After an overwhelming and exhausting first year attending San Diego Comic Con International in 2009 after years of jealousy, I thought I'd figured things out - get in line early for anything you really want to see, hit the exhibit floor early in the morning or late Sunday for the best free stuff and sales, always hit Artist Alley for some great gifts, take lots of snacks and bottled water, and avoid the larger booths during peak travel time at all costs.
Still, there were more things for me to learn. Here are 5 things from this year's Comic Con that I have taken home with me.
1. “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” is Awesome
I went in to Comic Con knowing nothing about Scott Pilgrim other than it was a series of graphic novels with brightly colored covers that was high on my “I want to read” list. I left Comic Con with all six novels in my bag and a desire to see the movie all over again right now. Perhaps Edgar Wright’s bubbling enthusiasm was contagious, but this hyper kinetic vivid whirlwind of a movie is so much fun, it deserves the mass cheers it received during the screenings. Add into that the enthusiastic welcome during the Thursday afternoon panel and the packed Scott Pilgrim experience across from the convention center, and I think the love of Scott Pilgrim has grown into something all its own. Hopefully the mainstream crowd will dive in as well come August 13.
2. Geeks Can Be Douchebags Too
By now, most people probably heard about the guy who got stabbed in the face with a pen for saving a seat for someone in Hall H. Then there was the guy who got a little worked up outside of Ballroom 20 and yelled as security until threatened with handcuffs. My favorite was the self-important geek who, not being able to get into the panel he had shown up to maybe 15 or 20 minutes advanced, insisted to a volunteer that he needed “to talk to someone important”. After the volunteer asked multiple times regarding the subject of his concern, he began ranting very loudly about how he couldn’t get into things he wanted to see because the rooms weren’t emptied between panels, something that’s clearly communicated in multiple ways throughout the convention center. The volunteer kindly recommended that he talk to the president of Comic Con, only for the disgruntled fan to shoot back with, “Well, where is he?!” As she tried to hold back laughter, she mentioned that there was an information booth downstairs, and the grumpy geek stormed away while we all started laughing in disbelief. He must have never been to Comic Con before and hadn’t thought of the sheer madness that clearing out rooms of thousands on an hourly basis would cause.
3. Don’t Ever Expect Functional Internet Access
We went prepared – cell phones hooked up to Twitter, a wi-fi capable laptop computer of a size decent enough to carry around, and an iPad temporarily hooked up with AT&T 3G service. Too bad that Twitter was slammed and messages often didn’t make it past our phones’ inboxes, the wi-fi in the convention center was sketchy at best and exorbitant at our hotel, and AT&T’s 3G service… well, slow as molasses would be an understatement. Needless to say, our internet presence was slim and updates to the site were nonexistent.
If you work the convention center exhibit hall correctly, you can walk away with bags of free stuff every single day. By the end of the convention, we had a large suitcase filled with oversized bags that no one in their right mind would use in day to day life, more than 15 free t-shirts advertising movies like Scott Pilgrim, Cowboys vs. Aliens, and Harry Potter, multiple advance reader copies of novels, and more buttons than we will ever figure out what to do with. Thankfully we brought an extra suitcase and half empty carryon bags.
5. Buy Your Tickets Early
This year we waited until the four day badges went on sale online and didn’t snag a badge with preview night (we got in anyway, but that’s another story). This year we knew better and bought our passes for the 2011 Comic Con right after going through registration to get this year’s badges. Once we returned home, we learned that preview night for 2011 already sold out during this year’s convention, weeks, if not months, before the badges will be available for purchase online. It was a nice relief to know that we were already set for next year and could enjoy the insanity without worry.
Yes, a lot of people complain about the crowds, the ever expanding lines, the mystifying programming decisions and that the convention might not be just about comics anymore. These things are all true, but the smorgasborg of pop culture that you can get at Comic Con is unlike anything else. It's definitely worth the time, the money, and the sore feet, and we will be returning next year.