So, with almost the entire Satellite Show making its way to San Diego for Comic-Con and at least a few of our friends making the trek for the first time, I thought I might offer a primer on some of the things one should take and expect while in the epicenter of all things nerdy.
1. Hydration is important. Duh. I suggest getting a spiffy water bottle as many room in the convention center, including Hall H, come equipped with Culligan water coolers. A very nice option, when you think about it.
Oh, what’s Hall H? It’s the 4000 seat venue all the big film panels occur in during the convention. In years past, Hall H has seen the Avengers assemble for the first time and new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield making a surprise appearance disguised as a uber-nerd in a shoddy costume.
Last year, Spielberg made his first panel appearance promoting Tin Tin. Cause, you know, that worked out so well. Also, I watched Francis Ford Coppola do this weird live editing/DJing of his new film Twixt. It’s these sorts of events that get people crazy to get into Hall H. You just never know what will happen and if they’re rope, say, Harrison Ford into showing up. This sort of excitement makes Hall H and its TV counterpart upstairs in Ballroom 20 the hot spots with serious lines. How serious?
2. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer. No really. You’ll be shaking hands. Those hands will be shook by other people. And those people will shake the hands of yet other people. Those other people probably have bad hygiene. I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never met those other people, but I’m inclined to blame four handshakes away for the phenomenon known as “Con Crud.” It’s the flu-like sickness that claims many an attendee in the week following the convention. Do yourself, and every fourth person whose hand you shake, a favor and keep your mitts clean.
3. If you’re getting anything signed, keep it to one or two items per person. Occasionally you’ll be in line behind a dude with a stack of his favorite comics for his favorite artist or writer to sign. The talent will sign it all because he doesn’t want the fan to have a bad experience, but just like being asked how they got into the business, signing a Bible’s worth of covers isn’t there favorite thing to do … to say nothing of all the people waiting behind them. I know this one seems obvious, but it’s a little bit of consideration that can go a long way. Also, you never know who you might meet in line so treat everybody around you well. It might be worth more than a signed issue of Spider-Man 2099.
4. Never eat inside the convention center. I’m not sure it’s actually food. One year, I had daily care packages of beef jerky, trail mix and a few other things. It definitely go me through the marathon stretches in Hall H. There’s also a few okay options outside of the convention center over at the Hilton Bayfront. About the only safe thing to get in the center itself are cookies from the Mrs. Fields kiosks, but tread carefully as that sugar crash is killer in the Con.
A special word about coffee: those Mrs. Fields kiosks have this brew that is great first thing in the morning, but turns into battery acid in your stomach.
5. If you’re taking photos, move out of traffic if you can. I used to harbor a dislike of cosplayers. I mean with that sort of intolerance you get from someone named Malfoy. I’ve calmed down considerably on that front (except for Mandalorians. Fuck those guys.), but part of my problem was the way people taking photos of them would block the all important walk ways around the various booths on the convention floor. As more people get back into the space, the free flow of traffic is essential. If you’ve spotted the Rocketeer or the Doctor Who fans in their mad screen-specific costumes, try to move onto the edge of the walkway and snap your photos. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Plan your dinners. Seriously. The last few years, Clint has been planning a group dinner for one of the nights at Comic-Con and it’s seriously the easiest night to get dinner. When the floor closes at 7pm each night, all the restaurants in the adjacent Gaslamp Quarter get packed like some kind of uncomfortable metaphor involving sweatpants. We live in the future and Yelp! can be a great resource. If money is no object, you like it loud, and enjoy paying for the privilege of cooking your own meal, I suggest the Gaslamp Strip Club. It’s fairly good, all things considered.
Also, any mealplan for Con will inevitably see you at Dick’s Last Resort (where they insult you) and the Italian place that magically becomes the Old Spaghetti Factory for the convention.
7. Sleep. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ha! Yeah, you should try, but between the hunt for free stuff, nerd totems, meeting people, going to panels, going to parties, and dodging Mandalorians, sleep is a luxury.
But you’re welcome to try.
I realize I make this sound like a chore, but the whole weekend is pretty damned fun. So if you’re headed down, stay safe and enjoy.
And maybe leave the Mando armor at home.