As you may know from my Instagram or Twitter, last month, my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego and attend Comic Con 2017. It was our first time attending this particular Comic Con, but I have been to other Comic Cons in Seattle and in London. So, there were some interesting differences (both good and bad) between this world-renown Comic Con and the other ones I’ve attended. I thought it would be beneficial to you to create some tips if you plan on attending next year’s SDCC that can help you navigate through the crowds and get the most out of your time there.
(The crowds inside the Exhibit Hall)
First, let’s start with an overall review of SDCC 2017. I can say without a doubt that this Comic Con is without a doubt the most interesting one I’ve ever attended. There is so much to do and so much to see, that no matter where you go or what you do you will surely be entertained. But given its popularity, this is also the most hectic Comic Con I’ve ever attended. With over 130,000 people attending, you can bet that this place was consistently crowded, which can be overwhelming to people with anxiety or for any normal person for that matter. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy about San Diego’s Comic Con was their organization. In the past, I could easily find out which artists and guests were attending days/weeks before the event. However, at SDCC, they didn’t list artists/guests that were attending, which made it difficult to know who was even going to be there. For example, my favorite illustrator Dustin Nguyen was there and I had no idea he was going to be there. If I had known I would’ve brought the graphic novels he’s worked on and gotten his autograph. I feel like the only way I would’ve known he was going to be there was if I followed on him on social media (which I didn’t at the time). But, I’m sure the sheer amount of people, events, press, and exhibitors there, SDCC did have a lot to juggle in organizing this event. I just wished they would’ve given first-time attendees more info before entering the building so we could have an easier time planning our day there.
(The Small Press Section in the Exhibit Hall)
Now, onto the specific tips to make the most of Comic Con. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’t’s to help future Comic Con goers navigate through the crowds and really enjoy your time there despite the large crowds.
(The Star Wars exhibit promoting the new movie and video game coming out this winter)
Tip 1: DO plan 1-2 items you want to do/attend/see for that day. Try to have one goal for each day your there, since this will help you arrange your schedule in what you need to do to achieve that. For example, if you want to sit on a panel, then make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wait for it (i.e. 2-3 hours for a popular TV show, or 1 hour for an educational/informative panel of the industry), and then plan your day around that huge block of time. That way, you known for those 3-4 hours you will be doing that one item and you can take it easy before and after the panel and still get to enjoy the rest of your day. A great way to manage your time is to try to get at least 2 days in. I know it’s hard to get badges for certain days, but try not to fit all of Comic Con into one day. It’s just simply not possible and you’ll feel very rushed and anxious trying to fit everything into one day.
(This statue is made entirely out of Legos and was found at the Lego Booth in an awesome exhibit showcasing popular figures made out of Legos)
Tip 2: DON’T sit on a panel if you are not really that interested in it. Otherwise you will be wasting your time (about 3-4 hours of your day) just waiting, and later you will feel like it wasn’t worth it. And it won’t be worth it if you’re not really that invested or interested in it. Since panels procure long wait times, you better be prepared to wait a long time since there are so many people who are also waiting. Also, if you are not that interested in a certain panel, it’s best to avoid it and give your spot to someone else who really wants to be there. However, if you are interested in a certain panel but you can’t get in, just know they have replays of panels later in the afternoon in case you missed it.
(This awesome Cosplayer decided to go for a pun and dressed up as Taco Belle*wink wink)
Tip 3: DO take pictures with or of cosplayers. This is by far the coolest aspect of SDCC. So many people dress up in cosplay as their favorite game/movie/tv show/comic book character. And it’s so cool to recognize them and see the amazing costumes people come up with. Of course, make sure to ask to take their picture. Just because they are dressed up doesn’t mean you have the right to take the picture without their permission. Most of the time (almost always), cosplayers will say yes and allow you to take their picture. And since you’ve asked, they will be able to pose/model for you, which makes your picture even more awesome! (*Note: I will be posting an entire article dedicated to the cosplaying/cosplayers at this year’s Comic Con. Stay tuned for that.)
Tip 4: DON’T touch cosplayers or their outfits without their permission. I know it’s cool to see their costumes, especially the ones that require mechanical engineering, but remember to be polite and don’t touch them or their costume. They might be uncomfortable with that or their costume might be fragile and can’t be touched by people. Just a little reminder to pass on, especially a good remember for parents to pass down to their kids.
(My husband and I dressed up as Corvo and Emily from the video game Dishonored 2)
Tip 5: DO feel free to dress up. Feel free to cosplay, whether it’s a costume you hand-made yourself or if it’s a costume you bought from a Halloween store. You get a free pass to dress up as basically anything you want to here. No judgement being passed here. So, find something you’ll be comfortable wearing and have fun.
Tip 6: DON’T bring little kids for a whole, full day. Comic Con is a long, all-day event, which is naturally very tiring and exhausting after a long day of walking around. So, keep that in mind if you plan on bringing children to this event. It might be too much or too long for some kids. But, SDCC has dedicated Sunday as Kid’s Day. It’s also a shorter day (from 9:30-5) and has more activities dedicated just to children. So, this might be the day you plan to be with your children all day.
(Can’t meet a celebrity? Didn’t win the raffle to get a celebrity signature? Just pose with their wax figure! Here is Jason Momoa as Aquaman)
Tip 7: DO visit Artist’s Alley. This is another cool part of Comic Con is all the artists and illustrators there who are selling their artwork. It’s cool to just look around, and if you find something you like you can buy a print. Remember though, don’t touch the art unless the artist allows you to. Think of museum rules when walking through this area.
Tip 8: Speaking of kids, DO remember to be a little mom-like and pack snacks. This is a long day, and yes there is food available inside, but remember how many people attend this? Yeah, all those people get hungry around the same time as you do. So, there will be long lines for food. But if you bring snacks, it can help you while you wait to order your food, or to help stave off your hunger a little while until the lines calm down some.
(Getting a feel for the Oculus Rift controllers at the Marvel Booth)
Tip 9: DO make time to just check out the exhibition hall and look around at everything there is to offer. The big companies like Marvel, Blizzard, Nintendo, etc. all offer interactive exhibits to do while you are there. Sure, there will be a wait, but they tend to be really fun and enjoyable (especially the video games). My husband and I got to try the Oculus Rift game made by Marvel. And it was completely awesome! We got to play for a whole 10 minutes, and we got the chance to try a virtual reality game that turned out to be really cool.
(The Oculus Rift Marvel Game up on the screen. The four characters you got to play as were The Hulk, Rocket, Deadpool, and Captain Marvel)
Also, you can check out the small press section and see lesser known comics being released. My favorite thing to do was to look around and buy little souvenirs for my friends. They have really awesome fandom gear (T-shirts, art, gadgets) for sale which was a marvelous find.
Tip 10: DO talk to people. While you are standing in line, get the chance to meet new people from all over the world (we met 2 nice girls from South Korea). And while you’re talking make sure to compare your Comic Con experiences, because it’s a really good possibility that you’ve missed something. We stood in line and met a nice guy named Sydney from the press (DCCOMICNEWS.COM) who shared with us his favorite things at Comic Con which is how we ended up at the Marvel booth playing the oculus rift game. So, it’s totally worth it to talk to people when you’re in line, because they might give you a good recommendation and they’ll help make the waiting time pass by faster.
(Our Badges for the Day)
I hope these tips will help you in your future visit to Comic Con. I obviously created this tips with San Diego in mind but feel free to apply these tips to any Comic Con you may be attending. Out of the three Comic Con experiences I’ve had, I can say that these tips are pretty universal and transferable to any comic con no matter where it’s located.