First-timers: What to expect over the next 30 days

 24 JUNE 2024

30 days from tonight, we'll walk into the splendor and bombast of Preview Night. If you are a first timer, you might be wondering what to expect over the next month. Here's a quick summary of the announcements and updates to look out for.

Panels and programming

The big announcements: SDCC panels and programming are usually announced 2 weeks to the day before. So you'll get the programming for Thursday, July 25 on Thursday, July 11, etc.

The Exhibit Hall map

The Exhibit Hall is the nerve center of the convention center - a massive space full of vendor booths as far as the eye can see. It's crowded, it's chaotic, and the goods on sale range from tacky trinkets to rare nerd finds. Even if you are focused solely on parties and screenings, you'll want to take a spin through it.

Guest and celebrity announcements

CCI has already announced 7 rounds of special guests - but you'll hear about many more actors, directors, artists, writers, and creators who are confirmed to show up somewhere on the premises. I have never paid much attention to this but some fans/stalkers are tenacious about tracking down their targets.

Comic Creator Connection and Game Creator Connection

These vary slightly in methodology, but the basic premise is the same: networking and collaboration. I've heard people grouse about the lack of quality at Comic Creator Connection but a first-timer I know met someone there last year and they're now doing a graphic novel together. Basically, there's a hundred writers and very few good artists. I shudder to think of how many Chad GPTs who are neither will be there this year. 

Maybe an Ebay badge sale

Last year, CCI put badges on sale on Ebay. This tends to be a great option for someone who already has a badge but has a new boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend who really wants to go, or a group with one friend who didn't make the cut. Yes, it's much more expensive than a regular badge. 


Some companies will make a big fuss on social about their offsite activations; however, the best ones tend to fly under the radar until the Con is underway. Your best source here is fellow attendees, whose recommendations are more trustworthy than a marketing campaign. Pay attention early on; as word of mouth grows, the best offsites will grow longer and longer lines each day.

Shuttle map

SDCC shuttles go hither and yon, and it's good to know how and where you can leverage that free transportation - especially late at night when you wind up in unexpected parts of town.

Official 2024 merchandise

CCI t-shirts, hats, and pins tend to be pretty popular and some items do sell out, so pay attention to this. This will give you a basic idea of what to expect, though this crop isn't for SDCC.

Lotteries and sign-ups

Photo ops, autographs, and exclusives aren't easy to get; the process is tweaked from time to time and people always have some kind of complaint about it. Pay attention and if you have any questions on the process or instructions, ask people before you take your shot. I've seen people waste lottery entries because they didn't realize their options.

Local events

These aren't official, sponsored events, but you'll see plenty of promotions for bar specials, club parties, and other businesses trying to capitalize on SDCC. My only advice here is find out how far they are and don't travel too far - it's usually not worth it.

557 SDCC Checklists

Every website in existence, including this one, will publish some kind of "12 things to bring to Comic-Con" list. These are helpful if repetitive. What really matters is making your own list and staying organized rather than throwing a bunch of stuff into a duffle bag on the night of July 23.

Amazon Prime Day

This is a great opportunity to get things like air mattresses, cameras, orthotic supports, sketchbooks, sunscreen, etc. 

Essentially - you'll want to devote time every day to follow SDCC announcements. A lot of information will flow your way, a lot of it trivial, some of it meaningful, and it's easy to miss something that would be personally relevant to you. SDCC prep is a project - but it's fun and it pays off once you're there. If you haven't yet, create some kind of system now where you document your wish list, schedule etc. and make sure it's accessible on your phone. CCI has an app but it won't cover everything you're tracking.

It only gets better from here!

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