Packing for Comic-Con

6 JULY 2015

Have you packed yet? A few things to keep in mind:

The SDCC weather forecast is partly cloudy in the mid-low 70's. So bring something warm to wear at night. I'm guessing campers will get extra-chilled this week, so prepare for that too.

In terms of clothes, obviously this is highly personal but I wouldn't advise packing multiple outfits for each day (as I used to.) One, you really won't care that much about what you're wearing once you're there in the rush of things. Two, you'll want to leave extra space in your bag for bringing stuff home. That said, you may find yourself at a premiere or party you didn't foresee, so go ahead and pack a dress or a more elegant outfit if you want to.

Bring your most padded, comfortable shoes, no matter how ugly they are. You'll want them.

Bring a mini-pharmacy too: bandaids, moleskin, sunscreen, aspirin/ibuprofen, immunity boosters, antacids, whatever you might possibly need. Your hotel gift shop will charge you an arm and a leg and CVS can feel very far away when you're suffering.

Sounds counterintuitive, but bring something to read. Yes, you'll be surrounded by reading material. But especially on those first days, you could find yourself in a long line without anything to do. Load up your iPad or bring a book.

Bring anything you want signed and have some kind of sketchbook or journal for artist sketches.

Unless you hate swimming, bring a bathing suit for the pool, sauna and beach. You might think you'll be too busy to swim but it's a nice break from the Con.

Make sure you have your business cards, portfolio, marketing materials and an organized list of everyone you want to network with and where to find them.

If you're cosplaying for the first time, pack extra material, buttons, a backup pair of wings, your hot glue gun, anything that can save the day. Costumes have a way of disintegrating in the wear and tear of the Con.

Given that you might be using your devices nonstop, bring battery packs and general backup so you're not dependent on long recharging sessions. Extra headphones too. On that note, decide if you really need your laptop at the Con. If you can get by on your phone or tablet, do it. You'll spend less time in your room than you think.

It's almost here.

The size of the convention center

6 JULY 2015

You're probably sick to death at this point of hearing me talk about how tired you'll be, how overwhelming the Con is, how long the lines are. I'm a broken record, no doubt. But I'm going to dwell in that vein a little longer today and ask you - if you've never been to the Con before - to take a minute to realize how big the convention center is. Because you'll need a realistic idea of what you're working with when you make your panel plans.

Your panel-to-panel travel

First know that the center will be crowded in general. Attendees walking, groups of friends talking, people sitting and sprawled out and rubbing their aching feet, cosplayer photo shoots - you're always dodging and weaving people as you make your way from room to room. So if you're plotting your course from room 3 to room 25ABC, you might want to look at these floor plans and get a rough idea of what it takes.

Lines and room size

It's easy to be taken aback by the lines the first time you see them. Sometimes the smart thing really is giving up and going to Plan B; but sometimes you need to remember the room you're targeting can seat thousands of people and you still have a good shot at getting in.

Here's a handy room capacity chart:
  • Hall H holds 6,500 people
  • Ballroom 20 will hold about 4,908
  • Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront holds about 2,660
  • Room 6BCF will hold about 2,160
  • Room 6A will hold about 1,040
  • Room 6DE will hold about 884
  • Room 11AB will hold about 504
  • Room 5AB will hold about 504
  • Room 25ABC will hold about 480
  • Room 7AB will hold about 480
  • Room 24ABC will hold about 420
  • Room 23ABC will hold about 405
  • Room 32AB will hold about 350
  • Room 26AB will hold about 340
  • Room 8 will hold about 340
  • Room 2 will hold about 340
  • Room 9 will hold about 280
  • Room 4 will hold about 280

Outside the convention center

I show this photo all the time because it's useful. That's the convention center in the middle with the Hilton Bayfront to your right. The shiny mirrored-looking building to the left is the Marriott Marquis. The taller building beyond it is the Hyatt. Look at the car size for a sense of perspective and you'll realize why getting from room 7 to the Indigo Ballroom, or going from Hall H to the Nintendo Lounge, is going to take a few minutes.

As far as remembering where rooms are once you're inside, the center is laid out in a fairly comprehensive fashion compared to others I've seen. It's unlikely you'll get hopelessly lost. But it is a good idea to check the maps online or in your program guide before you set out for a panel, just to make sure you're headed in the right direction.

Getting around at Comic-Con

4 JULY 2015

Happy 4th, everyone. Let’s talk about getting around at Comic-Con. Whether you’re just traveling from the convention center to the Spreckles Theatre or trying to get to your hotel from the airport, you’ll need to know which ways are fast, easy on your wallet and easy on your feet.

If you’re driving in, you’ll need to be braced for the 405 traffic and of course the terrible congestion around the Con. If this is your first rodeo, know that once you arrive in the area, you’ll have to deal with delivery trucks unloading event supplies, gawkers who drove in just to see the sights, regular residents and tons of attendees trying to find their hotel garage. All of them will come to a frequent dead stop to let endless pedestrians cross the street. My advice is to avoid driving during peak hours as much as possible. Taking your car out at night: not a big deal. But if general, you won't need to drive much once you're at the Con.

Here are some ways to get around at the Con.

First, onto the big news. Lyft and Uber just got authorization to give rides to and from the airport.

Lyft. They’re also running a special promotion where you can enter the code COMIC into the payment section of the app – and get your first ride free. Also, they’ll have plenty of drivers around the area wearing zombie costumes and makeup. When you get matched with these drivers, you’ll actually see a zombie profile picture in the app.
car2go. This is a car-sharing company with a fleet of 400 electric vehicles in San Diego. To help out attendees, they'll have a DropZone (free parking area) by the Con, which is basically a free valet service. You drop off the car and someone parks it for you, while you walk to the convention center 10 minutes away.

The SuperShuttle. This takes you from the airport to your hotel and back. You can book it in advance or on the spot. Obviously with the number of people flying in, an advance reservation is a good idea.

The SDCC Shuttle Bus. This is the free Comic-Con service that takes you everywhere - into the Gaslamp, to the convention center, out to Mission Valley and pretty much everywhere. They run around the clock, which makes them a pretty awesome option.

Pedicabs. These are great for when you're traveling a distance that seems too short to merit a cab and too long for your tired feet.

Taxis. These are everywhere. Your hotel valet, the airport loop, empty streets late at night, crawling through the Gaslamp in the day.

The MTS trolley. This is San Diego's trolley that stops right at the convention center. This might be the most popular mode of transportation for attendees so I suggest looking over their site. If you're putting your car at a a park-and-ride lot, pick one by the trolley. They serve the convention center every 7.5 minutes during the Con. And they have a handy app.

Amtrak. A great option for anyone coming down from LA - but you'll need to book in advance. 
Coaster Commuter Train. This runs north-south and serves 8 stations between Oceanside and San Diego, with the entire route taking about an hour. This also stops at the Santa Fe Depot.

The Coronado Ferry. If you want to go over to Coronado Island for a beach night, dinner or the Hotel Del Coronado's famous Sunday brunch, the ferry is your friend. You can pick it up right behind the convention center. Just be aware that the last journey home is before 11 pm.

RideScout. Not a transportation method, but an app that shows you your transport options in real time - by bus, carshare, bike, etc - with estimates on how long each option will take.

The documentaries of Comic-Con 2015

4 JULY 2015

Sometimes amidst all the Comic-Con chaos, you just want to duck into a dark room and watch a movie. This year, in addition to the usual indie and genre films, you've got a menu of incredible documentaries to choose from. I know a lot of you skip the film programming, so I wanted to call attention to the selections. We've got documentaries about cosplay, steampunk, dinosaurs, women in comics, famous artists and more. Including one panel about a certain Back to the Future documentary that is sure to be highly popular. So without further ado... 


Floyd Norman Documentary
9:00 in room 9

This is just a panel, not a screening. Filmmakers Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey will show clips from their original feature-length documentary and reunite Floyd Norman (legendary Disney and Hanna Barbera animator and story artist) with many animators and artists that he influenced and worked with over his 60-year career. Panelists will include notables featured in the documentary includingPaul Dini (animation writer/producer), Gary Trousdale (co-director of Disney's Beauty and the Beast), Scott Shaw! (cartoonist, humorist, historian), Leo Sullivan (animator, producer, publisher), Ken Mitchroney (writer, director, story artist), Adrienne Nichelle Brown-Norman (illustrator, Disney Publishing), and Tom Sito (animator, professor of animation, USC). The documentary also features interviews with such notables as actress Whoopi Goldberg, cartoonist Sergio Aragonés, Disney music composer Richard Sherman, producer Don Hahn, Maleficent), Ralph Guggenheim and film critic/historian Leonard Maltin. The filmmakers will moderate a Q&A session and celebrate Mr. Norman's 80th birthday.


Dinosaurs: Terrible Lizards
2:15 pm at the Hyatt in Grand Ballroom D

Dinosaurs: the prehistoric titans who ruled the Earth for 160 million of years. Their name literally translates as "Terrible Lizards." We follow them in this animated documentary to see whether they deserved this fearsome moniker.

Going Back in Time: A Discussion and Q&A with the Filmmakers Behind the Back to the Future Feature Documentary
6:30 pm in 24ABC

Director Jason Aron, executive producer Louis Krubich, and producer Lee Leshen discuss, take questions, and show clips from their upcoming film Back in Time, the feature-length documentary that shows the films' influence on the public 30 years later. Dean Cundey (legendary cinematographer for all three Back to the Future films, in addition to iconic movies such as Hook, Jurassic Park and many more), will join the discussion and be available for questions during the Q&A.

Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four

6:30 at the Hyatt in Coronado Ballroom DE
This feature-length documentary tracks the history of the troubled 1994 Concord-New Horizon's/Constantin Films production of The Fantastic Four. Nearly 20 cast/crew and others experts discuss the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, legal troubles, career fallouts, and lasting legacy of Oley Sassone’s “lost” film.


These are all in Grand Ballroom D at the Hyatt.

She Makes Comics
1:05 pm
Traces the fascinating history of women in the comics industry. Despite popular assumptions about the comics world, women have been writing, drawing, and reading comics since the medium's beginning in the late nineteenth century. And today, there are scores of women involved in comics and its vibrant fan culture.  

Dr. MegaVolt: From Geek to Superhero
 2:35 pm
The story of America's first Electro-naut, Dr. Austin Richards, a.k.a. Dr. MegaVolt, a Ph.D. in physics who has been performing in a metal Faraday suit with Tesla coils since March 1997. Participating panelists include writer/producer/director Victoria Charters (Mistress MegaVolt herself), producer Austin Richards (Dr. MegaVolt himself), and Gunthar Hartwig (himself).

Cosplay Dreams 3D*
5:10 pm
The first award-winning film about the reality and fantasy of "costume play" shot in 3D! A diverse cast of characters share their stories and dreams, as they join hundreds of passionate and inspiring cosplayers at the most famous conventions and fantastical gatherings in the U.S. Starring Yaya Han (Heroes of Cosplay), Traci Hines, Fanboy Brandon, and featuring dazzling visual effects, the film brings the world of cosplay to life like never before! Participating panelists include Gulliver Parascandolo (director), Christine Parascandolo (executive producer), and Fanboy Brandon (cast). *Presented in 2D.

The Art of Richard Thompson
6:35 pm
Richard Thompson is renowned among cartoonists as an "artist's" cartoonist. Little known to all but those close to him is the extent of his art talent. This warm and moving portrait enlightens and delights the viewer with the sheer beauty of his work.

Howard Terpning: the Heart of the Canvas
Artist Howard Terpning painted over 70 iconic pop culture movie poster images during the 50s and 60s. Terpning discusses his poster art for classic films such as The Guns of Navarone,The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia, and Cleopatra to name just a few. Filmmaker Paul Jilbert (Robert McGinnis Painting The Last Rose of Summer) interviews and profiles Terpning in this film.

Vintage Tomorrows
7:40 pm
What is steampunk, and why is it suddenly everywhere? The documentary examines the steampunk movement's origins, explosive growth, and cultural significance. What can we learn about today and tomorrow from steampunk's playful visions of yesteryear? Participating panelists include Byrd McDonald (director) and Alan Winston (editor).

The Drybrush Master
9:00 pm
The story of artist and New York Times bestselling author Greg Ruth and the creation of his newest graphic novel, The Lost Boy.

Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World
9:30 pm
Surrealist artist H. R. Giger (1940-2014) terrified audiences with his Oscar-winning monsters in Ridley Scott's Alien. Sci-fi, horror, music, album covers, tattoos, and fetish art have been influenced by his dark, intricate paintings and sculptures depicting birth, death, and sex. Both a mesmerizing introduction to Giger's oeuvre and a must-see for Giger devotees, Belinda Sallin's definitive documentary shares the intimate last years of the artist's life and reveals how deeply he resided within his own artistic visions.

One of the nice things about San Diego Comic-Con is that you can catch flicks here that won't always make it to theatres, Netflix or On Demand. If any of these catch your eye, take advantage.

The SDCC Daily

4 JULY 2015

Happy 4th of July. It seems like the glut of little announcements is slowing down and now we're just getting a few bumps. Plus all the "top panel picks at SDCC" articles. (One of which will emerge here on this blog very soon.) So what did we get today?

We got our first look at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Hard to say whether these photos will match expectations. They don't seem very Austenesque.

                                                            From Toy News Online

Something I have mixed feelings about: Nick Cave toys. I am a huge Nick Cave fan, ardently so, but it's puzzling to see this at Comic-Con. There's also going to be a "Nick Cave themed selfie station." What?

But those are still more sane than this bizarro announcement: Kentucky Fried Chicken is unleashing a comic book at SDCC called The Colonel's Adventures Comics. Which they called "subliminal marketing."

"As artists, when you have people that care about what you do, I think you should care about those people who care about what you do and give them really cool interactive experiences to make them feel appreciated."  Zachary Levi gave a great interview on Nerd HQ and Heroes Reborn.

And the award for best subject line in my inbox today goes to "Sassy Satan cosplays it up on the Holy F*cked #1 SDCC Exclusive." This comic book is debuting at Comic-Con months before it hits stores, and you can pick it up at Action Lab's booth #2006.


If you'd like to incorporate a Segway Tour into your SDCC visit, is offering a Comic-Con Special: $49 for a Gaslamp Harbor or La Jolla Segway tour, $65 for a Balboa Park, $85 for a SD City Loop, and $95 for an Advanced Tour. Just tell them who is better, Superman or Batman, and why.

Finally we have some cancellations:
  • Cosmos panel
  • The Walking Dead: an inside look with Robert Kirkman (this is not the Hall H panel but a comic panel)
  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour signing
  • Storytelling in the 21st Century
  • Theatrical/Cosplay Makeup and Lens Demonstration
  • Ciara Hanna signing and appearance
Try not to overdo it this weekend. The rest of the country might be excited over the 4th but we know the real fireworks are coming later in the week.

Join NintenDiego for a Pokemon tournament

3 JULY 2015

Are you a gamer who wants to get in some off-site tournament gaming while at SDCC? Well, you can join NintenDiego at GameStop in Horton Plaza. This is a free swiss-style singles tournament with prizes and gift cards.

As the organizers point out, this is an opportunity to sharpen your skills before the Nintendo Lounge's Pokémon tournament the next day.

What: Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire Singles Tournament

When: Saturday, 11 July, 1:30 - 5:30 pm

Where: GameStop at Horton Plaza

Find out more here.

Queering Your Comic-Con

3 JULY 2015


Happy Independence Day Eve. If you're of the rainbow persuasion and you're headed to San Diego Comic-Con in a few days, you might be wondering how queer it all gets. There's a pernicious media stereotype that the Con is 130,000 straight white fanboys grunting over booth babes and manly superheroes, which is why I suspect I get so many questions from older, gayer, browner, female and other people asking delicately, "Are there a lot of  <people like me> there?"

The answer is yes, everyone is there, because nerd hearts live in every kind of person. But if you're LGBTQA, you might be wondering just what kind of panels and parties are there for you. Here are a few options.

The Exhibit Hall:

Obviously queer people are in comic books from most publishers. Booths like Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Image, Oni and Boom! are all more or less forward-thinking on this issue, and even DC and Marvel are getting into the game. (DC faster than Marvel, obviously.) From major hits like Fun Home to lesser-known gems like How Loathsome, LGBTQA people are burning up the page. But in addition to your normal comics perusing, you will definitely want to swing by Prism's booth at some point, especially when your favorite artists and writers are signing.


This year we have 8 LGBTQA panels and a mixer. All but 1 are in 28DE, which is apparently the lavender corner of the Con.

Thursday, July 9

LGBTQ Geek Year in Review. 6:00 in 28DE. Media diversity and "key moments in comics, TV, movies and animation every queer geek should know about." 
Friday, July 10  

Hopey, Julio, Skim, Oafs, and Beyond. 1:00 in 28DE. "Queer character visibility in alt and indie comics." Includes the Hernandez Brothers, Mariko Tamaki and Ed Luce.
Diversity and Queer Gaming. 2:00 in 28DE. "How does the "Gaymer" identity spill beyond the tabletop and what role do minorities play in an industry that still doesn't reflect its audience?"
Queer Representation in All-Ages and Youth Media. 6:00 in 28DE. "How we can better include healthy representations"  and why "queer characters and storylines resonate with young audiences." Noelle Stevenson, James Tynion IV, Dan Parent, Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh.
The Gay Agenda in Horror: Terrifying Subtext. 7:00 in 28DE. "The history of this popular genre from a queer perspective."
Saturday, July 11

Gays in Comics 28: At the Intersection of Comics and Life. 6:00 in 29AB. "Creators examine how their queer identities intersect with other aspects of their lives, such as race and ethnicity, religion, and family, and how that influences and defines their comics work." This is a one-hour panel followed by a one-hour auction and mixer.  Which sounds like it's a great place to meet your fellow queer nerd brethren, but I've always found that mixer very cliquey. Still worth attending, though.

Sunday, July 12

Queer Imagery in Animation. 3:00 in 28DE. "Animation that tackles same gender attraction and gender identity exploration."


Not a lot going on in girl world, unfortunately. But these two parties are celebrating Comic-Con in a big way.

Heroes vs. Villains Comic-Con Party

When: Friday night, 10 July. 10 pm - 2 am.
Where: Rich's San Diego
Cost: 10; free in costume until 11.

You get an EDM and club hits DJ in one room and Urban hits DJ in the other; "sexy go-go Heroes and Villains;" free face and body painting; a cosplay contest. Prism Comics seems to be a sponsor. The ad suggests Joker as a go-go dancer, which could easily become a top Comic-Con memory.

House of Styles
When: Friday night, 10 July
Where: Numbers
Cost: 7

Numbers is also having a party Friday night called House of Styles. If someone is really doing a Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman drag performance, complete with whip, I want to go.

Be aware that various meetups will be going on all over the place reflecting LGBTQA interests; if you belong to any digital communities, poke around and see who's going to SDCC. You could well find out about some interesting off-sites and private parties.

Common questions about the Con

3 JULY 2015

Every year as soon as Comic-Con hits, I get a ton of emails. It's hard to anticipate what might confuse you when you arrive, so here are some of those most common questions people ask.

Can I barter in the Exhibit Hall?

It depends. When the Con first gets started, prices are usually as marked. If you go in and try to haggle aggressively like you're at a swap meet, you'll get some cold looks. The exception: volume discounts. Buy more of 1, or appear torn between buying 2 things, and the vendor will usually propose a discount. On Sunday, prices get more flexible because vendors want to unload as much product as possible. You'll see lots of markdowns, but go ahead and ask about getting a deal if you don't see anything advertised. Just be polite about it.

When do I get in line?

The ultimate Comic-Con question. Here's my unsatisfying answer: I have no idea. There used to be a loose science around this but the last 2 years have introduced some wild dynamics. If you're asking about a panel in one of the smaller rooms, just monitor the situation as best you can. If you're talking about Hall H, the same advice applies - but you want to start monitoring the day before for morning panels. Revisit the situation that day and see how it looks. Sometimes Hall H will clear out during the day hours and you can get in, especially for the night. For instance, Hall H on Thursday is going to be a very different story from Hall H on Friday. And be aware that Hall H and Ballroom 20 are huge rooms and even a massive line may not be as hopeless as it looks. 

For lines for autographs and exclusives, these have gotten more competitive every year. Try to gauge the popularity of whatever you're chasing, then err on the side of safety and get in line even earlier than you think you need to. Again, for every line question you have, you should ask yourself what you'll be giving up - and if it's worth it.

How many places in line can I hold?

Not that many. Everyone accepts that a friend or two may join you at some point. But if 11 people cut in ahead of attendees who've been waiting 4 hours, you can expect a reaction. Ditto in terms of holding seats. One or two is fine; if you try to colonize an entire row by distributing your belongings across each seat, you'll get called out.

Where's the cheapest place to eat?

There are plenty of options here. I'll cover more in my Comic-Con on a Budget post, but be aware of places like the Horton food court, Subway, food trucks (although these can get pricey), pizza slice places like Gaslamp Pizza on 5th, and the Grab and Go options and special Con menus at surrounding hotels. A lot of Gaslamp bars will be running great Happy Hour specials where you can get a quasi-nutritious meal. And don't forget Ralph's - if you really want to avoid eating out, you can pick up enough groceries to slap together some kind of breakfast or lunch in your room. 

Where can I charge my devices?

Getting a good charge can be tough in the convention center. The easiest answer here is bringing battery packs. You can usually find free outlets upstairs in the room 27 area - that tends to stay one of the most spacious, coolest areas of the center. But if you're desperate to get some good charging action and the outlets at the convention center aren't delivering, walk over to the hallway lounges in the North Tower at the Marriott. 

Where can I put my stuff?
Bag check. It's in the lobby near A and E and usually costs just $2 - a low price to roam around free and unencumbered. Be aware that you can't leave your items here overnight.

Can I pick up all my badges at once?

It depends.

Town & Country: you can only pick up a Thursday or all four single day badges, which will convert to a four-day badge. If you have Thursday, Friday and Sunday or some other combination - you can only get Thursday here.

Convention Center: You can pick up all your badges at once on your first day at the convention center. So if you're in that Thursday/Friday/Sunday group, you can pick them all up Thursday morning at the Con.

So it's up to you and your panel plans to decide if it's worth getting your Thursday badge a day early so you can skip the Thursday morning badge line, or if you'll just tough it out and pick up all 3 at once. One nice thing: with the Preview Night crowd growing as it has, the badge lines aren't as bad as they used to be.

How do I meet people?

Talk to them. Wherever you're physically standing at the Con, there will be something to talk about. If you're normally shy or socially awkward, that won't magically go away - but attendees tend to be pretty friendly and laidback and conversations start very naturally. Offer any information you've heard, whether it's about a secret show (there's always one surprise band or comedian) or a way to get a certain exclusive. SDCC is one nonstop information exchange. And just chatting up other attendees is the best way to get invited to things you wouldn't know about otherwise.

If you're actually looking to meet someone romantically, your best bet is to go to events and bars at night - just like in the real world. Again, you'll have common ground to talk about, so this shouldn't feel that awkward.

How do I meet famous people?

This is all very serendipitous. People used to have tips for waiting in certain areas to see celebrities and their handlers emerge, and I've known people to stalk the Marriott lobby in the hopes of waylaying a certain person. These plans rarely work out. Instead you'll get in an elevator on Friday morning and find yourself face to face with some famous old actor your mom would kill to meet and you'll exchange that neutral elevator smile and that'll be it.

This should go without saying - but always be polite, non-crazy and respect whatever signals they're throwing up. I've seen abominable treatment of celebrities at the Con. I was once swept into a Jack Black Exhibit Hall vortex that was terrifying. Don't be that fan.

Can I take pictures of cosplayers?

Sure. The general etiquette is to ask first. However, if someone is already posing for 6 cameras, there's no harm in jumping into the mix. In terms of taking pictures with cosplayers, things get dicier. Remember that you're often going to be in a humid, crowded environment; cosplayers may not want dozens of sweaty strangers pressing up against them. (Would you?) So if you do take a photo with them, don't try to get as close as possible. Obviously be respectful; many cosplayers (male and female) have had people say crude things to them or worse, grope them. I once saw a woman lick a male cosplayer's bare chest, which was gross just to witness.

I make a point to ask permission before posting anyone's picture on this blog - and that goes double for pictures of kids. Tiny cosplayers are adorable but a lot of parents would prefer their childrens' pictures stay offline so always get permission before even taking a snap.

Someone's offering a guest badge online, is it safe?

It could be, but probably not. Times are tough. My pro friends had grim stories this year about their inability to procure badges for everyone on their team. The days of retailers and pros having extra badges at their disposal have shrunk. To be fair, some places still do - but most of those places already have friends and colleagues who need those badges. It's really unlikely they couldn't find anyone who wanted a badge so they put it online. And let's remember that CCI has a taskforce now that shuts down that kind of thing.

My brother wants to come and we'll swap my badge back and forth. Will we get caught?

Probably not, but you could in theory and that could spell an unhappy end to your Comic-Con career. They do check IDs sometimes. Also be aware that swapping a badge back and forth isn't that easy and nimble unless you're literally staying next door. Just getting inside and either doing the Exhibit Hall or going to a panel is a serious endeavor. Also be aware that most everyone I know who's done this has wound up furious at their partner in crime, because someone stayed at the Con way longer than they promised. It's inevitable.

What if we just show up outside? Can we buy badges off people who are leaving the Con?

No. People keep their badges so they can participate in Pre-reg. And the general environment as such isn't conducive to scalping and selling. You'd have to run into someone who just A) moved heaven and earth to get into the Con but B) found they hated it and didn't care about holding onto their badge and C) was willing to risk the wrath of whatever kind of undercover badge enforcement is in front of the Con. Which may or may not exist, but is conceptually intimidating. And the Gaslamp is full of hucksters ready to take your money.

These are the days when desperate nerds succumb to their emotions and take stupid risks - so I can only beg you to please not do it. The odds are painfully high that you'll be taken for a ride. If it was easy to sneak into SDCC, or if there was even a predictable but expensive way to do it, thousands of affluent nerds would be greasing palms and sliding into the doors with fake IDs. Just enjoy the surrounding activities, visit Nerd HQ and Gam3rCon, and soak in the energy. And try for 2016.

Finally, because I've already heard a number of you first-timers gripe about various inefficiencies - I suggest looking at this list of what people didn't like last year, so you can prepare yourselves now. Comic-Con is full of challenges, no doubt. The sooner you accept that and get Zen about the whole experience, the more you'll appreciate the good parts.


Support free speech at the CBLDF Welcome Party

3 JULY 2015

We've known about the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Comic-Con Welcome Party for months, but a few more details came out this week. You can still RSVP for this event, so let's see what it has to offer.

Swag: The first 200 attendees get a free gift bag with stuff from Image, CBLDF and comiXology.

Comic Stars: Confirmed attendees so far include Joshua Williamson, Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba and others.

BPAL: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab will debut their Profanities series, with LE scents available only at this party.

Art: Neverwear will feature art based on Neil Gaiman's work from Jim Lee, Chris Ridell, Olivia and others

Exclusives: A new tote bag by Vanesa Del Rey, a new CBLDF t-shirt designed by Brian Wood

Auction Preview: This includes original art from Gilbert Hernandez, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Smith, Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, Jeffrey Brown and others

Where: Westgate Hotel - 1055 2nd Ave

When: Thursday, 9 July - 8:00 pm

Cost: free to CBLDF members; 10-20 suggested donation from others

I know Thursday night is packed with events - but this is a top pick if you can make it.

The SDCC Daily

3 JULY 2015

Today was an emotional day, between the Nerd HQ sale and the Image Expo and SDCC contract announcement. Let's dive in.

Nerd HQ: yes, most tickets went quick. I was surprised at the surprise. It's a 200 seat room. That said, I hope you all got what you wanted.

The first photos from Batman v Superman came out.

We saw these new t-shirts, including the first official Fear the Walking Dead shirts.

We found out SDCC will be in San Diego through 2018. And that the hotel room rate issue "was eventually figured out." I'm guessing that means CCI successfully persuaded hotels to commit to the discount rates.

You can win tickets to Crave's USS Midway party.

And you can win 1 of 20 custom Xbox One consoles - even if you're not going to SDCC.

Image blew our comic-book-loving minds with announcements like:

  • Brian Vaughan is going to write an issue of The Walking Dead
  • Blue Monday is coming back - and so is Invincible
  • Scooter Girl will be back in print - though it doesn't look like there's any new material
  • Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are doing a title called Black Magic, which they've labeled "witch-noir"
  • Axcend is about a kid pulled into a video game and spit back out with something following him out of the game
  • Sunset Park is about a monster who comes into Brooklyn to change its neighborhoods
  • Gail Simone and Cat Staggs are doing Crosswind, about a suburban Seattle housewife living with a hitman
  • Mark Millar is doing a title called Huck about a superhero with a learning disability
  • And a dozen others

It's a holiday weekend starting tomorrow. If you're starting to get dizzy from all the nonstop announcements, maybe take the weekend off and unplug from SDCC for a few days. Because next week is going to be insane.

Buy the 1st official Fear The Walking Dead shirt

2 JULY 2015

Are you looking for more good Comic-Con shirts to buy next week? Here's a sneak peek at some that will be available for sale at various booths in the Exhibit Hall, including the first official Fear The Walking Dead logo shirt.

Or you might consider the Marvel Avengers Invasion and Star Wars SDCC Invasion shirts, both featuring the convention center:

Or you might like the Power Rangers Invasion shirt:
Picking up a new commemorative t-shirt is always a good ritual for your annual San Diego pilgrimage - and these are definitely cooler than the usual Wookie, Batman and Daryl Dixon shirts you see hanging up at every Con. Plus they make great gifts for your friends stuck at home.

Staying healthy at Comic-Con

2 JULY 2015

It's time for me to sound like your mom and lecture you on taking care of yourself at Comic-Con. Let me say first that if you're going to SDCC, you're obviously a wily sort who was able to navigate the online sales and avoid certain pitfalls, so you probably can take care of yourself just fine. But there are a few considerations specific to SDCC that people don't always anticipate.

Take care of your feet. 

You'll be walking a lot, which means you'll want to wear supportive footwear, bring moleskin and bandaids, and generally be judicious about how much optional foot travel you do. If you're a first-timer who's a vain little kitten, you might think you can just soldier through in high heels. But as someone who also wears heels everywhere, I still break out dorky supportive shoes for SDCC. It's worth it. Save the heels for your nocturnal adventures (and even then you might choose comfort over vanity.)

Bring supplies to dull the pain. 

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other painkillers can save your life at SDCC. If you're prone to headaches, the Exhibit Hall volume can do a number on your skull. Your plantar fasciitis can flare up or your hotel pillow can bother your neck. Troubled knees, feet, backs and hips can be pushed to the limit at Comic-Con. Even just sitting or standing in line for long periods can be difficult for some people. Commenters Ferd and Gail brought small fold-up stools to make their line waits more comfortable, which is a great idea.

Get assistance if you need it.

SDCC is a demanding experience; don't make things harder on yourself than they have to be. CCI provides a wealth of resources to help out attendees who need it. This includes rest areas, private areas for nursing mothers, a first aid team, wheelchairs, ASL interpreters and special seating for large events. If you have mobility issues or any other circumstance that could benefit from a helping hand, go ahead and ask for it.

Boost your immunity

If you're the type to easily catch colds and viruses, practice whatever faux-medical juju you normally do through echinacea, bee pollen, Emergen-C, etc. I've never gotten sick from the Con but other people swear that Con Crud is real. And you will be touching escalator railings, book covers, photo ops, seats and other surfaces recently contaminated by dozens or hundreds of others.

Protect your skin

You might be outside more than you think. It's not just Hall H that lines up outside - other rooms do too and there are lines for picking up your badge or getting an autograph or exclusives ticket that can post you out by the waterfront. You might also walk to the Gaslamp for lunch or go to the library or Horton Theatre for a panel. Wear sunscreen.

Protect everything. 

People hook up at Comic-Con all the time. It happens. And often it happens late at night when your hotel gift shop is closed, you have no idea where the nearest pharmacy is, and you're too tired to go on a hunt. So if there's even the teeniest sub-atomic particle of a chance you'd be open to meeting someone, bring condoms. There are some souvenirs you don't want to bring home from SDCC.

Eat well. 

Some people like to eat lightly at SDCC; others feel powered by eating luxurious monster meals. In general, try to eat well. Don't skip a lot of meals. Don't live off a box of pop-tarts in your room. You're going to undergo a physically draining and sometimes emotionally frustrating experience, so set yourself up to be energized and in a good mood. 

Everyone has their tricks - some people grab a huge sub at the all-night Subway and keep it in their bag; others bring sandwiches and cookies into the Con with them. Winging it means you'll need to rely on the Exhibit Hall food court (not recommended) or venture out - which can mean losing hours as you cross the street, find a restaurant, put your name on a list and then wait to be seated. Personally I eat a lavish breakfast every morning, then carry apples and granola bars with me into the Con. That way I never have to choose between a panel line and my growling stomach a few hours later. And I always make time for a good meal at night, no matter what.

You can see a few suggestions in my eating well post last year. And of course keep in mind SDCC's Restaurant Guide.

Stay hydrated

I know, how obvious. But Con-going is thirsty work. Attendees may not realize dehydrating it is to be doing all that walking. And buying bottled water on site adds up fast. Bring enough water to get you through the lines and the exertion. As a hiker I follow the "If you're halfway through your water, you're halfway through your hike" rule; consider the same for SDCC and monitor how fast your water goes your first day. You'll understand how much more you need the next day.

Be moderate in your debauchery. 

Obviously the nightlife at SDCC is rich with potential. And for every "official" party you see listed, there are hundreds of private hotel room parties, unadvertised shows and underground events and bar crawls between friends. It seems like an invitation to go wild. But I'd caution against overindulging. Even if you can pull off all-nighters at home without feeling much pain, SDCC is a much more demanding experience. You'll be irritable and tired and probably wind up collapsing at some point and missing a lot of the Con. 

And it can impact your friends. I had a friend who was so viciously hungover one Sunday morning that she wound up in the convention center's first aid area, and we had to leave at 10:30. We missed the entire last day of the Con. Another year a friend's friend got so high that he got lost and we were looking for him on various deserted streets until 3 a.m. It's just not worth it. Save your chemical excesses for home so you can enjoy the Con to the fullest.

Prepare mental and emotional resources. 

Maybe you're sensitive to crowds and noise. Maybe you're traveling in a group with someone who's working your last nerve. Maybe the Con isn't at all what you expected and you're on the verge of tears for multiple reasons. Make sure you have friends back home you can call and unload on. If you're in therapeutic care and you think the Con might push your buttons, see ahead of time if you can call your therapist. Bring any meds you need. Look up nearby meetings if you're in recovery. Comic-Con can be stressful for everyone and there is no shame in getting some help if you find yourself struggling.

Take a break.

Often you don't realize how overwhelmed you are until it's too late. It's always a good idea to cut yourself off from the chaos for a bit. Go hang out in the dark Playback Room at the Omni and just isolate for an hour or two. Go swimming at your hotel. Go to the beach. Tell your friends you need some time alone and ask everyone to let you have the hotel room to yourself for a bit. And if you've got some cash to burn, schedule a massage - it'll be like the heavens opened up and poured relief down upon your stiff Comic-Con muscles.

Get your rest. 

When I first started going to SDCC, I would have various escapades all night, return home around 4, sleep for 3 hours and bounce out of bed ready for the day. It caught up with me quick. Now I make a point to be in bed no later than midnight or 1 a.m. If I'm going to be out super late, I nap first. Obviously your attitude on this depends on why you're at the Con - if you're there to carouse all night, have at it. But if you're there to actually do panels and compete in gaming tournaments and explore the activities, you'll want to be fairly peppy.

And that's my wellness advice. If you've never been to San Diego Comic-Con before, you might think I'm exaggerating the demands it puts on you. But for those attendees who like to live the Con to the fullest, being in top shape isn't just important, it's required. I know you want to have a magical time next week. Take care of yourself and you probably will.