Alright, so you’re planning on attending Comic-Con this year and you want to prepare accordingly. If you’re a super nerd, the idea of an entire convention center full of fellow nerds, mountains of merch, and panels of some of your favorite actors can be overwhelming. You want to make sure you have a good time when you go, but you also want to make sure you go in with a game plan to get the most out of your time there.
This year’s Comic-Con in San Diego is especially exciting because it’s been two whole years since the last one (due to COVID-19). The timing for this reopening couldn’t be better, because this year marks a jam-packed year for nerd culture. This is a year with comic book blockbusters from Marvel Studios and DC/Warner Bros., so the event will definitely hit different.
So before you head over to San Diego, let’s make sure you have the basics down.
1. Go in with a game plan
If this is your first time, there’s no doubt that you’ll immediately get overwhelmed. The merch stalls, events, and cosplayers will make you feel like you’re in a frenzy. It’s going to be hard to sort out your day when you’re on the floor. Ideally, you should choose one large event for the day, and plan your entire day around it.
You’re going to want to do everything all at once, which will result in spreading yourself too thin (which then turns into overstimulation and mild burnout). There’s no way to see everything at once, so just enjoy things as they come and leave one big thing to look forward to.
2. Don’t spend all your money at first glance
This is Convention 101. You’ll probably be enticed by a lot of merch once you hit the floor, but don’t fall into temptation to buy everything. Take a few deep breaths, process the excitement, and take a lap around the convention floor to get a lay of the land. I say this with the utmost certainty—you’ll find something on later in day that is way cooler than the first thing you see upon entry.
3. Ask for consent before touching cosplayers
Cosplaying is super fun, and while cosplayers love interacting with fellow cosplayers and cosplay fans, that doesn’t mean they are immediately comfortable with touching or getting too close. Just like how you would approach any human being, ask them if it’s alright for you to get closer to their costume (so you can admire the details), touch their body or hair in any capacity, and to take photos. Remember, just because they are dressed up like a fictional character, that doesn’t mean that they’ve forfeited their right to space.
4. Ask detailed questions at panels
I’m sure celebrities love the admiration of their fans, but Comic-Con panels are a place for fans to ask pointed questions about the actor’s project. Be sure to carefully think through your question, and make sure to ask something unique. What makes the experience that much more memorable for you (and the actor as well, to be honest), is asking them something they aren’t used to being asked.
If you really want to commit to asking a special question, I suggest watching interviews with that specific actor to see what questions they are commonly asked as a guide to what not to ask.
5. Stay light on your feet
This tip has two main points—don’t grab every freebie you see and be sure to wear the most comfortable shoes you can. Look, you’re going to be on your feet all day. There’s limited seating (if any, at all outside of the panel seating) and you’re going to be getting some serious steps in. Freebies can be a lot of fun and a great way to collect keepsakes for trips down memory lane, but they can add up and you should keep in mind that you will feel the weight when you’re walking around for hours.
Can’t make it to San Diego but going to New York Comic Con? Here’s all the NYCC dates you need to know.
Photo via Daniel Knighton/Getty Images