A Comic Creator’s Guide to Surviving SDCC 2013.
It’s an exciting time to be a comic fan right now. The San Diego Comic-Con is in full gear with a ton of comic news, sexy cosplay girls, big time Hollywood stars and all around great pandemonium. Millions go there for a joyous celebration of the great medium of comics and toys, but it’s not always fun and games for everyone. For Comic Creators it’s the business opportunity of a lifetime. It can be a bit overwhelming for a first time Comic Creator. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford such a momentous trip to the geek Valhalla. Just like a Muslim’s greatest goal is to journey to Mecca, every comic creator has to make the trip to SDCC at least once in their life. So if you’re in geek envy and want to make the trip next year here are a few tips that will help you survive the experience.
1. You can’t avoid the crowd. It’s more packed than a school of tuna fish. I suggest two things for all fans and creators alike. Please wear deodorant and it’s probably not the best place to bring a newborn infant. Watch out for pick pockets, and beware of knife wielding cosplayers.
2. Get on lines early. You can wait on line for an event for hours and still not even get in. It’s impossible to see everything at Comic Con. Pick and choose the events you really want to see. You want to see a Man of Steel or Iron Man 3 panel? Be prepared to wait on line the whole day for it.
3. Tickets. As a Comic Creator, you can probably swing a pro badge so you can get in, but the process can be a bit hit or miss. Last year, the SDCC site crashed just a few hours after they announced tickets were available. If you’re lucky to get a publisher to get you tickets, I think that’s the best way to go. I personally wouldn’t go if I had to pay for a ticket and as a comic creator, you shouldn’t either. Tables and exhibitor booths are massively expensive, so a way to get around that might be to share the costs of a booth with another creator.
4. Room and Board. So you live on the East coast and can’t afford the trip? If you have a fellow comic creator willing to let you crash on their hotel floor, you should at least try it. It’s a lot better than sleeping in your car hoping the cops won’t find you. (That only happened to me once.) You could also book a hotel room a year in advance as well. If you’re lucky to have family in the area, then more power to you.
5. Food. Don’t ever buy food on the Con Floor. Everything is overpriced and probably not good for you. If you’re really cheap, make your own sandwiches and take them with you in your bag or eat outside of the con before you go. The food lines are almost as long as the event lines.
6. Travel. Book your plane ticket way in advance. It has a huge effect on the prices. Or if you can find the time, drive there. As a comic creator you’ll probably be lugging around a load of material to sell anyhow. Traffic will be crazy the day of the Con, so again, being early is always best. You could always use public transportation, too.
7. Unlike many other Cons in the US, SDCC actually has representatives that go around to make sure you have a “Temporary Sellers Permit” to sell merchandise. You can get one at the California State website before you go. Last thing you want is to pay an extra fee because you didn’t get a permit. They might even ban you from selling anything if you don’t have it so better safe than sorry.
8. Do not…and I mean not sexually harass the Cosplay girls. As we learned in NYCC last year and from a couple or other Cons this year, the geeks get a little frisky when they see the sexy live action Sailor Moon or My Little Pony Cosplay. Just because a girl is barely clothed doesn’t mean she’s a free meal at on a buffet line. Be gentlemen, guys.
9. Don’t get Star Struck. You see Jim Lee in the elevator; don’t turn into a school girl. What I’ve done over the years is never ask for an autograph, but instead I hand them a copy of my own comic. There’s no better business card in the world than your own work.
10. Support the Indie Comics creators. If you have time to wander around the con, try to connect with some fellow creators. Maybe even buy some of their stuff. Networking is one of the main things at Comic Con. As for comic fans, try to support these guys as well. You have no idea how much one of these artist alley or small press tables cost. Most of the time they barely break even. Support the indie comics!
There you have it. Have some fun. Yes, it can get a bit daunting, but this is the comic geek event of the year. Don’t make it all business all the time. Walk around at least once, and enjoy the Con. This is the best place to show off your work to a new fan base. Many new artists and creators have gotten discovered by Marvel and DC at this Con. Maybe a Hollywood agent might like your indie title and want to turn it onto a movie. You can be the next success story. So if you haven’t already, go next year or maybe the year after that. Maybe I’ll even see you there. Good luck!
Check out the Comic-Con website for all the upcoming Cons. They’ll give you all the info you need for next year’s Con and much more.
Follow me on Twitter @RaphaelMoran
Read my comics, Dream Reavers, Flee and Techno-mancer.