Robb Pearlman is the author of seven books, including Nerd Haiku, 101 Ways to Use a Unicorn, Spoiler Alert and Simon & Schuster’s Fun With Kirk And Spock. He is the Associate Publisher of Universe Books, Calendars, and Licensing at Rizzoli International Publications, where he has edited pop culture titles including Stuck on Star Trek, Zombies on Film: The Definitive Story of Undead Cinema, and The Princess Bride: A Celebration. Robb has had been a featured panelist at Comic-Cons in San Diego and New York, performed at the Nerdnite Nerdtacular, and has been featured on several pop culture blogs and SiriusXM radio shows.
Do you hear the choir of Weeping Angels singing? Do you see the lights of the phasers flashing? Do you smell the matted Wookiee fur wafting? No, it’s not Christmas- it’s the other most wonderful time of the year! It’s San Diego Comic-Con!
I’ve learned a lot at the many conventions I’ve attended over the years. For example, I’ve discovered that many people have as deep a personal connection to pop culture touchstones as they do to the books they read as children. For those people, I’ve written a new book, Fun with Kirk and Spock, which combines the fun and adventure of the original Star Trek series with the simplicity and nostalgia of the classic Dick and Jane books. And I’ve also learned that attending Comic-Con can be an overwhelming experience. For those interested in spending four days with over one hundred thousand like-minded fans, geeks, nerds, cosplayers, gamers, gaymers, Trekkers, LARPers, and Whovians, I’ve put together my top five tips for surviving Comic-Con.
1) Plan ahead!
There are literally hundreds of panels, events, parties, meet-ups, exhibits and booths at the Con, so it’s going to be impossible to see everything you want. The best way to increase your chances is to plan ahead! The Comic-Con website has a map of the convention center floor and daily schedules, but there are also non-official blogs, websites, Facebook groups, and Twitter feeds that list tons of on and off-site events of interest. It’s best to keep checking the sites in the week leading up to the Con for updates.
2) Stick to a budget.
Comic-Con is the biggest book and toy store you’ve ever seen. With the amount of exclusive merchandise and stacks of back issues, you could very easily spend every penny in your bank account. It really helps to set a budget, whether it’s a per-day or per-trip one, and stick to it. Part of the fun of browsing the booths is finding a good bargain and hidden treasures, so enjoy the hunt, and remember you still have to have money left over to eat, get home, and pay your rent.
3) Unplug…a little.
You should take tons of photos of the cosplayers, merchandise, and crowds around you, but keep in mind it’s going to be easy to fall into the trap of spending your time blogging, vlogging, and posting about everything you’re seeing rather than actually experiencing it. It’s incredibly important to put down the device and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Remember, you’re surrounded by thousands of people who love to talk about- and debate- their pop culture obsessions, so start conversations and who knows, maybe you’ll make a new friend (Facebook or otherwise). Save the uploading of your 400 photos for when you’re back in the hotel. Plus, with 100,000 people vying for the same satellites, your reception’s going to be terrible.
4) Accept the fact that you’re going to wait in line. A lot.
There are three undeniable facts in life: death, taxes, and Comic-Con lines. Depending on what you’re waiting for, you could be waiting for five minutes or five hours. Complaining about it doesn’t make the line move faster, so bring some water, a snack, and a book or something else to do alone or with friends (or with the folks you’ve just met on line) to pass the time.
5) Be yourself.
You can always expect the unexpected at Comic-Con, so be prepared for surprises. Whether it’s running into a celebrity in the restroom, finding that back issue you’ve been searching for for years, or watching a preview of a new blockbuster movie, you’re never going to be bored. But the one constant is the welcoming and accepting attitudes. Comic-Con is a judgment-free zone. Nobody’s going to judge you for who you are, what you wear, or what you’re in to. You’re in a safe space and there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be, and be proud of, exactly who you are.