5 last minute Comic-Con reminders

15 JULY 2019

There's a lot of "how to prep for SDCC" details flying around right now - so here are the 5 things that can help you simplify your Con while getting what you want.

Make of a list of 3-5 Comic-Con priorities.
Showing up with a huge list of "must haves" is a fast track to failure. You'll spend time and energy on irrelevant trinkets. Narrow down what you want to 3-5 absolute can't-miss things - your top comics, exclusives, panels, people, signings, destinations, etc. Schedule your Con around them.

Set expectations with your family, coworkers and significant others.
Be ruthless. Tell them Comic-Con is sacred and there's no "downtime" for you to dial into a conference call or answer unending text messages. At the absolute minimum, schedule a daily check-in time and restrict them to it. If they really squawk, tell them connectivity is just so iffy and there's nothing you can do about it.

Build each day around a goal. 
Plans fall apart at Comic-Con - and we tend to underestimate how difficult it is to achieve multiple panels and events in one day. Have one primary goal each day and base all other decisions and schedules on your ability to achieve it.

Do a document check.
Check 7 times that you have your badge. Make sure you've printed any tickets, have contact information for everyone you're going to Conan, dinner or parties with, and understand exactly what you're picking up for your coworker or nephew. Have your hotel reservation info at the ready for when you check in.

Get your money in order. 
Transfer your funds around, bring a credit card with ample room and bring a healthy amount of cash. There's no such thing as being too flush at Comic-Con. And paying in cash can avoid those annoying credit card freezes where your bank wants you to verify that you really did just spend $817 in one hour in a new city on vendors with odd names.

Tips for SDCC first-timers: master class

14 JULY 2019

Welcome to a monster post on tips for San Diego Comic-Con first-timers. I am not addressing lines today, because that's a separate post coming this week - but I am offering tips and answering some of the most common questions people ask.

Exhibit Hall
  • Bring cash. It's just faster and easier.
  • Don't assume everything is a "deal." You can often find the same stuff for a lower price online. Check your phone and see if that book is really "out of print."
  • If you're dead set on a sketch or signing from a certain artist, check their Twitter or homepage and see what they say about their preferences for times and arrangements.
  • Barter strategically. This isn't a swap meet. It's fine to ask about volume discounts (and if you hesitate between buying 2 or more items, often the vendor will propose one) at any time. 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.
  • Expect to have your feet stepped on and your head bumped by someone's cosplay. It's a crowd of excited people - it's not personal so take it in stride.
  • Don't stop for multi-person conferences in the middle of an aisle - take it out to the lobby or the back terraces. And don't take a long time to snap a picture. Just get the shot and move on.
  • If you're trying to get from one end of the hall to the other, it's often faster to go out to the lobby and walk down, then go back in. 
  • Don't just grab postcards and items off booth tables - a lot of attendees assume they're free but they're not always.

Parties and events
  • If a line is long and not moving, bail. You're not getting in, no matter what your "confirmation email" says.
  • Some people are obsessed with private and VIP parties - especially because so many attendees have fish stories about That One Time at the Private Walking Dead Party. Sometimes (especially if you're female) you will be invited in or can simply walk in like you belong there and no one will question it. If you're able to do it, don't squeal all over everyone or ask for autographs. Continue to act like you belong there. But on the whole, don't obsess over these parties. There's plenty of magic scattered all over the Con.
  • Don't make a glamorously late entrance. You may not get in at all, even if you have a ticket. Show up on time.
You want to save your feet for when you need them - so indulge in pedicabs and Lyft to get around instead of walking 8 blocks. If you take the ferry to Coronado, realize it shuts down early and you may need to spend the night or rely on an expensive ride home.

Eating, drinking, sleeping
Do all 3 responsibly. I know that sounds dull but you're at San Diego Comic-Con and that is exciting - and to get the most out of it, you want to be in top form. Drink lots of water, eat good meals, take breaks, try to mix your all-night prowls with a good night's (or nap's) sleep in between. SDCC is inherently tiring and you're likely to crash hard otherwise.

Bring power packs or extra batteries. Getting a good charge can be tough in the convention center. 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 don't count on it. You can also walk over to the various hallways and lounges at the Marriott with their many outlets.

Bag check
It's in the lobby and will store everything you bought for a low fee, so you can roam free and unencumbered. But you can't leave your items there overnight.

Meeting people
You're going to make friends easily in line, in panels, at tournaments and offsites. Hooking up is a different story. There's a common perception that SDCC is a big nerd sexfest but I haven't found that to be true. Obviously people use apps just like normal and also meet each other in bars and parties. But in general, I don't have special SDCC advice on this topic - people always ask me how they can find their perfect geeky soulmate at the Con and it comes down to the same factors that work outside the Con.


You're most likely to see famous people passing through the lobby and halls of the Hard Rock, in hotel elevators, and in the Gaslamp very late at night. You're also most likely to see famous people you're mostly indifferent to. (Exception: when I ran into Zach Woods very early in the morning at the Omni. Not indifferent at all.) Whatever your encounter is, please be polite, non-crazy and respect their wish to ignore you or move away. And don't be the person who gets up to the Q&A mike and says something creepy or hostile.

They're people, not props. At this point, I can't even count the cosplayers I know who have been groped and harassed. One friend cosplaying as Iron Man agreed to pose for a photo and the woman grabbed his crotch while her boyfriend snapped the shot. That is not acceptable. Taking pictures is - but ask first. And if you're in the photo with them, keep a reasonable distance - they don't want dozens of sweaty strangers pressing up against them. Would you? 

If you arrive early enough to have some control over your room, ask for a room on a lower floor - you won't want long elevator waits or rides. Also don't be afraid to inquire about an upgraded room.

You'll see places with crowds spilling over the sidewalk and popular Con spots like The Broken Yolk or the Hard Rock Cafe - this year masquerading as The Good Place's pop-up pancake shop. Skip the line and gravitate toward the emptier places, where the food is just as good or better. If you're at the Marriott, Hyatt or Embassy Suites, the Headquarters on the other side of the Hyatt can usually seat people very quickly at the Cheesecake Factor and other restaurants. Little Italy is another good dining spot that isn't that packed.

Media coverage
Yes, you're in the thick of SDCC but you still want to check the online coverage - because you'll hear about events and collectibles and surprise guests you'd otherwise miss. If you are very focused on a certain TV show, actor or event, make sure you're glued to their Twitter. You may get lucky and hear about a surprise party or meet and greet.

  • If you get up to the microphone at a panel, be succinct and resist the urge to tell your life story. Fans can get lost in the moment and keep talking and talking. 
  • Don't hold your iPad or camera above your head for a prolonged period, blocking the view of the person behind you. 
  • Don't try to save an entire row of seats for your friends. Usually people are understanding about 1 or 2 seats with your bag/jacket on them.
  • Just as you would chat with people in line, be friendly with the people sitting around you. They share your fandom or interests - and they may have useful information for you. 
  • Most rooms will give out bathroom passes. If you don't want to negotiate that in the dark, locate the bathroom pass person before the lights go out. Note where people come in and go out because it's often on opposite sides of the room.

Security guards and volunteers
You'll see a lot of people in uniforms walking around. Let's clarify: volunteers are usually trained for one specific task (though they often know more than that based on their attendee experience) and convention center staffers can tell you how to get where usually, but don't know programming specifics. Your best source of information: attendees. We have encyclopedic knowledge of Comic-Con - not every aspect, but our own areas - and we share it generously. If you have a question, you can always ask someone wearing a badge.

Security guards have a variety of attitudes and need to be handled strategically. Some are quite nice. Some are probably nice 99% of the time, but are currently frustrated by the Con and about to snap. Others are on a major power trip. All you need to know is this: you will not win a confrontation with an SDCC security guard. If one is rude or controlling with you in a way you think is unfair, don't engage - just walk away and find another way to get what you want.

Specifically - manage them. The Con will disappoint you in some ways. You will almost definitely fail to get something you really wanted. However, Comic-Con also has the capacity to surprise and captivate you. You're on an adventure - expect the unexpected, summon your inner Zen master, and make the most of what happens. I just found out yesterday I can't make my Thursday Ray Bradbury panel, but I'm rolling with it and moving on. That's SDCC: one thing leaves and another walks in the door. Prepare as best you can, then be flexible enough to enjoy wherever you find yourself.

You're going to have a spectacular time.

The hottest panels at SDCC 2019

13 JULY 2019

Hey, did you know what the top panels are this year at Comic-Con? They're all in Hall H and they have names like Marvel and Westworld and Supernatural. Question answered!

Or not. Look, there are many enticing panels happening in the big rooms this year, but there are great panels happening in smaller rooms and even outside the convention center. It's all a matter of opinion, of course - but here's what I'm hearing people get the most excited about.

Obviously. Given that the panel runs 90 minutes, from 5:15 pm to 6:45 pm on Saturday, and features "surprise panelists," you can bet this is going to roll out the good stuff.

Bring a grief counselor.  This is the very final goodbye and that means the end of an era for a significant percentage of SDCC veterans. Hall H on Sunday morning.

George Takei
Too many people are anticipating this panel on They Called Us Enemy for room 25AB to hold them all. Line up early. 1:00 pm on Saturday.

Game of Thrones
Hall H on Friday will be packed anyhow, but this will be the motivating force for many in those seats - no matter how ambivalent they are about the final seasons.

The Witcher
Will Netflix deliver? You'll have an idea if you hit this panel, moderated by fan favorite Yvette Nicole Brown. Hall H on Friday at 2:15 pm.

Syfy's Great Debate
Ballroom 20 at 3:30 on Thursday. This is always fun and it's interactive - sort of - with great panelists.

The Russo Brothers
11:00 in Hall H on Friday morning. Obviously they'll feed you plenty of Endgame insights, but also satisfy your curiosity about their new studio.

Veronica Mars
Emotional panel and a big Friday morning draw in Ballroom 20 for the world premiere - 10 years after the original series.

Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing
What's ahead for the X-Men? Why are the moderators being so secretive? Saturday in room 6A at 1:45 pm.

Ray Harryhausen: The Lost Movies
Another nostalgic panel - but one that may be tough to get into, given that it follows NASA's alien search panel and Making a World of Monsters. I think a lot of people will line up for NASA and then stay straight through. Room 26AB at 6:30 pm on Friday.

I remember how much eye-rolling there was initially over Ruby Rose playing Kate Kane but now the pilot is poking at everyone's curiosity. If you don't see it Preview Night, you can catch it Saturday morning in Ballroom 20 at 10:30.

I'm 94% sure I can't make this, but the rest of you can head to Ballroom 20 Friday for the 7:15 or 9:30 showings. These DC animated premieres have been hit or miss but they're always entertaining on some level, and often followed by exciting announcements.

The Boys and Carnival Row
3:30 pm and 4:45 pm on Friday in Ballroom 20. If the Amazon offsite does its job and stokes anticipation even higher, these two shows (or just one) could wind up generating the most buzz post-Con - but we'll see.

Will Joe Hill's Creepshow panel finally convince everyone to subscribe to Shudder? Tricia Helfer, Adrienne Barbeau and Greg Nicotero make this an anticipated panel. 5:45 in 6BCF.

Remember when everyone lost their minds over the movie? And now we have a wintry show. This is in the Indigo at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and people will be highly motivated to see it.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Whether you read these books as a child or adult, whether you're coming for Guillermo del Toro or just like scary movies, this panel is a big get. Just remember you need to do the morning Horton ticket lottery for this. 4:00 pm on Saturday.

Ray Bradbury and the World of Comics
Everyone (with taste) loves Ray Bradbury and the fact that this panel is in the Museum theatre is just added catnip. I don't think it'll be impossible to get into but I do think it will be a much-loved panel. Thursday at noon.

DC Universe 
If you're physically zonked by Saturday night, settling into the Indigo Ballroom to watch footage of Doom Patrol, Harley Quinn and Titans and inevitably hear exciting announcements is a good way to spend your evening.


You'll notice I didn't mention many comics panels. That's not because I don't care - comic books are my #1 interest at Comic-Con - but rather because I feel this year is middling in that regard. I'm sure some people are excited to go see Scott Snyder, Jim Lee, Joseph Linsner,  Jim Starlin, Robert Kirkman, and the feminist/Mexican/LGB+ comic panels. I'm sure they'll be great. But I don't think they'll be that difficult to get into and I don't hear many people anticipating them. Rather, they're the kind of panels attendees know will be there year after year, and schedule in between their more competitive agenda items.

How do you feel about SDCC50 panels? About what you expected?