Comic Con 2010 Survival Guide -

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Comic Con 2010 Survival Guide

Toy Maniac’s Tips and Advice

By Robert T. Trate     July 09, 2010

Cosplay Predators are the least of your worries at Comic Con
© Bob Trate


Another year of Comic Con is almost upon us. Mania will of course be out in full force this year. This will be my third year attending what I have dubbed Nerdvana. Comic Con is a lot of fun but it can be incredibly exhausting as well as a huge drain on your wallet. The following is advice, to you our loyal Maniacs, on making the most of your Comic Con experience. If you have gone to San Diego before please fill in the comment section with your own survival tips.
There will undoubtedly be tons of things you want to see at Comic Con. The best way to be prepared is to pick up the Comic Con on-site newsletter. Consider it like picking up the daily paper. The newsletter is the best way to see all the changes and plan accordingly. With that said plan ahead for your given events and panels, don’t think you can run right over to see the Tron Legacy panel giving yourself minutes to spare. You won’t get in. People line up hours ahead of time to see panels at Comic Con. It sounds crazy but I once sat through a Ben 10 Alien Force panel to make sure I got in to what I wanted to see. Since they don’t clear the rooms this practice is a safe bet.
Use the buddy system. If you are going alone to Comic Con, I salute you. It’s tough especially when you try and lug tons of swag and exclusives into the bathroom. Having a buddy makes it easy to move around and do the basic necessities like go to the bathroom and get food.
The restroom is another great peril of Comic Con. Lines are long, yes even for this, and imagine your worst sporting event restroom scenario. Go early in the day or back at your hotel. The bathrooms get nasty, wet and often run out of things. My suggestion is to use the restroom somewhere else after you have left for the day.
ATMs are probably the worst lines you can stand in all day. Bring cash with you right away but only what’s in your budget. Use your ATM card or credit card for the big toy exclusives (Mattel, Hasbro and Diamond Select). Keep your cash for the smaller dealers and necessities. 


Comic Con Tips

Hall H (stands forHeaven and Hell):
I’ve spent hours in line to get into Hall H. Last year I missed seeing Peter Jackson and his District 9 presentation by a few hundred people! Not to mention the fear t-shirt they gave away! Thursday is probably the biggest day for Hall H and there are usually some surprises as well. If you do plan to visit Hall H get there early. This might be essential because if the Twilight cast is there again, their fans get in line the day before and camp out over night. Be strong and be ready (see SDCC Bag list below).



Comic Con Tips

You can to Comic Con and not spend dime and still walk away with tons of goodies. I am the proud owner of a Watchmen t-shirt and some exclusive Flynn’s Arcade Coins both of which cost me nothing! There are tons of studios handing out stuff; everything from t-shirts, posters even flash drives. My advice to you is to take only what you really want and not to wait in line for anything dumb. The time you spend waiting for a big foam finger in the shape of Spock’s hand could be better spent checking out the artist alley or getting in line for Hall H. Free stuff is cool just don’t let getting it monopolize your time which is better spent else where.



Comic Con Tips

This is one of the main reasons why you bring your camera. Be polite, ask for their picture, thank them and tell them how great their outfit is. Obviously when you a have big group posing it is tough to do this. One on ones is a different story.
For the love of Stan Lee and Steve Dikto please leave your comic book boxes at home. You know who you are. These guys that cart their short boxes around with tons of books to get signed are incredibly annoying. Each person at Comic Con really takes up the space of two. How can they not since they are carrying a backpack, several exclusives and swag. I know it is supposed to be all about the comics but do you really need to bring a whole box with you?



Comic Con Tips

The Floor:
The showroom is a crazy and frustrating place. Moving around and locating people becomes the true challenge by Friday afternoon. My advice is if you need to go from one end to the other use the corridors outside the showroom floor. It is quicker and you won’t bump into as many people. The floor is also populated with a lot of people trying to make a statement (see these two gentlemen above from last year). Though I agree in some capacity (I was behind tons of Twilight people trying to get into Hall H), Comic Con is about a niche group of people coming together to celebrate and enjoy being different. If some Twilight fans hang around and see footage for the next Peter Jackson film and they want to see said film than Comic Con worked. I hate the yelling and screaming too but let’s us be a tad more tolerant.
Most of us have a messenger bag. The problem with these bags is that they kill your shoulders. Trust me, not only is a backpack better for your back but it makes it much easier to walk the aisles on the floor without bumping into every other person with your bag. Take out or take off all unnecessary items as well, anything that can weigh it down like buttons or additional pouches you are not going to use. Your bag should have the following:
-       A camera with extra batteries and memory cards.
-       Hand sanitizer.
-       iPod, iPhone, iTouch or Blackberry. Whatever you need to kill time waiting in line.
-       Several comic book bags and boards to insure your exclusive comics get home in grade A condition.
-       Sun block, sunglasses or a baseball hat. The Hall H line runs outside ands there is very little shade. Even a small umbrella would work.
-       Snacks, meal bars and water (hold onto the bottle to refill it) because the food inside is way too expensive.
-       Deodorant/ antiperspirantswhich are not only for you but the guy standing next to you as well.
-       Gum or Binaca. Again for you and the guy next to you.
-       Power cords. You will email, call and use the web more than you think. Your computer and your phone will die quickly.
-       A poster tube. See Amazon for Poster Tubes.
-       Though not in your bag, comfortable shoes on your feet! Converse sneakers are awesome but they have no cushion or support. This especially you Cosplayers, bring shoes to change into.



Comic Con Tips

EXCLUSIVES (Buying and Shipping)
If you have to have that one item then get it right away. Most of these exclusives sell out immediately. Many of the companies offer items online but then you have to compete with everyone in the world who didn’t make it to Comic Con so your chances are slim. Some companies such as Sideshow Collectibles take pre-orders. Believe it or not many of these are sold out already, yet they do have a pick up time and date for their buyers. Find out that time at their booth and you might be able to buy one of their exclusives that weren’t picked up. Other companies such as Mattel sell out for the day and then restock. Don’t lose hope. Just make sure you get a voucher if they are offering it to jump in line the next day.
There is a FedEx Kinko’s office right inside the convention center. If you don’t want to carry it around for the whole day or back on the plane I highly recommend shipping it. I have to buy four Mo-Larrs, theEternian Dentist (see column), and I’ll be shipping these back I assure you.



Comic Con Tips

Final ThoughtS:
Make the most of your time at Comic Con. Enjoy yourself but be prepared. Work with your group and make up a game plan. Comic Con really is Hanukah, Christmas, your birthday and Nerdvana for five straight days. The more thought and time you put into going the more you’ll get out of it.
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on


Showing items 1 - 8 of 8
jedibanner 7/9/2010 5:55:28 AM

Is there a way to emphasize TAKE A GO!$#$#AM SHOWER AND USE DEODORANT!!!

Hate it when people stink.

Wyldstaar 7/9/2010 7:15:46 AM

The notion of 'gamer funk' or 'geek funk' is famous enough for these smelly folks to theoretically know better.  Sadly, they are the sorts of people who think that it couldn't possibly apply to them.  No amount of signs or hints will be effective.  The only way to get through to them is to just tell them to their face in no uncertain terms that they reek.  Even then, it probably won't have any effect on them.  Smelly is as smelly does.

GLCorpsMember 7/9/2010 7:32:12 AM

Another item for your bag...Airborne!!!

Not a year has gone by that either my girlfriend or I haven't come home from Comic Con sick.  We call it the "Nerd Flu".  I'm not a germ freak but there's just so many germs when you get that many people that crammed in together.  So bring your hand sanitizer AND Airborne and take that Airborne at the first sign of a what always starts as a little lump in the back of your throat.  The kind that you go to bed with and just know it's gonna be a full blown sore throat when you wake up in the morning. 

Darkknight2280 7/9/2010 9:27:02 AM

Yeah when i walk past an UBER GEEK/NERD they usually smell like BO or a dirty wash How can you not smell yourself and say hmmm i think i should take a shower and apply acctual soap to my body. No i havent experience the stench that is Comic-Con..but i have been to 2 Star Wars Celebrations and you can still catch a whiff of UBER GEEK/NERD..I will be smelling that smell again for Celebration V.

DaForce1 7/10/2010 8:07:35 PM

 Make a plan:  Um, if you go to the Comic Con website, they have a nifty little feature this year which allows you to schedule all the events you may want to see, electronically, and then sync them with your Google and/or Outlook calendar which you can then access with your phone.


Water Bottle:  Go to that site and find out where you can pick up one of these guys in your hometown. They cost $10 and are refillable. You'll thank me later when you see bottles of water going for $6 a bottle. 

Learn the area around the con:  Why? because the further away from the con, the cheaper things like food and other items get. Like the 7/11 and the Rite Aid hidden about three blocks away from the con. Those places are usually empty because no one knows they're there. I suggest downloading a few apps for your smartphone to find these. Yelp, Aloqa, Loopt, Google Goggles, and Layar are a few. Taxi Magic also works in finding a nearby taxi to take you back to the hotel should the shuttle be unavailable.


Don't Drive!: Unless you're an exhibitor or you're coming down from L.A. for the day, do yourself (and everyone else) a favor and leave the car at the hotel and take a shuttle, a taxi, or the red car to the con. Traffic is messed up so badly in that area and parking is so expensive that it's not worth the hassle. 

ultrazilla2000 7/10/2010 10:33:46 PM

Yeah, the body odor can get thick in there...but the fact is, by the time the day is coming to an end...EVERYBODY there reeks!  Sorry, but don't tell me your sh*t don't stink, cause it WILL!  But still, shower and pack lots of deoderant to help things.

This was a fun read, very true too.  I've enjoyed three visits to Comicon and can't wait for my fourth (though not sure when that will be.)  Definitely scope our the exclusive  item at the top of your buying list first's amazing how chaotic it gets so soon.  Toy collectors are a hardcore bunch!  I tried two mornings in a row to get into the Hasbro booth line first thing, only to be turned away because the line had gotten too long and they were dishing out stupid lottery numbers to see who could even get in line!  Luckily, my final attempt was on my Birthday, so with a flash of my ID and a cute, begging smile...I was let in to get my swag.

So yeah...if you're Birthday falls on one of the Comicon days...WORK IT!  ;)

RandomChance 7/11/2010 1:54:50 AM

The food inside is hideously expensive. If the shuttle routes are the same as they have been the last few years, the Orange Route shuttle bus will have a stop right outside the Ralph's store in downtown SD, which is highly preferable to buying 8 dollar nachos and 4 dollar cans of sprite.

As far as making purchases, if it's for something non-exclusive and non-limited (ie, something you think you can risk waiting a day or two for without it being sold out), I've found that a lot of booths tend to have some pretty good bargains on Sunday, since they'd rather sell their stuff rather than pay for shipping it back home.

Take advantage of Preview Night if you've got one of the 4-day preview night packages. It'll give you a peek at the exhibit hall before everyone else shows up on Thursday morning, and a couple of times i've seen exhibitors who've had some special Preview Night bargains or who've given people a heads up on some events that they were planning early on Thursday morning which i might've missed otherwise.

If you're going to Comic-con in a group, set up a meeting place beforehand, because depending on your phone carrier you can get really spotty reception.

The masquerade on Saturday is a ticketed event, and tickets can sometimes go fast. But there are several alternatives to seeing it in the actual ballroom. They've usually got a simulcast that runs in a set of the larger conference rooms, another simulcast in the pavilion/autograph area, and a repeat showing on Sunday afternoon. If you're more interested in the costumes themselves rather than the contest, there's also an area behind the ballroom where the contestants come out to take pictures for press/photographers.

The ATMs run out sometimes after the first day or two. You might wanna check with your bank to see if they've got a branch/ATM close to the convention center or to your hotel.

And finally, keep your eyes open when you're walking through the exhibit hall and convention center. You never know who you might bump into!

Hope everybody who got tix has a blast over there. This is the first SDCC I'll be missing in more than twelve years.    *Shakes fist at early sell-out dates*

uglycouchshow 7/14/2010 10:15:35 AM

Good guide, but there's a lot more information about comic-con that's necessary for the first time con-goer without someone to guide them personally. I'm a 10 year veteran of comic-con, and my mentor is a 36 year veteran! Check out the Comic-Con Guide on It's a video survial guide.



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