With just 5 days away, the highly anticipated San Diego Comic-Con 2014 is looming over the horizon. Thousands of fellow fans have been carefully planning and preparing for this epic 4 days all year long. Whether you are a con noob or a 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 have a life changing experience! You heeded my warnings in my recent post, “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 Hall H, receiving a autograph, or buying an 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 ever:
1. Embrace the Pain
When you are talking 130,000+ people, it’s not exactly the easiest show to navigate. 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 making new friends, 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.
3. 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.
4. The Hangover Part IV: Besides the great showroom 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. Hug a Cosplayer (but not literally)
In my earlier post, Cosplay Etiquette, I talked about the importance of showing respect and dignity to all cosplayers regardless of how they are dressed. Cosplayers are one of our most valuable commodities at any comic convention so let’s treat them respectfully. Just as importantly, you can also be a hero by helping to protect fellow cosplayers by discouraging or even reporting lewd or inappropriate behavior. The last thing we would want is SDCC to be known as an unsafe place. I would be especially intolerant of the so called Youtube ‘journalists’ that like to cross the line by humiliation. Lastly, really stop to admire the work of cosplayers. Many of them have worked on their costume for days, weeks, or even months. Ask them good questions, applaud their effort, and thank them for helping to make this the best Comic-Con ever!
6. Be Kind and Rewind
Lines like Hall H tend to bring the worst out in people. After a long hot day in the sun and before you know it, someone get’s stabbed in the eye. 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. Whether it’s line managers, security, or sales people, they are fighting off the Comic-Con zombie hordes all day long so a little kindness will go a long way. Be patient, ask kindly, and move on.
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.
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. Get that shirt, collectable, autograph, etc that you always wanted. It will last forever and hopefully the pain of the expense 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.
9. 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
Comic-Con is so much more than just seeing a screening, snagging swag, or seeing a celeb. From all this pent-up passion, there is probably something greater stirring in you. This is one of the most creative and inspirational 4 days of the year. Stop containing your passion and share it with the world. Maybe from this experience, you need to start a new website or new blog. 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 TODAY. 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 took a step of faith.
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!