It doesn't matter how many times you go to San Diego Comic-Con, there is always something new to learn. This was my fourth year at the annual pop culture extravaganza and I still felt like a bit of a n00b, still trying to figure out how this mega-convention works. Here are the seven things I learned at San Diego Comic-Con 2012. Share your own lessons in the comment section.7. Buy your toys first.
Toy collectors already know this. If you want something that's either a Comic-Con exclusive or is available there well before it hits stores, get in line and make that purchase early. This is a lesson that My Little Pony fans learned at SDCC 2012 when Zecora, a new pony figure that was sold at the con first, sold out by Thursday morning. Yes, that's the day the convention officially begins.
If you can, get a pass for Preview Night and do your shopping then. You'll have a few hours where you can stand in line for whatever item you really need to get. Keep in mind, though, that the 4 Day + Preview Night badge usually sells out first. If you can't get it, head to the convention center early on Thursday and prepare to stand in line.
6. Buy your comic books last.
People often joke about how empty the comic book section of SDCC's exhibit hall is in comparison to pretty much everything else. That all changes on Sunday, when comic book retailers dramatically drop prices. I don't usually spend much time in the exhibit hall on Sundays. This year, I had some time to kill, so I started flipping through boxes of discounted comic books. I picked up four omnibuses for the price of two. On the last day of the convention, you'll see comic books on sale, typically for 50 percent-60 percent off the listed price. Note that some of the vendors are cash only on the final day of the con. Make sure you stop by an ATM first.
5. Hang out in the convention center after dark.
I'm usually out of the convention center by sunset. On Saturday night, though, I decided to stick around for the 9 p.m. "Tromatize Yourself" panel, a personal branding session featuring Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman. After that, my friends and I decided to chill out in a hallway and let our phones charge.
Hanging around the convention center at night gives you a glimpse of Comic-Con that you won't see during the day. Saturday night is Masquerade, so you'll still see tons of people in costume, but they're all packed into a few rooms where they can watch either the event itself or a telecast. The corridors are empty. You can wander around the venue without security guards telling you to keep walking or go out another door. You can talk to your friends without having to shout. It's a good way to decompress while you're still at the convention.