10 JUNE 2015
One of the most exciting days of Comic-Con season is here: the day the Exhibit Hall map goes live.
You can also see:
The Exhibitor List
The Fan Tables List
The Artist Alley list
The Small Press Area list
First-timers, none of this may mean much to you. It may also look rather overwhelming. And guess what? It IS - especially when you're there in the thick of it, surrounded by thousands of people with a giant zombie statue looming over you, a gaggle of Disney princesses trying to push past you, and the sounds of a video game demo booming in your ears.
Which is why you actually should spend some time on the Exhibit Hall map. As we get closer, you'll compile a wish list of treasures to collect - variant covers, an Adventure Time collectible for your sister, a signed edition from your favorite author. If you have a good memory as our kind tends to have, it's easy to assume you'll remember all of this and notice each item when you pass by it.
You won't. You won't have that kind of visibility, for one. The crowds will be too thick. (Yes, even on Preview Night which used to be reasonable and is now ungodly. The most uncrowded times are first thing in the morning for about 3 minutes and early evening before the hall closes.) And even if you can see everything a booth has to offer, it's likely they'll have a colorful circus of items on display, making it hard to notice your specific item.
Smart collectors know this and have their Exhibit Hall conquest down to a science. They know what booths are their priorities and where they are and the exact route they're going to take to obtain each item one by one. They are that methodical. You don't have to be that anal about it, but you should know the booth numbers you need to visit and where they are.
Fair warning, you're going to hear me harp incessantly on the need to be organized going into your SDCC experience. It's not because I'm a super-organized, mapped-out list maker to end all list makers. (Although I am.) It's because I constantly hear attendees express surprise and dismay that they "couldn't find" any of the exclusives and shirts and books they wanted to get. It really is best to make your Exhibit Hall shopping as navigable as possible, even if it feels like doing your homework on the front end. Because once you have that mapped out, you can relax and follow wherever the Tao of Comic-Con takes you and still get everything you want.