In the same way a Pokemon master relies on their team to defeat the Elite Four, so should you rely on your team to help you get the most out of your San Diego (or any) Comic Con experience. Going for the first time this year taught me about the strengths and weaknesses of my group of friends and I’ve thought a lot about what makes the “perfect” Comic Con team to navigate the Exhibit Hall, panels, outside events, swag, hotels and countless other things that come up.
Four people comfortably fit in a hotel room for San Diego Comic Con, so I’ve picked out four essential roles that should be filled in any group – more people means double the support, less people means having two or more “specialties” – but regardless of group size, here are the roles that I think would be most helpful to figure out pre-con.
Personally, I have zero sense of direction and my navigation of the Exhibit Hall consisted of, “Well… Funko is in a corner somewhere… I see the Legendary sign…” Having someone to easily and consistently navigate the Exhibit Hall is not their only use though. The Navigator of your group should also be instrumental in figuring out public transportation to the con (if you’re staying outside of immediate walking area like we did). We ended up figuring out the trolley directions for four days, after going one stop too far to pick up our badges Wednesday night, but we also needed the bus that Comic Con provided on Sunday when our four-day trolley passes ran out. It’s also helpful to have a Navigator for the Gaslamp area. These days, there’s a lot going on outside of the convention center walls and having someone who can point out how to get to Nerd HQ or a great hole in the wall restaurant or even off-site events like the Godzilla Encounter this year can eliminate a lot of the stress of not being a native San Diegan.
Twitter, twitter, twitter is all I have to say about San Diego Comic Con. Find the most technologically savvy of the group, make sure they have an external battery for their phone, and let them get all of the tweets direct-messaged to them. If you’re after swag, this might be the most crucial member of your team – they can get the notification and send a message to the rest of the group. I had the tweets from @thenerdmachine, @Legendary, and @ItsSwagMagnet all coming to me via text message throughout the con. I also had @GeekyHooker tweets coming to me because I so desperately wanted one of her critters (I was so close to Chewie!) and before the con, I was following @MichaelAusiello tweets on my phone to make sure I got into his exclusive party. I got into two parties via Twitter before the con even started, the Michael Ausiello party (who is the nicest guy, by the way) and the Breaking Bad Fan Party, where I got to meet the cast and took home some sweet swag. At least one person in your group should be a master of technology, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re all well-versed in the teachings of Twitter. If for no other reason than to follow @HallHLine!
I’m an introvert and I like to observe and figure things out on my own – this does not work for Comic Con, especially if you’re on the hunt for that one piece of swag you need to have. My friends and I wandered near the Dracula house for fifteen minutes, and passed multiple people with those cardboard chairs, before we finally asked someone about them, only to find they’d probably stopped giving them out just on the other side of where we were standing. If you want it, ask about it. If you don’t want to ask about it yourself, make sure you’ve got someone in your group who has no problem running up to people and asking them about where they found this or that. It’s going to save you a lot of time and a lot of arguing.
There’s going to be a lot of waiting at Comic Con, you’ll all be waiters at some point, but finding someone as a designated waiter for things might shortcut some processes. The waiter can go pick up your Fulfillment Room swag or hold a place in the dreaded Hall H line (etiquette still applies – don’t send one waiter to hold spots for eight other people!) or stand in the longest Starbucks line you’ll ever encounter. Even just sitting down and being the designated bag-watcher can be extremely helpful from time to time. This may be the least fun “role” your team has to fill, so make sure to tag-team and swap out on this one, no one wants to waste their entire con being the waiter.
My group only consisted of three people, including myself, and I personally tried to be a jack of all trades. I can’t navigate, but I did my best when I broke away from the group. I was the main one on Twitter who alerted everyone else to free things as I got them – that’s how we scored It’s Always Sunny t-shirts and Sons of Anarchy keychains. I didn’t ask about things as often as I should have, but I did camp that Hall H line and put in my dues as a waiter. Fellow Nerdophiles bloggers Therese, Sam, and Jane were in a different, rotating group of seven to nine people and did seem to handle dividing and conquering the swag better than my smaller group.
If nothing else, be sure to discuss budgets, sleeping situations, and goals for the overall experience when picking your team for any con. Know your strengths, your weaknesses, and your tolerance level for these people you’re with before embarking on a sleepless five day manic mission of con-going. And don’t be a Debbie Downer! So you didn’t get that one piece of swag that you absolutely couldn’t live without – 500 other people missed out too – don’t spoil your con because of it! Relax, have fun and make the most of your time together!