July 27th, 2009
01:10 PM ET

Comic-Con: Dos & Don'ts

Imagine, if you will, a futuristic outpost in the middle of outer space filled with more than 100,000 beings of all species wearing all manner of dress. Some basically humanoid with different skin textures (particularly on the forehead) and others sporting appendages and tentacles.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/27/art.comic.con.cnn.jpg caption="During Comic-Con, the San Diego Convention Center effectively becomes its own city within San Diego, California."]
Comic-Con is just like that; the San Diego Convention Center effectively becomes its own city within San Diego, California, complete with its own special transit system. Attending became a daunting prospect for this Comic-Con rookie despite my experience at that little local event, Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. If you've ever wondered if you should make the trip, here's a few dos and don'ts that I jotted down just in case.

DO chat with the aliens, robots, furries and Klingons around you and ask permission to take their pictures. Who knows? They might know about a cool event going on, or they might just have a great story to tell.

DON'T carry around too much stuff unless your elaborate robot costume requires it. Comic-Con takes a lot of physical stamina, since some events are spaced far apart and have long lines. You may be routed around a venue the long way to maintain clear traffic paths.

DO wear an awesome costume that shows your love for a favorite franchise or at least some kind of ironic T-shirt.

DON'T slack on your appearance and hygiene. Stars and cool folks are around every corner.

DO plan well in advance. If you want to attend all four days, you need to get your membership for the con several months in advance. Hotels should also be planned as early as possible. And don't forget to reach out to your connections.

DON'T limit yourself to the obvious schedule. Find out what else is going on and don't be afraid to wander around and chat people up. You never know who you might encounter or run into.

DO take the shuttle bus and make use of the conveniences in the city around the con.

DON'T limit yourself to the hot dogs and other con food. And try to park off site if you can.

DO make an effort to seek out celebrities and people you want to see. It doesn't hurt to ask around. There are so many well-known folks hiding around every corner, especially in the earlier days of the con. And of course seek out some panels on your con schedule. We got to see Seth MacFarlane do some voice acting with other folks from FOX's "American Dad," for example.

DON'T buy just anything. Look for con exclusives, one-of-a-kind items, freebies, photo ops and free hugs.

DO give free hugs if that's your thing.

DON'T give out free annoyances.

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