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Geeky survival tips for Comic-Con

Beth Accomando
Don't complain about the new mask requirements at Comic-Con, instead use it as an opportunity to show what you love. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando wears a "Star Wars" stormtrooper costume. San Diego, Calif. July 20, 2022.

Here are some geeky tips for not just surviving Comic-Con's first full scale, back in person summer show but how to have a good time.

1. New rules 📖
Make sure you are aware of all the new rules regarding COVID-19. Check the FAQ page on the Comic-Con website for clarification. Most importantly you will need to either be vaccinated or have proof of a negative test within 72 hours. To speed up the process of getting verification, use the Clear app. There are multiple locations and times to get your wristband to be cleared to enter the convention.

Beth Accomando
Everyone entering Comic-Con this year needs to have proof of vaccination or of a negative COVID test within 72 hours. July 20, 2022

2. Wear a mask 😷
Don't complain about this policy; it is for everyone's benefit and is just a good precaution to help reduce the chance of spreading infection. It may be annoying but let's be considerate of others. Plus never omit an opportunity to fly your geek flag, so get a facehugger mask à la "Alien" or a "Star Wars" one.

3. Check out the official website 💻
Comic-Con puts a lot of work into its website and packs it with information. You can explore the exhibit floor, check out who will be in Artist Alley, and check out all the programming from panels to films to gaming and more.

4. Pack a survival kit 🎒
Pretend you are heading out into the wilderness and don't know how long you will be gone. Make sure you bring water, snacks, caffeine, deodorant (if you want to be considerate of others), sunscreen (hat and sunglasses if you plan to be in outdoor lines), the Quick Guide (in case your phone dies and you need an actual printed document), battery chargers, and anything else that you think you might want or need but won't have time to get once you leave your home or hotel. Also make sure you always have your badge! I should not have to say that but sometimes you run out without it so keep it packed with your survival kit. The floor opens at 9:30 a.m. and panels can run till 11:00 p.m., and then you might want to attend parties or late night activations, so it can be a long day.

Survival kit.jpg
Beth Accomando
If you are attending Comic-Con, pack a survival kit. Seen here are KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando's necessities for a day at the con. San Diego, Calif. July 20, 2022.

5. Make a plan 📝
A plan can be detailed or casual but decide how you want to tackle the Con so that you make the proper preparations. Go through the schedule, highlight what you most want to see or do, see where there are conflicts, figure out the geography (you cannot go from the Bayfront Hilton to Hall A in five minutes). Understand that it is not just a question of distance but of what stands between you and your destination. Will there be lines to cross, traffic stops, a busy exhibit floor, or some amazing cosplay that is just stopping everyone in their tracks. You can take the approach of targeting the things you most want to do and block out the time to wait in line or you can take a casual approach and make a plan to just wander the exhibit floor and see what strikes your fancy.

6. Lines do not have to be a bad thing 💬
Waiting in line is a pain but it doesn't have to be a bad experience. Remember that you are in line with people who are as obsessive as you are about what you are in line for. And if you are lining up two panels in advance for your desired panel (and that is a good rule of thumb if you really want to see something, of course Hall H may require more time), then maybe the person next to you can introduce you to whatever they are passionate about. So many people form lifelong friendships with people they meet in line so embrace this as an adventure.

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Beth Accomando
The Hall H line back in the day before there were tents to shield attendees from the sun while waiting long hours in line. Undated photo.

7. Adopt, adapt and improve 💪
It's Comic-Con, so yes things may not go as planned. If you get shut out of that panel you were eager to attend, don't let it ruin your day. Instead walk into a random panel and maybe get exposed to something new that you will fall in love with. Or hit the exhibit floor and check out Artist Alley or Small Press and discover amazing creativity. You will have an opportunity to speak with artists and creators there, one-on-one, so take advantage of that opportunity.

8. Go out of your comfort zone 👽
Comic-Con, like a film festival, is a place where you should try to step out of your own fandom and passions and explore something new. So if you never read a manga (a Japanese comic book), seek one out. If you don't know what an inker, letterer and colorist do, then go to a panel about them. If you have no idea what games are popular now, check out the gaming booth. There is so much diversity of media, content and artists at Comic-Con that it would be a shame not to venture out into new and unexplored territory.

Keithan Jones.jpg
Ariana Mallorca
Keithan Jones is shown here in an undated photo. Jones is a San Diego-based comics creator and a Comic-Con special guest.

9. Support an independent artist or publisher 🎨
This may not be a true "survival" tip but the artists and publishers at Comic-Con need people to buy their work to survive. Consider hitting the floor for a day or an hour and spend a little money at the smaller booths where artists and small press are located. There are treasures out there and you will feel good knowing you are supporting creative people.

10. Just have fun 🎉
Okay, this probably should have been the first rule. If you are at Comic-Con you are probably a geek (or maybe a spouse being dragged along) so have some geeky fun. Get a photo at the Studio Ghibli booth or play Godzilla pinball or head to the fan tables and learn how you can join the 501st Legion. There may be a lot you want to do or accomplish or buy but just take a moment every day to find something that makes the geek in you smile.

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Chris Mowry
KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando meeting Godzilla before the Toho icon made an appearance at Comic-Con in 2019.

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