Anyway, over the past 6 cons, I've managed to cobble together some
hints that I wish I would have known before I went, and I'm choosing
to share them with you.
• Buy only things you can't get where you come from. The Vendors Hall
can be immense and overwhelming, so take your time and get your
• Make reservations early. Hotels fill up about 2 months before the
Convention. Failing that try to get a hotel near the San Diego
Trolley. The Orange Line trolley station is right across the street
from the Convention Center, and the Blue Line is only a couple of
• Art is cheaper at the Artist Alley. You can talk to the artists
themselves. And I'd much rather pay the guy who did the job, than to
some joker who bought it off someone and marked it up.
• Bring a Sketch Pad. Especially at the DC and Marvel booths some of
your favorite artists will give you a free sketch of your favorite
• Traffic between Los Angeles and San Diego in the morning is very
busy. Take this into account if you plan to drive. The Amtrak
station is a fairly short walk from the Convention Center and is a
much more pleasant way to arrive in town.
• Bring a backpack, or duffle bag. There has been for the last few
years a place to check bags, but you don't want to keep going back and
• Pre-order your badge. The line to buy badges can be immense.
• Check your auctions, frequently.
• Go to the sessions. One thing San Diego has over every other
convention I've been to is a very diverse programming schedule. There
is something to pique almost any interest. And some of the bigger
sessions will fill up quickly so you may want to get there early
• Tell your favorite artist/writer/company/whoever how much their work
means to you. They really appreciate it.
• Buy something different. (Wondrous new discoveries at Conventions:
Kyle Baker, Y the Last Man, Fables)
• Have a blast!
- Bring a camera. Even if you don't like taking photos of the people whose
work you admire, there is a ton of stuff to look at. And lots of people
spend months working on costumes to get them just right.
who thinks some of those people are insane, but isn't that one of the
reasons you appreciate them?
Couple of other things:
Pace yourself. The dealer/exhibit room has grown to the point where just to
walk down the center of each aisle, not even going from side to side to get
a close look at stuff, is a three mile walk.
Bring water and snacks. The food in the Convention Center is overpriced and
not good (I'm honestly waiting for a convention center to realize that for
some types of conventions, namely ones that draw attendees not on expense
accoutns, they'll do better to lower prices and get greater volume). There's
a little convenience store type place relatively nearby (heading away from
the CC towards the Old Spaghetti Factory, make a left at the next
intersection), and there's also the Ralphs grocery store a few blocks away
(and on a shuttle bus route). If you want a reasonably cheap meal and don't
want to deal with the excessive waits at the Spaghetti Factory, your best bet
is the Horton Plaza food court on the 3rd level, aka the Fast Food Of All
Nations. The Plaza itself has a confusing layout; it ain't known as the
Escher Mall for nothin'.
>Buy only things you can't get where you come from. The Vendors Hall
>can be immense and overwhelming, so take your time and get your
And what's rare where you're from may be relatively common elsewhere. Unless
you're sure something's being offered at a great price and/or is *very*
hard to find, take notes on what you saw, the booth number, and its price.
Don't buy until you've scouted out at least a few aisles to see if the
price is reasonable or can be found better elsewhere.
>Go to the sessions. One thing San Diego has over every other
>convention I've been to is a very diverse programming schedule. There
>is something to pique almost any interest. And some of the bigger
>sessions will fill up quickly so you may want to get there early
In particular, the major Hollywood star sessions last year (Halle Berry,
Angelina Jolie) had long lines waiting to get in. They've opened up a new,
larger area, but I'm still not expecting to see Sarah Michelle Gellar unless
I'm willing to get there early and wait. Consider how much you really want
to see such folk. On the other hand, people at the next level are still
fairly easy to see without waiting, unless you have to have a front row
seat. But also pay attention to all the other, non-Hollywood items. Mark
Evanier moderates around 1,000 items focused on and including older comics
creators, voice actors, Sergio Aragones drawing funny pictures, etc. which
are almost always both informative and fun(ny) (OK, so I don't think Mark's
actually broken the 15 items in one con level yet...)
>Tell your favorite artist/writer/company/whoever how much their work
>means to you. They really appreciate it.
Don't be intimidated by meeting someone whose work you admire. Barring the
person being a complete sociopath, an opening line of "Excuse me, Mr./Ms.
Creator, I just wanted to say that I've enjoyed your work very much." is
appropriate in any context where it's polite for you to be saying anything.
On the other hand, it's not polite to interrupt on-going conversations,
attach yourself to someone who is trying to do their own Dealer's Room
expedition during their only free couple of hours, bother someone when
they're eating, going to the bathroom, etc. Try to be attuned to cues
about whether someone wants to be in a conversation with you (or anyone)
at this moment, as opposed to your quick compliment given above.
--Yes, the .sig has changed
And the flipside to that;
Be polite to the creators in attendance, even if you are not a fan of their
work. They might be in the mood to debate a plot point or two provided you
phrase your opinons clearly and in context, but personal invective achieves
nothing, PO's everyone else and reduces the chances of that creator coming
again, which might not be a big thing for you, but these people WILL have
Maintain sensible, rational boundaries of interaction. If an artist is
sitting at a table chatting with passers-by, then you would most likely be
welcome to do the same. If the artist is heading for the toilet, let the
poor soul go unhindered. Under NO circumstances stalk them in the bathroom,
that's just tacky...
If you are going to ask an artist for a sketch, it's good form to check out
what they have worked on in the past and at least acknowledge the fact.. Not
to say they won't be open to new ideas, but be reasonable. I attended a con
once where Moebius was a guest and the twelve year old in front of me in the
queue (Who obviously had no idea who he was and had only joined this queue
because it was shorter than whatever Cable/Venom/Something testosterone
laden artist was also in attendance), asked him to draw the Punisher.
Charming gentleman that M Giraud is, he politely explained that he had never
worked on the Punisher, but pro that he also is, he complied, but the look
on his face for a fraction of a second after being asked lingers to this
If you want to make enemies of people you've never met before, take a huge
stack of comics to be autographed by a single artist and plunk them down on
the table in front of the artists/writer in question. You will instantly
feel the burning gaze of several dozen people in the queue behind you boring
into your shoulderblades. If heat vision were based on frustration, you'd
have a hole the size of a basketball through your torso.