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San Diego Comic-Con: Your Guide to the World's #1 Geek-fest

San Diego Comic-Con 2012 is a hotbed of costumed folks, from fans to professional models. San Diego Comic-Con 2012 is a hotbed of costumed folks, from fans to professional models.


It's that special time of year again, everyone. A sweltering mid-Summer, when all the big migrations are in full-swing. The monarch butterflies are on the move, returning from their winter vacation in Mexico to once again occupy eucalyptus groves north of the border, countless migratory birds fill our foliage, and today, the geeks return to San Diego for the annual orgy of fandom that is Comic-Con International.

Let me begin by saying that I love Comic-Con. As someone with (what I profess to be) a healthy admiration of all things sci-fi and fantasy, I can certainly dig what a convention like Con can bring to the table, and as a native (and resident) San Diegan I appreciate the attention (and cash) that the event brings to "America's Finest City."

Comic-Con has grown from a relatively small gathering of comic book überfans to a complete media extravaganza, with major studios vying for the attention and dollars of convention-goers and using the event to showcase their newest projects. Where else can you attend a panel discussion with the cast of Twilight in the morning, see an exclusive Dark Knight Rises preview at lunch, annihilate zombies in a Walking Dead inspired obstacle course in the afternoon and spend all evening meeting your heroes and snatching up rare comic books or resin anime figurines? Nowhere, that's where. Comic-Con is one of a kind.

It is a four-day event with a lot to see and do, so pace yourself and hydrate. Because we love you and want to make sure that you don't miss anything amazing, we have made a list of the things you should absolutely not miss at Comic-Con. Here they are, in no particular order.

1.) Booth Babes and Costumed Attendees

You could not possibly miss the fact that you are surrounded by grown people playing dress-up, but the sheer volume of cosplay at Con may cause individual achievements in costumery to go unnoticed. Do not let this happen! Take time to properly appreciate the folks around you because Comic-Con is, more than anything, about the fans, and they take their beloved franchises very seriously.

You may witness a spirited debate between a Wookie and a Daalek about the merits of HBO's Game of Thrones versus the book series on which it is based, then turn around to see Batman beat Pikachu at a game of Magic: The Gathering. Con is a veritable melting pot of nerd culture.

Sci-fi and fantasy series have no lack of attractive female characters, and the ladies of Comic-Con cover all the bases, often without covering much else. Sure, not everyone at Con is built for spandex, but those who are tend to play up their best assets, and the women getting paid to be there in costume are often professional models, so enjoy. (Bonus points for getting a photo of yourself surrounded by ladies in that gold bikini from Return of the Jedi; double bonus points if you are wearing one too.)

2.) Exclusive Merchandise

Recession? What recession?

Perhaps the best rule of thumb for enjoying Comic-Con is "don't show up broke; leave broke." If you don't have tickets yet, you're not getting them easily (as is the case each year, the event has been sold-out for months), but even with pass in hand you won't be escaping Comic-Con with your wallet intact.

The laws of supply and demand are in full effect on the convention center floor. The vendors know that you want their stuff, and that the guy behind you in the Boba Fett costume wants their stuff, and products are priced accordingly.

Many booths will feature artwork or other merchandise that will only be available during the convention, and you will be contending with other fans (and resellers looking to make a buck on eBay,) so keep your eyes peeled and pockets full or you might miss out on something awesome. I recommend checking your favorite vendors right at the beginning of day one for the best selection, then coming back on day four to hunt for deals. They will usually rather give you a bargain than shlep merchandise back home.

3.) Panels and Autograph Sessions

Some of the most difficult events to get into are the celebrity panels and autograph sessions, which often feature some of the hottest actors and directors in the business. People have been lining up for days across the street from the Convention Center for day one's Twilight cast panel, but even franchises with a less-rabid fan-base can fill rooms quickly. In an event packed to capacity, this means that if there is someone you really want to see, get there early.

In addition to big name celebrities, Comic-Con is a unique opportunity to mingle with people who usually work behind the scenes, like artists and writers, so make sure to also check out all of the smaller exhibitions and meet some of the people behind your favorite shows, movies, comic books or video games.

4.) Celebrities Who Are There For Fun

A few years ago at Comic-Con, Seth Green helped my boyfriend buy a Final Fantasy statue. Seriously. There are a lot of celebrities who are just as nerdy as the rest of us, and chances are you will catch a few of them geeking out with everyone else. They might even talk with you for a while if you don't scream or do something equally off-putting.

Celebs who are there for official events will often attend parts of the main convention as well, so keep a lookout for the cast of True Blood or Marvel's The Avengers on the convention floor. But don't expect to see everyone; somehow I cannot picture Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart mingling with the commoners, but I could be wrong.

5.) The City of San Diego

With record-high temperatures throughout the country, why not take a few extra vacation days to enjoy the best weather in North America? It's looking like thunderstorms for the convention days (Thor's around, what do you expect?), but next week will be glorious.

Comic-Con is held at the San Diego Convention Center, right in the heart of downtown San Diego, and there are plenty of attractions here to keep you busy. During Con, the Downtown area becomes an extension of the convention, with many events happening in the immediate area. This year, a local group is even hosting an additional convention, called Gam3rCon, focused on modern and vintage video gaming and unaffiliated with Comic-Con proper.

There are a multitude of restaurants, bars and clubs in the nearby Gaslamp Quarter, and the hotels in the area host some pretty amazing parties. Greater San Diego holds more treasures, from LegoLand, SeaWorld and the World-Famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park to landscapes encompassing the beach to the mountains and, should you desire a trip to our own version of Mordor, a sweltering desert.

For more information on Comic-Con, including scheduled appearances and exclusive merchandise, visit their official website at http://www.comic-con.org/www.comic-con.org, and if you take any amazing photos, Tweet them to me @MarseaMarie

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Comic-Con is pure fun and insanity.
Last modified on Monday, 13 August 2012 13:53

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