Comic-Con International begins Thursday and more than 130,000 people are expected to attend the pop culture expo that turns downtown San Diego into a Romulan Mardi Gras — or an otherworldly ordeal for the ill-prepared. That’s why we have a strategy slogan: What would Dexter Morgan do? That’s right, the serial killer from the Showtime series is a cut above the rest when it comes to planning out a killer weekend — and thanks to “Dexter” writer and producer Scott Reynolds (a Comic-Con veteran himself) we’ve got a Comic-Con survival guide that’s just dripping with great advice. (And it’s accompanied by some to-die-for artwork from David Mack,) You can see the “Dexter” panel at Comic-Con on Thursday (6 p.m., Ballroom 20) and the season premiere is Sept. 30.
Dexter’s Code to Surviving Comic-Con
1. Forget the Force, use deodorant: For you. For your friends. For the enormous male in white body paint dressed as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. There is no shame in smelling good. And the last thing you want is for people to smell you before they see you.
2. Know where your target is at all times: With more than 130,000 attendees roaming the sprawling grounds of the San Diego Convention Center, the Comic-Con special Souvenir Book is indispensable. Let’s say you are looking for Robert Kirkman, Jeff Lemire or Scott Snyder. Thanks to the souvenir book you can know when and where they will be. It’s almost a crime how easy it is to find them. There’s also an app for that. I love technology.
3. Ditch your car: The last thing you want to do is drive your own vehicle in San Diego. It makes rush hour in Miami look like the Autobahn at midnight. Luckily between the shuttles, taxis and my personal favorite, the pedicab, your traveling experience can be a breeze. Though a lack of a trunk can be a bother.
4. Pack your kill suit: The Saturday Night Masquerade is the only place on Earth where I can wear my full kill suit, spatter guard, apron and gloves and not get a second glance. It’s fascinating to see to what extent people will go to leave behind the identity they present the rest of the year. Are they seeking a mask — or using the costumes to unmask their true face? Find out Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in Ballroom 20. Not to be missed.
5. Be prepared for the weapons check: In Lobby E, near the front entrance of Comic-Con, there’s a Weapons Check Desk tasked with making sure no one in costume carries any functional weapons of any kind. A wristband is given to attendees who have dutifully brought their homemade Elektra sai set or aluminum-foil version of Klingon Heavy Berserker Bat’leth to the desk. I don’t look at this as a bother – rather as a chance to level the playing field.
6. Protect tykes from Con overkill: While Harrison loves the sight of Elmo, Superman and Spider-Man as well as any child, there comes a time when he needs time away from the crowds. For a small fee, professional child care on par with Jamie is available through KiddieCorp, offering arts and crafts, group games, story time and more, allowing you to go on a quick spree on the main floor, filling your bags with whatever your heart may desire.
7. Let it bleed: While it always sets my teeth on edge, the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive allows one to give back to the San Diego Blood Bank. Sign up early and soon. You get orange juice and a cookie, too, which is something my “donors” never get.
8. Don’t starve to death: Finding a good medianoche sandwich can be difficult in San Diego. The good news is there are more than 100 restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter. It’s important to make time to recharge and refuel – you never know where the day will take you at Comic-Con. I always pack away a power bar or three, just in case, and remember that inside the Convention Center the food selection is limited, the lines are long and credit cards are often not accepted. And if you need an adult beverage try the Prohibition Liquor Bar for a quick drink behind a hidden door (and a bar where cellphone use is not permitted).
9. Have a Base of Operations: I have learned the hard way that you must reserve your room at the hotels in the San Diego area months before Comic-Con. But if you, like me, find yourself needing to make an impromptu trip to Comic-Con, you might still have options. Everyone needs a place to unwind after a long day on the hunt, though, so don’t head to the Con without a plan.
10. Deodorant: Again — it can’t hurt. Really. It doesn’t hurt. And you know how hot it gets inside that Wookiee suit.
— Scott Reynolds
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