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Five Tips for Visiting Comic-Con, from Someone Who Has Never Been

23 July 2010 Lies and Entertainment 7,354 views 3 CommentsPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

I have been to my share of nerd conventions of all kinds. I have done “Star Trek” conventions, anime conventions, “Doctor Who” conventions, comic book conventions and other cons too numerous to mention. Plus, I used to live next door to Seattle Center, which played home to every convention I was curious about but wouldn’t pay to attend. There are entire subcultures of nerds that aren’t into the stereotypical sci-fi/fantasy mishmash. I have done my duty and attended the doll house furniture convention, the cat lover’s convention, urban craft fairs, and model train extravaganzas.

So, I know from what I speak. Here are a few tips I have picked up from the convention circuit.

1. Select your t-shirt carefully.

The t-shirt you choose will guide your conversations for the day. The more obscure the meaning, the less conversations you will have, but the better they will be. This really isn’t the place to wear a shirt ironically; if you don’t like something, don’t wear the shirt. You are in literal-minded Asperger’s Land, and your t-shirt is your passport into other people’s worlds.

You may not make a more important choice in your entire life.

2. If you wear a costume, consider safety.

I own a full-length “Doctor Who” scarf that my grandmother knitted me from the same pattern used for Tom Baker’s actual scarf, as printed in “Doctor Who” magazine. I love the scarf, but it did almost kill me Isadora Duncan-style: One day while riding in the passenger seat of a car, I felt the scarf tug on my neck, then instantly tighten. I signaled for the driver to stop and I luckily survived with nothing but a purple, bleeding neck to show for it.

After that close call, I often wondered why there was no scene in which Tom Baker was being chased by Daleks and his scarf got caught in the treads of their tiny, evil wheels.

3. If a costume covers someone’s whole body, you don’t know the sex of the person wearing it.

You think you do, but that’s an illusion. Unless you’re a furry and don’t much care what’s under the costume, you can make some pretty embarrassing mistakes. I have no personal story for this one.

4. Drink water, and eat one “real” meal a day.

This is especially for those in costume, but it applies to everyone. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Too many people try to survive conventions on coffee, Code Red and trays of concession stand nachos. No one wants to stand in line behind a dehydrated, farty mess coming down off a caffeine rush.

5. Embrace lonely celebrities.

Take pity on the lonely celebrities at these events, especially if they have provided you with entertainment at some point. My friend sent me a picture of Brent Spiner sitting alone in his booth at last year’s Comic-Con, and it was one of the saddest pictures I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, he played a character that didn’t understand human emotion, which means he can turn off some shame-like switch in his head.

Feeling sorry for Spiner, my friend tried to talk to him. But he was blocked by a handler who told him it would cost $40. My friend didn’t have $40 worth of pity in his heart.

But I would have paid the cash. I say, pick a lonely celebrity and make their day!

David Wahl


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  1. This is so full of truth! Well done.

    A friend of mine also had his grandmother knit him a full length Tom Baker scarf. I remember helping him count the number of yarn rows for each color based on a small picture in a Doctor Who encyclopedia. What a pre-internet thing to do. It was shocking to see it’s length when it was finished. But he never wore it around.

    Yes, I think the writers missed out on tons of scarf related plot points. The scarf is like a super power in itself.

  2. Preach it!

    There is nothing more I can add to this very wise checklist. Well done.

  3. “You are in literal-minded Asperger’s Land, and your t-shirt is your passport into other people’s worlds.”

    “No one wants to stand in line behind a dehydrated, farty mess coming down off a caffeine rush.”


    And yes, I could hear the existential anguish screaming from Mr. Spiner’s soul moment I laid eyes on that sad, sad photo.

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