Comic Con 2011: Bits and Pieces, Tips and Tricks for next year

By guest writer: Jennifer Luchsinger @opus4me

It’s such an intense experience attending Comic Con, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! This was my fourth year, and every year I pick up new ways to do things that will make the experience more pleasant and easier. I learned a few things about what not to do, too. You’ll find below some tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your experience next year-if you are one of the lucky few to get tickets!

Because we live in California, we drive to the convention. We arrived Tuesday at the hotel, unpacked and got organized, then headed to the grocery store.

Tip #1 We always get a refrigerator for our room. It’s extra, but only about $8 a day. My hubby and I like to pack our own food and water bottles for the most part, because we like the panels the best, and leaving a line or a panel room to eat means that you can potentially lose your seat (if you are flying solo), miss something fun, or a major announcement. It makes the backpack heavy, but it’s worth it. Besides, it gets lighter by the end of the day! You have to do what works for you; hubby eats cereal at 5:30 a.m. (too early for me to be eating) and I pack bagels, fruit juice, go-gurts, and string cheese to eat on the trolley. We also pack sandwiches for lunch, two big water bottles each, and lots of snacks…and that was only the beginning of our adventure:

So, Wednesday we headed down to the CC via trolley at around 12:30 p.m., and went and got our badges. We walked right up to the 2nd floor and were able to check right in. (People who did badge pick-up at the Town and Country were waiting for hours to get theirs, so word to the wise:

Tip #2 Even if you don’t have preview night, ride the trolley to the CC and pick badges up there. You can spend some time in downtown looking around at all the things the various companies have set up, have dinner, and then head back to your hotel, without wasting time waiting in line when you could be doing something fun.)

Tip #3 If you have preview night, head to the east end of the convention center. There is another line there to get in to preview night on the show floor. We did, and got onto the floor far more quickly than we have in the past. It was great to be near the front of the line for once!

For preview night, each year we have found that we spend less and less time on the show floor. Unless we absolutely have to have that special Comic Con exclusive, once we have all the free comic books and swag, we head back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Besides, the swag bag gets really heavy with all those comic books! Leave your swag bag in your hotel for the rest of the Con, unless you think you’ll really need it. It’s so big that it can become quite cumbersome to carry.

Tip #4  Thoroughly scour the schedule online before you set one foot in San Diego. I watched the website daily for the schedule to be posted, and then was able to easily navigate the MySched app they thoughtfully provided. It helps other attendees to see how popular certain panels are going to be; however, although the schedule clearly showed the popularity, it would appear that once the schedule had been posted, the people who put together the convention didn’t make ANY changes about where those panels would be held. More on that later. (see The Best and Worst of Comic Con 2011)

Thursday morning we arrived at the CC at about 7:00 a.m. We got into the BR 20 line and stayed there until the room was opened to load people in line into the room. Once we got in, we stayed in for the majority of the day.

Tip #5 Not all swag is created equally! Any show from the USA network generally gives out terrific swag; we received tshirts for Covert Affairs and Psych, and the Ringer panel gave out little tri-cornered stools that were fairly handy for the rest of the convention. (They were made of cheap canvas and by the time we got done with them, the canvas had ripped in several places. My hubby and I are not small people, although we were grateful for them; they also dig into your rear in the cushiony part and ouchie-well, enough said there.)

The Game of Thrones was a terrific panel and in my opinion, the best of the day! George R.R. Martin proved to be an efficient moderator, and kept both his questions and audience questions moving well. The swag was the first book in his series, aptly titled The Game of Thrones, a t-shirt with one of the house logos on it, and a nifty mouse pad that depicted the map of the land he created. Cute picture of Peter Dinklage, who hardly smiled at all during the panel.

After leaving BR20, I attended the Vertigo panel, since I am a fan of Fables; my hubby and I stayed for Robotech after that, and because he usually has questions for Tommy Yun, the creator, we came away with a Comic Con exclusive Robotech action figure. Of course my hubby was delighted with that!

Friday was where my husband and I parted company. He went to attend panels in Hall H, while I waited for almost four hours waiting to get into BR-20. It was not fun.

Tip #6 Make sure everyone who comes with you has their own individual sunscreen, ibuprofen, etc, and wear the most comfortable pair of shoes you can find. My feet were sore, I worried about getting in, worried about line jumpers, and worried about sunburn. (Hubby had taken the sunscreen in his backpack.) I should have gone to the

Hall H panels with him, but was waiting with some new friends who hadn’t been to Con before, and basically was committed to the line. Hall H has generally shown movie preview panels in the past, and this year was no exception. Instead of seeing the new movie previews, I ended up seeing TV panels for “Big Bang Theory,”  “Eureka,”   “Warehouse 13” and “True Blood.” Below: BR 20 and The Big Bang Theory panel.

I like these shows and watch them regularly, and the panels were mildly entertaining; however, I saw those panels last year. Drat…and only got swag for “True Blood.”

(Thank you HBO!) Cute pics of Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and one of the writers.

I did sneak out of “True Blood” early and was able to get in to see “Alphas.” This was one of the hidden gems of Comic Con this year; it is akin to “Heroes” and has characters that are born with extraordinary abilities that are closer to being normal than being able to fly or walk through walls. They are a team, helped by a therapist who recognizes that their abilities, used together, can be used to help track criminals or solve crimes. Cool stuff!

Tip #7 Try to see one day of TV panels, one day of movie panels, with one day of smaller panels and seeing the show floor. You’ll have a balanced experience and most likely see panels that you have never seen before. It’ll hopefully be a new adventure every day!

Saturday I realized that I should see smaller panels that are new to me, so we again woke up at an incredibly early hour, and when we arrived, I got in line for Room BCF. I was thrilled to get a front row seat for Marvel television (lots of fun Spiderman, Avengers, and Fantastic Four to come from them-yay!) The next panel was Quick Draw! with talented cartoonists from the industry, and I laughed my head off at their antics. If you’ve never seen this panel, it is well worth a view. With Mark Evanier as the moderator, he had them drawing hilarious things. Go and watch it-you’ll enjoy yourself and laugh. Then came Cartoon Voices 1, with voice actors from all over who are extremely talented and with whom it is way fun to listen! I’ve never heard a funnier version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in my life.

After that, I trundled over to the Indigo Ballroom to see Joss Whedon (I am a fan of his work), and then the panel for “The Guild.” Below: The Guild booth on the show floor during their preview night signing.

My husband and I were privileged to work with the actors as Extras for Season Five of this really cute award-winning web series, about an unusual group of oddball gamers that become friends, written by the fabulous Felicia Day. It was great to reconnect with the cast members and director (and shockingly, they remembered us! I got hugs from Vince Caso and Sean Becker. Wow!)

As the evening waned on, I traveled back to room BCF. I got in to watch “Nikita,” for which I had accidentally watched the panel last year while waiting to see “The Mythbusters.”

Tip #8 If you have to sit through a different panel so as not to lose your place for the one you are waiting to see, it can turn out to be a very lucky thing! Nikita turned out to be right up my alley, with not one, but two strong female protagonists who basically kick butt. I’ve been watching it eagerly ever since.

After “Nikita” came “Person of Interest;” and that show has the potential to be a huge hit. It’s hard to describe what it is about quickly, but suffice to say that it’s about two men who, although they had almost given up on life after losing their loved ones, decide to make the world a better place by preventing crimes before they happen. Look it up and see if you’ll like it. I’ll be watching it for sure!

Tip #9 Don’t be afraid to get in line to go ask the panel questions. I try to make sure my question is not only something I want to know, but something that everyone would like to know. This paid off handsomely, as I came home with the Season Five DVDs of “Psych.” I also was able to ask a question in the “Glee” panel. It’s always nice to hear a serviceman get up to the mike and tell the panelists (and attendees) that he/she loves the show and how the stories help them through their rough times abroad. The Comic Con crowd welcomes them with open arms and lots of cheers and applause, too.

Sunday morning found us in the Hall H line (after scurrying to shower, pack, check out, scour the hotel room to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind, and then zipping to the CC by 6:30 a.m.)

Tip #10 If you can, get parking under the convention center, and make sure you lock your car before taking off to get in line for your panel. I brought my laptop to play with while I was in line, and discovered it had not been charged up when I put it away, as I originally thought. The power cord was in the car with my luggage, so I had to tromp back to the car to get it. Then I couldn’t remember if I had locked the car, so I had to walk all the way back down to the parking lot. If I hadn’t gotten back to the line for Hall H by the time they began loading the hall, my hubby would’ve got in, but I would’ve had to wait in line-at the END! Yikes. So I walked really fast and got really sweaty, but made it back in time. Whew.

Tip #11 Wear deodorant-and lots of it!

We watched the “Glee” panel, “Supernatural,” and “Doctor Who.” We got little guitar picks with faces of the “Glee” cast on them for swag. I don’t play my guitar that often, but who’s complaining? The boys from “Supernatural” were very sweet and cute, and I think Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were thrilled to be at Comic Con for the first time. One enterprising young man had made a huge orange Da’lek with a group of his friends, and both of the actors signed it.

Tip #12 Make sure you charge electronics up each evening, and bring your power cords with you, along with extra batteries for phones and cameras. Hall H does NOT have any outlets where you can charge up. BR 20 has outlets, but people tend to hog them, so bring a surge protector so you can persuade them to share. My “smart” phone kept dying and for a while, we didn’t know why; then we discovered that I had too many apps running at the same time, which drained the charges really quickly. Next year I am bringing an extra battery for it, too.

Finally, we hit the showroom. Certainly, the vendors were willing to sell things at cheap prices; for instance, at one bookseller, they were selling lots of books at 50% off! My backpack became so stuffed with books that I couldn’t fit anything else in there; it positively bulged like Santa’s sack. The floor had a rather desperate energy on it, though; as if the sellers were so done dealing with people that you needed a fork to stick in them, and people were desperate to buy, buy, and buy.

Tip #13 After preview night, but before you leave, hit the showroom floor at least once and soak up the excitement. In years past, I have been able to visit the floor on Saturday, which is really fun because so many people cosplay that day. Because I waited till Sunday, I missed a lot of great costumes.

Because I am a huge “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fangirl, and I also love musicals, my husband and I rounded out our Con with a visit to Hall H to watch

“Once More, With Feeling,” the Buffy musical. Nicholas Brendon showed up to say Hi. He’s sooo cute!

It was great fun to sit there and geek out with all of the other people who love it as much as we do. People danced in the aisles and sang at the top of their lungs, and no one cared, or made fun. You can’t go anywhere else in the world, really, and do that without paying for it later with snide remarks from someone. We enjoyed it immensely, and left feeling really good.

Is it really a whole year ‘till next Comic Con? Sigh. Well, off to the comic store…

8 thoughts on “Comic Con 2011: Bits and Pieces, Tips and Tricks for next year

  1. Re #2, unless you had Preview Night, you HAD to go to Town and Country to pick up your 4 day badges if you wanted to get them on Wednesday. Hence the crazy-long lines.

  2. I second what Michelle said. I was one of those that ended up with 4 individual-day badges. As per the instructions on the comic-con website, I intended on hitting up Town and Country on Wednesday. I caught the shuttle to the convention center. I was mistakenly told to check upstairs at the convention center first to see if I could pick-up my badges there. I got upstairs and was told that they could not help me because they did not even have Thursday badges in yet.

    After that initial disappointment, I headed to catch a shuttle from the convention center to Town and Country but was informed by a worker that due to the hordes of people at T&C, the line for badge pick-up was stopped.

    So after all the crazy misinformation and what not, I ended up having to wait in a huge line on Thursday morning to pick-up my badges. To comic-con’s credit, I got in the line around 7:15 am and had my badges by 8:30 am. Being a noob to the comic-con world as well as flying solo, I can tell you that experience was not fun.

    • That’s a bummer- but at least you have your 2012 tickets. Unfortunately, navigating the crowds is now just a normal part of SDCC. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. Hi there,

    I’m a newbie at the con and I got a question for you. So my gf and I are dying to see the game of thrones panel. We intend on getting in line for Hall H at the crack of dawn on friday to ensure we get in.

    Here’s our dilemma. We only have an individual friday badge, and we need to go over to pick up our badges at 8:30 so we can get into the con. Do you know what time Hall H opens? Hopefully we will meet someone in line who will hold the spot for us, but can you instruct us on the most efficient way to get our badges, so we can run back over to the Hall H line before they let people in?



    • Congratulations on your first time to the Con! You are certainly going on a day that is going to be crazy. Typically you can get into line at anytime during the night. For the Big Bang/Walking Dead/Game of Thrones line up, fans will most assuredly spend the night or line up in the middle of the night. So you need to line up as soon as possible. At the same time, fans will also line up early to get their Friday badges- probably about an hour or two before. What I recommend:

      Both of you get in line at whatever time during the night for GoTs. Keep you eye on the registration line. One of you will have to go in and get your badge (takes about 45 mins once the line starts moving). Then you will have to switch and the other person get theirs. Hopefully you can do this BEFORE the line for Hall H starts to move in. Once they start to load Hall H, whoever does not have a badge will not make it in. They will start to load the room about an hour before the first panel- so 11-ish. So in theory, you should have enough time if each of you take turns to get your badge while saving your place in line at Hall H. Makes sense? I would not trust someone to hold your place, instead each of you should take turns.

      Hope that helps. You can always e-mail me at Crazy4ComicCon(at)hotmail(dot)com

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