5 Comic-Con Tips From a Beleaguered Slob

Billy Arrowsmith

I go to many comic book conventions as part of my job, and I will be the first person to tell you that they are awful nightmarish places. Obviously, I love them and there’s something that keeps me coming back, but it’s an experience I have to share with other people to enjoy — they’re like a massive communal nerd version of trauma bonding. In order for you to enjoy/survive this week’s San Diego Comic-Con, and any other convention, you’re going to need some Comic-Con tips!

The first couple of cons I went to, I remember being mostly focused on how to maximize my experience to have the most fun. The years have taken their toll on my psyche, so now I am mostly focused on how to survive the experience with my sanity intact. I’m SURE there are people out there who don’t have this problem. I know there are young hotshot kids with hearts full of dreams and their whole lives in front of them who can make it through an entire comic-con without crying. I am not that strong. I am a human trashcan and I have come to accept that. I consider it an achievement to make it all the way through the weekend without my skin falling off and exposing the million cockroaches whose collective consciousness make up my personality. If you are anything like me, here are some tips for you on how to survive SDCC:

1. Bring Your Own Food, Dummy

Ron Swanson Bacon Turkey Leg Parks and Rec

I really don’t understand why anybody doesn’t do this. The food at comic-con is always extremely over-priced and the lines are insane. I guess if you’re cosplaying it makes sense to not bring your own food since you might not be able to carry things? First of all, you should always be wearing comfortable pants that have pockets when you go to comic-con. It is maybe the only time in my life when I consider wearing pants to be an advantage. I have spent a lot of time scientifically determining the best food to eat after keeping it in your pants all day, so I consider myself something of an expert here. The most obvious move is a packet of beef jerky if you’re just trying to maximize energy and efficiency. In harsher times I have been known to carry a ziploc bag of chewy bacon which I eat throughout the day like a goblin. You also HAVE to bring your own water bottle if you don’t wanna depend on crappy convention center water fountains. If you wanna really get into advanced territory, the best move is a Pocket Sandwich or Pocket Burrito.

2. Embrace the Pocket Sandwich


I have been called gross for this, but let me tell you, eating a Pocket Sandwich at 3pm at comic-con is the greatest part of my entire day. Any kind of burrito will work for a Pocket Burrito… I mean, you’re in San Diego, do some research, you’ll find something great. You need a really special sandwich for a Pocket Sandwich though. My go-to is a hero with turkey, lettuce, tomato, avocado, bacon, and honey mustard. It also has to be properly wrapped in paper and foil to avoid leakage. I buy that bad-boy when I leave my house in the morning and I just let it sit in my pocket all day, flattening out, kept warm by body-heat, the flavors mixing together as they congeal. It’s just so much tastier than a sandwich bought fresh. It’s a sandwich prepared for you with love, by your butt. The Pocket Burrito works under the same principle. In the case of burritos there is a very specific window of taste. For some reason they are TERRIBLE the next day, but if you wait like 6-7 hours to eat them after they’re rolled they achieve peak flavor. It is a wondrous thing to behold.

3. Invest in a Power Strip Outlet

Power Strip

You will make SO MANY friends if you bring a power strip outlet to comic-con. You will also never have to stand there sadly waiting for a grown man dressed as Naruto to finish charging their phone before you can charge your phone.

4. Have Celebrities Autograph Stuff You Don’t Want Other People to Lose

Larfleeze Green Lantern Orange Lantern Corps

I have talked to a lot of people about this so I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Autographs are kind of stupid. What are they for? Do they really make stuff more valuable? Have we gotten so creepy as a society that cheap memorabilia actually becomes more expensive if a celebrity merely touches it? Why? I don’t know where William Shatner’s hands have been. Gross. No, autographs are dumb, and at best they’re just an excuse to talk to a celebrity or commemorate the time you talked to a celebrity. BUT, if other people are constantly losing stuff you lend them, autographs can be very useful. I LOVE playing frisbee and I take my frisbees seriously. When I buy a frisbee I don’t buy one of those floppy discs made out of cheap plastic. I get the good stuff, tournament quality. I got so tired of repeatedly buying $20 frisbees, lending them to people, and then watching them land on rooftops where I could never recover them. What am I gonna do, stop lending people my frisbee? I’m not a monster. That would spit in the face of everything that being a frisbee owner stands for. One year I finally had the bright idea of bringing my frisbee to comic-con. I met Jerry Robinson, the guy who co-created the Joker, and I had him sign my frisbee. I am sure Jerry Robinson is a very nice person and I enjoyed meeting him, but I could not care less about having a copy of his signature. However, now when I give people my frisbee, I can tell them: “Be careful with that frisbee. It was signed by Jerry Robinson, the guy who co-created the Joker, so it’s very valuable.” I do not know if that is true, but people were roughly 500x more careful with my frisbee after that. I still eventually lost it but it took way longer than usual.

5. Trying to Save Money? Don’t Bring a Bag

Huge Backpack - Comic-Con Tips

Okay, this is a controversial one. Maybe the #1 piece of advice I see other people give for comic-cons is to make sure you bring a bag to carry all of your swag. This is consumerist propaganda. What are you doing? You don’t have money. You’re broke. You’ve just set aside money for this weekend in an elaborate attempt to convince yourself that you’re not broke. Look, I get it. Buying things feels good. Those things are shiny and exciting and they hold the promise of a future where you’re finally satisfied with owning all the right stuff so you no longer feel empty inside.

There are plenty of great things you can buy at comic-con, but the temptation to buy wildly impractical things you will never use or look at again is ridiculous. I spent $20 one year on a bottle opener that looks like Han Solo frozen in carbonite and I still use that bottle opener to this day. That was a great purchase. I spent $40 last year on a grappling hook. Why did I do that? I weigh 400 pounds. I am never going to use a grappling hook. It seemed like such a good idea at the time though! I was convinced that not only was it a great purchase, it was a great bargain also. The secret to not spending money on dumb crap you don’t need is to walk into comic-con without a bag. If you have a bag you will want to keep buying things until your bag is full. You will get tired and sore and grumpy. If you don’t have a bag, you will have to ask yourself before every purchase: “Do I really want to carry this thing around all day?” If the answer to that question is “No” then it’s probably not worth buying in the first place.

Thanks for reading! For more information on comic-con, check out our SDCC coverage at Wikia Live! 

Billy Arrowsmith
Billy Arrowsmith is a senior editor & administrator on several Wikia sites including the DC Comics Database, the Marvel Database, and the Valiant Comics Database. He is very hard-working and funny and handsome and you should hire him.
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