Just two days away, the San Diego Comic-Con 2013 is looming on the horizon. You and thousands of fellow fans have been carefully planning and preparing for this epic four days all year long. Whether you are a noob or a con vet, there is anxiety about the unknown and expectations are already running high. My desire is that you not only survive Comic-Con but that you will thrive! You heeded my warnings in my recent post from last week, "Top 10 ways to ruin Comic-Con", but now it's time to talk more positively. Most think that the key to a successful Comic-Con is getting into the right panel, receiving a celebrity autograph, or buying the right Exclusive. While those are important, an amazing Con experience is shaped by more intangible factors. Don't scan over what I am about to list -- take time and let it sink in. Here are my Top 10 ways to have the BEST Comic-Con:
1. Embrace the Pain
There is nothing easy, simple, or efficient when you are talking about 130,000+ people. With too many fans and and not enough space, it will affect your attitude worse than a having a Ceti Alpha eel burrowed in your ear. The best thing to do is to accept the fact that everything you do will take three times longer and will be three times harder. Surrounded by thousands of fans, you will not out-run or out-wit everyone. You'll win some battles and lose some -- and that's ok. A positive attitude doesn't happen by accident; it's a choice. So go with the flow and be thankful that you were able to experience 'Nerdvana'.
2. Share the Love
Don't be fooled, panels and Exclusives are awesome, but there is something at Comic-Con that is an even greater find. If you leave without meeting fellow fans, then you really have robbed yourself of the best part. By sharing your story, your fandom and networking with others, your experience will be 10 times better. I know it's hard for you introverts, but remember, it's a small world and taking a step of faith, it can open up all kinds of possibilities. A dinner invite, a saved seat, and Twitter follow can literally change the course of your future. The benefits of a lifelong friend will last long after the con is over.
Like Neo, this means believe in yourself and take initiative. Most of the time, it's easy to let a key opportunity pass because of self doubt. If you see a celeb on the street or at the bar, then take the chance to meet them while you have it. Don't be obnoxious or scary -- and always be respectful. Remember, celebs are real people too. Treat them that way and they will treat you the same way. Gawking and asking for a photos is what everyone else does -- just have a normal conversation and you will be forever glad you did. In a panel, be bold and ask a question. My friend asked a fun question to Eliza Dushku and we have laughed about it ever since. Finally, for you singles out there, take a chance and mingle. Like I shared in my earlier post on dating, I think Comic-Con is the best way to meet someone special. Overall, be different and bend the spoon.
4. The Hangover Part IV: Besides the great exhibitor floor, panels and events to attend, the Comic-Con night life also offers an epic amount of opportunity. But beware. Even though Comic-Con is just a four day event, one unlucky night of too much Romulan Ale and you will find yourself regretting it the next day. Moderation is the key if you want to be 100 percent each day. Your body will thank you by the end of the week. Don't end up being the continuation of the Hangover franchise.
5. Play by the Rules
There is no such thing as the perfect system -- and Comic-Con only works is if we all play by the rules. That means you shouldn't engage in line cutting or slipping into rooms. I know it's nice to skip the line but remember that your faithful comrades have been waiting for hours (or sometimes overnight) and you wouldn't want the same thing to happen to you. Pay your dues and support the system. For help, review my suggestions for getting into panels.
Before you get upset about something, you will be surprise how much farther you can get by just having a good attitude. Trying to fight grump with more grump never works. One time, I tried repeatedly to get a coveted free Star Trek shirt by waiting in line and I failed several times. By just walking up and explaining my dilemma kindly (and smiling), I got a shirt. Whether it's line managers, security, or sales people, they are fighting off the Comic-Con zombie hordes all day long, so a little kindness will go a long way.
7. Let Go of Your Personal Space
I know it's nice to have a buffer zone of seats around you while enjoying your favorite panel. But so many seats get sacrificed because they are not together. It's so sad to me to see couples or friends so frantically wandering around trying to find seats, who just end up splitting up. Please consolidate what is around you and offer multiple seating. I know it's counter intuitive, but a compassionate gesture goes a long way. Who knows? You might need it reciprocated back in the next panel. Helping your fellow con-mates is not only the right thing to do, but a great feeling, even if it's a small gesture.
8. Spoil on Yourself
Unless you are fortunate enough to live locally, this trip is going to cost you -- and this economy isn't easy on anyone. As if it was "nerd Christmas," this is the time of the year to be less practical and get what you have been waiting for. You made it this far, so spend a little extra on yourself. To you penny pinchers, stop doing the internal math and pull the trigger. Get that shirt, collectable, autograph, etc. that you always wanted. It will last forever and hopefully the debt won't. After a few years of going, I have forgotten one Con to the next, but the memorabilia has helped solidify it in my memory.
My biggest challenge to you this year is to personally thank a Comic-Con worker each day (or more if you like). Comic-Con workers are fighting a hard battle. Massive lines, long hours, and over-crowdedness can create a volatile experience and these guys are on the front lines. I have had a chance to get to know some of the workers in different areas over the years. They are hard-working fans that are dedicated to running the best show possible. Pause and thank them for their service. I know it will be hard, but trust me, it matters. Plus, it's great for 'leveling up'!
10. Finally, Dream BIG
My guess is that if you are attending this special and magical place, it is touching at something that is at the core of your heart. This is so much more than just seeing a preview, getting swag, or seeing celebs. From all this pent-up passion, there is probably something greater stirring in you. Stop containing your passion and share it with the world. Maybe from this you'll start a new website or new blog for like-minded fans. Maybe you'll feel you need to quit your job and take a step towards the comics industry. Maybe you'll find you need to go back to school to learn about illustration and design. Comic-Con is not only about you finding other fans, but it's also about you discovering yourself. Don't just sit on your dreams 'til the next Comic-Con. Take steps and make your dreams come true now. All those stars, artists, producers and directors you experienced were just like you at one time. All they had was passion and a dream and they made it happen.
After years of attending and talking with many fans, this Top 10 list is what makes the difference between a good show and a magical one. If you resonate with any of these, please leave a comment below. Having the best or worst Comic-Con is really in your hands. It's up to you to decide what kind of week you will have. Thanks and see you soon!
The drawings were done by my new friend Emily at http://paintingemily.tumblr.com/.
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This post was originally published on Crazy 4 Comic Con.