Help a geezer navigate ComicCon!
April 9, 2017 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I have a tradition where I take my nieces and nephews on a trip for just the two of us when they are old enough to do so. The next nephew up selected the San Diego ComicCon as his destination and after a failure to get tickets last year, we're in with 4 day badges this year. Help me figure out how to make the best of it!

He's 13 years old and his main interests are the Marvel Comic Universe, DC and Star Wars, although he is the kind of kid who probably naturally gravitates to most things Sci-Fi. He is into detailed and obscure costumes from that world for Halloween and has gone in costume to previous local cons. He was Dr Jonathan Crane once and had to explain to me his relationship to Scarecrow, who I sorta knew. I'm sort of passingly conversant with the biggies, I've seen most of the big screen adaptations, but not the TV or original comic book formats. So, I'm mostly looking for resources on how to maximize our time together in San Diego and perhaps to educate myself a bit more (are there some kind of cliff notes or wikis so I can figure out who any of these folks are?)

If he wants me to dress in complementary character, are there shops that sell costumes or am I expected to figure out how to be crafty and clever? That doesn't seem horribly likely at this point, to be honest.

I've found a subreddit that has some helpful information, are there other places where people would gather and share tips on when you have to line up to get into the popular things and what not? Obviously, my nephew will try to select his priorities from the schedule, but I'm under the impression that you can't get to everything you want without some strategic line squatting and what not.

Any help or insight about the con itself would be appreciated. I'm a pro at the travel bit and have the planes/hotel thing in hand and have traveled to San Diego a number of times, but I know more or less nothing about the actual convention.
posted by Lame_username to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wear comfortable walking shoes and hydrate like whoa.
posted by heathrowga at 11:05 AM on April 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've never been but Seanan McGuire writes a guide most years:
posted by azalea_chant at 11:35 AM on April 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Artist's alley is a great place to get a personalized piece of art done - or an artist to sign a beloved comic. Research who will be there in advance.

Also pack a lunch if at all possible. There are nice decks in the back of the convention center where you can take a break from the crowds and eat lunch.

Be prepared for long lines for any interactive exhibit. Like, really REALLY long lines. Strategize the best times to go to these - early morning or Sunday when things start to calm down.

Bringing cash will make your life easier.
posted by egeanin at 2:38 PM on April 9, 2017

Make your own costume, a lab coat and heavy glasses as some random scientist (do some research:-) should be respectable choice, but it's pretty clear from images that homemade rates.

And as for shoes, comfortable as in the shoes you'd wear if you had to walk from the midwest, really comfortable, ugly is fine, think worn in and cushioned.
posted by sammyo at 2:43 PM on April 9, 2017

The key to thriving at San Diego Comic-Con your first year is this: NO EXPECTATIONS.

Comic-Con is a wild and magical jungle, with way too much for you to ever see and do in its four-and-a-half-day existence on the planet. There are more than 30 rooms of programming (panel discussions, how-tos, big movie and TV cast panels, etc.) going on at all times; the exhibit hall is over a quarter mile long; and the event has now spilled out into the adjoining Gaslamp Quarter, with plenty more to see and do.

You will NEVER see everything. You will LIKELY NOT see everything you want to see.

So... make up your mind before you go that you will see a few things that you want to see and then allow yourself to be surprised and delighted by the spectacle of it all. In fact, pick ONE THING each day that is really important to you, then adjust everything else in your day around seeing that one thing.

If your nephew has his heart set on some of the big ticket panels (Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest) then you will need to commit to waiting in the Hall H lane for what seems like an incredible, ungodly amount of time (we're talking up at 3am or even camping out overnight). That's just the reality of it. San Diego Comic-Con is an egalitarian society; there are no VIP tickets available for any event. Once you buy a badge, you have the right to wait in line with everyone else for anything you want to see. That's a great thing, when you think about it. But that doesn't mean you'll get in, either. The Hall H Line (the big granddaddy of them all) has its own Twitter account (@hallhline) and can enlighten you about itself during the event. You'll also find plenty of other Twitter accounts and blogs catering to the folks who want to see the big shiny panels in Hall H. And don't think that these are ordinary lines. The people waiting in them are awesome, wonderful people. Make friends. Start conversations. Play games. Take pictures.

Honestly, though, Hall H is just one tiny part of the experience. Let yourself walk around to everything. Wander the Exhibit Hall, have your picture taken with cosplayers, commission a sketch from a favorite artist in Artist's Alley, go to some of the smaller panels, buy new comic books from new creators in the Small Press Area, get an autograph from the guy who played that character in that TV show you used to watch as a kid, wander the Gaslamp Quarter and "be marketed to" by Hollywood's new movies and TV shows...

Some more tips:
Drink water.
Bring ibuprofen.
Eat a big breakfast before you go.
Drink water.
Bring your own lunch or snacks.
Eat a nice dinner afterward.
Drink water.
Bring 2 pairs of shoes, alternating each day (it really helps!)

Above all, though, have a great time! You're an awesome uncle for doing this. I hope you both have a terrific adventure.
posted by ToucanDoug at 3:38 PM on April 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

Epbot has done a bunch of guides to surviving dragon con, but a lot of the advice would be applicable to other cons as well. If you poke around there you'll find lots of other con etiquette advice, so it's really worth spending a little time there.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:43 PM on April 9, 2017

To answer your questions about fandom in general: Marvel wiki, DC wiki, Star Wars wiki. Be warned that each of these universes is its own, well, universe, so there's probably no way you can become an expert at all of them on short notice, but these sites should be good as bookmarks for a quick search.

Also, for costumes, you two could rent matching Jedi costumes. Jedi dress pretty practically and confortably, as costumes go. (Link goes to San Diego based business but you could go with one that is local to you and take the costumes there, whichever works best for you.)
posted by satoshi at 4:08 PM on April 9, 2017

You may be worrying too much about making the experience perfect. Comicon will never be perfect. It will probably be fun and definitely interesting, but it will also be lots of walking and crowds and exhaustion. Pace yourself, and trust that the con will provide infinite stuff to see and do and you won't have to rush around to try and see lots of specific things.

I'd say don't even bother with trying to get into the panels. The whole panel thing has just gotten insane. Life's too short for all that stress and waiting and yuck, and anything you'd care to see will end up on Youtube anyhow. (Seriously, don't waste 14 hours of your life in some miserable line just so you can see Robert Downey Jr. from 20 rows away!) You'll see plenty of cool stuff just cruising the floor, and these days the con spills out into the streets too.

If you want to do a costume, either do something YOU'RE into or find out what the nephew is doing, research that character (a little) and say you're thinking of cosplaying something to go with him. If he's not into that, drop the idea. Definitely don't try too hard. Don't stress.

Explore the periphery to see if there are any forlorn C-listers trying to sell autographs. Sometimes those folks are eager to chat, and it can be really neat to actually have a conversation with somebody who was in one of your favorite movies or shows. (I have a very fond memory of meeting Richard Hatch with my girlfriend. He was a sweetie, and he seemed really stoked about how stoked we were to meet Apollo from BSG!)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:32 PM on April 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have not been to SDCC, but am a yearly DragonCon person, and I think a lot of the advice will carry over:
1) make sure that you eat, drink, sleep, and take meds a sufficient amount. It is REALLY easy to get so caught up in the experience that you forget to do one or all of those things.
2) you can't see everything; you probably can't see everything you're interested in. Look at the schedule and pick no more than one thing per day that you value the most, and plan your days around those things.
3) on days where there isn't a must-have, pick several alternate things so you can go to the one that you're feeling the most at the time/is least crowded
4) leave room for serendipity. it's perfectly fine to skip a panel because some cosplayers are reenacting a scene from a movie in the hall or there's a steampunk flash mob dance-off in the lobby and you want to watch it.
5) You will need a backpack or messenger bag to carry supplies for the day and any purchases. Suggested supplies: refillable water bottle, shelf-stable snacks like protein bars, battery pack for your phone, maybe a kindle or small card game or something for entertainment while waiting in line. Don't make it too heavy, you'll get tired of carrying it around.
6) wear your most comfortable walking/standing shoes and whatever clothes you wear, make sure they are comfortable. You will walk a LOT.
7) be as flexible as you can and be patient and kind to others. You're all in the same boat and nobody's day is improved by getting huffy and snappish.
8) sometimes the best things to do are the random/less popular/obscure things. Also sometimes the loveliest people to meet at a con are the ones whose table isn't completely slammed 100% of the time.
9) one of my favorite things to buy at cons is art commissions. Also, con exclusive stuff. Any general geek merch like figures, t-shirts, etc., you can usually find cheaper online; use the con as a chance to get stuff you can only get there.
posted by oblique red at 9:15 AM on April 11, 2017

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