By Shawn Marshall| June 27, 2012 | 1 Comment
With the countdown approaching single digits of days until the Super Bowl of Cons, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all that surrounds these coming days. It seems there are new announcements made everyday from now until Preview Night. EXCLUSIVES! PANELS! PARTIES! If you’re following all of this, it’ll begin to make you glaze over, like a newbie in Vegas. That said, this period before SDCC is when you can do the most to make sure you have an enjoyable trip to San Diego. Pay attention to the announcements, but pay even closer attention to what you do with the information. If you don’t go into SDCC with a plan, it’ll fly by and you’ll be left with a list of mistakes and missed opportunities.
To help you make the most of the trip, I’ve provided my top six personal notes that I use to prepare for SDCC each year. At the conclusion of each trip, I revisit this list and make modifications.
1. Make a Packing List: It is very important that you begin gathering the practical necessities for the convention; otherwise, you’ll be overspending money on snacks or Tylenol, when you should be spending it on that Marvel Helicarrier or a sketch from a favorite artist. Here are the items I carry in my backpack, each day of SDCC:
a. Energizing Snacks (i.e. tuna salad cans, crackers, chips, etc.) and Drinks (especially bottled waters, as they are significantly more expensive at the convention center than at the grocery store). Make sure to pack extra for Sunday, because not all of the convention center’s food venues are open that day.
c. Sharpies, at least one black and one silver
d. Ziplock Bags, to keep all of those free buttons, rings, etc., organized
e. Printable Items (i.e. parking passes, pre-order receipts, ticket confirmations, etc.)
g. Hand Sanitizer
h. Poster Tube
i. Rubber Bands
j. Safety Pins
k. Chargers and Batteries (phone and camera)
l. Medical Items (Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, Band-Aids, etc.)
m. Autograph Folder (somewhere where you can keep pictures safe from bending)
2. Make Your Twitter Account SDCC-Ready: Look for the Kings and Queens of SDCC and follow them. This is super easy, if you’ve read my tips on this in the last few weeks. Search our archives and FOLLOW ALL OF THEM!
3. Make a Budget: I find that my convention monetary needs have an inverse correlation with the amount of available freebies and other offerings (often smaller cons require more spending because there is less free stuff to hunt and fewer panels to attend). Being a collector, I’m not going to go long without acquisitions, so I have to figure that into my budget. Those planning to stay in Hall H and Ballroom 20 throughout the con may not need as much spending money. Here is a breakdown of my 2012 SDCC trip budget, but remember preferences are especially pivotal in this area:
a. Tickets: $175 (I have press, but my wife does not)
b. Parking: $50 (I pre-purchase my parking. If parking passes are sold out, parking may range from $15-$30 per day.)
c. Pet Sitter: $180
d. Room: $670 (We choose to save here and always stay 20 min outside of SDCC. It does have its drawbacks, but it is also nice to get away from the madness at the end of each day.)
e. Food/Entertainment: $650
f. Stuff: $900 (This is my focus at SDCC. I’m all about the toys, shirts, comics, etc.)
4. Have a Plan: As programming is revealed, add the events you want to attend to your calendar. Personally, I use my iPhone for all calendar purposes. At this point I just keep adding things that I’d like to see. As the event gets closer, I’ll begin to remove things so there are fewer conflicts, but for now I put everything I’m interested in on my calendar. Make sure to purposely keep conflicts on your calendar, so that you always have back-up options.
5. Add Any “Special” Items to Your Packing List: Is there anything special you’d like to bring to SDCC? Do you want to bring that stack of Starman comics for James Robinson to autograph? Do you want to get your Blue Snaggletooth AFA graded? Do you have a sketchbook, in which you would like Rob Guillory to do a commission? For myself, I have a Star Trek: The Next Generation cast photo, to which I’ll be adding Gates McFadden’s autograph. Also, there are a few books that I need signed from some favorite writers and artists.
6. Remember Personal Preference Matters: There is no single way to attack SDCC. Everything I’ve listed is based on my preferences, so you have to take this template and modify for your personal needs. I’m a collector with a huge taste for pop-culture. I’d enjoy seeing nearly every panel AND owning nearly every item at SDCC but if SDCC is about only one thing it is choices. You probably don’t have the same tastes, so make sure to consider what you want out of SDCC. This is an event where attendees must accept that they might be able to partake in 10% of what they want to do. That being said, it is far better to enjoy that 10% fully, because of your plan, than to be running around stressed because you didn’t do your homework.