The largest pop culture explosion on the East Coast officially kicks off on Thursday, October 9, 2014. I’m looking forward to absorbing anything and everything related to Star Wars. But, if you are brand new to New York Comic Con or looking to improve your strategies from previous years, here are five tips and tricks on surviving New York’s nerdiest event.
Whenever I go someplace new, I never go without studying a map of the location first. I want to visually know where I’m going ahead of time in order to avoid getting lost and potentially wasting time. I normally Google Map everything, including the Javits Center. I’ve been there more times than I can count, but understanding your various routes can help you through a sticky situation. Take construction work, for example. Manhattan is always under some kind of construction work or other, especially on the weekends. Develop a strategy laid out with several alternative ways on how to get there.
Personally, I recommend getting off on 34th Street and walking to 36th street. From there, walk west to 11th Avenue. Also, get to know the map of the Javits Center itself. The NYCC site and app will have a map of the show floor, artists alley, and lower panel rooms. Study beforehand which sections contain the panels you would like to attend and use major/iconic locations as your way to get around. For example, the Marvel booth is a good way to pinpoint your location. They normally have an enormous display in the middle of the show floor that’s hard to miss. Use that as your compass to navigate around the show floor. And when all else fails, ask your fellow con-goers or the NYCC staff. Please make sure to remember that the staff are volunteers and people. Treat them with respect and they’ll reciprocate.
Unfortunately, the Javits Center has the case of bad cell phone service. Some carriers fair better than others (Verizon and AT&T are at the top of the list, from my understanding), but most see a severe lack of bars at the top corners of their phones, especially when entering the lower level. You know what that means? Time to pull out the walkie talkies and code names. This method is for the extreme team looking to hit all the good spots while in a desperate need to stay in communication with each other. If you want to do away with bulky technology and stay focused on the game, the good ol’ smoke signal should do. Actually, I’m just kidding. Whatever you do, don’t set the con on fire. Instead, as mentioned in the previous step, synchronize your watches and mark a location that’s best to meet up at a later point in time (e.g. the Marvel booth). That way, everyone gets to go and enjoy their own thing and then reconvene later to share stories and pictures around the bonfire. Seriously, though, no fire at the con.
Like the mighty Thor and his need for sustenance, we all need food and water to get through the day, and it can get quite costly at the Javits Center. Becoming familiar with your location is important in this step. You can find food stands and the occasional fast food place in every direction, allowing you to spend less money and to take a breather away from the con madness. If you’re looking to save up on cash, definitely stop by the local grocery store or supermarket the weekend prior and pick up the basics for a sandwich, juice packs, mini-water bottles, and any other snacks you’d like to store in your survival kit.
The Javits Center has several restroom locations with working water fountains to refill at any point in time. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, but be prepared to stand on long restroom lines if you’re a frequent user. Before you chow down on your homemade lunch, however, either wash your hands with soap or drench them in hand sanitizer to prevent catching something that could potentially ruin your con experience. Lastly, make sure to not leave your trash around. You’re there to have fun, but pick up after yourself once you’re done. There are big trash receptacles everywhere you go, so make use of them and NYCC will look a lot cleaner through your actions.
The one thing you’ll be doing the most is walking around and grabbing free treats, including posters of various sizes. It breaks my heart to see a bent or crumpled poster, so make sure to stop by your nearest office supply store and grab an adequately sized mailing tube to store posters as you go. Or, you can do what I do and take the inner tube of Christmas wrapping paper and use that as your safe haven for delicate works of art and posters you’re bound to pick up at the con. Personally, that’s where I like to store my references for artists. So if you’re visiting Artist Alley and collecting loose pieces of art, a mailing tube will be your best friend.
NYCC provides a free app to get the latest updates and information. The convenience of having everything you need to know about the con rests in the palm of your hand, allowing you to scroll through guest and exhibitor lists, browsing through the autographing section, exchanging messages with other con-goers, and much more. Peruse through the app and add your favorite panels to your “My Schedule.” Not only will it help keep you on track once the con kicks off, but it also lets you know whether you have conflicting panels or events. If you’re a fan of paper, make sure to pick up a copy of the NYCC guide at the information booths scattered throughout the convention center. Whichever method you choose, make certain that you strategize your course of action. Don’t leave things for last minute. Otherwise, you might end up regretting the overwhelming sensation of the lack of organization. If that does happen, don’t hesitate to step outside for a breath of fresh air. Collect your thoughts, prioritize your interests, and above all else, enjoy!