7 tips on not collapsing at Phoenix Comicon

3 JUNE 2016

So Phoenix Comicon has kicked off. And a more than a few attendees are struggling with the heat.

Phoenix Comicon has grown a lot over the years. It's got a couple of forces driving its expansion; one, it's in a city where an event of this type is a major deal, so that even non-nerds hear about it and get interested; two, the organizers have done a good job of partnering the advantages of a small Con with top-notch talent and a smorgasbord of events. Inevitably, that has led to Phoenix becoming one of the more well-known Cons, with the last two years drawing in 75-77K in attendance - and that's led to a significant out-of-town presence.

Not all of those people find it worth the trip. I know several artists, writers and vendors who've ranked past visits as a whopping financial loss, while many cosplayers have loved it. I personally find this Con to be a bit adolescent in flavor, and several of my friends over the geriatric age of 25 have also reported feeling old here. I do think there's good networking to be had and the local artists always throw some interesting after-hours parties. At any rate, you can read my earlier reports here.

What I'm concerned with today is preserving your well-being at this Con. Full disclosure, I haven't set foot in it this year, but today involved some long lines under the Arizona sun, and I know one visitor who has gotten sick and taken to her bed; another of my friends reported seeing someone semi-faint inside. I don't think visitors are always prepared for life at 111 degrees. And tomorrow, Saturday, is supposed to be 117 degrees; Sunday 116.

Please take the following advice seriously if you are not accustomed to these temperatures. You may think you can soldier through - but heat is nature's succubus and will drain you dry if you don't take precautions.

Prepare for the sun. That means sunscreen, obviously, but also sunglasses. The glare can hurt your eyes. Wear a hat if you can and don't be afraid to take a lesson from the goths and shield yourself with an umbrella. Don't worry about looking dorky; you can be vain and pretty inside the convention center. Once you start sweating and your makeup streaking, your look will be ruined anyhow.

Don't underestimate the heat, even if it "doesn't feel that bad" in the moment. Some people tolerate the heat better than others. I've noticed people with high blood pressure or high weight seem the most impacted by it. But it's very common for it to sneak up even on people who think they can tough it out, and then find themselves throwing up, fainting or just dead exhausted a few hours later. Heat sickness is a real thing.

Eat and drink wisely. You may want to gorge on Mexican food since you're in AZ, or pound the tequila. But eating a lot of salty food and drinking a lot of alcohol is generally going to make you puffy, dehydrated and more tired tomorrow. I hate to sound like a killjoy, but even regular drinkers can feel it hit them a lot harder when the temperatures go up to 115. Hangovers in that kind of heat are a circle of hell Dante couldn't dream up.

Get lots of sleep. Again, I'm going to sound like your maiden aunt, but the heat will tire you out more than you know. Maybe you typically get by on 4 hours a night at Cons and catch up on sleep when you're home, but I would not advise it this weekend. Get your rest.

Hydrate proactively. Dehydration can give you headaches, dizziness and muscle cramps and get worse from there; while thirst is a symptom of the early stages, sometimes the thirst actually goes away as it advances. Just drink tons of water whether you think you need it or not. Use eye drops to keep your contact lenses comfortable. If you're in a hotel room, you probably won't have a humidifier, so soak a towel in water and hang it up in your room to dry while you sleep. Same impact.

Watch your little ones and your older ones. Small children and seniors can be more susceptible to heat and sun than the rest of us - especially a kid in a costume. Even if you think it's no big deal to walk 3 blocks to a restaurant, your youngest might have a different experience.

Bring an alternate outfit. If you're determined to cosplay in something heavy, heat be damned, at least bring something cooler to change into just in case you feel yourself fading by lunch.

Probably all of this sounds like common sense. But people routinely abuse themselves at Comic Cons even in temperate climates, making themselves sick and exhausted before Sunday. 117 degrees is serious business, especially when there's a long outside line involved. Be careful and protect your energy and health so you can have the best time possible.


  1. Hi Valerie,

    FWIW, a friend of mine who served as a medic in Iraq where temps regularly reached 110-115 would agree with your hydration tips. I would just add a few other things to consider that he learned the hard way after treating soldiers for heat exhaustion and the much worse heat stroke: If you're not peeing often, that means you're not drinking enough. Also, you want to make sure that your urine is the color of lemon-aid. Anything darker is a sign of insufficient water intake. Sorry to talk about bodily functions here, but the heat in Phoenix this weekend is no joke.