How to Survive Comic-Con

This IS the abridged version:

I just went to Comic-Con his year for the first time and there were a few rules that I came up with that I think may make future experiences more enjoyable. From what I understand, this year was the busiest, most crowded, chaotic and manic Comic-Con yet. And there are problems. If you’re waiting in line from six in the morning until five in the afternoon, you better get into a panel by the end of the day. And people weren’t. This is not cool and needs to be fixed. Before next year. I don’t know how and this is not my task to fix (and I don’t envy the people who do), but that is NOT okay. I heard so many sob stories over that weekend that I was ready to cry along with them.

I had three main panels that weekend that I had to (and did) get into, but I was with friends I went  with who weren’t so lucky. And the weekend kind of sucked for them. The major problem was that they paid close to $200 to stand in lines all weekend.

But these are the things that I’ll know for next year and might help out some other conventioneers:

Pick Your Battles (Lines)

I know some people go to Comic-Con and never even set foot in a panel. And that’s fine. This is less for you (in fact I’m jealous of how much freedom that sounds like), but I’m a panel person. And apparently so are most of the people there (Hall H anyone?).

Go through the program (before even arriving in San Diego if possible) and pick out the panels you’re kind of interested in, would like to see, and would sell your soul to the Sith for.

My soul selling panels this year? X-Files, Supernatural, Doctor Who. Popular fare, to be sure. The X-Files panel was Thursday, following panels for Psych and Sherlock, both of which I’m also a big fan of, so i figured I saunter over there in the morning (Psych didn’t start ’til 1) and stay in the Ballroom all day. I talked with a friend who was there last year and she said I should be fine.


Apparently this year, people were camping out Wednesday night for a secondary panel room (I’m not the only die hard X-Files fan). I completely missed Psych and Sherlock, but a friend and I were two of the last people to get in for X-Files. Side note, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson may be the two most beautiful people I’ve seen in real life. Still.

Well, I learned my lesson and camped out since 9:00pm Saturday night to get into the Supernatural panel Sunday at 10:00 the next morning. But that was actually kind of fun. Even so we were about 4000 (of 6000) away from the front row.

If you aren’t dying to go to the main event that day, maybe opt for a medium panel or even the small ones. Those are the ones I really missed, and I was kinda bummed. You could have a totally fun weekend just getting into the small rooms. I sacrificed Ben Edlund and Neil Gaiman that weekend. Ouch. For me…ouch.

But for example, I didn’t even try for Hall H Saturday. Instead I went to the How I Met Your Mother panel, which was still hard to get into, but we knew when to get there at 6:30 that morning to get respectable seats (but this wasn’t even one of the big rooms. It was a medium one.

Plan on Doing Some Other Activities

After How I Met Your Mother I was free until that night when I had a ticket to see The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast live (with guest star Misha Collins). You can’t beat that.

*NOTE* The Thrilling Adventure Hour panel was the only panel I got into on Friday (it was a petit panel), and at that point I was in a fairly lousy mood. When I got out of the panel, I had the biggest smile on my face.

And the venue the podcast was being recorded at was walking distance from the convention center. There are all kinds of thing happening that weekend, minutes from con, for not too much money. And if you’re frustrated because you’ve been waiting in lines all day and haven’t seen anything, then you can end the day going somewhere, getting a drink, and being assured a seat.

But again, get your tickets in advance. These shows are going to be sold out. They are. Do some research a couple of weeks before and find some fun stuff to do that isn’t at the convention center.

Be Prepared to Spend Money

Because everything costs money. Even if you don’t stay at a hotel, you’ll need food (the $4.50 hot dogs they sell by Ballroom 20 aren’t half bad), parking is a big one, you’ll want some sort of souvenir, and anything else going on, like the Walking Dead prison walk through this year, all costs money. Have a little breathing room and you’ll enjoy the weekend a lot more.

Exhibit Hall

And speaking of food:

Bring Food

At least have some little snacky type things with you. Lunchables, while they aren’t enough as a meat, are an excellent way to tide yourself over (I learned that trick from going to Gallifrey One). And even if you don’t want to eat out at a restaurant every night (and that too would be very pricey), you might want to eat out once that weekend to ensure one good solid meal. You know, so you don’t keel over and die.

Oh, and if you have a coffee addiction, like you get proper withdrawals if you don’t have it every morning (I know what I’m talking about here), go to a fraking Starbucks. Or at least drink a soda or something caffeinated. Maybe bring Advil. Actually definitely bring Advil to Comic-Con. Just in case.

Go Ahead, Get Excited About Seeing Some Celebrities

One cool thing about the stupid Hall H line was that a few celebrities actually came out, pre-panel. I heard that on Friday morning a couple of the supporting cast of Veronica Mars handed out donuts for the sleepy campers, and Daryl from the Walking Dead did some mingling near the back of the line with the people who weren’t gonna make it into that panel.

The one I saw in person was Misha Collins (again), who decided his jogging route should be alongside  the Hall H line. And I felt a lot better after seeing him. And I appreciate all the actors who went out into the cold, at an ungodly hour, to keep the fans going. That’s what it’s all about.

And the other celeb I was most excited about, and this is kind of embarrassing, was R2-D2. No. You know what? I say that proudly. And I really regret not getting a picture with him.

Wait in Line with Your Friends

Even if you aren’t interested in or aren’t going into that panel. Because those long lines will bruise anyones patience. It’s better to hang out with your friends. Of course, turn to any person on your right in those lines and you’re sure to have some common ground. I had some really fun conversations that weekend with total strangers.

Have Fun

Honestly, so much of the con was a struggle that we forgot that a lot of the time. And I ran into another friend of mine that weekend, who was having the time of his life. He wasn’t worrying, going to a small event late in the day, just cause it might be a laugh (though a disability badge for a mending broken foot meant shorter wait times in his case).

It struck me that he was having a very different experience from us, and after talking to him I, and I think the people I was with, felt a little foolish.

Considering how hard it is to get into Comic-Con in the first place, how many people didn’t get tickets, how many people wished they were where exactly where we were, the least we could do for those people was appreciate that we were getting to have the experience.

Some conventioneers having a little fun with some real live protesters


And those are the essentials. There’s way more I could note, but I can’t even process all that, and I wrote it.

So yeah, bring a sleeping bag.

And I still want a Supernatural swag bag, I never got one.


About Risa Romano

Writer type thing. I work on stories for kids when I'm on the clock and screenplays quite a bit less for kids when I'm not. I have a blog: I'm also the creator and moderator of the Doctor Who vodcast/podcast A Disused Yeti:
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