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Comic-Con is something people wait for all year. Sure, you are taking time off work and driving for hours to come down and check out new Magic the Gathering cards, but think of all the free things! Getting something by standing in line for it is better than a job because you will feel like you earned it. Plus, it’s educational. Where else can you find such a rare opportunity to see so many celebrities up close and take tense awkward photos with them while you feed them peanuts? Sometimes you can even touch them. It’s time to toss that Batman shirt in the laundry, stuff your pockets full of money, and check your shame at the door.

Comic-Con can be daunting. The sheer size of it is boggling. There is something happening every fifteen minutes in a space the size of some small, liberated island nations. Coordinating your day can be like choreographing a ballet while trying to navigate a schedule as thick as a phonebook.

Here are some Racket chosen highlights you may want to catch:

THURSDAY

TRON: Legacy—Watching The Big Lebowski in a Disney film about driving around on motorcycles in some futuristic blue glowy place. Sign me up!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World— Hipsters are frothing with excitement over this one. Sure to be Epic.

J. J. Abrams and Joss WhedonEnough said.

Danny Elfman—This man is a machine. The focus of this is on the music he’s done for Tim Burton flicks.

Bill Plympton—Celebrating the DVD release of High Hairs “an outrageous romantic zombie comedy that tells the story of a teenage couple murdered on prom night, who return for revenge.” Everyone who attends gets a free drawing.

FRIDAY- STAR WARS DAY

Adult Swim Panel Featuring Robot Chicken, Venture Bros, and Metalocalypse—Seth Green, the guys from Robot chicken, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, and Brendon Small. Hell yeah!

Archer– Adam Reed FX animated series.

True Blood Panel and Q&A session—Vampire stuff.

Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards- Like the Oscars for comic books. Plus you get a free Will Eisner graphic novel.

Cartoon Network—The Adventure Time crew will be there. Mathematical!

World Premiere of Lost Boys: The ThirstScreening and free popcorn!

Spotlight on Nicholas Gurewitch- The man behind The Perry Bible Fellowship online comic.

The Walking Dead

SATURDAY

Warner Bros.: Green Lantern, Sucker Punch, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Marvel: Cup O’ Joe— Big announcements.

Stan Lee @ BOOM!— Stan Lee and Mark Waid reveal the details behind the new series at BOOM!

Marvel Studios: Thor and Captain America

SUNDAY

Sons of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Glee

As some may have noticed by this list, Comic-Con has undergone a change. Comic-Con, as the name hints at, was originally about comics. It was a place for hoarders, shut-ins, and people with obsessive compulsive disorders to meet and revel in the beauty of their shared passions.  As lines between media formats blur and online content goes mainstream movies and television and various other outlets have now joined the mix and become a growing presence. Comic-Con has become a social phenomenon, attracting a younger, hipper, media-savvy crowd that is in tune with the pulse of popular culture.

If you are one of these people, I have bad news. You are still a nerd. But don’t worry, many nerds can lead full and productive lives, sometimes in lucrative careers. Radical new trends like bathing and an upturn in the popularity of glasses have earned nerds a greater respect in the public eye. If you came because you actually like comics, you probably still aren’t going to get laid though.

For both the initiated and newcomers, here are a few helpful hints and personal recommendations for those planning to come this year to help you seamlessly get into swing of things.

Try to fit in. Wearing normal street attire will likely get you a few snickers and looks from those who were savvy enough to come dressed as a giant Pikachu. If you absolutely must wear regular clothing make sure you have on a t-shirt and hat prominently featuring the logo of your favorite super-hero or pop-culture reference. A tank top with “Team Edward” doesn’t count.  Just to be safe though, you probably will want to make a costume of your own.

For the few weeks before Comic-Con obsessively work on your costume making sure to get every last color and detail right, you’ll have your reputation on the line. Now, take a pair of scissors and cut down the middle of the front to about your navel. Adjust your breasts accordingly. In case your outfit still isn’t trampy enough, try trimming the bottom part of the costume, or removing it entirely and replacing it with a pair of vinyl bikini underwear. Don’t worry what your body looks like, you’ll be covered up by fishnet stockings and an awkwardly bulky lanyard badge. This is assuming you are a girl, in which case, what are you doing at Comic-Con?

If you are a guy, try to incorporate a pair of disturbingly tight leggings that show off your package. Also, maybe some sort of homemade sword. Bonus points if your beer gut is tastefully worked into the design. It’s probably a good idea to wear tennis sneakers with it; you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Screw Walking. Walking around the huge convention hall can be exhausting, especially to someone not used to physical exertion or exercise. If you have an elderly relative you may want to consider “borrowing” their Rascal scooter to use while you are there.  The little baskets make great snack holders.  Some of you reading this may be morbidly obese, and likely have your own. You lucky devils.

Bone up on your trivia knowledge. You will be pitted against the best. Your super fast new smart phone won’t help you now when faced with the lightening quick recall skills of a dedicated geek.  A real fan doesn’t need Google.

Hydrate. You will get sweaty meeting all those famous people. I recommend a performance sport beverage.

Bring a camera. Make sure it’s charged. If you return home without a picture of you humping Princess Leia in drag for your Facebook profile page, it’s like it never even happened at all.

Bring business cards. Cruise down the lesser-frequented booth aisles and raise the hopes of fresh young artists by posing as a publisher, or producer looking for material for the next big blockbuster.

“Freeball” it. Trust me, when you and your nerd celebrity crush lock eyes for that brief moment gazing into each other’s soul, and you boldly raise your hand and ask your elegantly phrased panel question they will be so smitten and overwhelmed with desire that they will have to ravage you right there. It will only slow you down.

Go with someone you have nothing in common with. Half the fun of Comic-Con is waiting and camping out in the convention hall waiting for panels to switch over, which may mean sitting through hours of crap you don’t care about. It builds anticipation. Bring someone who has no interest in the things you do and take turns switching off. Have them save your spot during the lame sessions so you can sneak away and do cool stuff and party. You should still know the person well enough that they’ll be willing to let you sit on their lap if need be, in case of the occasional overlap. If you don’t happen to have any friends, a carpool lane dummy dressed in a Green Lantern tee will work just fine.

Think ahead. Not everyone famous is going to have a glossy 8×10 headshot to sign for you, they might not even have a pen. This isn’t Hollywood. Do your research before you come and print out a few on your own to bring along.  It’s also a good idea to bring a sharpie. If you are planning on getting an autograph from someone special ask one of the artists there to draw that person’s face on your chest for them to sign. They will be flattered. Then get it tattooed directly onto your body.

Have a place to meet-up with your pals at. Preferably a place that serves alcohol. There is nothing worse than being stuck crying in lost & found while your friends are all off having fun.

If you have a painful learning experience or helpful tip of your own you would like to share, we welcome our readers to tell us about it in our comments section.

-Laura Gaddy