I’m a big fan of comic books. I go to a comic book store every week to buy new books and I also keep up with the lastest doings in the comic book world by visiting websites like Comic Book Resources, Newsarama and The Beat.

There’s a weekly column on Comic Book Resources by longtime comics writer Steven Grant called Permanent Damage. In addition to his always interesting take on comics, politics, TV and whatever else strikes his fancy, Steven includes what he calls the Comics Cover Challenge. He illustrates the column with various comic book covers and you have to guess what secret theme they all have in common. Whoever sends in an e-mail first with the right answer wins and gets to plug the website of their choice in the column the following week.

This past week, I finally won the contest with a guess of the word “Bugs” and naturally I’m having Steven mention my blog. Keeping in mind that I’m (hopefully) getting some new readers from a comic book site, I thought I would write about a comic book topic.

Of course, this week everyone who cares anything about comics (as well as movies and TV) has their eye on next week’s 40th annual Comic-Con International in San Diego, so I thought I would come up with ten tips to keep in mind when attending the show. There are many more comprehensive guides online, but here are some suggestions that have served me well over the years:

1.  Try to attend Preview Night:

Attendees with four day passes get to go into the show for a few hours on Wednesday night. Two years ago, I skipped Preview Night and made my first entrance into the show that year on Thursday morning. I soon saw a sign advertising a signing by comics legend Stan Lee. I rushed to the booth where they were distributing the tickets, only to discover that they all been given out the night before at Preview Night (don’t feel too bad for me… I eventually did get a Stan Lee autograph).

Also, if you want to commission a sketch from a popular artist, it’s smart to get on his list as soon as possible before it fills up, so if you can talk to the artist on Preview Night, you’re ahead of the game.

2.  Try to go to Comic-Con on Thursday:

Thursday has always been the least crowded day, even now that the show is sold out for the entire four days. Therefore, if you want to get a sketch or an autograph, it’s easier to do on Thursday when the lines aren’t so long.

3.  Buy a hardbacked sketchbook if you want to get sketches:

When I first decided to buy a sketchbook to take to Comic-Con, I bought one with a softcover to save money. Unfortunately, after taking it to the show a year or two, the book got a little frayed around the edges. You’re much better off with a hardback one. My other tip when it comes to sketching is even if artists are charging for sketches at their tables in Artist’s Alley, if they’re scheduled to appear at a publisher’s booth like DC or Marvel’s, they’ll usually do a sketch at that time for free. I especially like DC’s setup as they’ll have multiple artists sketching at once, with different lines for each.

4.  Make sure you check the daily printed newsletter that Comic-Con puts out:

If there are schedule changes or if someone is added to a panel or will be signing autographs at a certain time, the information will be there.

5.  Check out Kansas City Barbeque, my favorite place to have lunch at the Con:

It’s only a block or two from the Convention Center at 600 W. Harbor Drive and has great, reasonably priced food, yet it’s never that crowded come lunchtime. I usually eat there two or three times during every Comic-Con and I’ve never had to wait for a table.

6.  If you want a soda or something to eat late at night, there’s no reason to pay steep hotel prices:

Just stop in at the Ralph’s Supermarket at 101 G. Street. It’s open 24 hours and is just a few blocks away from the Convention Center.

7.  Go over the convention schedule (it’s already up at the Comic-Con International website) and if there’s anyone appearing that you like, make sure you bring something for them to sign:

In past years, I’ve brought a second suitcase filled with comics to be autographed. You’ll find it’s easy to find the comic artists and writers, who will usually put in hours at their publishers or at their tables in Artist’s Alley. Then there are many actors who are scheduled to be in the autograph area who sell photos, but others who come up for an hour signing after appearing on a panel may not. Imagine my horror while I watched a panel about the great TV show “Veronica Mars” a few years back and realized the cast would be doing an autograph session afterward and I didn’t have a DVD of the show to get signed (again, don’t cry for me, as I eventually got Kristin Bell to sign Season 1 DVD at the “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” junket). It pays to be prepared.

I also have a number of hardbound books that I have been bringing to the Con for years, like “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” that I get everyone who has worked with the Batman universe to sign. I’m currently up to 45 autographs. The first person to sign it was Batman creator Bob Kane. The  most recent was Christian Bale. Obviously it is one of my most treasured belongings and I’m not done filling it up yet (I’m talking about you, Frank Miller!). I also have histories of both DC and Marvel Comics I’ve gotten signed, plus a book each for TV and movie stars. Remember to keep a Sharpie with you too!

8.  At night, various movie companies take over the movie theaters in the Gaslamp District for screenings of upcoming sci-fi and action films:

In recent years, I’ve seen such movies as “Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow” and “Shoot ‘Em Up,” so keep your eyes open as you walk by the movie studios’ booths for screening info and ticket giveaways.

9.  If you’re just driving down for one day at the Con, I suggest you park at the large lots behind Petco Park, the Padres’ baseball stadium:

It’s cheaper than the other parking lots near the Convention Center and a lot larger to boot. Unfortunately, you can’t leave your car there overnight.

10.  Have a great time!



  1. Flash Says:

    #11 and don’t forget the – now hopefully annual – showing of BtVS, “Once More With Feeling” closing out the show on Sunday. I was there last year… and wish I can be there this time, we shall see.

    Thanks for the tips – nice article!

  2. Bret Says:

    #12 – Beware of room mates who snore excessively or who scream in their sleep!

  3. Trudy Says:

    I still say the Archie panel is the best : )

  4. Sophie Says:

    No wonder you passed up Earth, Wind, and Fire for the Comic Con (although I wouldn’t have).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: