(Yet Another Guy Weighing In On)
(Editor's Note: We first ran this article last summer before Comic-Con 2014, but it's still good advice, so... here we go again!)
San Diego Comic-Con is a less than a week away. If you're one of the lucky 150,000 people that get to pile into the San Diego Convention Center like sardines to look at cool new toys, buy cool new toys, hear about cool stuff, and see clips of cool stuff you'll want to have a game plan in order to get the most out of your time.
You'd think everyone knows to wear comfortable shoes, but if you've been to Comic-Con you've seen the questionable footwear some people choose to wear, so, Rule 0 is, "wear comfortable shoes."
You'd also think everyone knows they need to eat and drink. The lines to get not great food for ridiculous prices inside the actual convention center are typically preposterously long. Because of that, Rule 0.1 is, "bring lots of water and some snacks."
Once you get beyond common sense stuff (like, "PLEASE shower") is where I come in to help you out. On to the rules, in numerical form, of course:
1. If you want to stop and look at something, GET OUT OF THE WAY!
Comic-Con is packed. It doesn't matter whether you're inside on the convention center floor, in one of the many hallways on the way to a panel, or outside walking around downtown - there are A TON of people. Inside the convention center there are aisles and people are constantly moving (or trying to move) through them.
If you see something awesome to take a picture of, someone you want to meet, or if you just realize you may be going the wrong way: move to the side to keep the flow of traffic moving.
If you're in the hallways, make sure you look at the signs posted, typically near the ceiling, to make sure you're actually entering through an entrance and not an exit.
If you're outside, use some common sense. There are still cars driving downtown even though they do block off some streets. Don't get hit.
If there is a huge mass of people crowded around something, don't just try to power through it, walk around.
2. Remember how the common sense rule was shower? It's also Rule 2.
There is a distinct smell that will permeate any area when this many people congregate in one place.
The thing about Comic-Con is that it's usually HOT outside. You will sweat at some point. I'm going to assume you're staying in a hotel or at a friend's place, either within walking distance, on the shuttle route, or driving in. They have showers. Use them. At least once a day.
3. Study the program schedule before you get there.
There is more and more programming every year - and a lot of the really popular stuff is held in a room you're just not going to get in to, whether it's a studio's panel in Hall H or a TV show panel in Ballroom 20, or the Walking Dead comic book panel in one of the smaller rooms.
You need backup panels. If you get a good idea of what's happening and when you can, a. figure out what you want to do if you can't get in to the Marvel Movies panel in Hall H, and b. not be so disappointed that you're missing footage of Dr. Strange or meeting the cast of Black Panther. There are a ton of panels that will be easy to get into and if you do your research beforehand you'll know which ones might interest you.
4. Either buy your exclusives VERY early, early or VERY late.
Some of the vendors that are selling "Comic-Con exclusives" have already put up pre-orders on their websites. If you're going to be at the convention for Preview Night, get your purchases out of the way as soon as possible. You can also (hopefully) find out what products will be offered only on certain days at certain times. And, finally, when the con is over there is usually stock that ends up on vendors' websites available for retail price.
5. If you attend a panel and have a chance to ask a celebrity or comics professional a question, DON'T ASK for their name placard.
There are very few things more annoying than you at that point.
Also, DON'T ask the type of question that would start an argument if you asked it in a one on one setting with a friend.
Yes, Norman Reedus is so dreamy, but he is already doing all of us a favor by sitting on the stage. You're bringing the panel to a terrible, grinding halt and you just gave everyone else behind you in line an excuse to ask for a terrible favor, too.
And there are a ton of comic book or TV story lines that we think everyone hated. This is not the time to call out the writers/artists/actors/directors that helped create those stories.
For the most part these are busy people that are networking, promoting, and generally appearing here because they want to do something for the fans. It's not the time to ask about the hiring practices of a certain publisher or why a particular writer is writing your favorite book instead of your favorite writer or why so and so was allowed to ruin a certain character. You won't get the answer you want and you'll make everyone uncomfortable.
6. Get over to Artist's Alley and get a sketch or two.
Some artists will do a head sketch for free. If you have a sketch book, bring it. If you don't have a sketch book, comic boards work great. I typically load up a folder with bags and boards so I can protect loose comics and, almost more importantly, to get head sketches.
If you're willing to pay for a commission expect to spend anywhere from $5-$400.
On the topic of commissions, you'll want to approach the artist you like as early as possible. Most of them have a limit of how many they can do in a day and some of them will have a list of what they're doing for who. You have to get on that list before it's cut off!
That's all I've got.
If you can think of anything else it's because it's a "normal" or "common sense" rule.
Remember to use your powers only for good.