Fun fact: a year ago today, we were at Comic-Con. I was, at least. Were you there?
If so, then you know how to get ready - what to bring, what not to bring, how to pack and prepare. Such as:
- All of the issues and books you want signed.
- Anything you want to trade or sell.
- Contact information for all of the friends and professional contacts you want to touch base with.
- All of your promotional materials, samples for Portfolio Review and Comic Creator Connection, business cards, etc.
- A good, hardcover sketchbook if you're into collecting sketches.
- Your mini-drugstore: sunscreen for outdoor lines, bandaids and moleskin for your feet, aspirin for those throbbing Exhibit Hall thunder headaches, condoms for those late nights behind the Marriott pool, immunity boosters for all the germs you touch on the escalator, extra battery life for your cameras and phones.
- Your mini-grocery: snacks for your room, obviously, and things like fruit or granola bars to bring with you to the convention center. Also bring a ton of water. Comic-Con is dehydrating.
In terms of clothes: you definitely want comfortable shoes, a bathing suit for the hotel pool, and clothes for hot and cool weather. The San Diego climate is variable. And even if you're determined to stay in costume every day, bring clothes for an off-day. You might get sick of everyone taking your picture, or your costume might feel more itchy than anticipated when worn for 10 hours in a row. But don't overpack or bring a ton of shoes and elaborate outfits you won't end up wearing. I used to do this every year and then by Day 2, I would be back to the most comfortable outfit I had. Anyway, you'll need to leave room in your bags for all of your prizes.
I know I harp on this incessantly but here it is again: organize your gameplan. If you take a passive approach to SDCC, you'll experience 3% of the Con in total and maybe .5 % of what you hoped to. Use the MySchedule gizmo or make a spreadsheet or list, but document somehow the panels and events you want to go to. No one wants to fumble around with CCI's site on their phone or the event guide once they're there. List the booth #s of the exclusives you want so you know where to go.
If you're looking for some lost childhood treasure at the Con, scope out now what it sells for online. Don't assume a vendor on the floor will give you a "reasonable" price. I saw once what was marketed as a long-lost Edward Gorey book selling for over $100 - I immediately looked on Amazon and similar copies were selling for $8. It pays to check.
If this is your first time, make sure you grasp how ugly the badge line is. You can decide to get in line extremely early and get your badge at a reasonable hour, or join the line later and miss part of the day as you wait. If you're doing Town & Country on Wednesday, pack a day bag and get there early. It's way better to be one of the first to get your badge, then head down to the convention center and take in the sights then spend hours locked in the traffic leading to the hotel.
And finally, while I do think it's important to get organized, be open to change. Your Con experience might go wildly off the rails and lead you somewhere you never expected. Sometimes panels don't work out, exclusives sell out, and everything just feels different than you thought it would. Don't get too attached to a specific outcome and you'll have a much better time.