Before last week, I was a Comic-Con virgin and I was nervous about my first time. I can’t really call myself a nerd — what little I know about comic books and science fiction came through the minimal influence of my (sort of) nerdy older brother. In order to not feel completely embarrassed about my lowish nerd IQ, I prepped myself for the con by marathoning Star Wars films and buying some choice superhero t-shirts. Aware that this wasn’t nearly enough to prepare myself for one of the largest Comic conventions in the world I bravely packed my bags, rolled to San Diego and hoped for the best.
Now I would Comic-Con all over again and here’s why I’m a convert:
1. NERD CULTURE IS THE BEST CULTURE
Comic-Con taught me that if you’re half the nerd of the nerdiest person you know, you are lucky. There’s a reason why being a nerd has finally been recognized as a cool thing: Because nerds are some of the friendliest, most dedicated and enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet. For nerds, it’s the small things. Nerds will run against the crowd to tell you that you dropped your Valyrian Steel sword. Nerds will never judge you by your outfit. Nerds make the Con. Love the nerds, respect the nerds.
2. COSPLAYING IS MORE THAN MOSTLY NAKED CHICKS.
Cosplayers decorate the entire city of San Diego during Comic-Con and they don’t just build costumes, they own them. Cosplayers can spend up to a year building their costumes and studying characters in order to portray them as accurately as possible. Cosplay is dedication. It’s seriously so dope. Cosplaying is fucking cool. The end.
3. STAR WARS CHANGED THE WORLD
Comic-Con taught me that Star Wars is the Elvis Presley of sci-fi. It never grows old and it never dies. People don’t just love Star Wars, they bond over Star Wars. Parents connect with their children, children connect with their friends and everyone connects with the Force. If you’re skeptical, take a second to imagine a world without Star Wars. See? Really hard to do. Because it’s a part of all of us. And all of the Wookies and Han Solos you see walking the Con floor are good reminders.
4. THERE’S A SECRET LUXURIOUS CON
Far from the San Diego Convention Center, at fancy hotel pools or velvet-roped night clubs, here’s a whole other convention experience which feels like it’s taking place in another dimension. Most of the people partaking in this particular Con aren’t nerds — though a few certainly are — instead, they’re celebrities (or friends of celebrities). And LuxuryCon is great, In theory, but if you’re too famous to walk the floor you’re missing out on some of the magic.
5. YOU BRAIN WILL EXPLODE AT LEAST TWICE
Comic-Con will overload you with awesomeness. You’d have to be a robot to not have your brain be flooded by nostalgia or jaw-dropping wonder at the sight of amazing life-size Lego statues, miniature statues, action figures, superhero weapons, games, zombies, comic book art, masks, and fan-art. There is so much to love and so little time.
6. THERE’S TONS OF SCARY STUFF
Be prepared to get the crap scared out of you by people dressed in freaky outfits, full-time zombies and tons of guys in suits wearing Ron Perlman’s face. And it works because in that sea of supermen and wonder women, you don’t expect to see Freddy Kruger.
7. THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF PARTIES:
The Guest List: If you know of someone that knows someone, go ahead and shamelessly try to work your way onto that guest list, these parties will normally include free drinks, free food, music and, usually, no dancing. Feed the soul, peek around, enjoy the perks and then go find some dancing.
Open Parties: Comic-Con parties open to the public might not be a lot of free booze, but there’s definitely a lot of dancing.
Local Flavor: If you hate lines and all of the above, stumble into any bar in the Gaslamp District and you’ll likely have a great time. In fact, that should be a part of your convention experience no matter who you are.
8. CELEBS ARE LURKING IN THE ODDEST PLACES
At this time of the year, San Diego is celebrity central and it’s pretty amazing. As a rule of thumb though, be kind to them and don’t freak out on them like I did when I ran into Jamie Lee Curtis in the elevator. They tend to react oddly when you scream “Oh my God!” at them. (Sorry, Jamie!) I say carry on, tally the number of celebrities that you spot, smile at them and go brag to your friends about it later.
Plus, sometimes they are the ones dying to photobomb your picture.
9. REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE SOMEWHERE AMAZING
It’s impossible to do everything at Comic-Con and this is a reality you simply must accept. If you didn’t make it on a party list or didn’t get to see your favorite actor move on to the next thing. There’s always something else phenomenal waiting around the corner. Remember, you’re in a magical place.
Diana Vergara is an associate web producer at Playboy. She’s currently suffering through Comic-Con withdrawals and has decided she wants to be a superhero when she grows up.