Why you should care about the Exhibit Hall map

20 JUNE 2019

Happy summer solstice. Today - a year to the day they last published the Exhibit Hall map and other list - CCI announced:

Artist's Alley
Fan Tables
Exhibit Hall
Exhibitors List
Small Press List 

I know a lot of you are only concerned with Hollywood news, and some of you don't even set foot in the convention center except to swipe your badge.  And some of you think the Exhibit Hall map is dizzying just to look at and you'll figure it all out on arrival. But I do recommend studying it a little, especially for first-timers. Because there's no way to anticipate the impact of entering the beating heart of San Diego Comic-Con and how it can feel like you just walked into a beautiful but disorienting cult.

Here are a few reasons you want to be clear on your goals and figure out in advance where you'll achieve them:

You'll forget what you wanted to buy. Same with what you promised to pick up for your friends and coworkers. There's just so much to be dazzled by. It really helps to keep a list on your phone, with booth numbers of where you need to go.

The aisles are too crowded to notice everything. I'm pretty astute and even so, I constantly discover new things on my third pass down an aisle. Sometimes there's just too much to take in, sometimes it's too crowded to see everything, or a collection of Sith lords are posing for a shot and you have to detour around them.

You can discover great new artists and work. I definitely agree that SDCC is not the comic nerd's paradise it was once, and other Cons better fill that niche. A lot of what you'll see is the same stuff you've already picked through at Barnes and Noble. (RIP.) But if you put the effort in, you can find  some creators who are really talented but just aren't household names. Be open-minded and see what you discover.

You can close in on your prey much faster. Some attendees can get sour about how many event tickets, exclusives and other targets are gone seemingly even before attendees are let into the hall. They're not wrong - it happens. But there are still times you'll need to sprint to a vendor to get the last one or two items, or to line up for a popular photo op before it gets insane. It helps to know exactly where you're going.   

And it's just nice to read through all the vendors and see what's going to be there. For me, I can plot my path from NASA and the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum to the comic sellers. Collectors wanting something from Dark Horse or someone wanting to pick up a commission from their favorite artist can understand where they need to go. But reading through your options can also spark ideas and take you somewhere new.

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