So you got a badge. Now what?

24 FEBRUARY 2015

We are 19 weeks away from Comic-Con. If you were one of the lucky ones who got a badge Saturday, that might sound interminably long to you, or it might sound not long at all.

You'd be right in both cases. Although we have some sales ahead of us - hotels and parking, namely - the next month or two are kind of a dead zone in terms of anticipation; more wishful thinking than solid news. (See the panel talk on my 2015 page for an example of baseless speculation.) The drumbeat of steady coverage and announcements won't start until May or so.

But that doesn't mean there's nothing for you to do.

Save money.

The obvious one. You're going to want to spend hard at SDCC, whether it's on drinks or comic books or collectibles, so put money aside now. And if you're freaking out about hotel bills - as in, you want to stay at a pricy downtown hotel but Mission Circle is more in your budget - you can find that extra 100 a night if you start a fund now.

Get in shape.

I say this every year and I think everyone ignores it. You don't have to be Jillian Michaels, but you do have to be able to walk long distances (sometimes fast, to make that panel) and endure sitting or standing in long lines. Don't think this doesn't apply to you; it applies to everyone. No one is carried around Comic-Con in a palanquin. If you want to enjoy your SDCC experience, rather than end up sore and stiff with blistered feet that can't walk one more step, get in shape. I know two comic book artists who are on their feet all 5 days and even though they're both basically fit people, they start hitting the exercise bike every winter.

Sell off your back issues and exclusives now, not at the Con.

First-timers tend to think that the Exhibit Hall is the ideal place to sell off their unwanted stuff. It isn't. Those vendors have enough physical merchandise they're trying to unload, and they won't give you top dollar for yours. Sell it off now when you can hold out for a good price.

Think about what you want out of Comic-Con.

I know this is vague. But it's important. You'll hear me say this about eight more times over the coming months - don't just show up and do SDCC on the fly. It's too crowded, chaotic and multi-faceted for that. I understand well the urge to be spontaneous and go with the flow and trust that Fate will steer you wisely, but that isn't how it works. (Well, for the most part. Some people do luck into a certain Con serendipity.) Unless you figure out what you want to see, where and when it is, and what you need to do to make it happen, you'll miss it. The crowds, the Exhibit Hall thunder and dazzle, your friends' ideas, will all pull you into currents that take you away from what you originally wanted.

I'd suggest looking through last year's programming, just to get a rough idea of the panels and activities that are available, and think about the kind of Con you want to have. Maybe you're all about seeing the Hollywood panels; maybe you want to network with industry people; maybe you want to go to parties and meetups; maybe you're all about completing collections or cosplay. It's good to at least sort out your priorities now.

Join your hotel’s rewards program

You don't know your hotel yet - but once you land after Hotel Day, join their rewards program. The free Wifi and continental breakfast are nice perks that can add up, and generally speaking, if you arrive at the hotel as a current member, rather than having to be talked into it at the reception desk, you get that extra layer of service - room changes and such.

Plan your costume. 

 First off, you don't have to dress up. Outsiders think we're all tramping around in costumes at SDCC like it's a huge nerdy Halloween party but cosplayers are the minority. Most of us wear street clothes. But if you do decide to dress up, start planning it out now. You might need to order something, sew something, change something that turns out to be itchy and uncomfortable or falls apart. I'm speaking, of course, to regular people. Hardcore cosplayers have been preparing their looks for months and they're usually ready to sacrifice comfort for aesthetics.
Prepare your materials.
A fair number of attendees come to SDCC to network and market themselves. If this is you, don't wait until the last minute to create sample art/pages, business cards, demos, scripts  and portfolios. Design and production can take longer than anticipated, so it's good to at least make your plan now. I've heard countless horror stories about expired domains, printing errors, disappearing partners - it happens. Trying to cram it all into June is to invite stress and mistakes, and the work won't be as polished and impressive as it could have been. If you need to ship anything, or print material at the Con, start figuring out the right facilities now for that too.

Come out of your cocoon.

If you want to be a social butterfly at Comic-Con, but you don't know many people there, you'll find many people in the same boat. Over the coming weeks you'll see people looking for others to have fan meetups with or happy hours or collectible and universe-based events. It might seem early to think about that - but if you're a shy person, there's no better way to make friends than to help organize something. If you decide to simply show up, often you'll talk yourself out of it. So for people who really want to meet others and branch out beyond the 2 friends they came with, start hunting around online now. If you have an idea, suggest it. There are 130,000 people coming to SDCC - some of them will share your interests. Don't forget to use the ConnectiKon app for this.

None of this, by the way, is to make SDCC sound like some laborious school project. But if you do some basic prep work in advance, you will have a better time and get to more of the stuff on your Con bucket list - I promise.


  1. Hi, Valerie!
    Just a comment about your getting in shape rec.
    Princess Gail and I have been wearing our FitBits for over two years now. The daily walking goal is 10,000 steps, which equals to about 5 miles. It is difficult to get that much walking in every day. But last year we walked over 15,000 steps each day of the Con, and nearly 100,000 for the week! We were glad we were in shape!
    Can't wait to do it all over again! :-)

    1. Thanks for the testimonial. People always think I'm exaggerating and I'm not! And it's a shame when people spend so much time and effort getting to SDCC, then wind up too sore to move by Friday morning.

      Now I'm curious how much I walk each day on average at the Con... You may have inspired me to adopt some kind of measuring device.