Agent Sarah writes on Tuesdays for Agents of GUARD and covers Arrow, console games, anime, and whatever else sounds appealing at the moment. She has a day job in the software industry and thinks cereal is overrated.

It might be kind of a stretch to say that this is my first “con experience”, since I only attended preview night and hung out outside comic con the next day, but I think it counts because I learned so many important things about attending cons that I can put to good use in the future. Here are a few:

Cons will walk all over your fancy insoles!
You think “I’ll need some special shoes or some Dr. Scholls or something to stay comfortable!” WRONG! Well, not totally. You will have trouble staying comfortable with all the walking you’re going to do, but the amount of help your drugstore insoles or special shoes will give you is a toss-up. Short of getting custom orthotics, you may just want to ensure you plan breaks frequently or maybe plan for a pedicure. I wore a decent pair of insoles and they were pretty much zero help for me.

Plan to be extra early so you’re only five minutes late
Getting to things on time was HARD and I wasn’t even trying to go to a panel! Due to the insane crowds, things that are usually simple tasks such as driving somewhere and finding parking, or crossing a street take 5x longer than usual. On Thursday morning, I had to go to THREE trolley stations before I found parking (one of which was a central transportation hub with ample parking– all full!) which delayed me an hour. I had two experiences with different trolley terminals not taking my credit card for some reason, and crossing the street was kind of a much huger task than I’m used to with all the people and traffic controllers.

Don’t laugh at Earl’s training plan
As I was explaining to Agents Nate and Justin over dinner, I admittedly sort of giggled when reading Earl’s On The Road to SDCC posts about how he was doing some walking to train for Comic Con. Training for a con? Is this a thing?? However, I was definitely not giggling when 1.5 hours into Preview Night MY LEGS WERE JELLO. I think there is something to this con fitness training regimen.

Protect your tech! Watch your step!
I saw a couple of people trying to take pictures or having their cell phones out while walking a little too carelessly, only to have another con-goer bump into them and completely shatter their phone screen! This sucks, but you HAVE TO watch where you’re going! You think that dude that bumped into you is going to pay for your phone repairs? You don’t even want to be in this situation.

Scout’s Honor: Be Prepared
I took a small purse with me in an attempt to travel light. This was a mistake. Not only did I have nowhere to put the swag I picked up (not a lot, but enough to make things awfully inconvenient for my purse), and even if I did have a swag bag they were poorly constructed and cheaply made and falling apart. I also didn’t bring water or snacks, which are pretty important. If you’re wandering around a convention floor all day or darting to panels figuring you’ll think about food later, it won’t become a priority until you’re completely starving and now have to wade through 150,000 people to find a vacant restaurant table and wait for food. Same goes for water, but you could bring a water bottle and a few snacks to hold you over until food plans materialize, or you could be really smart like Agent Bobby and bring an insulated lunch box. That guy is smart.

All the Sunscreen
I did not wear sunscreen. I deeply regret my decision. My lobstery shoulders and peeling nose cry out in thirst of aloe vera. Wear your sunscreen. You may think “I’ll be indoors anyway all day” but…it’s just not true. Trust me, it’s not.

Cosplay is fun, but…you have one job!
People love to cosplay. It sure looks fun and makes for some great pictures! But there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, it may not be a great idea to wear a costume that will bundle you up and keep you in a mask on a very hot day (like Darth Vader in 90 degree weather at Comic Con.) Secondly, you get a new job when you put on a costume, and that is as an entertainer, taking pictures with people. Everyone is going to stop you and ask for a picture of you, with you, or to have you join these random people you never met before because you dressed up as characters from the same show and now there’s a complete set of you there. If you’re feeling anti-social or have things you really want to see, don’t dress up. Finally, bring a repair kit for your costume. I saw a few people who had costumes falling apart on them and were struggling to repair it or remove it and carry it around. Agent Justin said that Anime Expo actually has a costume repair station just for this kind of incident, but SDCC has no such thing and it’s probably unwise to bank on it.

Don’t let the lines rule your world
There is lots of stuff to do! Don’t feel like you have to wait in that huge Hall H line to see the latest and hottest trailer, because it’ll probably be on YouTube right away anyway. I know some people love it, but I’m all about sleeping in an actual bed indoors and not eating a smooshed sandwich that was in my bag for ten hours because there’s nothing else.

Future Con Plans?
This was a pretty successful first experience, but will I go to future cons? Only time will tell. Here are a few thoughts, though.

  • Long Beach Comic Con (Sept 12-13)- This con is on a much smaller scale than SDCC and is a little more comics and art oriented, so it might be fun to check out. (And Agent Nate has a table!!!)
  • BlizzCon (Nov 6-7)- This one seems unlikely, but could be really fun (I don’t play WoW but I am a Hearthstone fan, and my husband plays Heroes of the Storm.) However, tickets sold out months ago and information about a press pass seems elusive.
  • Akibaexpo (Dec 18-20)- Don’t know much about this smaller event, but since I’m basically a giant anime nerd and think Japanese culture is fun to explore, this one may be great to check out.
  • Cos-Losseum 2016 (Feb 6-7)- This is a smaller, cosplay-focused con in San Diego. It might be really fun to blog about and experience a small con (especially a cosplay focused one!)
  • Anime Expo 2016 (July 1-4, 2016)- This one is almost a year out, but since anime is definitely my jam I’d probably have a lot of fun at Anime Expo.
  • San Diego Comic Con 2016 (July 21-24) ???? We’ll see.

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