In 1976, a young director was struggling to complete a film for a Christmas release. Worried that the film was going to bomb, he sent a small crew to a comic book convention (con) in San Diego to try and get some good PR buzz. Ultimately, the studio decided to push the release date and when Star Wars was released in May 1977, George Lucas changed everything. Over 30 years later, the San Diego Comic Con has evolved into the huge multi-media, multi-genre pop culture juggernaut we know today.<br />
The 44th Annual San Diego Comic Con runs July 24-27 this year. Some of us are lucky to attend and the rest of us will be up to date with the latest news as it breaks. This article is dedicated to the con-newbie. Here are a couple of helpful hints for those who have never been to a con and are looking to try it for the first time. Congratulations! You’re about to take your first step into a larger world.
Comic Cons aren’t just for comic books anymore… Modern cons try and be all inclusive to meet the multi-media needs of the audience. Because of that, every available space is crammed full of things and it can be pretty overwhelming. If you know there is one thing you absolutely want to do, make a plan before you arrive to make that happen. If you’re looking for an exclusive collectible, get there early and be ready to wait in line for it. Want to meet Stan Lee? It might take a few hours of waiting, but knowing that ahead of time will be worth it. Excelsior!
Rethink the Costume
Ah, cosplay… it’s fun to go to a con and see all of the awesome costumes. Some fan made costumes have levels of craftsmanship and imagination that are on the level with their Hollywood counterparts. It’s tempting to think, “I’m going to look great as Hugh Jackman as Wolverine!” But be smart about it… that slutty vampire costume you’ve made may look great in front of the mirror for five minutes worth of selfies, but when you’re in a room full of thousands of people everything changes. Make sure you’re comfortable in costume and make sure you’re ready for all the attention. Be prepared to get poked, stopped, ogled and interrupted for photos with fellow attendees throughout the day.
Go To A Panel!
Most of today’s big cons have panels, which are usually free with admission, and there are dozens of them. They range from things like simple workshops to sneak previews of the latest movies, TV shows and games. The panels that draw the biggest crowds are usually Q&A sessions with cast and crew of the most hype-worthy movies. Panels usually take place away from the main floor, so they’re a great chance to sit and relax for a bit away from the con madness. Most cons’ websites post panel schedules ahead of time, check them out and get there early to grab a seat for the big ones!
Know Your Swag!
Since cons have become one of the best ways for companies to introduce themselves to would be consumers, there are lots of freebies to be had. You’re first instinct will be to grab all of it, but be warned, your’e going to end up carrying all of it around. Keep that in mind when grabbing that giant Guardians of the Galaxy foam finger. On the other hand, some companies sell merchandise that are comic con exclusives. These items tend to be some of the most sought after collectibles around. If you know you want something, make sure you’re willing to arrive early to get it. Check out our article on SDCC 2014 Exclusives here.
Check Out Artist’s Alley
Just about every con has an “artist’s alley” where you can meet working and sometimes even “famous” comic artists who have been creating characters for years. As long as you’re polite and respect their time, most of them are happy to talk, willing to autograph material and even look at aspiring artist’s work for advice on how to break into the business. Some of them even do private commissions on site, so if you’ve ever wanted your own sketch from a famous artist, you can get one at a con.
Travel, Hotels and Food
When your’e focused on meeting Daryl from The Walking Dead, it’s easy to forget the necessities like eating and having a place to sleep at night. If you’re coming in from out of town, a general rule of thumb is that hotels will usually be cheaper the further away you are from the con. Make sure you consider the time and money it’s going to take getting back and forth before you pick your hotel.
Like all events, food is usually available at the convention site, but it’s usually overpriced and of the “slathered in Cheez Whiz” variety. We have three words of advice: eat huge breakfast. If you think you’ll still be hungry, pack a lunch or be willing to take a break and explore the town around the convention site for food and fun.
Last But Not Least, Remember To Have Fun!