Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Comic-Con Prep: Countdown to #SDCC *Updated for 2016*

San Diego Comic-Con is so huge that tips aren't enough - you need to PREPARE. 
As of this writing it's 6 weeks to Comic-Con.  Here are some things to prep ahead of time:

You're Going To Need a Bigger Bag
SDCC Blog did a great roundup on fantastic backpacks for the more serious con-goers.  
The only thing I'd add is that Etsy isn't a bad place to check either. They probably won't be sturdy enough to carry all your Walking Dead comics, but if you're packing on the light side and looking for another way to express your fandom, you can find fantastic geeky bags, totes and backpacks that are handmade (Wonder Woman tote; Game of Thrones messenger bag, Sherlock backpack).  We got our denim backpack on Etsy from Poppy Patchwork, who does great work; we love it and use it for almost all our cons. 

Personally we prefer backpacks to purses, messenger bags or totes; it's easier to maneuver such large crowds with your hands free and the weight on your back rather than your side, but to each his own. Be mindful of personal space though; it's easy to smack someone with your large backpack when you turn around and don't allow room for your comic-stuffed pack. It's also generally considered good manners to apologize if you do swat someone right in the chest.

Best Prep You Can Do: Read and Watch  
--Comics! Read my piece on comic book recommendations

--Pop culture news sites and magazines:

--Books: no one's saying that you need to have read the entire A Song Of Ice and Fire series (well, actually, speaking as a Game of Thrones fan, you totally should), but if you've got any nerdy books on the nightstand, it can't hurt to be updated (World War Z; Hunger Games; anything by Neil Gaiman).

--SDCC Blogs: 

--Any shows you're a fan of that are likely to be at  SDCC (we like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead), and catch up on older pop culture shows as well - many of them are streaming on Netflix.  It's never too late to become a fan, even of a series long cancelled.  You're bound to find others with the same obsessions at SDCC, and expanding your geek horizons is a great way to meet new people. 

Note: make sure you're caught up on any shows, books or comics that are ongoing.  You want to be as updated as possible, because nothing's worse than getting spoiled in a panel because you haven't finished the latest season of The Walking Dead before the con. Comic readers who prefer waiting for the trade paperback collection (that'd be us, BTW), you are forewarned. 

--Movies are also good to catch up on.  If you might go to Marvel panel, make sure you see the most recent movie on DVD/blu-ray/streaming/iTunes/Cable.

--Also, The Confluence's Convention Prep Videos

Follow the Pros 
The official schedule for Comic-Con won't be released until 2 weeks prior, but start following any comics professionals you are a fan of; they may be tweeting that they'll be there.  This is especially important if it's someone who lives far away, or doesn't do a lot of shows, and it's a real once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet them and get your books signed.  This lead time is great in case you need to stock up on a creator's work in advance.

Stuff You May Need to Buy

  • Extra battery - a battery case, external/backup batteries or a mobile charger.  We use Mophie, but there are scores of others.
  • Swell water bottle - because warm water grosses us out.  Swell is a water bottle that actually keeps water cold for 24 hours.  Don't fill it up completely with ice, thinking it will melt to cold water - you'll still have ice HOURS later. It's the greatest thing ever, basically.
  • Shoes - you'll want them to be comfortable and closed-toed.  I know it's the height of pedicure season, but still - the crowds are too heavy for your toes to come out unharmed. We like Ecco, but there's no "right" answer for this one; find one that fits best for you.  We also just learned about steel-toed sneakers, which might be overkill, but we love the fact that they exist. 
  • Thorlo Walking Socks - sounds silly, right? Try it.  You'll be a believer.
  • Shoe Inserts or Insoles.  Both Superfeet and Dr Scholls make recommended types.
  • Nerdy T-shirts: Day of the Shirt is a fantastic daily T-shirt aggregator, meaning it compiles the shirts from Tee Fury, Ript, Woot and many others (too many to list and it keeps growing), so you don't have to check more than 1 site for your geek tees every day.  RedBubble is also a fantastic, huge site with tons of nerdy designs and terrific mashups for T's, cell phone cases, etc.
  • Etsy for all your handmade nerd gear - from steampunk earrings to Captain America hair bows to Bioshock Infinite necklaces, they've got your fandom covered.
  • Telescoping Poster Tube - we don't own one, but they do seem cool, and they often come with a strap.
  • Badge Holder - if you'd like something a little more substantial than the flimsy badge holder SDCC provides, these have a clear plastic front for your badge, and include a pouch for keeping other necessities.
  • Reference Material - if you're into original art commissions, make sure you have reference material for the artist of what you'd like them to sketch.  A comic or drawing will do. 
  • Clear plastic 11 x 17 sleeve/holder - protects any original art you may pick up.

Got all that? Great! I'll meet you back here in about a month for my Top Tips for Comic-Con 2016!


  1. One addition to the list of sites to be reading: TVLine! Michael Ausiello throws a crazy shindig every year and the best way to get an invite is to follow him and TVLine on Twitter. :)

    Love the list, is it too early to start packing?!

  2. Excellent Tips! Best I've found so far! It's overwhelming planning for my first Comic-Con and this is the first tips page I;ve found that is actually helpful! Thank You!!