My San Diego Comic Con Experience and History.
San Diego Comic-Con has been called many things: nerd prom, a gigantic pop-culture event, and a celebration of the popular arts. Comic-Con is all of that and more. Comic-Con is one of the biggest pop-culture events in the world. Because of the scale of the show, preparing for Comic-Con requires a lot of planning and homework.
Yes, something like Comic-Con should be fun, but planning and preparing for Comic-Con is the best way to get the most out of your experience.
Table of Contents
My History With Comic Con
Before I start with the “how to prepare for San Diego Comic-Con” advice, I would like to share my own history with the show, and particularly what going to Comic-Con unprepared is like.
I have been going to Comic-Con since 2001. My first Comic-Con experience was as a day trip on a Saturday. My girlfriend and I had only heard of Comic-Con. Neither of us had ever been, and neither of us knew what was in store for us. We had decided that week to check out the world-famous San Diego Comic-Con. Even back then, Comic-Con was already pretty well known. We just did not know the scope of the show.
We jumped in my car and drove to San Diego on a Saturday morning. We fought through typical Southern California Saturday traffic, navigated our way through a crowded downtown San Diego to one of the Comic-Con parking lots, and we eventually made our way to the San Diego Convention Center through one of the free Comic-Con shuttles.
Once we arrived at the convention center, we had to wait in a hella long line to get a registration pass for the day. Yes, there used to be a time when you could get passes to Comic-Con on the day of the show. After the 2+ hour traffic from Van Nuys to San Diego, plus what seemed to be at least an hour’s wait in line just to register, we were finally able to get into Comic-Con. We weren’t prepared for what we saw and experienced.
We were not Prepared For Comic Con
We saw a crowded Exhibit Hall with maybe 50-60,000 people all checking out the same booths. We saw a lot of people dressed as their favorite comic book characters. We did not know about cosplaying back then. When we tried to go to a quiet part of the convention center, we just saw more people crowding around. When we tried to check out some programming, we saw more lines to get into some of these rooms. We thought the show was already huge and overcrowded and overwhelming. We did not prepare for Comic-Con.
We did not know where to get food. We did not have any water with us. We didn’t even have any bags to help us carry around the free stuff we got or any of the cool and geeky things we bought. And then after the show, we fought our way through San Diego and Southern California traffic to make our way back home that same day.
Things Have Changed with SDCC
However, years later I can honestly say that we didn’t know how good we had it back then. That first Comic-Con experience seems like a nice quiet Comic-Con day now. To paraphrase Game of Thrones, we were sweet summer children.
The San Diego Comic-Con has only grown since then. I have witnessed firsthand the incredible growth and popularity of Comic-Con. What used to be a show where you can get tickets the same day is now a show that sells out in one hour. Comic-Con used to cost around $50 for a 4-day pass with Preview Night. That same ticket costs about $200 now.
I was there before Hall H was ever a thing. Now for many people, Hall H is the only thing that matters. I remember when Preview Night wasn’t a madhouse like it is now, and you could actually walk through the Exhibit Hall without getting having to fight your way through the crowds.
This is not to say that Comic-Con has gotten worse. This is only to say that Comic-Con has changed and evolved over the years. I have been to the last 14 Comic-Cons. My experience ranges from a one-day trip to staying at a hotel near Sea World to staying in the downtown San Diego Gaslamp District.
With my history and experience, I can help some of the newer Con goers to prepare for Comic-Con. In the next few weeks, I will show you what you can expect at Comic-Con, what you need to prepare for Comic-Con, and how to successfully navigate Comic-Con’s programming schedule so that you can make the most out of your Con experience.