? Do you see that big-ass cheesy fucking grin? Spoiler: that’s me! That is the real me! That is a complete and whole Nat, not the “mask” I wear at work, not the sourpuss who sulks on BART, or who politely smiles and nods through her way through life because society dictates it is what I should do at my age and where I am in life.
The biggest, best, and most hectic nerd convention in all the land is almost upon us, San Diego Comic Con International! Even if you’ve been your fair share of nerd conventions, I assure you, there is nothing on Earth like San Diego Comic Con. For the next few days I’ll be offering up some Comic Con secrets that I had to learn the hard way. We here at NA want you to have the best time humanly possible at the world’s biggest nerd gathering. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to wear comfortable shoes because you already know that. What qualifies me to tell you about Comic Con? I don’t claim to be a Comic Con “expert” by any means but this year will be my 9th Comic Con since first attending in 2000. I love it. Here we go!
10. Ignore Hall-H: Trust me, it’s NOT worth it. Hall H is where the HUGE events go down. Huge events also mean HUGE crowds and ample media coverage. The events in Hall H also tend to attract Comic Con’s newer attendees or die-hard fans of a particular series (Twilight for example). If you do plan on ignoring my advice and you HAVE to get into Hall H, arrive at dawn, bring rations, and prepare to stay there all day… I’m not kidding.
9. Camp Those Panels: I can’t stress this one enough. In order to see the panels you really care about you may have to sit through a few panels that aren’t on your list. Find out what room your panel is being held and get there at LEAST two hours early. If you plan things correctly you can occasionally get lucky and see a handful of your favorite panels in the same room. Again, don’t step foot in Hall-H… someone got stabbed in the face there last year.
8. Master the Floor: The floor is insane and intimidating, but it can also be your best friend. Each and every time you make your way around the floor you WILL see something new or meet someone you’ve always wanted to meet. Hell, in past years I’ve had chats with Joss Whedon, played Rock Band with Felicia Day, and laughed it up with Rosario Dawson. Just keep your eyes open and always be polite. Nobody likes a pushy jerk.
7. Don’t Forget Night Programming: Just because Comic Con’s programming ends around 9 or 10 PM doesn’t mean that the party is anywhere close to over. There will be DOZENS of events going on as soon as the sun goes down. Talk to the folks that work the major booths (WB, NBC, FOX, etc..) and see what sort of off-site programming they have planned for the evening. If you ask nicely they’ll probably tell you what time they’re giving away tickets or may even give you one on the spot. They’re working their ASSES off, so be polite and make friends. They really appreciate when attendees have a smile on their face and are patient.
6. Signings Generally Follow Panels – If you’re at Comic Con to see a panel for your favorite show AND meet your favorite actors and creators you may have to make a difficult decision; which is more important to you? Typically signings take place directly after a show’s panel, meaning that people are lining up for the signing while the panel is taking place. Since us humans don’t have the ability to be in two places at the same time, this situation sucks. How can you triumph? Find out which studio is in charge of your favorite T.V. show, film, or game and hit their booth nice and early. If they have their shit together they’ll let you know what times their signings are taking place and if the signing is ticketed. Again, be polite!
5. Bring Some Cards: We all agree that business cards are lame, but there is no better place to make new friends than SDCC. Bring some business cards with your e-mail address, website, blog, gamertag, or whatever else you’d like to share with your new-found friends. Many people that attend Comic Con return each and every year, so you’ll probably be seeing them again. I’ve met some incredibly fun and talented people at conventions, so do yourself a favor and bring some cards with you. Vistaprint has some great deals on basic cards.
4. Get Some Exercise Before You Go: I know I sound like a jerk for saying this but a lot of us nerds aren’t in the best of shape. Comic Con is a massive event and the show floor is so large that the average human can’t see from one end to the other. Make sure you have physical capability to walk long distances and go for long periods of time without a good meal. Sure, you’ll do just fine if you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without sweating your ass off, but you’re in for a really rough weekend.
3. FOOD -Hit Up Ralph’s: There is a glorious supermarket right next door to the convention center! Ralph’s should be the first stop on your Comic Con journey right after you check into your hotel. We’ve joked in the past about $10.00 Mrs.Fields cookies and are only slightly exaggerating. You’re wasting your hard earned cash if you eat convention food. Be smart and stock up on tons of snacks from Ralph’s for your Comic Con adventure. You’ll see all the Comic Con vets shopping there.
2. Never…EVER…Take a Petty Cab: You may be exhausted, but I promise you, it’s not worth it. The San Diego petty-cab drivers remind me of a band of cut-throat pirates that offer you something glorious and bring you nothing but misery. It may seem glamorous or “fun” to have another human being carry you from place to place, but with the rates they’re charging your much better off taking a regular taxi. The rates for these petty cab rides are often hidden and you’ll end up getting charged $20.00 or more to go a few blocks. These guys will lie to you and take you the wrong way to make an extra buck. Trust me, they really don’t WANT to be shuttling you around… what they do want is your money.
1. Sign up for Next Years SDCC as Soon as You Arrive: Upon arriving at Comic Con the last thing you want to do is fork up another $175.00 for next years Comic Con, but trust us, it’s worth it. If you’ve noticed, getting a ticket for Comic Con is growing increasingly more difficult. Heck, preview night sold out DURING Comic Con 2010. Save yourself some future stress and get your tickets for 2012 early. Also, if you get your tickets ahead of time you’ll feel obligated to go back for more.
I’ll be offering up some more nerdy advice in the coming days before this years Comic Con. If you are attending this year’s Comic Con we’d love to say hi! Add us on Twitter and come give us some high 5s!