Sweaty bodies swarming around gigantic sculptures, females in barely there clothing, and wings worn by both men and women. No this is not Coachella – it’s not even Electric Daisy Carnival. However this is an event that is just as massive and just as entertaining. This is Comic-Con International, the largest Comic and Popular Arts convention in the world – and it ALL happens right here, in our own backyard.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 41 years, you would know that this is the one-time during the year when the Hollywood stars and nerds collide for five days straight: And all for the sake of fandom. Even with the stigma of asthmatic fan boys, no one can deny the awesomeness that is Comic-Con. Movie screenings, celebrities, art workshops, shopping, swag, and the Mixster favorite: Parties! How can anyone not love Comic-Con week?
Comic-Con 2010 has been sold out for six months, and if you actually have the privilege of going (or even if you plan on sneaking in) you’re going to need a cheat sheet. And even if you’re not going – you’ll be wanting to take part of all the party action!! Scroll on to find out the whole inside scoop on parties and the like!
The best option for EVERYONE is to either take public transportation, carpool, or find someone to drop you off. Parking will be an absolute BITCH day and night. No worries, the city has been working with Comic-Con for months now, and they’ve made sure to provide you with MTS info, shuttle rides, and parking options.
MTS Schedule for Comic Con
This is the link for the complete schedule and pricing for taking the trolley downtown. Also included is parking information.
Official Comic Con Shuttles
These are free shuttles provided by Comic Con. Make use of them if you don’t plan to take the trolley or bus. Most of the shuttle users are hotel guests, but anyone is allowed to ride. Park your car near these locations (they go as far as Mission Valley) and hop aboard. The schedule is a bit extensive so pay attention!
I’m one of those people who absolutely have to park downtown – and if you’re one of those people – here are some helpful tips:
1.) If you are a casual fan who only plans to stay at Comic-Con for only a few hours, stop reading this section now and refer to public transportation. Seriously, not only are you wasting your own time and money, but you’ll also be taking the spot from someone who actually plans to be at Comic-Con the entire day. (ahem, me.)
2.) If you or anyone you know works downtown and has a parking pass – use it!
3.) Street parking will be impossible to find, so make use of paid parking. The closer you are to the Convention Center, the more expensive it will be. You’ll also experience the most traffic – automotive, foot, MTS, and those horrid petty cabs. Comic Con is petty cab heaven, meaning it’s a normal person HELL!
4.) If you still want to have a prime parking spot – get there early! I suggest 7am. Seriously.
Comic-Con hooked up w/Ace and Five Star parking to make your life easier – so now you can purchase a day pass online. Prices range from $5-$20 – but hurry! Many passes have sold out already! Visit the official Comic-Con Parking site and just click the blue areas to see if there are available spaces left.
For more parking options downtown, visit the Five Star Parking website.
The Comic-Con website also has more info.
What to Bring
1.) A backpack or tote bag to hold the stuff you are bringing into Comic Con. You’re going to want your hands to be free as you will be accumulating a lot of shit. I don’t care who you are, everyone LOVES free, pointless items.
2.) Water is absolutely necessary. Sure you’re not in the hot sun partying alongside hipster girls in Indian headdresses or wolf hats - but you will be doing a lot of standing, shoving, and walking alongside girls in cat ears and Sailor Scout uniforms. There are water fountains inside, but you don’t want to go searching for one.Bring frozen water if you can, it will thaw out by mid-day.
3.) You’ll need energy so bring snacks and maybe even a sack lunch. Food is expensive inside the convention center, and the lines are always long. There is re-entry so you can opt to eat in the Gaslamp – but you’re still going to run into the problem of cost and the lines will be just as long. Unless you’re willing to wait or walk to Horton Plaza for fast food – brown bag it.
4.) That said – bring cash! Many booths do allow credit cards, but you will probably run into a jam where cash is needed.
5.) Your own itinerary. I’ve been called a nerd for having one, but it’s a lot easier to have! You really don’t want to dig in your freebie bag searching for the giant booklet they give you, a folded up paper that slips in your back pocket is fine.
6.) A camera. High quality, Low quality, SOMETHING! Even if you don’t see celebrities, the fun part is taking as many ridiculous photos as you can. Hollywood has taken the time to invade San Diego w/their elaborate sets both inside the Convention Center and outside. You know it’s always been a dream of yours to hop inside the Ninja Turtle bus – document it!
7.) Some form of entertainment. You’re going to be in line A LOT so bring something to keep yourself (and your friends if you have any) entertained. Most people bring card games or handheld video games – my personal favorite has been the ukulele.
8.) If you plan to be in Hall H – sunscreen is a MUST! The line runs outside the building.
9.) Febreeze. Seriously. If you plan to be at Comic-Con for over two hours, you will run into funky odors. Spray accordingly.
Prioritize your time
1.) Again, bringing your own itinerary is very handy. Take note of what you want to see and plan accordingly. If you feel the panel you want to see is highly popular, you’re going to want to go REALLY early. People go bat-shit crazy for their fandoms and some “camp out.” Some panels and autograph sessions also have cutoff points. Be sure to find out if your line has one, otherwise you’ll be standing around for nothing and miss your panel entirely.Tip for Hall H: If the panel you are dying to see is at about 1pm, plan to be there right when the doors open AT 9:30AM. You’re going to have to sit through the other panels, but this is the only way to ensure you will have a seat. I can’t even guarantee if it will be a good one.
2.) The mistake that first-time goers make are that they spend far too much time in the Exhibit Hall. While there are many great things inside the Exhibit Hall, (from autograph signings, to freebies, to must-have collectibles you must buy now) you’re going to grow tired. It’s hot, it’s stuffy, and often there is no room to breathe or even sit! Don’t let the Exhibit Hall ruin your experience! Take a breather and wander the halls and the outside areas. Sit in on some panels, try out the anime rooms. Who knows – you may just find your new favorite TV show or video game – or you may run into a celebrity or two. Trust me, it happens.
3.) On the other hand, there are other people who spend far too much time inside panels – particularly Hall H. Panels are fun and exciting, but you definitely don’t want to be that person who lives in Hall H or Ballroom 20! That’s just smelly and unsanitary. Just as those who spend too much time in the Exhibit Hall - explore your surroundings. You need the exercise anyway!
4.) If you’re lucky enough to attend Preview Night (owners of the 4-day passes + preview), this is the night to just grab as many freebies as you can. This way you can spend the rest of your days at Comic-Con scoping out the scene and attending as many panels and screenings as you want to.
5.) Find time to rest. You can try taking a quick cat nap just on the outside of the Exhibit Hall by sitting against a wall. Most of the time these areas will be filled w/other tired Comic Con-ers. Although, if you’re sleeping in the halls at Comic Con, you are officially deemed a nerd.
Shopping and freebies
1.) Freebies are EVERYWHERE! The top prizes are items from soon-to-be-released movies and TV series (they are worth money and it’s just nice to have), Viz Canvas Tote Bags, and Warner Brothers and Syfy gigantic bags (great for holding all of the shit you’re probably going to accumulate, for sitting, on AND MOST IMPORTANTLY they make great laundry bags).
2.) DON’T just grab everything in sight. Do you really need that Spongebob poster? When are you really going to wear those kitty ears again? What are you going to do w/postcards from some indie comic you have no interest in? Most of the stuff you grab WILL end up in your closet, under your bed, or used as wrapping paper at Christmas time. Give up the freebies to people who actually want it and please - save some trees. I’m sure Comic-Con alone has killed a rain forest or two.
3.) For many of the more awesome freebies, there are lines and scheduled give-out times. If there is something in particular that you want, make sure you go to that booth and ask what time they are giving out the items and if you need a ticket. Ask where lines begin, end, if there is a cut-off, and how long the wait is. Sometimes the workers/volunteers won’t divulge all of that info – so you may also want to ask people who are already in line. Make some friends – you’re going to be seeing them on and off through the day anyway.
4.) If you see a bunch of people with a special item, chances are that it’s a freebie. Don’t be shy and ask them where they got it. It’s not always going to be from a booth. Sometimes they are giveaways for panel attendees, sometimes it’s just some random people outside.
5.) If you see something you want – buy it. It will sell out, especially if it is a Comic Con Exclusive or if you know you can get it cheaper there than online.
6.) Sundays are the best days to buy random items. Vendors are quick to get rid of their items, and you can haggle like it’s the swap meet.
Comic Con Etiquette
1.) KEEP UP WITH YOUR HYGIENE! Honestly, there is no reason to be greasy and smelly at Comic Con. We all know Comic Con has been sold out for six months now – so it will be crowded. Do you want to smell your neighbor’s body odor? Didn’t think so – I certainly don’t want to smell yours. If you have a hotel room, use it! It has a shower! And antiperspirant is your friend. Bring extra if you have to.
2.) Be kind to children. I know some of them are bratty, but so are you. Sure you really want those Disney fairy wings – but don’t shove a little girl out of the way just to get them. Wait your turn. If they run out – well you should have gotten there earlier.
3.) DO NOT pass out your event fliers inside the Exhibit Hall. If you get caught, they will take your badge away. If you insist on passing out your fliers inside, be slick about it. I have gotten Fresh Squeezed fliers folded up and slipped in my hand. Others slip it in already filled bags. But whatever you do – DO NOT just toss them in huge piles on the floor. Glossy fliers on carpet flooring is slippery – and if I break my neck – I will be after you.
4.) I’m not condoning sneaking in – but everyone I know has done it at least once. Trust me, there is more than one way to get in – some more obvious than others. You’re all smart people, so I won’t go into details. I will say this: sneaking in is fun if you plan to only go for one day and if you have no desire to visit any panels. Otherwise it can be a hassle because of the increased security.
What to Wear:
One of the best parts about Comic-Con is being able to dress up or taking photos with people in costume. It’s like Halloween – right down to the slutty factor! Of course costumes are optional, but there are still very important guidelines on what to wear. So here I’ve broken it down to three categories: Casual fan/normal person; Original Character; Otaku/Cos-Player.
1.) Casual Fan/Normal Person Trust me, you will be considered “normal” even if you are sporting the trendiest outfit around. That said, comfortable clothing is key. Wear sneakers or flip-flops because you will be doing a lot of walking. The only downside to flip-flops are that people will step on the backs, at which point you might want to just go barefoot. There will also be points where you get either cold or hot – so have a light weight sweater for when you’re stuck under an a/c vent. Otherwise, any summer clothing is fine.
2.) Original Character There are always those people who want to dress up but have absolutely no direction. They’ll mix and match character elements or simply dress-up in weird and/or sexy garb just for the sake of dressing up. If you go this route, by all means wear whatever you want. Cheesy character shirts, animal ears, fishnets, an all leather outfit. Hell you can wear all kandy kid raver gear and call yourself a pixie from some comic book you made up! But again, if you plan to be at the Con for long periods of time – your feet will hurt in those stripper platforms you’ve got shellacked to your feet and you will sweat in that velvet coat. Just sayin’.
3.) Otaku/Cos-Player Otaku means fan-boy or fan-girl and cos-players are just people who love to dress-up in costumes. If you are a virgin to Comic-Con and are just reading this now, chances are you’ve missed the boat, and you won’t have time or sewing fanatic power to have a costume that’s equally as awesome as theirs will be. Unless you have a friend with an outfit all ready for you – you’ll be better off as an original character or you know… a normal person. These costumes are well thought-out and detailed – to the point where you think Disney or Fox paid them to dress this way. The point is to appear as if you stepped right out of the movie/tv show/video game/comic book. My advice? Plan in advance unless you want to dress up as Lady Gaga (who does have a comic book BTW). She is the easiest person to dress up as, all you need is a blonde wig and some provocative clothing.
Much like Coachella and other music festivals, Comic-Con has made it easy for you to schedule out your day. Click here to customize your own itinerary. I’ve done a lot of the work for you and selected the best panels and screenings to sit in on. You’ll be guaranteed exclusives and you can ask your favorite celebrities dumb questions and have the audience boo you away from the mic.
Comic-Con is extensive and lasts for five days, starting with Preview Night.
Special Sneak Peek Pilot Screenings (Ballroom 20) 6:00-9:00pm
Catch the WB‘s sneak-peak presentations for the Fall, as well as a special preview screening of one of their new series Nikita starring Maggie Q.
Must See: Walt Disney Pictures’ Tron: Legacy (Hall H) 11:15-12:45am
Second Choice: Universal’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Hall H) 6:00-7:00pm
Dreamworks Animation’s Megamind
DC Talent Search
Sony Pictures’ Battle: Los Angeles and Salt
A Decade of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies and More
Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries
DC Comics’ 75th Anniversary
Lionsgate’s The Expendables
Must See: True Blood (Ballroom 20) 5:15-6:15pm
Second Choice: Sony Pictures Entertainment: The Other Guys, The Green Hornet, and Priest (Hall H) 4:00-6:00pm
Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans
Batman: The Brave and the Bold Screening
Marvel Interactive: Marvel Video Games
Big Bang Theory
Summit Entertainment’s Drive Angry 3D
Super Batman: The Return
Yo Gabba Gabba!
Miramax’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Nickelodeon’s Penguins, Lemurs, and Pandas, Oh My!
The Joss Whedon Experience
MTV’s Teen Wolf
Adult Swim Panel Featuring Robot Chicken, Venture Bros, and Metalocalypse
Pixar Animation Studios: Ronnie Del Carmen
World Premiere: Batman: Under the Red Hood
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, Syfy’s Mega Piranha
Must See: Marvel Studios’ Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger (Hall H) 6:00-7:00pm
Second Choice: Warner Bros’s Green Lanter, Sucker Punch, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Hall H) 11:45am-1:15pm
Nickelodeon Presents: The SpongeBob SquarePants Secret Formula Revealed!
VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump Panel
The Event: World-Premiere Pilot Screening and Q&A with Cast and Producers
Overture: Let Me In
Cartoon Network: Action Adventure Animation
Hasbro: Marvel Toys
V Screening and Q&A
The Return of Trailer Park
NBC’s Community Cast and Creative
Nickelodeon’s Fanboy & Chum Chum: Blah! Blah! Blah!
Fringe Screening and Q&A
The Vampire Diaries Screening and Q&A
Warehouse 13 and Eureka
Universal: Paul and Cowboys & Aliens
G4: Attack of the Show
The San Diego Comic-Con International Masquerade.
Must See: Glee (Ballroom 20) 1:30-2:30pm
Second Choice: X: Sons of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Ballroom 20) 2:45-3:45pm
Children’s Film Festival
Emily the Strange
Nickelodeon Presents: Spongebob Fairly OddParents, Fanboy, and The Troop
Smallville Screening and Q&A
ABC’s Castle: Nathan Fillion & Stana Katic
Supernatural Screening and Q&A
Dark Horse: Yoshitaka Amano
Comic-Con Debut: Intertnational Hit Merlin
Phineas and Ferb
Unnatural History Episode Screening and Q&A
Scooby-Doo Screening and Q&A
Buffy the Musical
Huge post on Comic-Con parties soon!
By: Eileen Blancas