The San Diego Comic-Con is a geek-loving bowl of monster cereal with marshmallows. Over 120,000 nerdlings race (or fly, depending on your costume) to Southern California to share the passion for everything pop culture. Its presence, some say, is getting big… maybe too big. With the hype, it can be as bad as a bowl of old people cereal like Grape Nuts, putting a bitter taste not only in your mouth, but in your wallet. This year, we did Comic-Con on the cheap… without a plan, reason and almost without passes! And BECAUSE of this, everything had to be done (travel, room, etc.) last minute and under-budget. So here’s our “Comic-Con/Last Minute Taste Test,” all for your benefit… and without that awful after-taste or calories.
A majority of Comic-Con enthusiasts comes by plane, but there are SOME who take the long road trip to San Diego. Parking at Comic-Con sucks more than Jar Jar Bink’s dialect. Between the high parking prices, not to mention lack of spaces, they made it even worse this year!
There’s a new sheriff in town and it’s called “5-Star Parking Lots.” They rule the city of San Diego, using every block as their own personal Park Place… but now with a new twist. An automatic parking machine will take your money and give you a receipt for all day parking. Wait, did I say all day? I was wrong. NOW they only allow up to ten-hours on parking, which means you have to drag yourself BACK from the convention center and put even MORE money into a space. Don’t and it’s at least a $125.00 ticket. Luckily for you, we found a way of dodging them without the parking hell.
TIP #1 – STICK IT TO THE MAN
When all else fails, go to the local businesses. They would love to take your money rather than you giving it to the man. We pulled into a smog shop four blocks down from Comic-Con and asked if we could park in his shop all day for $15.00. Without hesitation, he took our dough, gave us change, and faster than you could say, “Excelsior!” we were inside.
Built like the maze from “Mouse Trap,” there are so many great pieces of cheese to buy. You just have to be patient that the trap doesn’t fall on you.
TIP #2 – WHILE LOOKING TO BUY… BE PATIENT!
First rule of Comic-Con we learned is NOT to impulse buy. There’s a fist full of wonderment here, but buying everything you see is just as dangerous as falling into a sewer of C.H.U.D.S. Take a breath and relax. Odds are it’s going to be there tomorrow (Comic-Con exclusives not included). Impulse buying could lead to the ATM becoming your own personal slot machine of financial ruin.
Always LOOK first, then on the next day, if your heart still beats for that perfect sculpted figure of Ernie Hudson in “Ghostbusters,” grab it. Hell, take some time and enjoy the eye candy of collectables, comics, and costumes.
If you’re a male between the ages of 18-45, Comic-Con has become the nerd version of a Victoria Secret’s catwalk. You’re sure to get your fill of sexy Slave Leias and Sailor Moon costumes revealing almost all of the fans’ bathing suit areas, but it’s all in good fun. Better yet, the whole pop culture parade is free! Next year, I challenge the costumers to make a hot Enid Coleslaw or, even better, a sexy Marion Ravenwood in her tattered wedding dress. A man can dream.
If you MUST see a panel, bring a book, put a movie on your iPhone or just take a nap in line. It’s going to be a LONG wait, especially for Hall H where the lines start sometimes at 5AM!
TIP#3 – SKIP THE PANELS
We took the easy way out and dodged them all. You see, there’s this great piece of technology called the Internet that will have all this up within milliseconds of panels ending. What was REALLY in Aunt Beru’s milk when a fan dressed as Snaggletooth asked about it during a Star Wars panel? You can find it out on your iPad/iPhone. Someone in the 6,000 seats of Hall H shot it, uploaded it, and now has 200,000 hits on his website because of it. And you reap the reward of all his hard work!
Speaking of iPads, one crew from “Onering.net” was doing ALL their interviews with nothing more than an iPad and microphone AND they were one of the few that got an interview with Francis Ford Coppla. They did all the leg work while we sat back and watched their clip, sipping brews at the bar across from the convention center. Now THAT’S the American work ethic for you!
THE HOTEL ROOM:
Rooms for the Comic-Con are merely just overpriced ($200.00 to $500.00 a night) storage rooms to crash during a night of drinking and realizing that after a long conversation, the “Happy Birthday Paulie” robot COULD indeed beat up the robot girl from “Small Wonder.” There are alternatives for shelter.
TIP # 4 – STAY OUTSIDE OF THE CONVENTION CENTER AREA
Instead of taking an overpriced room near the Gaslamp Quarter, we headed south to a Days Inn just four miles down… and with only a 24 hour notice!
You know things are shady when it’s next to the same trailer park inspired by “8 Mile,“ but hey, if a rap star named after candy-coated chocolate can handle it, so can we. Oddly enough, we woke up the next morning to caution tape on the room next to us. Yet, we save about $300.00 though the whole ordeal.
THE NIGHT LIFE:
Comic-Con has turned into a bit of an elitist grind in the past five years where you actually have to stand behind a velvet rope to get into some of the parties around town. It’s gotten to the point where this tends to be more of the lure than the actual celebration of all that is pop culture. After hitting what Comic-Con had to offer, we went elsewhere.
TIP #5 – HIT THE TOWN INSTEAD
We slipped into Gaslamp Quarter and blended in with the locals. Some places have cheap booze and you never know whom you might be drinking with:
As another Comic-Con experience exits the convention center, Comic-Con 2012 is only 52 weeks away. I suggest getting your tix as soon as possible… unlike those of us who long for this sense of adventure… and possibly becoming a witness to a double-murder at our hotel.
Who says you need to book a year in advance?