Ahhhhh, Comic-Con, is the greatest place on earth! Well, not exactly, but it is close! There is much to be seen, heard, and experienced at this renowned convention of geeks. It is a great place to find some items that will indeed become collectibles. Overall, it’s just a flat-out experience that everyone should experience. I personally have quite a few Comic-Con items.
I even got a new Tokidoki tote over the holidays that is rare and collectible because it was featured at the 2021 Comic-Con. It, of course, came from a reseller site but still has the tags on it. Pretty psyched. There’s always something for everyone at these shows.
Even Funko Pop always releases a rare variant of a Pop that you will only see at Comic-Con. So you will undoubtedly see a lot of one-of-a-kind merch.
This doesn’t mean that your local comic convention will have the same offerings as the San Diego Comic-Con. It is a bit complicated, right? You can always shop on reseller sites if you wish to acquire merch from a Comic-Con across the world.
The only one allowed to use the term “Comic-Con” is the SanDiego Comic-Con. They offer a lot that the smaller conventions in your hometown don’t; however, you should consider the smaller venues. I prefer the small conventions about a million times over the massive and intimidating International Comic-Con in San Diego. Also, I enjoy supporting local businesses.
In this article, we will look at the actual Comic-Con itself and take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the best Comic-Con collectibles ever. The collectibles are all from Comic-Con San Diego, but my tips on what to bring and what to do span across all geeky conventions.
It is whatever makes you the happiest and most comfortable. I have issues in huge crowds where I cannot escape easily. The noise is also a factor for me, so to be a geek and respect my boundaries, I choose the little and not-so-little city and state shows.
My Favorite Comic-Con Tip
Bring your own food and refillable water container. You don’t want to blow all your precious hard-earned cash on a crappy overpriced sandwich or pay five dollars for a little bottle of water.
Be sure to check the rules and regulations for the Comic-Con you will be attending to ensure you can bring in food and water. Covid has made these things stricter, so check the website for that specific Comic Con and the convention center that will be hosting.
What to Bring to Comic-Con ~ Nearby & Far Away
An Oversized Bag
A tote bag, book bag, or a fancy vessel on wheels will be best suited to handle all of your carrying needs. Make sure to consider what’s most important to you in a travel bag. Aim for lightweight and comfortable, even when heavy bags.
I like hiking bags because they are specifically for long-haul carrying, are built for extremes, and have loads of easy-access pockets. The more professional option is the vessel on wheels. If you are doing some very serious collecting and dropping big money doing so, I would highly recommend one of these types of travel bags because it is sturdy and has wheels.
So load that baby up, and remember to pack foldable tote/reusable grocery bags for the little knick-knacks. Make sure to get one long enough to hold posters, or you’ll be sorry.
Your Camera or Camera Phone
If your phone’s camera isn’t up to par, you can purchase a small decent camera for very little. The one that is linked is great for video and still camera functions. It’s called a vlogging camera, so need I say more? It has a 32 GB SD Card, but you may need more space. Opt for the big baller SD Card.
A refillable water container with a built-in filter would be perfect for those nasty water fountain refills. If you will be around plenty of refill sites, don’t worry so much about the size of the container.
Carrying a half-gallon water container is heavy and will take up a good bit of room in your bag that you could be using for much cooler stuff.
An empty poster cylinder for keeping any artwork you purchase safely stored until you nerd out on them later. You will regret it if you skip this stop. Even if you carefully roll your poster and stick it in a bag, I can guarantee it will get bent dents, and you don’t want any imperfections on your new Comic-Con poster.
A Hard Flat Portfolio-type Folder to Store Comic Books
Remember to slip those babies into clear protectors so you won’t accidentally mess them up! Choose wisely, or you will risk hauling around a lot of extra weight. Obviously, it’s important to unload once you get to your resting place for the night to make room for more comic books the next day.
Make these something very permanent and non-smearing. Sharpies are great; pens and certain markers on glossy material can be hard to read, and you may run into a situation where your signer will need to go over their writing over and over.
That looks sloppy and not nearly as nice as a brand-new sharp Sharpie. I suggest bringing a pack of black and colorful fine point sharpies for the big stuff and a couple of extra fine Sharpies for the other stuff.
Snacks that Only Take Up a Little Room in Your Bag
If you have a child and pack their lunch box using the typical parental lunchbox Tetris technique, you have this step made. If not, you will need to make wise choices when packing your snacks and meals for the day. You don’t want to lug around a twenty-pound picnic basket and then have to take it back with you. Try to choose things that can’t get smashed, leak, or otherwise become gross in your bag.
I’m not a big fan of meal replacement shakes, but a can doesn’t take too much room and shouldn’t get too messed up in your bag. Another option is energy and protein bars, such as Luna and Power bars.
A Portable Charger and Battery Pack
Your phone camera and laptop will die if you’ve taken 90 videos and 400 pictures when you go to upload them. It’s better to have your very own charging pack if you can swing it. A lot of the newer bookbags come with this feature and keep the whole process hands-free, so you can still walk around collecting while your phone charges.
One catch to this easy charging is that you will need to replenish the battery pack’s charge once you get to your nightly destination. They even make solar-powered charging packs!
A Bag Tag with Your Info on It
Make sure to write contact information (name, phone number, email) on the inside of your bag in case you space out in your extended moment of awe and leave your bag somewhere. Another note about bags; do not leave anything super personal like a passport, ID, Social Security card, or credit/debit cards in the bag in case it does get stolen, and you do not see it again.
While that entire experience will bring tears, you will cry a lot longer if you have to replace your personal banking card, driver’s license, passport, and social security card.
Thieves can do nasty stuff when they know your personal information. Be cautious. Stick those bad boys in your back pocket, an inside hoodie zip-up pouch, waist pouch, or something your creative little head thinks up.
Sunscreen is a Must
Some sunscreens are decent in that they last a long time, and you can probably get away with applying them before heading out to your day of comic shenanigans. However, you never know when you will find yourself waiting in the scorching sun. Don’t skimp on the SPF, either.
You want 50 SPF or higher. The sun can be nasty, and you don’t want to be its victim when you’re trying to have a great time. If sunscreen isn’t all that kind to your complexion, try oil-free sunscreen like Neutrogena.
You will want to avoid sporting a bad sunburn for the remainder of Comic-Con. Tan lines from that Batman mask might look strange once you return to the real world.
Gum or Mints
Bad breath is gross, and you will likely be talking to some people during the show. You never know who you might just bump into at Comic-Con, and you don’t want your breath to make an impression for you.
I like Methos gum, but it’s all up to your tastebuds. Probably not a terrible idea to pack extra gum. Whenever someone sees you pop a piece of gum, they will want one, too. Plus, it could be a good way to make some new friends.
Stay Safe in More Ways Than One!
Covid didn’t magically disappear, nor did RSV, the flu, strep, or any of the other not-so-awesome viruses we humans carry. Bring masks, the disposable kind, unless you’re okay with carrying around extra clean cloth masks and a bag for your dirty masks, too.
Definitely bring hand sanitizer because everyone is touching everything in Comic-Con, and you don’t want to travel all that way just to be stuck sick in a hotel. Being sick on your journey home or just being sick in general isn’t exactly fun, either. While you’re at it, bring condoms because you just never know.
Bring “Business” Cards
Included on these business cards should be your headshot, phone number, and email so whoever you choose to give your personalized card to will be able to recall who it’s from and keep in touch with you. This one may sound like an oddball, but Comic-Con can be a great place to network and make friends. This is optional; only some people want to be social butterflies.
Tylenol, ibuprofen, sinus meds, bandaids, tummy meds, antinausea meds, and any other meds you can remember.
You don’t want your angry body to ruin Comic-Con. Packing the right meds is especially important if traveling far away to Comic-Con. Different water, altitudes, and such can wreak havoc on your body. Be prepared.
If you are overwhelmed by constant noise, you will want to bring some noise-canceling device, such as earplugs, headphones, or something else.
Your definition of noise canceling could be as simple as listening to soothing music on your ear pods, using noise-canceling headphones, or using an in-ear device to lessen the noise so that you can think clearly and not end up running out screaming. I’m speaking about myself here.
These nifty little in-ear plugs work great and aren’t too flashy. People probably won’t even notice you’re wearing them.
Plan your Look and Backup Look Ahead
If you plan to go in your finest cosplay attire, plan for the need for backup clothing. Something might spill on it, it could tear, or maybe you are over it and are overheating and want to wear shorts and a tee shirt. You should pack a spare set of clothes but make their footprint in your bag minimal.
If you are driving to Comic-Con and can reenter once you run to your car to change, do that and save the bookbag space for something important like Marvel figures.
How to Conquer Comic-Con
Comic-Con can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a newbie. Convention centers are massive buildings with row upon row of exhibitors with booths set up to advertise in one way or another. If crowds aren’t your thing and you aren’t a person who feels comfortable stuck in a building for hours on end, you will want to have a game plan before you walk through those doors.
If you are a person with sensory issues, are handicapped, and need navigation assistance, or if you have other problems that might hinder your ability to find Comic-Con fun, don’t worry; with the proper preparation, anyone can have a fun and enjoyable time at Comic-Con.
Buy Your Tickets and Book Your Hotel
First, it’s super important that you acquire your tickets to Comic-Con before you do anything else. If you are going to the San Diego Comic-Con or one of the busier city conventions, tickets sell out fast.
I highly recommend knowing beforehand when the tickets go on sale and get in that line as soon as the sale opens. Also, get your hotel room as early as possible unless you go to a smaller Comic-Con-type show. Ask the hotel about Comic-Con early bird discounts.
Do Your Homework
Look up the specific Comic-Con you will be attending, and list who you know will be there that you will want to visit and their location in the convention center. Here is an example of last year’s SDCC map.
Make a Quick Pass
When you walk through the front door, quickly pass through the entire place and note which areas you want to revisit. You can even do so while voice recording into your phone’s notes.
Get Your Notebook Out
Note what seminars you might like to join and their times. Again, this can get to be overwhelming, which equates to less fun than it is work. You do not HAVE to hit every event, seminar, and class every day. Pick one main event for each day and improvise from that starting point.
You Only Have So Much Time to Get an Autograph
Make a note of which autographs you want to collect and the best times for doing so. Lines are nasty at Comic-Con or any of the smaller conventions, and people play dirty by holding a spot for their twelve besties to jump in front of you.
Plan way ahead and get in the lines that mean the most to you. It’s not a bad idea to have a friend in the other line to get your stuff autographed while you wait in your line. Some conventions have a mail-it-in option for autographs. Check out the convention’s website to see if that is a possibility. Though much less of a headache, they are not cheap.
What Is the Main Item You Want to Find and Claim as Your Own?
If there is something specific you want to find at Comic-Con, make a list, so you don’t get all glassy-eyed when you see all the amazing merch and forget.
Choose Your Freebies Wisely
Don’t get freebie frenzy and pick up every goodie bag you see! It will only weigh you down and take up room that a more worthy collectible could be using. Making a deal with yourself to only pick up goodie bags after you’ve found what you wanted to find is one way. You could also pick up the freebies you have to have on the first pass you make around the convention.
If you intend to go to Comic-Con every day from start to finish, it’s a good idea to rethink that or schedule a long sit-down break during the day. Nothing is fun if you’re pissy and tired. Sore feet and a headache make for a not-so-awesome time. Take care of yourself first and worry about everything else after you’ve done that.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
If only I could express how exponentially important this part can be. Don’t buy new shoes for Comic-Con and break them in at Comic-Con. Your piggies will be so unhappy that all you will want to do is sit.
Wear your tried and true shoes or if you absolutely have to wear special never-worn before shoes with your Comic-Con outfit or cosplay, bring a back up pair, along with some good bandaids.
It’s a Good Idea to Pack an Energy Drink or Two
It can be a very long day; standing in lines and sitting at seminars can make it hard to keep your eyes open. I can’t personally stand energy drinks so I would opt for putting some coffee in a leakproof travel mug. Don’t overdo it though. You could end up with an upset stomach and Comic-Con doesn’t have barf bags or private bathrooms for you to camp out in all day.
Be Respectful of Others
This should go without saying, but you know there are always “those people.” Don’t cut in front of people in lines, don’t be pushy, and don’t act like you are better than anyone. Everyone just wants to have a good, memorable (for the right reasons) time, and it’s important to stay out of the way of that.
You all paid the same or near same amount to be there so why not just stay positive. If you find yourself plagued with a bad mood, go sit in the sun by yourself, listen to your favorite song, drink your coffee and make yourself happy.
If, on the other hand, you are seemingly followed by annoying, pessimists, simply let them go ahead of you while you take a break. No sense in staying around anyone killing the vibe.
Keep Your Bag out of the Way
Don’t block traffic, or you might risk being run over; this goes for driving and walking. It would exponentially suck if you got into an accident on foot or while driving that required you to waste your precious Comic-Con time. Also, don’t park your bag where it’s in the way or can cause someone to trip.
Smell Clean and Not Like a Bar Bathroom
Don’t wear ten gallons of Axe Body Spray or overdo it with the perfume. Not everyone wants to smell you. Many people battle headaches from strong smells, and you might just end up being one of them if you overdo it. Again, we just all want to have a good time.
Nobody cares what your favorite perfume or cologne is, and nobody wants to smell a combination of everyone’s favorite smells.
Talk Out of the Aisle
Don’t stand at a booth talking and blocking other goers from seeing the cool stuff you’re blocking. Be aware of your surroundings and get out of the way if you’re in it. The owner of the booth will like you a lot more if you aren’t costing them business.
Report anyone else you see stealing. You should never steal from independent artists because it’s about as low as you can get at any Comic-Con-type event.
If you do see someone pocketing merch from a booth, say something to the owner of the booth privately. A lot of the collector’s items you will see at Comic-Con will not only be worth money, but have timeless sentimental value, as well.
Don’t Point or Laugh
Don’t make fun of cosplayers or anyone that seems to be enjoying the convention. Yes, sometimes this will be difficult because you may see some ridiculous outfits warranting extreme laughter. If that isn’t the intent of the cosplayer, you will hurt their feelings, make them angry and possibly ruin their time. Don’t be a dick.
Especially don’t smoke right in front of the doors. Most places have a no-smoking policy, even outside the building. Not everyone is into smoke inhalation. Don’t be that stinky person walking around with cigarette butts in their pockets, either. There are trash cans for that purpose.
You are there to have a wonderful, memorable time; focus on that thought and not how pissed you are at the long lines or folks who camp out all night.
Project happiness and go have a wonderful time. If you start feeling a bit over it, take a break. This isn’t work and you aren’t clocked in. Take as many breaks as you want, in any way you want, within reason.
Last Day at Comic-Con
Like all conventions, the companies with booths are not looking forward to packing up the enormous amount of merchandise and giveaways they chose to bring on the trip. However, this could be an excellent time to possibly score some quality freebies.
I doubt you’ll walk away with a statue worth thousands, but you might score some excellent comic books, small figures, keychains, and who knows what else. All you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. Volunteering to help vendors break down their tables and pack the boxes is a great idea.
They might reward you with one-of-a-kind merch you can only find at Comic-Con, and you might just make a friend for future Comic-Cons. Networking is your way to success, no matter how you look at it. What do you have to lose?
Question: Is Comic-Con kid appropriate?
Answer: Yes, for the most part, all comic conventions, whether it be Comic-Con or something local is kid friendly. They even allow free passes for children under twelve.
Question: How much does it cost to go to Comic-Con?
Answer: Tickets can be $280 or more, depending on how you purchase them. Scalpers and resellers are going to be considerably more.
This is for the trademarked San Diego Comic-Con. You will also incur travel, lodging, food, and collectibles fees. The local conventions will only cost you a little for a ticket, but you can certainly run up the tab by adding on collectible costs.
Question: How many days does Comic-Con last?
Answer: The trademarked San Diego Comic-Con runs for four days. Local editions of comic-type conventions are generally from Friday until Sunday. Some may be shorter.
Until Next Time
Comic-Con is a great time and a memorable one! I can just about promise you that if you like comics, you will love Comic-Con.
But, even if you don’t, I highly recommend you check it out. You will see so much fantastic stuff, and a lot of it doesn’t have a thing to do with actual comic books. It truly is a one-of-a-kind experience, and it is so much fun. Between the cosplayers and the celebrities, you’ll be wide-eyed and take tons of photos.
The merchandise available is also one of a kind and tends to be worth quite a lot of coins later in life. Even better, if you can collect some autographs, it is not only a particularly memorable time as they will also be worth money.
Finally, check out the exclusive Funko Pop if you go to the San Diego Comic-Con. That one is the most significant international comic convention. However, you will also find tons of smaller conventions that are similar as near as the town you live.
Be sure to check out your state’s conventions and see if any appeal to you. Then, since kids under twelve are free, bring them and make it a fun family outing. Comic book collecting is a way safer and cheaper hobby than many other things kids are into these days.