Comic Con 2012: Comic Con 101 - Before, During and After

Comic Con 2012 starts in just five short days. Luckily Fernando and I will be making the trek to San Diego for the fourth year in a row. The excitement in our home is getting ridiculous. Over the next few days, WFTM is going to be about Comic Con. To start here are some tips from Fernando (and me) about how to best utilize your time at the geek mecca.

If you don’t know what Comic Con is, well, stop reading because you need to go do some research first. For the rest of us who have gone, are going to go or deeply want to go in the near future, I put together some friendly advice. Think of this as things to consider when attending the great and almighty Comic Con. 


Plan ahead and stay informed. 

This one is the most difficult. Comic Con has become a large massive event. As you can imagine managing an event of that scale can be very difficult, especially when there are always people attempting to game the system. That is why the ever evolving Comic Con badge registration is the number one reason to always stay up-to-date with all news surrounding registration. Last year there was limited registration across four days. This year there will be no pre-registration, so next year’s badge registration will be completely online, so stay tuned to the Comic Con website for updates and requirements.

If you are lucky enough to attend the Con then keep an ear open for the rumors about next year’s badges. It will save you the heartache of missing the following year’s event. Staying informed does not stop at the badges though; room registration and flight fares are the other ones you need to keep an eye out. Room registration is really the great compromise between San Diego and Comic Con. The city and the event in coordination with the dozens of hotels in San Diego have made rooms available to the Comic Con bound for a price. There are reasonable rates for all budgets. If you miss out it becomes a difficult ordeal to find a good rate, and there is no telling what price you may pay. The key is to STAY INFORMED all year round.


Use the Comic Con schedule as a guide written in pencil, not in stone. 

Our first year Leslie and I planned every moment. That schedule went out the window five minutes after we set foot in the majesty that is the exhibit hall. There is a great awe that strikes when you arrive at the San Diego convention center during Comic Con.  That awe coupled with random amazing geekery that will happen and has always happened at the con is what allows you to be part of the excitement, so do not handcuff yourself to a schedule. The best course is to choose a small handful of panels as tent poles each day. If there is a panel you cannot miss then be sure to be there at least by the panel before, if not sooner.


Allow yourself to get wrapped up in the moment; that is the best draw of the Con.

There will be all kinds of events, giveaways, swag and photo ops all week long all of which you will miss if you spend all your time in the great Hall H, Ballroom 20 or any of the conventions rooms. 


Take pictures, lots and lots of pictures. 

Use a phone if you wish. Leslie and I got a camera specifically for the Con, but either way take lots of pictures. Pictures are the cheapest swag and best of all, it’s personalized. Most good smart phones now have pretty decent cameras built in, which is great for all the pictures you will take in the exhibit hall. A good point and shoot camera with a good optical zoom will be your best friend for all the shots you want to take inside during each panels Q&As. 


Pack snacks

While at the con you are going to get hungry, it’s a fact. There are some decent food options in the actual convention center; however, who wants to have to leave a line, panel or event because there tummy is growling? Choose those snacks wisely. Choose snacks that are light, quiet, easy to clean, good at room temperature, and, most importantly, that you like! Peanut butter sandwiches cut in half are a great go-to snack as well as grapes, small apples, string cheese and trail mix all have many of the afore mentioned qualities. (Leslie’s note: I’m partial to things that aren’t sticky, so popcorn, carrots and celery, granola bars and something sweet, like cookies. We rarely have a real meal during the days of Comic Con, so having a nice variety and plenty of water on hand goes really far.)


If you have a smart phone, use it and don't forget your charger!

Can your phone text, tweet, connect to Facebook, get the internet, and read those square barcodes?  If it can't do those things, then be sure to get the apps that can because there will be plenty of program updates, scavenger hunts and line information to stay current on. Your smart phone will earn its keep with those action-packed four days of Comic Con, so take the charger with you. Why?  Believe it or not, there will be quiet-ish times when you sit down to have a meal, play Magic, the Gathering with new found friends or just need a break. Those are the times when it is the PERFECT TIME TO CHARGE YOUR PHONE, so take the plug with you.  


Make friends

This is a neat one. When you're in line at the grocery store, everyone kinda just stares around or has polite small talk about the weather. At Comic Con, you're in line with people who enjoy the same stuff you do. It’s easy talking to the wonderful strangers who know exactly how you feel about Doctor Who, Fringe, Game of Thrones, or Supernatural because they are fans too, and have watched and re-watched the same episodes you have, so do yourself a favor and make friends. Besides, how else are we supposed to take over the world? We have to meet each other first, don't we? 


Last one... ENJOY YOUR SELF - This thing really only comes once a year. 



Additional tips from Leslie:

These are tips more specific to those book-loving people that might attend the con and how to best utilize the exhibit floor.


Take advantage of Preview Night (if you can).

Even three years later, I will inevitably get overwhelmed and hit with sensory overload upon entering the giant exhibit hall on Wednesday night. Take advantage of those four hours to get a handle on where everything is. For the most part, the exhibitors are in zones – comic companies are in the same general area while other areas include comic stores, movie and television studios, videogames, and my absolute favorite, the publishers. The publishers are usually located across two or three aisles. Become familiar with this area because you’re going to be visiting a lot.


Do your research.

Some of the publishers put out press releases and announcements before the Con with the list of authors attending and when they might be signing at their respective booths. Take these with you. Stop by the publishers’ booths first thing and pick up handouts that might also include a schedule of when particular ARCs are going to be handed out.


Make friends with the lovely people manning the booths. And BE POLITE!

Publishers are not obligated to give you free books or swag. I’ve found that, by being polite and regularly visiting booths, I become a familiar face and the marketing gurus manning the booths might slip me an extra ARC or two even when it’s not the scheduled time to hand them out. This is even better if you return year to year. By this point some of the publisher people actually recognize me and treat me like a friend when I start stalking their booth Wednesday night (in a polite way).


Bring a bag.

You’re going to get free stuff all over the place. Make sure you have a way to carry it.


You might not get a ton of free stuff out of it, but you will see some of the coolest things in the exhibit hall in Artist Alley. You’ll also meet some of the nicest people at the con. Also make sure you have a ton of cash because you will want to purchase their wares. I suggest visiting Katie Cook, Lord Mason, Grant Gould and Oliver Nome. To see the spoilers we purchased last year, check out our Comic Con 2011 art post.


But my biggest tip is: Don’t be a dick™ Wil Wheaton

Whether this is by clogging up the exhibit hall walkways to take a picture of something or shoving your way through a crowd, being unaware of how much space your bags take or cutting in lines, being rude because you have to wait for something or getting angry because you missed something, don’t be a dick. Comic Con should be a fun place for everyone. We all are giant fans of geeky things. Don’t ruin someone’s experience by being a dick.



And with that, I warn you, the next 10 days or so here at Working for the Mandroid will pretty much be all Comic Con, all the time.