2014 is coming to a swift end and 2015 will be here before we know it. As the new year rolls in, plans for the annual convention, San Diego Comic Con International, will begin in earnest. In recent years, because of SDCC’s growing popularity, those wishing to attend must begin preparing well before the previous year even ends. Pre-registration tickets for those who attended last year have already gone on sale, and general ticket purchases will open some time in early 2015.
Going into my 7th straight year attending Comic-Con, I am always looking forward to seeing what Comic-Con International is bringing this year and I can’t help but get a little teary eyed thinking of all the memories I have the past six years.
Lessons from the Con
I am by no means an expert on San Diego Comic-Con, but I would hope that after six years of attending this convention I have learned a couple of things about convention etiquette. As such, I would like to share a few things I have learned over the years from Comic-Con.
1. Be mindful of others and walk with purpose.
The convention center floor can become chaotic, especially on peak days such as Friday and Saturday. In fact, it’s simply a way of life during comic-con. To help alleviate congestion, try to figure out where you are going or what you would like to see ahead of time.
Do some research and take a look at the list of exhibitors. Many people scoff at the idea of planning trips to the convention floor, but it really does help. When you walk with purpose or with a mission, you will feel more confident and most likely, more relaxed. Those that fall prey to the slow monotonous shuffle and indecisiveness will become lost, boxed in, and inevitably more stressed.
2. Use common sense and stay professional when meeting celebrities and talent.
Celebrities, whether they are actors, writers, gamers, artists, etc, are all still human just like us. If you see a celebrity you’d like to approach, judge the situation first and if it looks like the celebrity is not busy, feel free to approach them and ask them for a signature, photo, or maybe even compliment them on their work. Don’t be afraid, but you do have to realize and accept that they may say no and that’s okay. If there’s anything they likely hate, it’s when fans nag them consistently. Remember, most celebrities are there for you, the fans, and putting them in an awkward situation is never nice. Not to mention, many celebrities have pre-set schedules they must keep to in order to make appearances and engagements during the con.
3. Never be afraid to show your true colors.
Find people who like the shit you like. If there is anything I have learned from Comic-Con over the years, it is that everyone is pretty nice. Con-goers are the people who will accept you for who you are and would be happy to talk about the things that your parents or spouse would probably frown at. It is during these few days that we drop all our pretenses and take up the nerd mantle together. Conventions are also locales where diversity is always accepted. No stereotypes here.
4. You’ll learn to love the crowds and the lines.
Well, I might not use the word love, but after six years, I’ve accepted that lines come as a package deal with Comic Con. While many would hate to acknowledge it, a large portion of your time at Comic Con is spent waiting. You have to accept that you will not be able to do everything you’d like to do.
Sacrifices must be made and priorities must be organized if you would like to get the most out of your convention experience. Sure, you could wait all day in line to meet a particular idol of yours, but you may find yourself realizing there are other, better ways to spend your time and ultimately get a more rounded conclusive convention experience. Find time to balance your convention schedule as well.
One year, I was holed up in panels for days in a row, and while it was an interesting experience, it was definitely not the way I would like to spend my time at the convention. Don’t fool yourself that there won’t be shouting and shoving, because sadly, it does happen. For the most part though, Comic-Con can ultimately be an orderly and pleasant experience but that is entirely dependent on us as con-goers.
5. You can’t forget your manners.
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment or while out on the floor or while waiting in a line, your patience runs thin and you simply snap. It happens and the best thing I can say, is it’s probably time to head back to your hotel for a nap or shovel some sustenance into your body.
It’s important to still retain your sanity, handle things professionally, and don’t forget your manners. Throughout the convention, you will receive many free hand outs (aka swag) and it doesn’t hurt to drop a thank you and take a minute to listen to the exhibitors that are giving you swag.
6. Never be afraid to ask questions, especially as a newbie.
We’ve all been there and within the goliath that SDCC has become, as a newcomer, it’s pretty damn terrifying. Your brain is struggling to process your surroundings and your neurons are constantly firing left and right. Still, take a moment to ask for help when you need it, whether it’s where does a line begin or end (sometimes it’s impossible to find the end of lines), or in some cases, who’s that?
7. Dress for comfort, not for fashion.
I’m not kidding. It can go from hot and stuffy to chilly within minutes and the temperature varies throughout the convention center. Choose comfortable shoes because you will spend hours walking in those and you will come to cherish the moment you can rip them off of your sore painful feet when you retire to your hotel room for the night. I myself have never cosplayed, but have considered it many times. I truly respect the hell out of cosplayers who can wear the same tight irritating costume for multiple days. Also, make sure to bathe daily and carry around deodorant in your bag because you will reek at the end of the day.
8. Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it!
AKA, pack a lot of snacks and stay hydrated. Do not fall prey to those overpriced pretzel and cookie stands. I do this every year, because those warm gooey cookies and cinnamon sugar coated soft pretzels are so damn delicious and so conveniently located at entrances and exits around the convention center. Curse you marketing! When I leave every year, I tell myself I won’t buy one next year, but inevitably, exhaustion and hunger is far too motivating in the long run.
9. Embrace the change.
There are likely many people who may complain about how much better things used to be back in the day when the convention was strictly all about comics. Still, change is inevitable in all aspects of our lives and Comic Con International has done very well in facilitating this change both in and outside the convention. Sure, there is a lot of work that goes into planning your trip and purchasing tickets, but everything is certainly not going to hell, as many will claim.
Currently, the plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center is somewhat on hold and thus Comic Con’s future in San Diego remains precarious. Still, Comic Con International is only contracted to remain in San Diego through 2016, but tourism officials and the mayor himself are personally pitching to keep Comic-Con International in San Diego through 2018 . Personally, SDCC simply would not be the same anywhere else but in San Diego, but if Comic-Con does stay, serious changes and upgrades would need to be made to manage the increasing crowds.
10. And, last but not least, have fun!
San Diego Comic-Con exists for your enjoyment. Don’t be the party pooper in your group.
So what’s next?
If you have already secured those coveted passes during pre-registration months ago, take a deep breath and let it finally sink in, if it hasn’t already. You’re going to San Diego Comic-Con! All that’s officially left is the small issue of the hotel lottery, which thankfully has become much easier and pain free in recent years.
If you don’t have tickets yet, rest assured there’s still time. General admission tickets will likely go on sale sometime during the first few months of 2015. Shortly following that, hotel sales will begin. If you have never been to San Diego Comic-Con and would like to attend in 2015, be sure to sign up for a unique Comic-Con Member ID, which can be done here and will only take you a couple of minutes to complete. You must have a valid Member ID in order to be eligible for ticket sales in 2015.
If you aren’t able to get tickets during general sales, there may still be hope. Closer to the actual date of the convention, San Diego Comic-Con generally releases a small amount of tickets that have been refunded from guests who can no longer go. The number of the tickets do vary by year, so nothing is a guarantee, but the thought is a small consolation for those who are unlucky in the randomized style ticket sales.