Comic-Con Survival Guide: What To Embrace, What To Bring And What To Skip

It’s that time of the year again, folks. We are just a handful of hours away from my personal favorite event of the year, San Diego Comic-Con. MTV News will be bringing you extensive convention coverage for those of you staying at home, but we’ve put together a quick survival guide for those of you daring the depths of Hall H and the Exhibit Hall this year.

Comic-Con is a time for fun, but it’s also a good time to be prepared. Those four and a half days in San Diego will fly by before you know it, so make sure you follow these simple rules and you’ll be sure to have a great time.

If you’re going to complain about having to wait in line for three hours to check out some of the awesome panels happening in Hall H this year, then Comic-Con is not the place for you. Want to see all the exclusive footage that will likely be shown from “Pacific Rim,” “Elysium” or “Iron Man 3″? Well, so do thousands of other people. If you look at them as your allies instead of your enemies, then you’ll be a lot happier. Hey, it’s a lot like living in NYC!

Yes, Comic-Con gets crowded. Yes, there will be long lines for the events you’re interested in (see above) and there’s no guarantee you’ll even get in. But you are among your kindred nerds gawking at all the pop culture-related things you know and love, so what is there to complain about?

This may seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how little time it takes for the stench in the Exhibit Hall to get unbearable. There are thousands upon thousands of people who attend Comic-Con and San Diego is hot in mid-July. Trust us: pack that extra stick, apply it one or two more times than you think you need to, and we’ll all be a lot happier.

Let me clarify before you get all up in arms: Skip the Exhibit Hall during peak hours. Arguably the best time to check this awesome area out is on Preview Night, when only the people who have four-day passes are allowed in. But good luck if you’re trying to meander around to see what all the fuss is about at noon on Friday. This place gets packed and it’s easy to waste an hour just trying to walk from one end of the Hall to the other — not because you’re checking things out, but because it’s impossible to move. Definitely go during prime time if you’re trying to get an exclusive item or an autograph, but if you just want to check out the Exhibit Hall, we recommend doing it when everyone else isn’t there too.

A lot of studios have implemented new rules regarding their signing policies this year, so read up on them before you get to the Con. But one of the coolest parts of SDCC is not only getting to meet your favorite actors and actresses, but getting them to sign awesome exclusive posters for you as well. Even if you can’t manage to snag a wristband for a “Game of Thrones” or “Man of Steel” signing booth, keep in mind that people like Guillermo del Toro do signings yearly at the Gentle Giant booth and George R.R. Martin will likely hit up the Random House booth for a bit as well.

You never know who you’ll see roaming the floors at Comic-Con, or at what point a booth attendee will usher you into a line and say, “Hold this sign, we’re starting a line for ’The Walking Dead’ signings right here.” And did we mention all the awesome cosplayers? There’s so much to see at SDCC and even more that you’ll want to brag to your friends and family back home, so you’d be very, very remiss to not have a camera with you just in case.

If you couldn’t tell from this list already, a lot of what we’re suggesting requires some effort beforehand. But after all the money you likely dropped on a SDCC pass, hotel and (potentially) airfare, doesn’t it make sense to show up prepared? Do your research beforehand, and you won’t be sorry. There’s nothing worse than finding out after the fact that you missed something you really would have loved to see just because you didn’t know it was happening.

Not just an official Comic-Con schedule, but your own personalized schedule. The San Diego Convention Hall is big, there are going to be a lot of people there, and there are likely going to be hundreds or thousands of people trying to get to the same panels and events you are. If you create a personalized schedule (the SDCC website made it easy here), then you’ll know where to go and when, and will likely be a lot happier. Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to stroll into a Hall H or Ballroom 20 panel at the last minute, so (again) anticipate and love the lines.

You can sleep when you’re dead. Now get out there and enjoy the show!

What are you looking forward to seeing at Comic-Con this year? Tell us in the comments section below or on Twitter!