Emily Christianson is gearing up for Comic-Con International and she wrote this guide to help any of you out there who are first-timers.–G.B.
1. How to get there?
Don’t like sitting in traffic? For those of you in the L.A. area, try taking the train down to San Diego. For just under $70 you could be sailing south on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner and bypassing all the madness. Last year, stars and their fans missed out on Thursday’s panels when a meat truck exploded on the I-5 Freeway. Don’t let that be you.
2. Where to stay?
Uh, if you don’t have a hotel room by now, you might want to stay home. In a bind you could pay upward of $400 at a local hotel (if you’re lucky), commute to the convention from Tijuana or beg to crash on a friend’s hotel room floor. We recommend the last option.
3. What to wear?
Layers, layers, layers. If you’re not planning to dress up like your favorite comic book character, be prepared for the hot summer weather outdoors and the air conditioning indoors. Comfy shoes are a must for getting around, and avoid wearing flip-flops if you value your piggies in the slightest…
4. Where to eat?
Good question. Assuming there will be food at the Con is a rookie mistake. Beyond Mrs. Fields cookies and pretzel dogs, the options are limited. Sure there’s a Starbucks, if you want to waste an hour or more in line. Your best bet is to pack food on your person such as snacks, sandwiches and bottles of water too.
5. How to get into the good panels?
The easiest way to get into any panel in Hall H is to arrive as soon as it opens. Plan to be the first in line in the morning and sit through several other panels before seeing your favorite cast. Why? The hall fills up and the audience isn’t required to exit after each talk. That leaves a lot of people waiting in line for hours without much luck of getting inside.
6. What’s the best way to nab autographs?
Check the Comic Con website for autograph schedules and make sure you have head shots, posters or a blank book for signatures. There is an expansive autograph area with many paid opportunities; be sure to check on the exhibitors’ floor for even more. Don’t forget that stars are comic book fans too, so keep your eye out for photo and autograph opportunities on the floor.
7. How do I score the best freebies?
If you want the best chance at giveaways, be sure to stop by your favorite booths as soon as you get to the Con and get a ticket for any freebies. The ticket will tell you the date and time to return for pickup. Here’s the kicker: You need to get in line early in order to get the best freebie. The ticket guarantees you get something, but if you want the coolest gift you probably need to be one of the first in line. Also be sure to head upstairs (near the autograph area) to browse the freebie table for posters and other goodies.
Got tips for Comic Con newbies? Leave them in the comments section below.
And for a tongue-in-cheek Girls Guide to Comic-Con done by the Zap2it.com staff, click on the gallery below.
— Emily Christianson
Photo: Comic Con 2008. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times