The San Diego Comic-Con International is hailed by many (including me) as the biggest and best comic book convention, but is it the convention for you? There are many reasons to attend Comic-Con, but there are also some reasons not to attend Comic-Con as well. Here are some things you need to consider before heading to the biggest comic book convention in the United States. It is always good to make an informed choice so you know what you are getting into.
Comic-Con International (CCI) is the largest comic book convention in the USA and has had many issues with overcrowding. For years there have been rumors of the con moving, but that still seems a bit far off. The convention has been selling out every year now so it is always at max capacity. All those people in one place may sound great for some, but for others that don't enjoy large crowds, Comic-Con is not the place to be. There are people packed everywhere and therefore your chance of running into con stench is at an all time high.
2. No Spur Of The Moment TripEverything in and around CCI fills up very fast. The con sells out quickly so if you even want to go you need to plan months in advance and purchase your tickets the moment they go on sale. In 2012 tickets went on sale on Saturday March 3rd at 8am and were sold out ONE HOUR later. This makes it the kind of event that is not spur of the moment. You might be able to score some tickets through Craigslist or eBay, but you can expect to pay double the price or more for them, not to mention it might be a scam. You need to get a plan together and even then it might not work out.
3. Good Luck Finding A HotelJust as the tickets sell out, so do the local hotels. The hotels right next to the convention center are very expensive, but still sell out quickly and again months in advance. If you want anything reasonable you may have to be willing to travel each day to the convention. This may seem like a small thing, but this adds on more expense to the trip and also adds more walking of which you will do an enormous amount every day as is.
4. Long Lines
The lines to many of the panels, especially the infamous 6500 seat Hall H, can take hours and hours of your time. If you want to see just one panel this may not be bad, but most of us don't shell out $150 just to see a one hour panel with your favorite celebrities...ok, maybe you do, but the long lines make seeing anything else that much more difficult. Since they also don't clear out the panel rooms between panels, some people squat through multiple panels just to see the one they have their heart set on. The whole thing can get messy and many have blamed the likes of Twilight fans for changing the tone of Comic-Con because of these added issues.
5. Not So Much A Comic Convention AnymoreAlthough the name of the convention is Comic-Con to most of the world, the presence of comic books continues to shrink. Long time attendees and comic book creators have remarked online that the convention has truly changed from its original intent and has become more of a pop culture convention rather than a comic book one. The addition of Hollywood execs, video game companies, and other pop culture items have diluted the comic book presence. That isn't to say you won't find comic books at CCI by any rate, but there are many creators that don't even want to attend CCI anymore because of the beast it has become.
6. Impossible To See EverythingI would bet money that if you like pop culture items that you will find something you want to see, but it is nigh impossible to see everything. There are many panels going on at once, if you can even get in, and the convention floor is massive with hundreds of booths. There are also multiple events and parties happening at the same time so it will be very hard to choose at times. Even the crown jewel of the con, The Eisner Awards, has competition running during it's time slot. You can see much that the convention has to offer, but you won't be able to see all of it.
7. Heat Wave
You can expect temperatures in the eighties to nineties in July in San Diego, but it can easily reach up to the triple digits. This can make going to and from the convention very difficult. Add in that some panels have lines that go outside and you have a recipe for disaster for many folks. You need to be informed and be prepared to beat the heat. Stay hydrated as you will be exercising all day long walking to, from, and around the convention.
8. Everyone Has Something To Sell
Pretty much every creator, presenter, publisher, and especially dealer has something to sell you. It might not be a physical object, but might instead be the buzz they are trying to generate for their project. Pictures from celebrities will set you back cash and presentations from booths will set you back time. For many this is a huge part of the thrill, getting to see things first, but some PR stunts fell flat, such as in 2010 when it seemed every movie previewed was going to be in 3D and this garnered a lot of booing from fans in the panels. You can get freebies, but those freebies are all about announcing or selling an associated product.
9. An Expensive TripComic-con is not cheap. The price for the convention really isn't all that bad, but for most people this is not the only expense. You'll have travel expenses such as getting there and around San Diego. Hotel expenses for the multiple night visit will also be high, especially the ones closer to the convention center. Food and drinks is another consideration as three meals a day eating out can add up quickly. This doesn't even count the money you might spend at the convention on product. One con attendee added up every penny they spent and ended up spending over eleven hundred dollars for six nights in San Diego. Granted their trip was extended a bit to see the sites, but the bulk of that was Comic-Con only.
10. Many Local Comic-Book Conventions To Choose From
One big reason not to go to Comic-Con is that there are many different local comic book conventions that are cheaper and easier to attend. In the Portland, Oregon area where I live we have at least two small conventions, The Stumptown Comics Fest and the Portland Comic Book Show. At both conventions you can find many of the amenities of a larger conventions like a dealers room, panels, and creators. Of course it will be on a much smaller scale and won't have the spectacle of Comic-Con, but it will be easier on your wallet and much more intimate to boot.