When should you get in line?

18 JULY 2018

Happy Comic-Con! Most of us have arrived in San Diego if we weren't here already - and all around the convention center are early lines.

For some of you, the new lottery system has eliminated some lines from your life (and created other frustrations.) But most of you probably still have panels and events and offsites to line up for. And these are, make no mistake, some of the biggest grievances at San Diego Comic-Con.

When is a line worth it?

First off, let me say I am a big believer in enjoying the Con you're at - and it's hard to do that if you spend all of it in a line. I know some people work in groups with complicated systems involving assigned shifts, but the vast majority of attendees just have their friends to rely on. So here are a few considerations before you get in line:
  • Would you be okay seeing the panel on YouTube or in the Playback room?
  • Will you be disappointed if your favorite cast member only speaks once, while the director and some other cast member dominate the panel?
  • Will you be annoyed if you get stuck so far back in the room you have to watch the panel on a screen anyhow? Or if the offsite experience is over with in 3 minutes and doesn't offer significant swag?
  • Is there anything else at the same time you want to see?
Always compare what you're getting with what you're giving up. 

When should you get in line?

Early enough to get a good seat - but not so early that you miss out on the Con. There's no Magic 8 ball to tell you what time, but you can check Twitter for real time updates on line length or swing by to monitor it. Smaller panels really aren't that competitive, unless you want to stake your claim to get the very best seat.

Don't necessarily count on panels and events having the same line situations as previous years. The number of "good" offsites and panels can disperse a crowd across many lines or concentrate it in a few unbearable ones. Something that's penetrable one year can be a madhouse the next.

Also remember that offsites are best done early on in the Con because the lines grow throughout the weekend. Or you can try popping in at the very end. Typically, a few activations will get the best buzz and have ungodly lines by Saturday.

Don't assume Hall H is completely inaccessible. Some panels will be walk-in - and it's not too late to find people who want someone to partner with in line. Obviously Riverdale, Supernatural, Doctor Who and other big magnets are going to be tough but you've got a good shot if you dedicate yourself to the cause. Ballroom 20 will fluctuate and so will Indigo, and I think they'll be a little easier to get into this year.

Also consider the context of other lines. Let's say Hall H is having a highly popular day Saturday and a not so in-demand day Thursday. Saturday will draw more people out of your Indigo Ballroom line - but on Thursday, your line could be more crowded and competitive.

What are common line mistakes?

There are usually multiple lines at any given moment - which makes randomly joining a line a bad idea. Verbally check which line you're in. It's easy to be told the wrong thing and spend 90 minutes in a line for something you don't care about.

Some people put too much faith in volunteers and staffers. Use common sense. If people tell you "Oh, they're still letting people in" 10 minutes after a panel has started, move on. Take control of your destiny at SDCC; there's a lot of confusion flowing around and sometimes you need to recognize nonsense when you hear it.

Don't duck out for food if there's any chance of the line getting into the room. Sounds obvious, but people will often delay their need to hit the restroom or get coffee as long as they can - and then jet out, only to find the line has started moving when they get back. Either go as soon as you need to or wait until you're in the room and ask for a pass. Let's all remember the poor Twilight fan who was killed a few years ago when she heard the Hall H line was moving and ran through traffic to reclaim her spot.

Always remember that this Comic-Con could be your last. Badge and hotel sales are too unpredictable to count on being here next summer. So live this Comic-Con as intensely as you can - and don't spend all of it in a line.

I'll do a Preview Night recap later.

10 last minute SDCC reminders

16 JULY 2018

Are we really just 48 hours from Preview Night?

Some of you may be packed and ready to go; some of you may be postponing your SDCC prep till tomorrow night. Some of you may already be there. Or maybe you're in a Putin/Prime Day rabbit hole. If so, remember that Comic-Con is the cure for what ails you - so here are 10 last minute reminders.

1. Bring your badge! There aren't enough panic attacks in the world for the moment you step off the plane and realize your badge is in another time zone. And if you need to pick up your badge, remember you can do so in the Sails Pavilion starting Tuesday.

2. Confirm your hotel. Today I cancelled Saturday night at my hotel. Of course the Hyatt robot effed it up and changed my reservation to Saturday to Tuesday. There's always some last minute drama. If you've had anything dodgy with your hotel room - a transfer, multiple reservations, etc. - it doesn't hurt to confirm your details now, before arriving.

3. Keep checking for Conan and other event tickets. Don't waste a lot of time on this, but remember that people will cancel their plans and give away their tickets. Keep your ear tuned on Twitter and the forums in case anyone has an extra ticket to something.

4. Make backup plans. Veterans know this: a lot of your plans won't work out. Bless your heart if you've designed some tightly plotted schedule, but at least 1/2 of it will fall through. Look through the guide and pencil in backup plans. And don't be too militant with yourself; let your day evolve in unexpected directions, whether that's deciding to sleep in, skip a panel or accept an invitation to a Hall H line effort.

5. Bring extra batteries, headphones and portable chargers. Don't count on charging up when and where you need to. It's faster and more reliable to just pop in a fresh battery or use your own charger.

6. Abandon any half-assed cosplay plans. Every year someone goes into an 11th-hour cosplay panic where they want to be a certain character but haven't actually pulled something together. If you aren't at the finish line yet, forget it. You won't look as convincing or finished as you want to, and it's just more unnecessary stress. If you are committed, make sure you bring adequate repair supplies for sewing, armor, weapons, makeup wounds and anything else that can fail suddenly.

7. Print out anything you might need. I know, we're all so digital now, but devices fail. And sometimes you really need a hard copy of your friends' contact info, your schedule, your hotel confirmation, your Conan tickets, your barcode confirmation, etc. On that note, make sure you have a unified list of everything you're picking up for friends back home. You won't have time to scroll through text messages from 42 people, trying to remember who wanted what and where you can find it.

8. Clarify any murky hotel arrangements. Who's sleeping in what room? Who gets the bed and who's relegated to an air mattress? If you're part of a large group with multiple rooms/roommates, it doesn't hurt to do a final check to make sure everyone's covered.

9. Set expectations with family, friends and coworkers. If people insist on bothering you at Comic-Con, let them know now that connectivity is very faulty in the convention center and you probably won't get their texts, emails and calls! Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't, but it's a statement that serves a greater cause: the potency of your Comic-Con joy. If you absolutely have to be accountable, schedule a daily check-in time and restrict them to it. Having your phone go off all day with work questions and annoyed demands for attention from your SO can really poison a fine SDCC moment. Their neediness can wait until Monday.

10. Take care of any banking transfers now. I'm always surprised by the number of people who show up at Comic-Con without any money. Often they're depending on someone to transfer money into a certain account or they thought their mom would let them borrow a credit card or some other mishap has ensued. If you have even slightly precarious finances, I would transfer funds around now to make sure you have valid credit cards and sufficient cash.

A note on ConanCon, scalpers and TeamCocoHouse

14 JULY 2018

In what's been a rather dispiriting year for offsites, ConanCon has really come through for attendees. I know many of you are still disappointed you didn't get tickets to the tapings. However, TEAMCOCOHOUSE should take some of that sting away. I thought everyone had heard about this but apparently not. So take a look at the schedule.

Podcasts, comedy shows, free pizza - a variety of mini-events are running at their pop-up comedy club from afternoon till late at night. Even if you couldn't get a ticket to an event you wanted, you'll have an easier time trading or finding someone with a spare.

Now. On that note, some people are trying to sell their Conan show tickets for hundreds of dollars. I find this repugnant. One of the most enjoyable things about San Diego Comic-Con is how generous and community-minded the attendees are. People will most definitely do a little horse trading, but selling a free ticket for more than an entire SDCC badge? That's beyond crass.

I know you may be desperate to go to Conan, but please don't buy tickets off these people. That's just going to encourage more of this behavior. Also, be wary of people who promise you can get a sky-high, specific price for the Funko Pop. Sure, you can sell it for a decent amount but it fluctuates. I've always hung onto mine; if you want to flip yours, I'd wait a bit.

And first-timers - two of you have emailed me about Conan, asking what else there is to do since you didn't get tickets. So let me say here that there is so much to do at Comic-Con. You will be fine without Conan tickets and in fact, will not even think about it when you're there. The online mania you currently see is an SDCC trait. We're collectors, we're fans, we're zealous by nature, and we can overreact when we miss out on something, acting as if one event or action figure or panel is life or death. Then a few days later we've moved on to obsessing about something else. Ignore the histrionics and be assured you'll find something wondrous at the Con.

4 tips for first-timers

14 JULY 2018

First-timers! By now, if you've been paying attention to Comic-Con exclusives announcements, overlapping events, the shuttle map, the programming, the film festival, the various "when to get in line" tips - you're realizing how chaotic SDCC can be.

So in the interest of helping you simplify your impending Comic-Con - here are 4 practices that can save you time and make sure you come away satisfied.

1. Make of a list of 3-5 priorities.

These should be your absolute can't-miss events, exclusives, panels, signings, photo shoots, etc. Have them on your phone, have them written down, and schedule your Con around them.

Let everything else go. You should still keep a B-list, where if you do have the free time or opportunity, you can check those off your list. But if you show up with 22 priorities, you're setting yourself up for failure. There's just too much competition from other people who want what you want, too many long lines, and too many surprises. You'll wind up spending your time and energy on stuff that doesn't matter. Narrow your focus and you're more likely to get what you really want and come home happy.

2. Document your plan.

If you used CCI's app, your panels and programming should be mapped out. That's a start but you'll want to make sure you have everything else documented as well - contact information for the person who said they'd hold your spot in a panel line, booth numbers for specific items, back-up plans in case you don't get your first choice, all the items you're supposed to pick up for friends, etc. Once you're there, you'll be so distracted on so many levels you'll forget even things that previously seemed urgent. Have some kind of daily dashboard so you don't miss any of the offsites, people, booths and events that matter to you.

3. Make strategic restaurant choices.

An incredible number of people will gravitate toward the most crowded Gaslamp spots, meaning they'll waste 2+ hours on one meal waiting for a table and then waiting for the food and walking back. Remember there are other spots. The Fox Sports Grill at Hilton Bayfront can usually get you in and out without a super long wait; in the other direction, on the other side of the Hyatt, you have the Headquarters which has the always-crowded Cheesecake Factory but also Seasons 52 and Puesto which can usually seat you quickly. Little Italy is not that far away. And if you do go into the Gaslamp, the more expensive restaurants are usually quieter and faster.

4. Read Comic-Con coverage during the Con.

I know - you're there, you're experiencing it, why do you need to read about it? Because you'll find out a lot of things that may elude you in the moment. Lots of nerd sites will run features on the best comics/toys/whatever on the floor or announce "secret" shows or explain how to get into an event you assumed was off limits. It's amazing how often media coverage seems to portray an event completely different from the one you're attending - so check in just to make sure you're not missing out.

I also have some warnings to share about your line strategies, but I'll do a separate post on that.

Staying healthy at Comic-Con

13 JULY 2018

It's the last weekend before Comic-Con. And for many of us, it's our last chance to rest up before the madness starts. Come Wednesday, we'll be staying out very late, getting up very early or not going to bed at all. We'll eat too much bar food, drink not enough water, sit for hours in uncomfortable chairs and stand for hours in tedious lines.  We'll sleep on hotel room floors and slowly leaking air mattresses. And sticking to us at every opportunity will be the germs of thousands of strangers.

Which means you want to stay healthy, right? Or at least keep your engine running long enough to get through Sunday. So here are a few ways you can preserve yourself. First-timers, this is no joke.

#1. Relax this weekend. 

Sleep, lay around, be lazy, get a good massage. If you're already burned out or overworked or you're recovering from a recent surgery or illness, you really need to rest up or SDCC will hit you like a truck.

#2. Bring drugs.

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other painkillers can save your life at SDCC. If you're prone to headaches, the Exhibit Hall volume can bring them flaring to life. Your plantar fasciitis can come back or your hotel pillow can bother your neck. A slipped disc or bad knee can get irritated. If traveling and restaurant meals typically upset your digestion, bring something for that too. And if you plan on partying hard, you really need to bring a cure. You won't be able to hide away somewhere and turn off humanity like you can at home when you're hungover.

#3. Bring physical supports.

If you've had any kind of recent trouble like a sprained ankle, pulled muscle or an injured shoulder, I would recommend bringing any wraps, braces and muscle ointment you can. Sitting or standing in line for long periods can be difficult. Lots of people bring small fold-up stools or even air hammocks to make their line waits more comfortable.

#4. Get assistance if you need it.

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.

#5. Boost your immunity.

If you pick up colds and viruses easily, practice whatever faux-medical juju you normally do, like echinacea, bee pollen, Emergen-C, a B-12 shot, etc. I've never gotten sick from the Con but other people swear that Con Flu is real. And you will be touching escalator railings, book covers, photo op props and other surfaces recently contaminated by dozens or hundreds of others. I'm sorry to keep harping on that but I feel like people are so dazzled by the Con that they forget what an infection factory it can be.

#6. Eat well.

Some people like to eat lightly at SDCC; others feel powered by eating luxurious monster meals. Try to eat healthy and don't skip a lot of meals. Don't live off a box of donuts in your room or the stale snacks served up in hospitality rooms. SDCC can be physically tiring and emotionally frustrating, so set yourself up to be energized and in a good mood. I eat a lavish breakfast every morning and carry apples everywhere because you never know when you might have to skip lunch to hold your spot in line, or your friends delay dinner because they are still in Hall H.

#7. Stay hydrated.

Con-going is thirsty work. 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 and the same holds for SDCC. Keep yourself hydrated, especially if you plan on standing in any lines at all, or you could run into trouble.

#8. Don't overdo the hedonism.

I mean, if you're there solely to obliterate yourself, go ahead. But if you're going to SDCC to actually do the panels and hunt exclusives and back issues and take in the offsites, I'd practice moderation. 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 wind up wasting your day in a nap. And you don't want to be a burden on your friends; I've talked before about the year a friend was so hungover we missed all of Sunday, and another time a friend's friend got so high that he wound up lost and we were looking for him until 3 a.m. No one wants to babysit you at Comic-Con.

#9. Prepare mental and emotional resources.

Maybe you're sensitive to crowds and noise. Maybe your roommate's every word is irritating you. Or maybe the Con isn't at all what you expected and you're on the verge of tears for whatever reason. If you're prone to these kind of reactions, make sure you have someone 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. I know this all sounds very dramatic but I've seen attendees burst into tears or get into vicious fights with close friends where they had to change hotel rooms. Get help if you need it.

#10. Take breaks

If you start feeling exhausted or it's just stopped being fun, cut yourself off from the chaos for a bit. Go hang out in a dark room watching anime for a few hours or go swimming. Ask everyone to let you have the hotel room to yourself for a bit. Sometimes it's just too much humanity for too many days in a row.

#11. Get your sleep.

If you're prone to insomnia, do whatever you can (white noise, sleep masks, lavender oil, melatonin, whatever works) to make sure you sleep through the night. Maybe you're one of those people that doesn't need much sleep; but most of us will feel any severe sleep deprivation hit hard at SDCC after a day. At least take a disco nap before you go out.

Enjoy your weekend. Make it a leisurely one.

Where we are with Conan

12 JULY 2018

Since it whirled into our Comic-Con lives in 2015, Conan has been one of the major gets of SDCC. It's always been tough to get tickets but the first two years felt somewhat manageable. Last year took a turn into chaos, with ticket holders turned away and standby line campers wasting part of their Con on a pointless endeavor.

This year seems to have gone in a different direction; it seems that hardly anyone got tickets. Obviously some people did but those of us with extensive SDCC networks have noticed an eerie lack of confirmations. So here are a few thoughts.

  • Some people have found they do have tickets when they check their 1iota accounts - even though they didn't get an email. So check yours.

  • It's possible the ConanCon team is being extra cautious to make sure they can accommodate everyone, after having to turn people away last year. So maybe additional confirmations will still trickle out as we get closer and they feel comfortable releasing people from the waitlist. That said, I doubt they will be high in number even if this happens.

  • If you don't get a ticket, you can still ask around and see who has extras - but this year, you're part of a very large group and the odds aren't in your favor. Ditto with standby. My advice is to move on and plan a different day. Ultimately Conan is very time-consuming and pretty much hijacks your day for a brief taping. Make peace with not going and find something else to do. It's not like you lack options.

I know this has felt like a tough year overall, but I really believe that everyone will feel the same SDCC spirit once we're all there. Try to stay positive and I'm sure you'll come up with some kind of adventure.

What to wear to Comic-Con

11 JULY 2018

Hey, fashion plate. What are you wearing to Comic-Con?

If you're packing jeans and shorts and t-shirts and that's about it - congratulations, you'll fit right in. See the random attendee sampling in the above photo. But that's most of us, not all of us. I know some of you want to look like you're on a red carpet and some of you just aren't sure about weather and dress codes.

First of all, be assured that no one will mock your outfit at SDCC. This isn't a cotillion. People tend to dress for comfort and as for those attendees in outrageous outfits, no one even blinks. This is an independent-thinking crowd. But if you're a first-timer, the below should help.

Nerdwear: Don't worry about being challenged to prove your knowledge about the gaming character or superhero on the shirt you're wearing. Someone may yell out a quote in a spirit of shared fandom, but you usually won't encounter one of those alpha nerds who like to make people feel inadequate about their nerd knowledge. And don't feel like you have to be deliberately obscure or go in the other direction and be trendy. Wear whatever you want.

Cosplay: Even if you love your costume and the way you look in it, bring alternate outfits just in case. You may get sick of being stopped to have your picture taken, or you might get hot and itchy.  Or you could just sort of deteriorate and look less magnificent as the day goes on due to wig issues, broken weapons, etc. Experienced cosplayers know their limits, but new ones tend to want to change back into street clothes sooner than they think.

Formal wear: I used to shop for Comic-Con like it was the Super Femme Olympics, bringing an array of day and evening outfits, 6 pairs of heels, etc. Now I'm a lazy dresser because who cares? But if you lead the kind of fancy life where people might whisk you off to some kind of formal event, bring something - don't assume you'll have time to go shopping.

Shoes: Obviously bring something cushiony and comfortable. If you're really into flip-flops, be aware your toes may be stepped on when the Exhibit Hall gets crowded. If you don't have a pair of supportive shoes already, you'd better buy and break them in every day. And bring moleskin, bandaids and maybe insoles. Talk to the nurses and servers in your life; they always know all the latest supportive footwear tricks.

Weather: As someone who gets cold easily, I find San Diego nights chilly. I always bring a hoodie and a few sweaters. If you're planning on spending the night outside, I would advise bringing something warm to wear, in addition to whatever blanket or sleeping bag you've got. If you're going to camp through the day and night, wear layers so you can bundle up at 4 a.m. and then peel it all off under an 11 a.m. sun.

Amount of clothes: Don't count on being able to do laundry. I know people who will bring two outfits and alternate them, but you have to realize how grimy Comic-Con can be. You're going to be brushing up against people, leaning against walls, sitting on grass, sitting in seats a sweaty person just sat in, hustling through the Gaslamp under a hot sun, and basically sullying yourself in incremental stages all day. I can't wait to shower the Con off before dinner and there's no way in hell I would wear the same thing that night. Maybe you're not that squeamish, but you'll definitely still want to make sure you have enough clothes.

Makeup and sunscreen: If heavy makeup is part of your cosplay - or you typically wear a full face everywhere - be aware that the Exhibit Hall can get humid and that the hustle between rooms, or between the convention center and the Gaslamp, can leave your face in a smeary mess. That goes double if you're wearing a hat, wig or any kind of headgear. What works in your air-conditioned office can be streaky and melted by noon at the Con. Consider bringing fixative sprays or a repair kit. Bring a good supply of sunscreen as well.

Backpacks and purses: You will need some type of bag to carry your extra phone battery, water bottle, sketchbook, charger, program guide, collapsible chair, lunch and so on. This is especially critical if your hotel is distant, since you won't be able to quickly go back to your room and then return.

Basically, the goal at Comic-Con is to endure. Vanity is beside the point. We all wind up looking rumpled and tired and no one cares. As long as you're comfortable and can meet whatever daytime or nocturnal opportunity arises, you'll be fine.

Let's talk about New York Comic Con

11 JULY 2018

In four days, the general ticket sale for New York Comic Con will go live. You may know this if you're one of many restless SDCC attendees who've decided to seek more Con action in other cities. I've been hearing NYCC mentioned a lot the last few weeks - but often in a vague, not-terribly-well-informed way. So here are a few facts and opinions on buying NYCC tickets.

Is NYCC worth going to?

Yes. But it is different from San Diego, so don't view it as its East Coast twin. I know a lot of people love that feeling of immersion as they walk around the Gaslamp and hit various activations or take pictures of cosplayers. You won't have that exact experience in New York - the Con doesn't engulf the city in the same way. And you're less likely to see celebrities out and about.

However, there are more events to go to - game nights, concerts, comedy shows, benefits, poetry readings, live art shows, you name it. "Super Week" can actually offer too much of a good thing. There's also a more sophisticated bent to some events than you'd see in San Diego. Some are more hipster, others more mainstream. Basically, you'll have your choice of nightlife - whether they're official Con activities or not.

And the programming at NYCC has really improved over the years. On a Hollywood level, this Con is willing to expand the boundaries of who and what it showcases - you'll see movies and TV shows that you won't at SDCC. I find San Diego panels to still be more satisfying but that's me; most people will find something they like.

On a comics level, I'd say NYCC has the edge.

Is NYCC bigger than SDCC?

These Cons have gotten out their rulers time and again to argue about who has what attendance numbers and how those numbers are calculated. I think right now it's accepted that NYCC has more attendees but that's only because they can accommodate more - if SDCC could sell badges to everyone who wanted one, I believe they'd be biggest. All that matters is yes, they're both apex Cons.

Is it hard to get a ticket?

Not as hard as SDCC but getting there. You do need to be prepared, but your preparation outweighs luck. You'll get in if you work for it.

Is it hard to get a hotel room?

No. It's New York. And prices are reasonable.

How do I get a ticket for this year?

You won't, most likely. Just as SDCC has "Member IDs," NYCC has "Fan Verification." If you didn't already complete your profile, you can't take part in the upcoming sale. Fan Verification will open back up and you can then buy any remaining tickets. But I wouldn't count on getting a full ride.

So should I skip SDCC next year and just do NYCC?

No, I'm not saying that. San Diego has a charm all its own. Plus next year it turns 50! There should be some special celebrations afoot.

I am saying that if you really want a big Con experience, consider NYCC - especially if you're in that half of that country. I know a lot of you are done with the SDCC badge sale stress, the hotel room situation and what this year feels like a lackluster studio presence. This week's ConanCon results have also upset a number of attendees. If San Diego is no longer working for you, NYCC is a good place to sow the seeds of your future attendance. Because like SDCC, it's something to plan in advance.

Going it alone at Comic-Con

10 JULY 2018

If there's one theme you hear in connection with Comic-Con a lot, it's friends. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else; I'm always telling people to make friends online or go to certain panels to meet people or make plans to see their friends. But the reality is - and people don't talk about this much - is that a lot of attendees go to San Diego Comic-Con alone.

It's not that surprising. Obviously some of us really embody the shy introverted nerd stereotype and don't have many friends to begin with. Some of us start out with Con friends but then they have kids or mortgages or just lose interest and suddenly we're the 35-year-old whose friends think Comic-Con is childish. Or sometimes we're all set to embark on an SDCC adventure with a boyfriend or girlfriend and then ouch, we break up and now it's too late to get someone else a badge. There are a lot of reasons people wind up there alone.

If this is you - or you're technically going with someone but know you'll do everything separately - I have a few tips for you.

It's fine to be alone, but Con life is much easier with teammates.

I'm talking about line shifts, having someone pick up an exclusive while you're watching Preview Night pilots, bringing you food or holding your seat. Attendees are generally pretty nice people who will honor your place in line while you hit the restroom but overall, it really helps to join forces with someone. On that note...

Even if you don't want to bring someone, consider being part of a Comic-Con group. 

If you hang out online in various nerdy/Con spaces, you eventually drift into these digital tribes where everyone supports each other in badge sales, hotel sales and even panel/offsite access. Consider making this effort even if you're very shy in real life. You don't have to become boon companions once you're at the Con but a little support is nice. It might seem odd to you to become line partners with someone online but these arrangements tend to work out pretty well once you get there. Give it a shot.

Talk to people once you're there.

Look, I hate small talk. I am not chatty with strangers by any means. But there is something about SDCC where everyone somehow easily converses with everyone else. There's always something to talk about - the jerk who tried to cut in line, a celebrity bar story, some kind of badge or wristband fraud, a fistfight in an exclusives line - and people are generally chill and open with each other. You don't have to be pushy, but just participating in these conversations (and they will inevitably spring up around you) can help you make worthwhile and even lasting connections. Remember - you are around people who share your interests. This isn't like being forced to talk to your bigoted neighbors or your coworkers who think having a comic book collection is sad.

Look for fandom meetups, happy hours and dinners.

You don't need to feel awkward walking in (though you probably will) because most everyone else there is a stranger too. Yes, this includes people who "know" each other online. Meeting your favorite forum or Twitter friends in real life can feel even weirder than meeting a regular stranger. No one's what you expect! So just roll with it, introduce yourself and see what happens. You will usually click with at least one person (if not several) in the group. And don't worry about the "odd one" - it's Comic-Con. Most of us are a little odd. Your social awkwardness is completely fine here.

If you're looking for company, say so.

I can think of at least a dozen times when I've been talking to someone who openly says, "I'm here by myself. Can I hang out with you guys?" There's always this adoptive spirit at Comic-Con where people enjoy adding strangers to their wolf packs. So if you're on your own and want some company, just say it. SDCC attendees are generous that way. It's not a snobby crowd by any means.

And if you're extra alone - alone in your hotel room at night while you listen to the city revels outside - do not make the mistake of thinking you're the only one. Lots of attendees are in your shoes. You have the power to make your Con as social as you want it. It just takes a tiny bit of effort.

Calling all first-timers

 9 JULY 2018

Is this your first San Diego Comic-Con? If so, I want to hear your story.

Like a nerdy Elizabeth Bathory, I love seeing Comic-Con through virgin eyes - which is why I've collected stories from San Diego Comic-Con first-timers for many years. I like hearing what they thought, their biggest mistakes, their biggest wins, and if they'll try to return next summer. 

I've noticed that many people who've been hitting SDCC for a while begin to operate within their own comfort zones and tune out much of what the Con has to offer. We also become accustomed to the inconveniences; we don't even blink when a volunteer sends us to the wrong room or someone's foam wing pokes us in the head. That's just part of SDCC. But first-timers who are used to having more control over their environment can be taken aback by some of the inherent Comic-Con chaos. And conversely, they can be enraptured by small wonders we senior attendees take for granted.

Seeing Comic-Con through fresh eyes also helps all of us experience SDCC vicariously through attendees who don't share our interests. Because there isn't one Comic-Con experience - the gaming couple who focuses on tournaments has a very different Con from the women who camp out for Hall H, who in turn has no idea about the comic nerds bouncing from IDW booth to Image panel to DC signing, who can't imagine what it's like as a cosplayer competing in the Masquerade.

And while you as a first-timer can benefit from the experiences of old-timers like me, you can learn just as much (if not more) from people who were recently new.

So. If you have a tale about losing your San Diego Comic-Con virginity - you loved it, you got a photo with the Riverdale cast, your hotel room was wrong, you lost your cosplay wig - I'm all ears if you want to tell it. Because while I don't know precisely what kind of Con you're going to have, I do know you'll come out of it with some incredible stories.

You can shoot me an email during or after the Con. I'll remind you of this again -  but if you want to get on my list now, let me know by emailing sdccguide@gmail.com.

Be sure to claim your ConanCon tickets if you get some

9 JULY 2018

By now we've all seen the release of 2018 ConanCon tickets. We got a special promo code, as we have before, but things are a little different this year.

If you get off the waitlist, you'll get an email telling you you have tickets. You'll have log onto 1iota.com and claim them - or you basically won't have tickets.

Supposedly we'll also have to show our badges or barcode confirmation email when you get your wristband, but I'm not sure that will actually happen. Bring yours to pick-up just in case.

And remember, if you're waitlisted for real - don't give up. People will bail on Conan, or have spare tickets to offer. This is just the beginning.

How will you spend your last day at Comic-Con?

8 JULY 2018

Two weeks from tonight, the San Diego Convention Center will close its doors to you and you'll be left to plot and hope and hoodoo your way into a 2019 badge. Hard to believe, isn't it? On the one hand, we can't say Comic-Con came up fast this year when we've had our badges since last year - but on the other hand, this protracted waiting has altered my inner clock and probably some of yours.

Let's look at Sunday programming. First-timers, Sunday is known for a few things - there are a lot of panels and activities for children, there's a slightly lighter schedule overall, and there are also plenty of sweet deals to be had in the Exhibit Hall. It's also the day Hall H turns into a magnet for several obsessive fandoms, like Supernatural.

We'll start there.


Hall H brings you Riverdale, Supernatural, Mayans MC/Sons of Anarchy and Legion. Many, many attendees will spend all their Hall H capital on this day so you'll really need to be prepared if you want to get in - never mind get a good seat.

So many appealing premieres in 6BCF! Scooby Doo and the Gourmet Ghost kicks off the day at 10 with real celebrity chef voice actors. DC Super Hero Girls: Legend of Atlantis premiers at 12:15 and that's followed by Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis at 1:45 pm. Everyone there will get an exclusive mini LEGO figure.

Super Asian America talks about the gains made in Hollywood at 2:45 in 5AB.

Westworld science and the mysteries of human nature will be discussed in the Marriott at 3 pm. 

Finally, you can end the day with Buffy's musical episode at 3:45 in room 6BCF.

 Nerd Life

Are your kids ready to break out their best costumes? Go to the Indigo Ballroom at 11:30 for the Cartoon Network Costume Ball, with prizes, activities and clips from favorite shows.

Costuming and Cosplay Support for the Mature Player is in the Marriott at noon. This sounds like the broadest panel topic ever, promising to cover the history of comic culture, dating, bullying in your community, family and oh yes, cosplay.

Starship Smackdown XXV is in 6A at 2:45 pm.

If you're a shipper - regardless of whether your ardor applies to TV shows, books, gaming or movies - you'll want to go to the Marriott at 2 to talk about "how psychological factors influence character pairing preferences."

Diversity in tech and gaming gets examined at 2 in 24ABC.


The annual Winner Twins panel on How to Create Your Own Novel is back at 10:30 in room 8.

Kids of all ages get a manga tutorial at noon in room 11.

If you want to brush up your interviewing skills, go to Proper Pitching and Promoting at 1 pm in room 2.

Are your bambinos interested in drawing cartoon characters? There's a workshop for them in room 11 at 2.

If you're trying to make a creative career happen but have limited free time, report to 24ABC at 4 pm for the annual panel, Full Time Creative Work on a Part Time Schedule.

And if you're a game dev or writer trying to create effective VR narratives, go to 28DE at 4 pm.


The Beatles: Yellow Submarine is now a graphic novel. Room 25ABC at 10:00.

Or you can pay homage to Jack Kirby at 10 in room 5AB.

You can unleash your X-Men love in at 11:15 in room 5AB and get a special variant comic.

Social justice warriors and comics: it's the panel you've been waiting for. 11:30 am in room 2.

Your kids can yell out suggestions to artists who will draw their wishes at 1:30 in 23ABC.

What's the connection between mental health and comics? You can find out in room 2 at 2:30.

A pretty cool panel closes out the day: the comic book origins of Black Panther. 4:00 in 32AB.


The Christian Comic Arts Society will talk about their faith at 10:00 in 28DE.

If you haven't yet had enough panels on how to make a living being nerdy, there's another one in the Marriott at 10.

This is intriguing: are you burning with curiosity about the Comic-Con Museum? You can get a look at it by going to room 29AB at noon.

And finally, we have what some might call the most important panel of SDCC - Talkback, where CCI president John Rogers invites your most candid feedback. You can give him the gift of honesty at 3:30 in 23ABC.

So - the verdict is in and yes, this is a mild year. Frankly, I'm all about it. But if you're not, remember that next year is San Diego Comic-Con's 50th anniversary - and I'm sure you'll get all kinds of flash and dazzle then. For now, enjoy the fact that you'll probably encounter shorter lines and have more time to spend with your friends.

Saturday programming is up; are you into it?

7 JULY 2018

Saturday - it's the most crowded, odiferous day at San Diego Comic-Con and the first day to sell out each year. So does this year's programming live up to it? I found Thursday and Friday more to my liking, but maybe you feel otherwise.

Let's look.


In the big rooms, we have Hall H letting Warner essentially dominate the day. Deadpool 2, "Women Who Kick Ass" - this is a humdrum Hall H Saturday over all. But that's good news for fans who will have an easier time getting in to see their favorites.

Indigo Ballroom is a mixed bag. The Good Place, TV Fan Favorites, The Magicians and Cosmo - we can expect different fan demographics to pass in and out of the room today. Twin Peaks tops out the day at 8 and I'm thinking it'll be fairly accessible.

Then we have Ballroom 20, which seems to yield the most consistently good time. Black Lightning, The Simpsons, American Dad, The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, etc - if you're tired of trudging around the Con by Saturday, you can park yourself in here and enjoy a day of passive entertainment.

While I'm hearing mixed things about it, you can see Matt Groenig's new Netflix show Disenchantment in room 6A at 5:30 pm.

Kevin Smith returns to Hall H at 6:45 pm. Yes, this is probably a walk-in.

Are you one of those people who's never seen My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli? Then go watch it at the Horton at 7.

Nightmare Before Christmas fans who watched movie on Friday night can hear the creative team speak tonight at 7:45 pm in 6BCF.

You can also catch an uncut screening of Deadpool 2 at 10 pm at the Horton.

Comics and Anime

One of the shining gems of the day is Kohei Horikoshi talking about My Hero Academia and doing a live drawing. 11:15 am in room 6A.

IDW reveals their upcoming secrets in room at 1 in 25ABC. Or you can hear about the next big developments in Marvel comics at 1:45 - room 6A.

Did you know there's a Ray Bradbury Experience Museum? I didn't. The owner will discuss Ray's career in comics at 2 in room 9.

Yoshitaka Amano graces Comic-Con in room 24ABC at 2:30. Get there early.

 Latinx comic creators expand your mind at 3 in room 28DE.

Skybound writers talk about their work and the comics industry at 4 in room 8.

You can hear about alternative comics from various creators in 26AB at 4:30 pm.

Have you always wanted to get into manga? Go to this 101 panel at 5 pm in 28DE.

If you like to mix activism with your comic book life, at 8 pm you can go to Radical Activism in Comics in 23ABC - and if you're an LGB comic nerd, you can see the Prism Awards at the same time in 29AB.

Funimation favorites get highlighted at 7:30 in 7AB.

What's Crunchy Roll got up its sleeve? You can find out at 8:30 in room 7AB.


Themes - they're not just for English 101 term papers. Find out what they mean for writers like you at 10 am in room 2.

Comic writers, find out how to better communicate with your artist in room 11 at 2.

How ever will you break into comics? You have two shots at discovering: in room 4 at 11 am and at 3:30 pm in room 2.

Special guests tell you how to draw distinctive characters at 4 in 23ABC. You can also get better at figure drawing at 6 in room 11.

Self-publishing comes in for examination at 6:30 in room 2.

Nerd Life

Are you tired of being accused of being a fake geek girl? Of walking into comic shops and hearing snide remarks? Come and revel in your outage at 10 am in 29AB.

We also have several cosplay panels, including the ubiquitous how to be body positive panel and special focus panels on Doctor Who and Star Wars.

Disability, race and gender in comics come under a microscope at 10 am in room 4.

Remember the annual "Gays in Comics" panel? It's still at 6 pm but it's bowed to the inevitable influence of our ever-expanding acronym and changed its name to "Out in Comics." It's in 29AB and will be followed by a mixer in the second hour.


Frankenstein turns 200 this year and everyone is feeling the morbid love. Talk about his influence at 10 am in room 7AB.

NASA scientists want to tell you about their alien-hunting activities at 4:30 in 24ABC. Weirdly, they refer to Jabba the Hut as an alien.

Genetic Mutations! Will our grandchildren be part wizard? The Fleet Science Center will tell you at 6 pm in room 25ABC.

So those are some Saturday highlights. What do you think? I think it's the lightest day so far. But, even though I was planning on leaving SDCC Saturday night this year, the NASA panel at 4:30 and Twin Peaks at 8 may change my mind.

I know there have been many complaints that Comic-Con didn't bring the Hall H starpower this year. I feel like the programming thus far pretty much bears that out. I'm okay with that; but I know those of you who wanted to dwell in Marvel and HBO and AMC big screen glory may be feeling shortchanged. Try to look at that as opening up your SDCC schedule for more spontaneity. You will find something to do and I'm sure by Sunday evening, you'll feel satisfied.

I hope so, anyhow.

What do you think of Thursday panels?

5 JULY 2018

Today made it official: we got our first day of programming before ConanCon tickets went on sale. Did you think that would happen? Yeah, me neither.

Before we get into it, I want to say something to first-timers. One of mine (mine in the sense I bought her badge for her) has "only" a Thursday badge. She's no longer sure if she wants to go to SDCC (there's a lot of that this year) because well, it's just one day so why take the train from L.A. and bother with it all.

I know some of you are thinking the same. So let me explain a few things - one, starting out small on your first Comic-Con is a smart move. Doing the Exhibit Hall and a few panels on Thursday, going out Thursday night, then doing the offsites on Friday, is plenty of Con for anyone. You're going to get tired at SDCC, even if you're energetic. Also, skipping this year and waiting for next year is overconfident. You're only eligible for Returning Registration if you actually walk in the doors of Comic-Con. Otherwise you'll be relying only on Open Reg next year and likely winding up with another partial badge or none at all.

Okay, I'm done with my lecture. I just want to stress that yes, SDCC is worth it for one day or the Thursday/Sunday split. Now let's see what Thursday brings us - or at least a few highlights.


Ballroom 20 is a mixed bag. Pokemon, A Discovery of Witches, Bobcat Goldthwaite, Marvel, Charmed - I'm sure some attendees will stay for all of it, but most will stream in and out. Shouldn't be too hard to get into Ballroom 20 today.

Same for Hall H. Obviously you Predator fans will be there, same with Dragon Ball, and we also have Chris Hardwick hosting Doctor Who - kidding! just seeing if you were paying attention - and then Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Wait, what? This is Hall H, not room 6BCF. Well, as someone who slept outside to see an X Files panel years after it went off the air, I suppose I can't judge. All in all, this sounds like an accessible day in Hall H once you manic Whovians get your fix.

Indigo Ballroom is for lovers of paranormal TV and John Barrowman fans. Vampires, mermaids, zombies, soft sci fi, it's all there.

Oh and speaking of the X-Files: you can go to the library at 1pm for "an open conversation on the effects of the plot of the show in the 21st century, "The Scully Effect," and the fandom's self-sufficiency to create a preferable narrative." I.e., if you hated the Cigarette Smoking Man reveal, you can bitch about it/Chris Carter here.

And doubly speaking of shows we used to love, you can go to a Battlestar Galactica panel at 2 pm in room 5AB. You might also win an autographed 700+ page hardcover book about the show. There's also a Westworld panel at 4 pm but apparently it's more about legal this and that than the meaning of the season finale.

Room 6A has a weird but compelling mix of panels: TMNT, the anniversary of 2001: Space Odyssey, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Magnum PI and Kevin Smith.


Room 23ABC offers a range of comic book content: webcomics, comics journalism, being a comics editor, getting your youngsters started on the comic nerd path and more.

And so does 29AB, with panels on British comics, manga, comics and professional wrestling and more.

You can honor Michael Turner's legacy at 1 pm in room 9.

Do you rely heavily on Comic Buyer's Guide? You can celebrate it at 10:30 in room 4 and stick around to discuss YA comics and women in comics.

Mexican comics get the spotlight at 7:30 pm.

Vampirella is 50! Go to room 8 at 5:30 to celebrate.

Nerd Life

The Marriott Marquis always hosts cosplay and lifestyle panels and this year is no different. Cosplay 101, RPGs, managing your nerd finances, bringing up baby geeks - you could spend all day in here. Solitary attendees, know that these panels can be a better way to make friends than your typical TV pilot or comic creator discussion. If you want to expand your social network at SDCC, consider these.

The Horton Theatre has some comforting panels for you on friendship, mental health, body positivity, woman power and fairytales/speculative fiction.

You can discuss diversity in comics at 11 in room 9.

28DE has several options for rainbow nerds: you can hear about LGBTQ in pop culture at noon and then come back at 5 pm to talk about being black and queer in popular media. 

Are you a feisty Resistance activist? Go to 32AB at 8 pm to meet other "politically engaged geeks."


If you were born under the scribbling star, you've got several writing workshops to attend. Some are brought to you by Comic-Con fixture Maxwell Alexander Drake. You can find out how to write action scenes in a novel at 10 in room 2, go to a Writing 101 workshop at 3 in room 11 or go to the Marriott at noon for a 2 hour writing session - followed by a writer's coffeehouse.

Discuss pitching and media relations in room 8 at 10:30 and 11:30.

Room 2 has multiple drawing workshops and digital inking advice, followed by figure drawing advice. Room 11 talks more about digital color at 2 pm.

Letterers, inkers and colorists have their moment at 3 pm in room 9.


National Geographic's Mars panel kicks off my day at 11 in room 7AB.

Goths and fans of the English Romantics, please join me in the Mary Shelley panel at 4:30.  Oh, and it's preceded by a Ray Bradbury panel at 3:30, all happening in room 26AB. This is why I love Thursdays.

Curious how MIT geniuses are inspired by comics? Find out about their future breakthroughs at 2:00 in 28DE. Then stick around to hear about the time Snoopy went to his space and NASA played a role in it at 3:00.

Or you can hear from real women scientists - what will they think of next! - including from the Fleet Science Center at 1 in 25ABC.

Favorite title of the day: "Finding Comfort in the Apocalypse." Cory Doctorow, Elizabeth Hand and others want to discuss our imminent mass extinction at 1 pm in 32AB.

Art During The Holocaust will feature an actual camp survivor in room 4 at 1:30.  Real propaganda and art from the era will be shown.

The Science of Cool is at 5 pm in room 5AB, where various scientists wander over from the Tech Pavilion at the Omni (you should go to this, don't skip it) and talk about AI, robotics and more.

So what do you think? I like Thursdays precisely because they dish up science panels; I know some of you consider Thursday your offsite day, but I'm guessing most people will mix up their day, attending a panel or two but also staking their claim on whatever offsite line calls to them the strongest. (Assuming they find one.)

First-timers, one more plea for Thursday. You will get into these panels more easily than say on Saturday. Instead of spending 6 hours in line for 1 panel, you can cruise around the Exhibit Hall and catch your favorite panels and generally maximize your day. Which means I expect to see you Thursday.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Please don't buy a fake SDCC badge

26 JUNE 2018

When you want a badge to San Diego Comic-Con, you naturally see yourself as a hunter. A badge is the skittish deer that may or may not come into your crosshairs during Open Registration. And if it doesn't, you may consider buying one from the many ads on Craiglist, StubHub, Offer Up and other sites.

Scalpers have always sold off SDCC badges, both real and fake, but this year it seems to be a cottage industry. So many ads for badges! Prices vary; and I have it on good authority that the sellers who can vouch for themselves and sell in person can command the highest $$$. I think there's a growing perception that you can buy your way into Comic-Con, as long as you have a reasonable social network and a healthy bank account.

In that scenario, it's still natural to feel like you're the hunter. Here's the thing, though, you're not. You're the deer and it's your head that could wind up mounted as a trophy in some scalper's metaphorical game room.

I'm not going to lie: I do know people who've bought badges to Comic-Con and did so successfully. I'm not going to pretend it never works. But I also know people who've been scammed and some of them have heartbreaking stories. (Like the couple that blew a small fortune on airfare/hotel only to arrive and be turned away or the high school kid who literally spent his entire savings on a badge that wasn't real.)

CCI has shared their usual warnings about international crime rings, VIP/guest/"my friend works in Hollywood" badges and fraudulent brokers who pretend to be a CCI affiliate. Don't fall for any of that. You will be taken for a ride. And no matter what scenario you stumble across, there are compelling reasons you're taking a risk.

  • If it's a fake badge, you're out of luck (and your money.)

  • If it's a real badge, but CCI managed to identify the seller and deactivate the badge, you're still out of luck/money.

  • If someone asks you for ID in the convention center, you're screwed. I know everyone says this doesn't happen but several of my friends have been forced to prove their driver's license matched their badge.

  • If you're working with a professional scalper, you're feeding a black market that's unfair to legitimate attendees. I know some of you think CCI has raised badge prices too often - but you only have to look at other Cons, where a single "experience" can cost more than an entire SDCC badge, to realize the cost is reasonable. CCI has made it clear they don't want SDCC to be restricted to the wealthy.

  • If you get caught, you can get banned from Comic-Con.

I know some of you will send me haughty emails announcing your successful back alley/online badge transaction. Good for you. But I think people ought to know that there are risks involved - and that they can increase their odds of safely getting a badge for 2019 (50th anniversary!) by making friends in the online community and working with them in the badge sale.

And by that, I mean you can always email me about next year, read other blogs, join the Friends of Comic-Con forum and get yourself educated and connected. The summer of 2019 will be here before you know it - so don't blow your money on some half-assed badge fraud this year. It's not worth it.

What's your badge status?

24 JUNE 2018

Since badges began shipping out, most attendees have anxiously watched their mailbox. In true SDCC fashion, this has not been a serene process. If you're nervous right now because your badge is not yet in your hands, fear not - you're in good company.

There's a whole spectrum of badge statuses right now, such as:

You received an email telling you your badge shipped out, but it's still en route. I have two friends on opposite coasts who both tracked their badges to a predicted Saturday arrival - but neither of them had it as of last night.

You received an email telling you your badge shipped out, but the tracker says it's still in a pre-shipment status. That's me and two other people I know. These emails went out on 19 June. Did they fall off a truck somewhere? Did a CCI staffer jump the gun in emailing us? No idea. I'm giving it a few more days before a polite email.

You received a badge and it has someone else's name on it.  It happens. Contact CCI.

You haven't gotten an email at all. If this is you, I'd email CCI this week just to check.

You received an email telling you your badge arrived at someone else's house, as planned, but now that person isn't answering your texts and emails.  I don't know anyone this has happened to this year - but if that's you, wait a few more days and then tell them you'll be contacting CCI to have your badge deactivated since they're acting shady. There's no excuse for radio silence when an SDCC badge is in play.

You received your badge, smugly posted a photo online, and now a scammer is using that photo in a fraudulent Ebay auction and CCI has banned you from Comic-Con. Okay - this is another category where I don't personally know anyone this year it's happened to, but it's happened in the past. If you have to brag on Instagram, cover your name with your dog's paw or something.

You got your badge but you wanted the cosmonaut pin and got the regular one. Most people are getting the regular one. You can buy the little cosmonaut at the Con.

In the flurry of online badge chatter, you realized you never validated your shipping address and now your badge will not ship at all. I know one person who had missed the validation deadline due to password trouble; CCI worked with her to still mail out the badge. But that was weeks ago. At this point, you'll probably just have to pick up your badge at the Con.

People have been sharing their badge anxiety all week; I know the waiting is hard, but remember that somehow, some way, you will get your badge. Even if it gets lost or swiped, CCI can kill it from afar and provide you with a new one onsite. And no matter what happens along the way, I think we can all agree that this is way easier than the years we stood in line for hours/overnight just to pick up our badge.

Did you order your SDCC gear yet?

21 JUNE 2018

Today I tweeted an announcement I thought would be useful to at least a few people: Amazon Prime Day is coming late this year. It's not until 2 days before Comic-Con, in fact, making it too late to order SDCC supplies unless you want to bother with a hotel delivery. In the past, Prime Day has been a ripe opportunity for Con shopping so I thought it was worth mentioning.

But two of my first-timers texted me in a panic. Isn't the whole point to save your money for Comic-Con? they asked. Well, yes, for fun stuff. But you should be lining up basic supplies that can make your Con more comfortable. Here are a few things you might want to buy/order now.

Backup batteries. Your phone and other devices will run down quickly from being used so much and you may not be able to charge them quickly. The fastest way to stay powered is bringing along a few extra batteries. Bring extra/portable chargers as well.

Air hammocks and portable chairs. Whether you're sharing a hotel room or camping for Hall H, this is infinitely preferable to sleeping/sitting on the floor or ground. Especially when you're in line for several hours, blankets and pillows only go so far.

A good water bottle.  The advanced kind that keeps your water cold for a long time, not a terrible plastic one that's been sitting in a cupboard forever.

Drugs and braces. Wraps, orthotics and other supports can make a difference in your ability to get around Comic-Con without pain. Same for painkillers, muscle ointment, moleskin and other salves. This goes double if you're out of shape or prone to headaches or have a bad back/knee. I idiotically broke a toe last weekend and even though I'm sure I'll be healed by SDCC, I'll still pack a little splint for support.

Nerd clothes. I've noticed a lot of first-timers think they have to wear some kind of superhero t-shirt or other nerd-signalling apparel at SDCC. That's not true, you can wear whatever you want. But if you want to wear some special fandom shirt, start looking now because you can't necessarily count on finding it on the floor. Unless you're looking for one of 8000 Chewbacca and Daryl Dixon and Batman shirts, that is.

Good, supportive shoes. Even if you don't plan on walking that much (something first-timers say a lot to me), your feet will be happiest if you bring some super-cushy shoes. Yes, even if you're normally too glam to wear big dorky shoes. I used to think like that. It's a classic case of "no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy" - your vanity will die faster than you can imagine once you're in the grime of the Exhibit Hall.

Sketchbooks and journals. Honestly, these you can get quite easily on the floor - but I know Con attendees have made scrapbooking a thing in recent years and some of you need an extra special leatherbound dragon-embossed journal with plastic photo protectors, etc.  If you want to document your SDCC experience, start looking now.

GoPros, cameras and phones. If you're clinging to a cracked-screen phone that barely works or if you assume you'll be able to march selfie sticks or massive camera crews through the crowd - you should think about getting a more workable device for the Con. It's worth it.

I know this seems like a snoozer of a pre-Con season so far - but we've got ConanCon tickets coming up, the programming will be announced very soon, and we'll hear about more events over the next few weeks. Take advantage of this downtime to get your basics in order.