San Diego Comic Con is just around the corner, and the three of us here at GRCT are going to be counting down to it with a series of posts. Look for them every Wednesday leading up to preview night in San Diego!
Though we’re just under a month until preview night, there’s still a lot you can do now to prepare for San Diego, should you be making the trip out to one of the biggest gatherings of comic book and pop culture geeks on the planet. There are a lot of SDCC tips to be found (especially this time of year), but we figured the more tips out there, the better! So here are a few of our top tips.
1. Pack Light. Or, as light as you can. You’re going to want to buy swag at the convention and you’re probably going to find yourself in possession of some free t-shirts or posters, so make sure you have room for all of it! So while you want to make sure that you bring a few pairs of comfy shoes and extra pants, make sure to save room for that figure or giant trade paper back. Poster tubes are also a good idea. Sometimes, you can find them on the floor, or a poster may come with one (and you can usually cram a couple into the same tube) but you don’t want your art to get crinkled. An alternative, though, is to ship your swag home ahead of you.
2. Plan Ahead for Food. In the frenzy and excitement of the convention, sometimes it’s easy to forget to eat, if you can believe it! I’ve had years where I found myself room-sitting for an entire day and hadn’t planned ahead for food. It’s a situation you definitely don’t want to find yourself in. Convention-center food, while available, is overpriced and limited, and you don’t want to rely on it. First, find out if your hotel offers fridges in guest rooms. Some hotels don’t come with them automatically, but if you call, you can request one. Either way, there’s a Ralph’s not far from the convention center, and picking up food for sandwiches or power bars is a must. I’d recommend bringing a water bottle instead of relying on bottled water, because it’s decidedly cheaper.
3. Plan Ahead For Everything Else. While there are some who may be fine with winging it and just taking the con as it comes, it’s good to go in with at least a loose gameplan. If you have SDCC exclusives you’re planning to get, take a look at the convention floor map ahead of time and try to get there early. If you have an idea of which panels you might want to see, figure out what time you’re going to get in line. Plan to show up for at least two panels before the one you want to see, and depending on the room, and what else is happening before your panel, you may have to room-sit most of the day to see what you want. Try not to keep your schedule TOO rigid, though, or you’ll miss out on a lot of the spontaneity of SDCC.
4. There’s More to SCCC Than Just the Convention Center. Every year, the convention seems to spread out further and further from the actual convention center, and even if you don’t have a badge, it’s worth it just to head downtown and see what’s going on. The past few years, Zachary Levi’s The Nerd Machine has put on a small con outside of the con called Nerd HQ. It operates independently of SDCC, so you don’t have to have an SDCC pass to go. This year, it’s going to take place in Petco Park, and panels there haven’t been announced yet! There’s still time to plan to go. Beyond that, many of the local businesses cater to the SDCC crowd that weekend, and there are meetups all over the place if you know where to look. Outsidecomiccon.com has a pretty decent and constantly updated list of events.
5. Don’t Forget Thursday and Sunday. Most of the SDCC attention generally goes to Friday and Saturday, when a lot of the big panels and signings take place. But Thursday and Sundays are awesome too. I’ve been a strong proponent of SDCC Sunday for years now, and last time I went, it was my favorite time of the convention. I wandered into Hall H panels without having to wait in line longer than half an hour and found some great deals on the floor. Vendors are often trying to get rid of merchandise on the last day of the con and will have discounts. I always make Sunday the day I search through the discount comics bins. And Thursday can be a great day to hit the exhibit hall as well. Every single day of SDCC is crowded these days, but Thursday isn’t quite as bad as the weekend days.
6. Pace Yourself. I wanted to keep this list at an even 5, but this is probably my number one tip for SDCC. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and as tempting as it may be to camp out four nights, and go to parties every single night and not sleep or eat, it WILL catch up to you. Make sure to get sleep (someplace NOT in the Hall H line), make sure to eat, and don’t sacrifice your health for the con.
SDCC veterans, what are your top bits of advice for the con? Sound off in the comments.