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Survival of the fittest at the con

July 20, 2006|Alex Chun

FOR the uninitiated, navigating San Diego's Comic-Con International can be a daunting experience. The convention has more than 300 panels, seminars and previews.

With 100,000 people attending over four days, just getting to the Convention Center poses a challenge. The parking structure typically fills up hours before the doors open, and the lots within walking distance have been known to double or triple their rates up to about $25 a day.

"We've worked out a deal with some of the parking lots to keep the price down, but those fill up very quickly," says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. "What we suggest is parking at Qualcomm Stadium and taking a special trolley to the Convention Center." Parking at the stadium is free; a one-day trolley pass costs $5.

Once at the show, attendees hoping to get in when the doors open at 10 a.m. face a sometimes hours-long line. To minimize the wait, Glanzer suggests arriving after noon, at which time you can often walk right in.

Inside the hall, attendees are faced with an array of in-your-face comics, science fiction, movie, manga and anime displays. "It's definitely a visual assault," says Tom Spurgeon, editor of the comics-news blog comicsreporter.com. "In dealing with the exhibit hall, and the con in general, the two pieces of advice I always give people are don't overschedule, and make sure you have some time to wander the floor."

Spurgeon has a lot more advice for enjoying what he endearingly calls "Nerd Vegas." Every year he posts his Comic-Con primer, a mixture of truth, pragmatism and humor. "Wear comfortable shoes -- the con is the size of Oprah's house. Really. It's big. It's sit-down-and-make-you-cry big," reads one of his entries. Lastly, bring a camera. After all, what's a trip to Comic-Con without having your picture taken sandwiched between a Klingon and a Wookiee?

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-- Alex Chun

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