My first Comic-Con was kind of a frightening and horrible experience. I’m not all that keen on crowds, and I’m quite keen on personal space, so I kinda wanted to create my own exit with a flame thrower and run screaming to the sea. Also, downtown parking in San Diego sucks.
But now, after a few Comic-Cons, I’ve found some tricks to enjoying it:
1. Enter the exhibit hall from the ends. That’s where the comics stuff is, anyway: comics on the west end, artist’s alley on the east end.
2. If you go upstairs to the fan pavilion (I’m not sure that’s what it’s called, but it’s where fan groups have their tables and promote their local cons, it may be the Mezzanine), you can get a nice view of the exhibition hall from above and with windows separating you from the seething masses. It’s fun to look. Also, from there you can exit to a patio with harbor views. Fresh air is awesome. Also, there’s a little food court up there. I’m not recommending the food, but if you need a slice or a pretzel or a soda or whatever, it’s there.
3. Crossing the street is always frightening and painful. But now there’s a new pedestrian bridge. This isn’t a tip, because I don’t know if it’ll make things better. Like I said, it’s new. But I hope it makes crossing the street better.
[Update: The bridge does make crossing the street much better.]
4. Don’t plan on seeing anything. Just sort of check the schedule as you go along and drift into whatever looks interesting, as long as what looks interesting to you doesn’t involve movie stars or the big-name comics creators. Being a less popular artist or writer doesn’t equate to being a less talented or less interesting artist or writer. (But do plan on coming to my panel on middle-grade writing: Sunday, 1:45, 5AB.)
[Update: If you’re reading this post in a year other than the one in which I wrote it, I can no longer recommend coming to my middle-grade panel, because it happened in the past and time travel is B.S. so just accept your sadness and regret at having missed it, unless you didn’t, in which case, wasn’t it awesome???]
5. The CBLDF master classes are always cool. That’s where an artist draws stuff that gets projected on a screen and talks about her or his technique and process and stuff.
6. Don’t drag a roller suitcase across the exhibition hall floor, because I will trip on it and you will turn around and want to get in a fight with me and by then I’ll be a little bit tired and I’ll yell back at you. YOU HEAR THAT, GUY? JUST DON’T!
7. When you go grab a bite to eat, get off 5th Street. The other streets also have eateries and they’re quieter. I’m not going to tell you where I go to eat, because I want them to stay quiet.
8. This is the time to be the biggest, dorkiest, geekiest, nerdiest fan on the planet (who still observes social considerations). In other words, squee! Squee like the wind! That’s what Comic-Con is for. It doesn’t belong to Hollywood, it doesn’t belong to DC or Marvel, or even to writers and artists. It belongs to all of us. Have fun!