Going to Comic-Con, Advice Sought

San Diego Skyline

Having grown up reading comic books, I’d always wanted to attend the San Diego Comic-Con. During my university years, I gradually moved away from reading mainstream comic books, having gotten fed up with the plots and lack of characters I identified with, as well as the sheer expense and the accumulation of paper that the collecting aspect entailed. I eventually stopped buying single issue comic books altogether. I still read and occasionally buy trade paperbacks, but my days of collecting comic books are over. I still enjoy the medium, however.

Work is sending me to Comic-Con this July, and I’m a bit excited. I’m aware that the convention has changed drastically in the two decades or so since the time I had originally dreamed of going. It’s more of a popular media convention now, than a comic book convention. It should be interesting, and exhausting.

Being a complete newb to Comic-Con, I have only a vague idea of what to expect: long queues, lots of walking/standing, massive crowds, new and unpleasant smells from the unwashed or from those who simply smell bad, and the like. I have already been advised to wear comfortable shoes and try to plan out my schedule before landing in San Diego. Apart from that, is there anything else?

In particular, I am wondering:

  • How is the wifi inside the convention centre? (Is there wifi inside the convention centre?)
  • How about mobile phone reception (particularly for T-Mobile)?
  • Are there many reasonably-priced food options within the vicinity (walking distance) of the convention centre?
  • Are there any popular social gathering places?
  • Do exhibitors at Comic-Con only take cash, or is credit card an option?
  • How punctual are the shuttles to and from the downtown hotels? Should I budget any money for taxi rides during the convention?
  • Are there any cafés in the vicinity from which I can use the wifi, and is the wifi decent?

Has anyone been to Comic-Con, and can you offer any additional advice?

8 comments

  1. Tommy · July 9, 2010

    How is the wifi inside the convention centre? (Is there wifi inside the convention centre?) – It varies throughout each day and day-to-day. But generally it is very slow and you will probably be better using an iPhone’s internet.

    How about mobile phone reception (particularly for T-Mobile)?- I’ve never used Tmobile, but the only problems you should have in CCI is finding a quiet spot to talk.

    Are there many reasonably-priced food options within the vicinity (walking distance) of the convention centre? There is a vons a few blocks away. That would probably be you’re best bet other than bringing your own food. But definately bring a nalgene or refillable water bottle. the mid-level gaming rooms have 5-gallon water stations filled with free water. ;)

    Are there any popular social gathering places?- The exhibit floor? Definitely out the mid-level gaming areas. There are live steel demos from the different war groups that attend.

    Do exhibitors at Comic-Con only take cash, or is credit card an option? – Depends on the booth. SOme will and some won’t.

    How punctual are the shuttles to and from the downtown hotels? Should I budget any money for taxi rides during the convention? If a shuttle is right near you…TAKE IT! It is a very pleasant ride, the drivers have very nice stories (ex: I had one the once drove 28 klingons at once). They run usually about every 10-15 minutes. Much more worth your time than a taxi.

    Are there any cafés in the vicinity from which I can use the wifi, and is the wifi decent? The marriot or hilton may have wifi. Starbucks are everywhere downtown.

    Finally..If this is your first and possibly last time coming you may want to consider an attempt at masquerade ticket(s). It is a super fun event of cosplays and stage show.

  2. Brinstar · July 9, 2010

    Thank you so much for the tips and insight, Tommy! I really appreciate it! =D

  3. Jonathan Mills · July 9, 2010

    A general piece of advice: if your pass gives you access to the floor outside of show hours, and I think exhibitor passes usually do, I recommend going early just to walk the show floor. When the convention center fills up with people it’s nearly impossible to intuitively find your way around, and if you familiarize yourself with the environment before the con opens it’s a lot easier.

    As with most cons, budgeting time is also important, especially if you get to have any input on your working hours. I think my favorite part of Comic-Con the year I went was taking in a wide range of events: big media panels, an academic mini-conference, and comics creators just talking about their work. The downside of seeing a wider range of events is that times will overlap so I needed to be flexible with my expectations.

    I would add that you may want to avoid the blockbuster panels. It can be very stressful trying to set aside time to get into one of those big convention halls before they meet capacity. I generally sought out the smaller indie stuff, and those events were usually more meaningful anyway. Of course, I went a few years ago before the whole con was selling out regularly, so the small events probably have to kick people out now.

    I think I mostly ate fast food in San Diego. It’s a very touristy section between the convention center and the beach, so there are a lot of restaurants and they have a wide range of costs.

    The last time I was there, most of the bigger exhibitors did take credit cards. Larger stores or companies with a significant web presence should, at least. I think cash is mostly an issue for smaller vendors that primarily sell older comics.

  4. Brinstar · July 9, 2010

    Thanks for the advice, Jonathan!

  5. Anders Soendergaard · July 9, 2010

    Cash is always king as places like this. The number of time I have gotten a discount because I had cash is to numerous to count.

    Happy comic days

  6. Brinstar · July 9, 2010

    Oh, that’s a good point. Discounts for people paying with cash. Thanks, Anders. :-)

  7. Todd · July 9, 2010

    There are a tonne of great tips for new SDCC attendees at http://www.sdccblog.com. I recommend it!

  8. Brinstar · July 9, 2010

    Thank you, Todd. I’ve started reading it, and there are some great pointers there.

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