Can’t believe it’s been nearly a year already. We’re less than a month away from New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2018. If this is your first time attending, you’re bound to have a memorable experience. That being said, the large scale of this convention can be overwhelming, so it’s essential to prepare as much as possible. As a 6-year veteran of NYCC, I’ve compiled a number of tips that will help you make the best of your experience. If you want to check out last year’s coverage, check it out here.
For those who were unable to book badges (tickets), all is not lost. Thursday badges are still on sale on the official New York Comic Con Website. Keep in mind that while Thursdays are becoming more crowded each year, they’re still relatively low key. If you’re looking for the sold-out, more popular Friday, Saturday, and Sunday badges, this is actually a great time to snag them. Every year, scalpers buy up a bunch of extras and mark up the price an absurd amount. In fact, many of these guys mark them up so high that they aren’t able to sell them before the convention.
If you look on eBay or Craiglist, you’ll see a bunch still on sale. With less than a week left until the event, these guys will be looking to unload. You have all the power now to haggle, especially since you have less to lose than they do. You can probably get the tickets for face value, or even cheaper the closer you get to the event.
As an example, I bought a 4-day pass in 2015 for $50. I bought it on the Thursday night that Comic Con began. This is a $105 value that I got for $50. I told the seller that I wouldn’t pay double the list price for an event that I had already missed an entire day for (a quarter of the event).
2) Plan your schedule
Don’t wing it. Know that the most popular panels and screenings are often jam packed. If you don’t get there early enough to get a place on line, you will miss them. The New York Comic Con official mobile app will be useful for planning, as it lets you look at all the events and add it to a calendar. The app will also send you reminders and updates throughout the convention.
The biggest panels are usually held at Main Stage 1-D, Madison Square Garden, and Hammerstein Ballroom. The latter two are off-site from Javits. If any of the panels you’re eying takes place at those locations, prepare to get to NYCC early that morning and stand in line for wristbands. Even if the convention opens up at 10 AM, people line up for Main-Stage queues at 7 AM. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it to line up this early for the events, but to each their own. Speaking of…
Waiting on lines is a major part of New York Comic Con, whether it be for entrance, panels, food, or even the bathrooms. Set your mind on specific guests or panels you want to see so that you don’t waste time at the convention trying to decide. Also factor in line times when going to two panels that are scheduled back-to-back. Bring a book, music, or anything else to keep you occupied while waiting.
4) Bring cash
The main show floor of New York Comic Con has thousands of vendors, selling pop-culture related items from every conceivable fandom. You will definitely feel an urge to buy things, and not everything can be paid for with credit. I believe that the same goes for certain signings and autographs, so be prepared.
5) Bring a small bag
Have something you can use to store a change of clothes, snacks, free swag, and purchases you make throughout the day. Navigating the busy show floor is way easier with free hands to deflect prop swords accidentally swinging towards you when a cosplayer poses for a picture.
6) Grab free swag
Now for the trick-or-treat portion of NYCC. There are lots of booths promoting their products. This means tons of free stuff. There are many raffles and giveaways you can sign up for with just a scan of your New York Comic Con badge.
Items like free t-shirts go fast. Be selective about what you take if you are going to be walking around all day. Don’t take a free book just because it’s free; take it if you have plans to actually read it. There are always tons of posters being given out, so bring a poster holder or rubber bands.
Besides a couple of fun trinkets and posters, the swag I still use are things like tape measures and phone energy banks. Comics I keep. The majority of free stuff, like minecraft swords and whatnot, seemed cool at the time but ended up collecting dust in my room. The Chevrolet booth is big, and every year they give away commemorative Comic Con t-shirts. The Medium and Small sizes are always first to go. To get one, you do a brief survey on their computers, then scan your badge. Plus, your badge lets you get one shirt each day of Comic Con.
Many big booths also give away free swag bags to hold your stuff. Most of these are sturdy and reusable, so you can save them for the next year’s convention. The Dark Horse booth in the main show floor gives out really useful, yellow tote bags each year. There are tons of them, but they still tend to go pretty fast; so if you’re not running to line up for Main-Stage panel wristbands, then stop by Dark Horse first.
7) Create fake social profiles
As previously mentioned, some of the best items or raffles require you to give some information, or share stuff on social pages. To avoid getting spam mail forever or having to unsubscribe to a hundred different mailing lists, I have a dummy gmail address and Google Voice number specifically for the event. I even have a fake Facebook/Insta in case they want you to post a photo of their product on your social as a requirement for swag. Your personal info is its own commodity, and unless you are genuinely interested in the product or service, it’s not worth giving out to just anyone.
This is also the same reason why I have a secondary email tied to my fan verification profile for NYCC, and why I don’t connect my social accounts to my badge. One scan of the badge immediately gives your information to these vendors.
8) Have back up panels
New York Comic Con grows astronomically each year; numbers bordering in the hundreds of thousands. This means that even if you get on line for a Main-Stage event early in the morning, you still may miss the cut-off for wristbands. Thus, it’s important to add back up panels to your schedule. Even if you miss that panel you really wanted to see (ie: The Walking Dead is almost impossible to get into), there are so many other interesting panels to check out. I was bummed last year because I couldn’t get into the panel that I wanted, but ended up sitting in for a Hip-hop and Comics panel where a bunch of artists including Method Man and D.M.C. attended. I even got to chat with Method Man briefly after the panel and get a photo.
9) Bring snacks/lunch
While I’ve definitely noticed an increase in the number of food carts over the years, the lines for lunch will still be really long. The food court downstairs sells your typical food court dishes, only the price is marked up significantly. It’s best to bring your own food, or leave Javits Center and get food outside. It beats waiting on line for an hour just to eat while standing in a crowd.
10) Comfortable footwear
You will walk. A lot. Now isn’t the time to break in your new pair of shoes. Do that before the event. Wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers. I have a pedometer on my phone, and last year I averaged around 20,000+ steps per day just inside the convention center. Also, you’re going to get your foot stepped on so leave your Jordans at home.
11) Coordinate with Friends
There are so many things to see at New York Comic Con and it’s very unlikely that you and your friends are going to want to see all the same things. Thus, you should share your schedules with each other and a set meeting place and time. There are thousands of phones in the Javits center and I’ve had trouble getting signal about half the time I’ve been there. It’s also incredibly loud so phone calls are impossible.
One of the best parts of NYCC is seeing the crazy detail and effort put into cosplay, or costumes. If you’re cosplaying, you will be stopped by people requesting photos, probably hundreds of times per day. Bring scotch tape or other tools you may need to mend your costume if it falls apart. Also, bring a change of clothes in case you want to get out of character. It can get extremely hot inside the convention. For those not cosplaying, remember to always ask the cosplayer whether or not you can take a photo with/of them.
13) The Press Lounge
For Pro and Press Badge holders, there is a Press Lounge on the upper floor of the Javits Center. It’s in a pretty huge hall that has windows overlooking the show floor exhibits. The interviews with show guests are held here. Even if you aren’t interviewing anyone, this is a spacious area that’s great for catching a breath. It’s a wonderful escape from the craziness of the convention, without having to actually leave the venue. The line for the bathroom is way shorter here, and there is a separate snack cart available. Sometimes, there’s also free coffee and snacks.
I hope each of you has an awesome time at New York Comic Con. Experience something new and make some great memories. Please let me know if you have any questions at all about the event. I would be happy to answer. Also be sure to check in on our site and Twitter page for live updates from New York Comic Con.