As the minutes…nay SECONDS tick down to the Game of Thrones panel at Comic-Con, various sites are giving their advice for how to see the things you want to see and stay sane while battling 130,000 other people and waiting for four hours in line.

For us, we have a few concrete suggestions on how to “do” Comic-Con:

1) Go to the Comic-Con website and download this portable PDF of the WHOLE SCHEDULE.

2) Print it out, go over it and mark what you want to see with a highlighter. (Yes there is probably an online way to do this, but we like being able to shuffle papers to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

3) Once you have that, go into the MySched page of the website create a user name or login if returning,and select your MUST DO panels.

4) Now export it to iCal, paper or iPhone — whichever you prefer. We like iCal since it will beep you a few minutes before your next event.

5) One you have a reasonable schedule, that’s it! Stick with it! Don’t second guess or pout that you can’t be in 18 places at once — someone will be wherever you aren’t and you can read about it later online! That’s the modern way. Just go “hangout” with your “circle.” or “scumble” or whatever they call it.

For those who have more complex plans, other websites are explaining what to do and how they deal with anger, loss and acceptance.

Erin at When Nerds Attack has an aptly titled piece called “How To Avoid A Comic-Con Meltdown!” with some brutal first hand perspective:

I wish I were not writing this post from personal experience. I wish I could just give you speculative advice and not advice based on my own terrible actions. However, I am the girl who cried on the exhibit floor at San Diego Comic-Con. More. Than. Once.

I cried out of sheer frustration that was brought on by repeated disappointment, mostly surrounding bad management, decisions and lack of communication at the Warner Bros. and Fox booths. Without going into lots of detail I will say that information given on one day did not match up with what happened in reality and when I showed up at a designated time, things were not what they should have been.

This is Comic-Con, and if you are going for the first time, with high hopes of signings and photo opportunities and meeting all your favorite stars, please heed my warnings.

Erin addresses the growing realization that going to Comic-Con and seeing/meeting Robert Pattinson/Jason Momoa/Clive Owen/whoever is now a consuming dream for some people, and some people need to ratchet it down a notch:

7. The higher your expectations, the harder your fall.

8. To paraphrase the Fight Club movie, you are not a unique snowflake. Every attendee at Comic-Con thinks they are the biggest fan of someone or something. They think they deserve every good experience, that they should have every opportunity, and every wish granted. This just is not so, your Comic-Con experience is no more important than anyone else’s is. I know this seems like shitty things to say but chances are, at one point or another you will be feeling a little sorry for yourself. You might even make that little pouty face and noise and if you were 3 years old, it would be acceptable. We are all here at Comic-Con because we love to celebrate popular culture, you are not a unique snowflake.

Meanwhile, Shawn Marshall writing for The SDCC Comic Con blog has more complicated ways of doing things:

 I recently heard someone discussing their experience, last year, of waiting 4 hours for the infamous Avengers panel in Hall H…and ultimately not getting in. In a similar vein, I thought about the time I waited nearly 3 hours for The Big Bang Theory Panel…and did not get in. As I reflected more on the horrible feeling of wasting valuable Comic-Con minutes in fruitless lines, I thought it might be helpful to some if I shared my strategy to make the most of the experience.

 In general, I think a mistake many of us make is to look at panels in too simple a light. If you are like me, you look at the schedule for each day and decide which panels or screenings you’d like to attend. If you follow the good advice of many on the topic, you take it a step further and make sure to double-book yourself, as there are so many curves that can happen in a day and you can frequently come up short on your first choice. For many, this is where it ends. The rest becomes a blur as the frenzied crowds absorb us at the event. It is because of the frenzied nature of this King of Cons that I developed a new way to look at panels.

Marshall’s way involved weighing percentages of enjoyment vs investment and then comparing and…oh, whatever it is, you will probably need a slide rule. We say the heck with that. Set your heart on ONE OR TWO THINGS for the four days. If one of them involves camping out, buy a sleeping bag and some sterno and some hot cocoa. Spend the rest of the time hanging with friends and finding new things. Just try not to get stabbed in the eye and you’ll be fine.


  1. One metric:
    The smaller the room, the smaller the expected audience.

    Another metric:
    The bigger the room, the more likely it will be reported online later, or replayed by CCI later that night.

    One of the best panels I ever attended was a sparsely-attended (maybe 30 people) presentation given by Bob Wayne of DC Comics, detailing upcoming collections and asking for suggestions. I crammed twelve ideas onto the back of my business card, and he contacted me about three months later, asking for more.

    I’m not attending this year, but as with most cons, there are competing panels I would be interested in (I belong to many tribes). List secondary panels on your smartphone calendar and chances are, you’ll get into one of them, and probably enjoy the panel.

    It would be nice if CCI could send out SMS updates about excessive lines, so people on the way could make snap decisions. Hall H… myself, I would avoid it.

  2. Hall H is truly a demon in disguise. It gives you high hopes of meeting the celebrity or producer of your dreams only to have it come crashing down like a sack of potatoes. It can literally take your whole con experience away for just a few panels. Sure, that Avengers panel is probably going to be awesome, but is it worth it to waste an entire day?

    Several of my friends last year did this and I compared my day’s experience to theirs. No contest, my day easily won out. Meeting avid comic buff Richard “Mack” Machowicz was just one of the many highlights of my day.

    The secret to Hall H is to bring your own food and stand in line first thing in the morning, no later than 8AM. Once you are inside the Hall, stay in there, ALL DAY. Do not leave or you will stand outside for 6+ hours to try to get back in. For panels like Twilight, forget it. That is an overnighter.

    Another thing I would like to point out more than anything is bring or buy comfortable shoes. You will be standing many hours and having your feet sore at the end of the day is not considered one of the more pleasant experiences. Seen many regret it, and will most likely see it again.

  3. My advice? If you’re the type of person to break down crying multiple times in public over the span of three days over a comic book convention… perhaps it would be best if you just did not go.

    Stay home and perhaps seek help. People like you are the reason why I once saw a man get trampled over a Blue Lantern Hal Jordan figure. No lie.

  4. I hope to get into the Joss Whedon panel & Fables panel, which are both taking place Saturday. Those are my two main goals and there’s a lot of other panels I would like to see, but I’m okay with seeing whatever I can for everything else.

  5. My comic con is just to walk up to people who look interesting and ask them how there Con is going, or who they are, whether it be at their table, or in the halls. You go. You have a good time. Connections and jobs just sort of happen that way. I always make a list of panels and make about half of them, and leave half way through half of those. No big. Just have fun.

  6. I’m looking forward to enjoying the very tasty drink known as the Arnold Palmer while talking with friends I only see once or twice a year.

  7. Hi Pia & Ian

    We will find that nice quiet place together and get to talk I’m sure. See you next week!

  8. I will be on monitor duty at Stately Beat Mansion during the Con, monitoring Google News feeds (refreshing every 15 minutes, ignoring most “news”).

    The money I would have spent on hotel and airfare, I spend on eBay the week after Con. The exclusives, swag, and other cool stuff appears there. I do not have to wait in line, I do not have to schlep items back to the hotel, and I do not have to ship a box on Sunday afternoon.

    Networking? I do that at other, less hectic cons like NYCC, BEA, ALA.

  9. An annoying trend I’ve noticed at recent Comic-Cons is people pushing strollers with children in them through the already-crowded aisles. Some of these children are infants, who cannot possibly comprehend what is going on around them. Why are their parents bringing them to a comic book convention? Some of these children look old enough to walk on their own. Why are their parents pushing them around on the Con floor in strollers?

    Can these parents not afford a babysitter for the day or night? If not, then they certainly shouldn’t be spending money at Comic-Con.

    This is not an anti-child screed. I think if your child is age 4 or 5 or older, is able to walk on their own without a stroller, and is old enough to read comics and/or comprehend where they are and appreciate it, then by all means, I think it’s great that you’ve brought them.

    But please keep the infants and strollers off the already crowded floor.

  10. Todd, someone has to start this question a burnin’ every year. This is the answer. Parents love their kids. They love having them near, they love going out with them, and if you were a parent, you’d know that even very little babies are taking in and processing a lot of their new world. You may think otherwise, but you would be wrong. Also, a lot of parents are coming from out of town, and don’t know anyone who they would trust their baby to, in San Diego. To ask parents to travel without their kids is just crazy. If this really gets you all that upset, maybe you should try focusing on something about the con that makes you really happy. Count to ten. If strollers really keep you from doing that, it’s time for a little self examination. Comics are in large part family entertainment. Families are happiest when together and they deserve respect at any public event. Hope that answers your question.

  11. @Christopher: How do you know I’m not a parent? And even if I’m not, it’s not much of an argument to say that non-parents shouldn’t speak out on issues related to children. I’m not an elderly person so does that mean I shouldn’t have an opinion about Social Security or Medicare?

    No, it’s the oblivious parents who need to engage in some self-examination, not me. If some parents can’t fathom the idea of skipping Comic-Con for a few years because their children are small and need to be pushed around in a stroller, then they don’t sound like very mature parents to me. They need to learn to take their small children to more appropriate environments. These parents need to think about where else they can take their babies for vacation for a few years until they are old enough to understand and appreciate a comic book convention.

    Finally, doesn’t Comic-Con have a rule that says attendees are not allowed to push around carts on the convention floor? But if huge strollers are OK, then maybe I should consider bringing one myself to cart around my comics and collectibles and other personal belongings.

  12. My advice to SDCC newbies/virgins who’ve capitulated to the great Nerdpull of this yearly event:

    STEP i— Read Mark Evanier’s Con Guide: http://www.povonline.com/ConGuide.htm. It’s a basic, “Comic Con 101” advice, but a great place for first-time attendees to start off from. (Besides, it’ll plant a name in your memory that’s repeated numerous times in the SDCC Programming and Events Guide. Additional advice: try to attend at least TWO panels that’s Evanier-moderated— you won’t regret it.)

    STEP TWO— Read Tom Spurgeon’s Comic-Con Tips: http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/briefings/commentary/33348/ It’s SDCC-specific, epic and borne of years (decades?) of Spurgeon’s San Diego-going experience. Best yet: there’s a section where other SDCC familiars chime in with “insider” hands-on practical advice to fellow attendees.

    STEP THREE to FIVE: Enjoy yourself at the Con. Make yourself a Plan of Panels-Programming-Signings you’d want to attend if that’s appealing to you— but allow yourself the freedom to deviate from it. I have NO doubt that “opportunities” will arise to help you make this decision in the Con day(s) you’ll be attending. Make the best of it… and just walk around the Exhibit Floor. Fortuitous and yes, “once in a lifetime” events CAN occur there: literally ‘bumping’ into a Comics legend… being at the right place and time to catch that unexpected booth signing/limited SDCC swag giveaway… finding yourself captured for posterity in a photo/video report/movie shot there (“hey, that’s me!”).

    And above all: experience Comic-Con on your own terms. Enjoy everything if you DID, bitch and moan about the rest if NOT. Decide upon the calculus if the Pleasures got by attending it outweighs the Pain derived in doing so: and whether or not you’ll be going agsin? (And most likely you WILL.)

    Give it one or two year more, and voilà: you’ll be an SDCC “expert” free to provide opinions and advice on all matters regarding Comic-Con on websites, Message Boards and Forums! Just like the rest of us.

  13. @Todd who the hell are you to tell me where I can and cant bring my kids???? I have 4 boys 1,3,5 and 11 and they are ALL going today with a STROLLER. I hope I run you over with it to. There is no way you could have kids! If you did you wouldnt sound like such an idiot.

  14. Me, my best friend and my two sisters will be at the con and we all have babies and yes, we’ll be pushing strollers. My father who has always wanted to go for years is attending with us and he is in a wheelchair being pushed by my brother in law. See you there! SDCC2011!