Scramble to SDCC — T-2 Months
A beginners attempt to Comic-Con (from Australia)
Much to my family’s disappointment, I’m not a particularly religious person. Likely because my love of all things Marvel, DC and pop-culture generally consumes any spare emotional attachment and dedication that could otherwise be invested in some other sort of devotion. Anyone who has known me for a few months, or managed a peek of either of my tattoos, will be able to tell you I have strong opinions on comics, movies, and a whole bunch of things. Based in Australia, San Diego Comic-Con is like my Mecca. The panels, revelations and pictures provide me with months of content to consume and obsess over with my equally fervid friends. Alas, flights, timing and the terrible performance of the Australian dollar always saw SDCC relegated to the hardly likely section of the Bucket List.
Until this year.
Almost a year ago, my Chief Friendship Officer talked me into making the pilgrimage. After registering for the ballot, I got a new job, moved and couldn’t commit to a U.S. trip and she decided to go hiking through the Siberian Tundra assuming that surviving that was more likely than scoring the elusive SDCC badges.
A set of fortuitous circumstances, and I was booked to be stateside with work the week before the main event and found myself in possession of a badge. Aside from being incredibly excited, I’m also fantastically disorganised. With two months to go, here are the lessons learned through my mistakes so far or shared with me by internet strangers.
Prepare yourself for not getting a badge
While sitting in my living room in the dark at 2 am watching the little blue spinning wheel turn round, I had a post-it note stuck to my screen
There is less than 6% chance of getting a badge.
I logged on resigned to the fact that statistically I wouldn’t get a pass. I had an open twitter feed scrolling live through those frustrated or nervous by the waiting room, with many battle worn fans trying for the nth time.
Give it a go! It’s hard to get one because it’s amazing. Remember, it will be a horrible experience if you’re not realistic.
Prepare yourself by thinking, how many days of attendance is it worth making the trip for? From Australia, I’d be surprised if anyone would make the 18 hour trip for a day, but two? Three?
Yes, accommodation books out. Be organised.
I missed out on the official accommodation. I wasn’t sure about what my timings were and wasn’t motivated to lock that stuff down. There’s a ballot for hotel and yeah you really need to be online at that time to have a shot. I was six hours late on the registration and my options were suddenly very limited.
Fortunately, I found a bed. Literally, a bed in a hostel room with five other people. It’s cheap. It’s nasty. Most importantly, it’s 400m from the convention center.
If you don’t want to be sleeping in a bunk bed and inquiring about the availability of secure lockers though — get organised. Watch your email. Bonus Tip Organise a group. There’s a number of people who will be happy to share a larger hotel room, even with an internet friend, to split the cost or increase the chance of getting a place close to the convention center.
You have something in common. Make friends.
I’m going stag to SDCC. I’ll be in a strange city, in a foreign country and attempting to navigate one of the largest conventions in the world with an innumerable number of events. But there’s roughly 130,000 people attending over the course of the Con, and I’m armed with the knowledge most of them will be crazy passionate about something that I am (which can be a rare find).
Use the internet community to your advantage. Through reddit I’m part of a 80-member strong conversation. Through Twitter I found some other Aussie attendees. Through friends-of-friends I have some people to call should anything go south. As they say, a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met. Based purely on my Aussie experience (which are way smaller), Conventions are some of the easiest places to start a conversation — just start it a little earlier.
Start looking at off-site events. Yesterday.
This might be a way-out-of-towner thing, but I’m resigned to the fact this could be my only chance to see a Conan O’Brien taping, or a recording of Fatman on Batman. Check out the side events from last year, start following some of the people in the know. I’ve never been in town during #SDCC, and I’ve never been to a U.S. con, it may be naivety but I’m shocked by how much is on during and on either side of the main event.
I’m in town and I’m ready for a geek party. Make the pilgrimage worthwhile and ensure you’ve got tickets to the events you want. It’s probably the most exciting research you’ll ever do in your life.