2013 Top 10 Ways to Have the Best San Diego Comic-Con Experience

san-diego-comic-con-union-tribute-creators.com-weird-cosplay-costume-akward-blzeenWith just being 6 days away, the San Diego Comic-Con 2013 is looming over the horizon. You and thousands of fellow fans have been carefully planning and preparing for this epic 4 days all year long. Whether you are a noob or a con vet, there is anxiety about the unknown and expectations are already running high. My desire is that you not only survive Comic-Con but that you will thrive! You heeded my warnings in my recent post from last week, “Top 10 ways to ruin Comic-Con”, but now it’s time to talk more positively. Most think that the key to a successful Comic-Con is getting into the right panel, receiving a celebrity autograph, or buying the right Exclusive. While those are important, an amazing Con experience is shaped by more intangible factors. Don’t scan over what I am about to list- take time and let it sink in. Here are my Top 10 ways to have the BEST Comic-Con:

1. Embrace the Pain
There is nothing easy, simple, or efficient when you are talking about 130,000+ people. With too many fans and and not enough space, it will affect your attitude worst than a having a Ceti Alpha eel burrowed in your ear. The best thing to do is to accept the fact that everything you do will take 3 times longer and will be 3 times harder. Surrounded by thousands of fans, you will not out-run or out-wit everyone. You’ll win some battles and lose some- and that’s okay. A positive attitude doesn’t happen by accident, it’s a choice. So go with the flow and be thankful that you were able to experience  ‘Nerdvana’.

2. Share the Love
Don’t be fooled, panels and Exclusives are awesome but there is something at Comic-Con that is even a greater find. If you leave without meeting fellow fans, then you really have robbed yourself of the best part. By sharing your story, your fandom, and networking with others, your experience will be 10 times better. I know it’s hard for you introverts but remember, it’s a small world and taking a step of faith, it can open up all kinds of possibilities. A dinner invite, a saved seat, and Twitter follow can literally change the course of your future. The benefits of a lifelong friend will last long after the con is over.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 11.17.56 PM3. Bend the Spoon
Like Neo, this means believe in yourself and take initiative. Most of the time, it’s easy to let a key opportunity pass because of self doubt. If you see a celeb on the street or at the bar then take the chance to meet them while you have it. Don’t be obnoxious or scary- and always be respectful. Remember, celebs are real people too, treat them that way and they will treat you the same way. Gawking and asking for a photos is what everyone else does- just have a normal conversation and you will be forever glad you did. In a panel, be bold and ask a question. My friend asked a fun question to Eliza Dushku and we have laughed about it ever since. Finally, for you singles out there, take a chance and mingle. Like I shared in my earlier post on dating, I think Comic-Con is the best way to meet someone special. Overall, be different and bend the spoon.

X-Men_Hangover_by_Bobby_Rubio4. The Hangover Part IV: Besides the great exhibitor floor, panels, and events to attend, the Comic-Con night life also offers an epic amount of opportunity. But beware. Even though Comic-Con is just a 4 day event, one unlucky night of too much Romulan Ale and you will find yourself regretting it the next day. Moderation is the key if you want to be 100% each day. Your body will thank you by the end of the week. Don’t end up being the continuation of the Hangover franchise.

5. Play by the Rules
There is no such thing as the perfect system- and Comic-Con only works is if we all play by the rules. That means you shouldn’t engage in line cutting or slipping into rooms. I know it’s nice to skip the line but remember that your faithful comrades have been waiting for hours (or sometimes overnight) and you wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to you. Pay your dues and support the system. For help, review my suggestions for getting into panels.

tumblr_m747iozvvx1raonjro1_5006. Be Kind and Rewind
Before you get upset about something, you will be surprise how much farther you can get by just having a good attitude. Trying to fight grump with more grump never works. One time, I tried repeatedly to get a coveted free Star Trek shirt by waiting in line and I failed several times. By just walking up and explaining my dilemma kindly (and smiling), I got a shirt. Whether it’s line managers, security, or sale people, they are fighting off the Comic-Con zombie hordes all day long so a little kindness will go a long way.

7. Let Go of Your Personal Space
I know it’s nice to have a buffer zone of seats around you while enjoying your favorite panel. But soooo many seats get sacrifices because they are not together. It’s so sad to me to see couple or friends so frantically wandering around trying to find seats and just end up splitting up. Please consolidate what is around you and offer multiple seating. I know it’s counter intuitive, but a compassionate gesture goes a long way. Who knows you might need it reciprocated back in the next panel. Helping your fellow con-mates is not only the right thing to do but a great feeling, even if it’s a small gesture.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 11.57.08 PM

8. Spoil on Yourself
Unless you are fortunate enough to live locally, this trip is going to cost you- and this economy isn’t easy on anyone. Like a nerd Christmas, this is the time of the year to be less practical and get what you have been waiting for. You made it this far so spend a little extra on yourself. To you penny pinchers, stop doing the internal math and pull the trigger. Get that shirt, collectable, autograph, etc that you always wanted. It will last forever and hopefully the debt won’t. After a few years of going, I have forgotten one Con to the next, but the memorabilia has helped solidify it in my memory.

Screen shot 2013-07-11 at 12.00.05 AM9. Level Up, the Hard Way
My biggest challenge to you this year is to personally thank a Comic-Con worker each day (or more if you like). Comic-Con workers are fighting a hard battle. Massive lines, long hours, and over-crowdedness can create a volatile experience and these guys are on the front lines. I have had a chance to get to know some of the workers in different areas over the years. They are hard working fans that are dedicated to running the best show possible. Pause and thank them for their service. I know it will be hard, but trust me, it matters. Plus, it’s great for ‘leveling up’!

10. Finally, Dream BIG
My guess is that if you are attending this special and magical place, it is touching at something that is at the core of your heart. This is so much more than just seeing a preview, getting swag, or seeing celebs. From all this pent-up passion, there is probably something greater stirring in you. Stop containing your passion and share it with the world. Maybe from this, you need to start a new website or new blog  for like-minded fans. Maybe you need to quit your job and take a step towards the comics industry. Maybe you need to go back to school to learn about illustration and design. Comic-Con is not only about you finding other fans but it’s also about you discovering yourself. Don’t just sit on your dreams till the next Comic-Con but take steps and make your dreams come true NOW. All those stars, artists, producers, and directors you experienced were just like you at one time. All they had was passion and a dream and they made it happen.

I know this is not the typical Tip of the Day post- but after years of attending and talking with many fans, this Top 10 list is what makes the difference between a good show and a magical one. If you resonate with any of these, please leave a comment below. Having the best or worst Comic-Con is really in your hands. It’s up to you to decide what kind of week you will have. Thanks and see you in next week!

The cute Nathan Fillion drawing was done by my new friend Emily at http://paintingemily.tumblr.com/.
Check out my past Tip of the Day posts.

22 thoughts on “2013 Top 10 Ways to Have the Best San Diego Comic-Con Experience

    • You are right. We can’t change the con but we change our attitude. It’s the only way to make it without leaving frustrated.

  1. PLEASE folks, read and re-read #7! I have seen so many fans get shut out of panels and rooms because inconsiderate folks refuse to move over and fill in the seat next to them. Please please please — we might all be squashed in close together, but be kind to your fellow nerds and fans!

    • Ha ha, sounds like you speak from personal experience! Thanks for passionately commenting and good luck this year!

  2. I think #1 is so important. Just be happy to be there. NO one gets to do everything they want to do – just accept it and enjoy the experience. Comic Con Karma works. One year I was at Comic Con in a huge line waiting for the exhibit hall to open as I was trying to get a signed Dexter bobblehead limited to 12 or 15 for my daughter. I was talking to the people around me and when the exhibit hall opened I got passed up to the head of the line. The person in front of me told the person in front of them what I was trying to do and everyone ahead of me in line agreed that I should go in first! It worked and I got the bobblehead.

  3. Excellent tips as usual, Tony. I definitely agree with showing your support to the staff. By and large, they are working really hard and always have a smile and do their best to be helpful. I have never had a bad experience with any of them. I do my best to show my appreciation.

  4. As always, you’ve nailed it Tony.
    The thing I like most about SDCC is the people. Normally, a crazy big group like this leads to problems and fights, but I did not experience any of this last year. We met some great new friends and look forward to seeing them again this year. I really can’t wait to hang out in line and meet more great people like that.

    • Yea, it’s always a bummer when you get stuck with fans in line that don’t want to socialize. Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for all your news on your site too! See ya there!

  5. Great tips! Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I am making the cross country trip to SDCC by myself this year, and have been second guessing it for a while. This helped re-energize me and remind me what it’s all about. Thanks Tony!

    • That’s awesome. Well you may arrive alone but with a little initiative, you will be among family by the end of it. Have a safe trip and thanks for commenting!

  6. Awesome tips Tony! I think thanking the workers is pretty important. The first year I went I was taking a break and ended up talking to a volunteer that was helping out at one of the toy lines, like Hasbro or Mattel, and he was treated like crap by the people in line and heard all sorts of curses and complaints thrown at him by the people in line. They all work hard and just try to do their jobs and assignments. It’s never anything personal if they have to enforce line rules. What’s the point of being there if you’re gonna give someone else a hard time that’s just doing his job, right?

    • Yea, most don’t understand that a majority of the work force are volunteers- it’s the only way a Con this size can happen. So we should show as much courtesy and appreciation as possible. Thanks for commenting!

  7. Thanks again for all the great tips! This will be my first time attending and I am so excited! I have a feeling that I am going to over whelmed with sensory overload once inside, so much to see and do! Again, thanks for all the info you provide!

  8. I reeaallllyyyyy hope I have the chance to visit Comic Con one day…..just out of curiosity, perhaps you could post something about the nerds who not only travel cross country but halfway across the world to visit? (I’m from Malaysia)

  9. Reblogged this on I Was Angelized 1st and commented:
    This article is full of great SDCC advice. Having been an attendee myself for years, I can attest that these tips will make your life SO much easier. Especially the befriending your fellow attendees and convention workers. Being kind to those around you can definitely earn you a seat inside a panel, or place in line. One year, a friend spent the night in line so I didn’t have to. Saved my life!

  10. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’ll be CosPlay aplenty, and panels’ll be many, SDCC good CHEER! It’s the most wonderful time OF THE YEAR!

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