Comic-Con International 2014 is set to kick off in just over 48 hours and after selling out 130,000 passes in just 90 minutes, San Diego is about to be descended upon by hordes of Con newbies. Every year those of us who have survived and live to tell the tale make sure to pass on our knowledge (whether or not they ask for it) to try and help these rookies get the most of their SDCC experience.
The best most important piece of information to take from this article is to have a game plan. Without knowing what your goals are for the show, there is a serious risk of wasting a lot of time only to not get the experience you’re hoping for. Luckily there is no shortage of information about the show, the exclusives, the panels, the autograph signings, the celebrities and everything else going down in San Diego during the show.
When it comes to the exclusives, keep in mind a few things. First, these will go quick so make a priority list for the items you want to get. Make sure to know when they go on sale and accept that waiting in line for one item may cost you the opportunity to purchase another. There will be a number of items that are easier access since they aren’t as limited but they also aren’t a sure thing. Something that does help is access to Preview Night. A number of sellers like Dark Horse and NECA will let their exclusives go on sale that night. Others like Mattel or Hasbro will have you show up to get tickets to purchase items so make sure to find out in advance when those tickets become available.
The panels are a whole other beast on their own to deal with. There are two kinds of panel people out there. First comes the Hall H crew. The most hardcore are the ones who will start lining up at 11 PM the night before to get in followed by those who are in line by 4 AM which is still a fairly “safe” starting time. Anyone who gets in after 4 AM is putting a lot of faith in luck that those who go into the first panel of the day won’t be there until the end of the day and will open up seats for them. The other group encompasses those who are checking out smaller panel rooms which are usually about an hour or so wait. These panels can be fun and rewarding but won’t have the epic moments you hear talked about like seeing the Avengers cast appear together in public for the first time.
Remember that there is more to Comic Con than just the show though. San Diego is taken over by the Con and the parties, local events and even local shops are worth checking out too. If you network your way in, you may be able to get into one of the exclusive parties but realistically even if you make friends with everyone it may take a year or two before your SDCC nights are filled with VIP access and open bar.
Most importantly though is to make sure that whatever you’re doing, you have fun. That’s what Comic Con is supposed to be for everyone. You shouldn’t feel self-conscious or worried about people judging you for your geekery. Everyone down there is a geek. You are among friends. If you aren’t having fun then you aren’t doing it right.