Nearly two weeks have passed since my first Comic Con Experience commenced and it is still taking me time to fully process all that has happened. Holy shit.
What can I say? It was one big hoopla. Sure you think Comic Con and what comes to mind? A bunch of cosplayers and nerds walking around a big convention center gushing about comics and fandoms, right? And yeah, you do see those things. BUT IT IS WAY MORE THAN THAT. Let me tell you, I was expecting it to be amazing; I honestly set the bar high in terms of what I wanted to get out of Comic Con. And somehow, it seemed to throw my expectations back at me, smack the back of my hand, smirk, and then blow my mind. All within the first day I was there.
But I was lucky, I had my cousin and his friends, Comic Con Vets, there to guide me along the way. I should’ve known I was about to be blown away from the eager looks they kept giving me and the ridiculous amount of times they kept mentioning how excited they were for my first time. They showed me the ropes, and now I feel like I should share what I learned with the rest of the interwebs- especially if this sounds like your kinda thing! Take my advice or leave it, regardless, you're guaranteed to have an amazing time at Comic Con. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible and you feel like you know everyone there (although you've never actually met- it's just amazing to be around people who are passionate about the same things you are).
Important thing to know: Panels are EVERYTHING. (Trust me, this is where you will see the most exclusive footage and all the celebrities and just plain awesomeness altogether. JUST TRUST ME). The infamous Hall H houses the most notoriously badass panels that the Con has to offer. And each year people will wait in line for days (literally) to get a wristband to get inside.
Here is how it works: You need a BADGE to even get into Comic Con. How do you get a badge you ask? Well, you need to register for a member ID on the San Diego International Comic Con website. I’ll link the FAQ page as well in case you need further help. But you sign up and await a link to the virtual waiting room to buy actual badges (think of badges like golden tickets, you want a ticket? You gotta wait in line… and by that I mean virtual line on the internet). Once you’re in, and you buy your badge you wait for it in the mail! Congrats! You are going to Comic Con!
When the badge arrives you need to arrive the day BEFORE the day you want to see panels. To get into certain panels (the ones in Hall H) you need a wristband). Think of these wristbands as something even more precious than badges. What?! What’s more precious than a golden ticket?! Imagine it’s a Pikachu on Pokémon Go. So you come the day before the day you actually want to be there and you do what? Yeah, that’s right, you wait in line. I know you’re thinking, “But Shelby, this is a lot of waiting in line”. And to that, my friend, I have to say: Yeah. You’re totally right. Comic Con is 70% waiting in line, 20% Cosplay snapchatting, 10% free swag, and 100% FUCKING AWESOME.
So just accept the fact that you’ll be waiting in line a lot. It’s okay. Everyone is doing it. Got it? Ok good. So you might as well come prepared. Waiting for a wristband can take anywhere from 5 hours to literally all night depending on the day you are waiting. So I say bring a chair, some blankets, a book, portable charger, and lots of snacks, because you’re going to be there a while.
What?! You finally made it to the front of the wristband line?! Nice, you show your badge (YOU BROUGHT YOUR BADGE WITH YOU, RIGHT?!) and you get your Hall H wristband! It will show the date and a letter on it signifying roughly what place in line you should be. (To give you an example, I was pretty far back in line but I got a D wristband for the Friday Panels). They've gotten pretty strict, and they make sure you put your wristband on before you leave their sight so that you cant sell it or give it to anyone.
But you have a wristband! Now you notice everyone is rushing away! Where are they going?! “Oh no, please don’t tell me it’s more lines, Shelby!” Why, yes it is. You now have a wristband but you need to wait in the line to get into the Hall to get good seats for the Panel! Yes, this means you will wait overnight. The good thing is that you can take shifts. This is why going with friends is a good idea. We took shifts throughout the night and it gave us all a few hours of quality sleep so that we were lucid enough to comprehend the awesomeness of the panel the next day. Just make sure you are back in line in your spot earlier than 7:30 in the morning.
When you do in fact get inside the Hall (no running, I see you.) make sure you get good seats- not behind a column and remember they have giant screens for the people that are further in the back, so it’s kind of hard to get a bad seat actually. But you don’t need to find seats after each panel. As long as someone in your party is there during each panel defending your open seat as “taken” then you have nothing to worry about. Say there is a panel that you really aren’t interested in and you want to walk around the con and collect free swag and goodies and just soak up more awesomeness, Go Ahead! When you leave they give you a little tiny slip of paper with the time you need to be back inside Hall H without having to wait in line all over again. DO NOT LOSE THIS PAPER. Protect it with your life. It will allow you to go back in the Hall to your seat through a side entrance so that you can get ready for the next panel. Panels run all day.
And that’s basically it! This is what Comic Con is all about.
But is it all worth it? YES. The lines and the waiting is a small sacrifice to the plethora of awesomeness that awaits you inside the convention center. I got to see many of awesome celebrities, plenty of talented artists, and one of my favorite graphic novel authors! You really will have an amazing time, I assure you. What will you find inside Hall H?! MAGIC. And maybe, if you're lucky... Eddie Redmayne will walk into the audience in Hall H and personally hand out free wands to every audience member... if you're lucky.