Maggie’s World 007: Avoid Hyperventilating!

HD Toucan reading a comic

Oh, golly! It’s HOW many days till Comic-Con? Right about now, many people I know are beginning to panic about the what, where, and how of Comic-Con. It is natural, because the more you know about Comic-Con the longer the list gets of delicious possibilities. “What if I get to talk to [Favorite Celebrity]? What shall I say? Would he mind signing an autograph?” And so on.

And on.

This year, Comic-Con has gone all out to help minimize the panic and maximize the pleasure, including a helpful two-part list of tips from expert Tom Spurgeon. (If you haven’t checked it out, do so. And share it with your friends; I just sent it to a friend whose first Comic-Con is happening this year.) In addition, the Toucan blog is offering a daily tip that includes important info for all attendees (click here to see the ever-growing list in order of how they where published).

Moreover, every year before Comic-Con, I make a point of preparing for myself a list of reminders of things I should do during the event that will not only help me at the show but also let me recapture information and memories in future days As noted, Tom has terrific guidelines, including eating a good breakfast each day and checking Twitter throughout the event. On my own “To Do” list, I find:

With an Exhibit Hall this big, you’ll always want to have a printed copy of the map with you. You’ll find it in the Quick Guide publication bound into the center of the Events Guide.

Carry the Exhibit Hall Map with You

Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at a loss to locate what you’re looking for in the 12 acres of exhibit floor. (And, yes, the city map and, yes, the daily schedule and, yes, your tote bag is getting heavy already, isn’t it?)

Make Notes on Exhibitors’ Booth Numbers

Gone are the days in which I have the slightest confidence that I’ll be able to locate that spot on the convention floor that was providing the display I wanted to photograph or comic book I meant to buy before show’s end. No matter how firm my belief that I’ll locate it because it’s in a memorable spot, I am guaranteed not to find it unless I’ve written it down. Because, yes, all the spots at Comic-Con are pretty doggoned memorable.

Come to Think of It, Just Make Notes

Because you will not remember. Whether it’s keeping track of costs for tax deductions or figuring out whose autograph that may be, memory is not as dependable as actually having written down the information. I carry a tiny spiral-bound notebook in which I jot comments before transferring them to other forms (such as my iPad). Pen and paper can still be the fastest. Whether it’s a great quote during a panel or an identification of people in a photo, it’s nice to have it written down. Frankly, Comic-Con is overwhelming. Think of Dug, the Up dog whose thought-translating collar interrupts with, “Squirrel!” Your brain will be Squirrel-wiped throughout each day, at least, if you’re anything like me.

Business Cards

Fill your pockets with cards. I note specifics on the back of the cards I get from people, if there’s more that I need to remember than what is contained on the card itself. (In the folder I drag with me to shows, I include a couple of pages of “business-card-pocket” pages, so I can page through them quickly for reference at the show—and add them to my contacts list. See below.)

Address Book Additions

When I get the business cards, I try to enter the salient points on both my iPad and cell phone in the evening or next morning. If life speeds by (as it will do at a show), I may quickly try to enter basic information even if I don’t get a card.

Layer What You Wear

If you wear a sleeveless something, you are bound to be chilly in some restaurant. If you wear a jacket, the panel room will seem too warm. Light jacket over long sleeves over sleeveless: That makes it easy to adapt to your environment.

Belt and Suspenders

It’s a good idea to copy data from one format to another. I’ve had a camera stolen at a convention. (It was in a hotel while the room was being cleaned. It was not at San Diego, where [true story] I once left a camera in the convention center and was able to pick it up later at the lost and found!) I’ve had a photo storage card go bad at a con, gobbling up unique images. Wish I’d saved them earlier.


If the convention is long enough—or if I’ve spent enough at a show—it can be a good idea to ship items home, instead of trying to squish a variety of heavy items (pages of coated stock weigh a lot more than many comic books printed on Golden Age newsprint) into a limited number of suitcases. And there are a variety of ways to ship things home from Comic-Con. (Tom mentioned this, too. Did you know that the next-door Marriott, for example, has a fully functioning UPS office on the first floor? For that matter, did you notice the FedEx office that’s actually in the San Diego Convention Center Lobby D?) If you’ve brought a few plastic bags, you can stuff already-worn laundry in your shipping boxes as padding—and that will leave more room in your suitcases for those last-minute purchases you’d have otherwise had to pass up.

Somewhere in Your Suitcase

If you travel a lot, you’re probably already in the habit of tossing in a packet of emergency supplies. Think how happy you may be that you thought to bring a tiny sewing kit (thanks, helpful safety pins!), pain-killers, and a backup pair of glasses. You’ll want those glasses in your carry-on (along with any prescription medications and chargers for all your electronic gear) but remember that scissors and such should go in checked luggage. Just saying.

I know I’m forgetting something. Let me know what it was when I see you at Comic-Con. Which is only days away. But I’m not hyperventilating. Not yet. In fact—and this may be the most important planning tip of all—plan to enjoy every moment. Don’t be so obsessed with a rigid plan that you forget to seize the unexpected opportunity when it becomes available. Remember that Dug had a good time.


See you soon—and I do mean soon!

Maggie’s World by Maggie Thompson appears the first Tuesday of every month on Toucan!

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