Guest attends Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on July 15, 2012 in San Diego, California. The 2013 Comic-Con runs from July 18-21. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Three things that can be accurately said about Comic-Con International?
1. You're going to read more info-y lists about it than you can shake a lightsaber at. Including this one.
2. If you're traveling from parts north, you should take the train. Take. The. Train. Please. Do you want to find yourself sitting on the 5 next to San Onofre State Beach, sweating inside your rubber Batman costume, stressing because you're missing a meet-up? No. Nobody wants this for you.
3. Everyone owns it. Technically, most people don't own Comic-Con, of course, but everyone who has gone once has Opinions, capital O, on how to maximize a visit to the world's most raucous/famous/overwhelming pop culture convention. Our best tip? Listen to those opinions but discard what doesn't work for you, because if you try to do everything everyone tells you to do, you will find yourself sitting on the convention floor, a stack of half-off comics in your lap, weeping in frustration, and your pricey, collectible comics will soon be wet.
The 44th Comic-Con International rolls from Thursday, July 18 through Sunday, July 21 at the San Diego Convention Center. Tens of thousands of people will show, many of them wearing capes, for star-studded panels ("Futurama," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Being Human" are on the line-up) and to see the greats of animation, film, television, lit, and art (Neil Gaiman, Roy Thomas, and Mark Evanier will be in the house).
Wait. Hold on. Did we say "tens of thousands"? Round up. The con puts recent attendance at 130k, many of them in steampunky top hats and Vulcan ears.
Off-site events are as plentiful as villains in Gotham but one that is sure to draw many brew-loving, tight-wearing convention goers? The Superhero Beer Festival on Embarcadero Park North on Saturday, July 20.
Wear a costume. Are you cool or not? Be cool and don something shiny and tight. Don't be that person who shows to a Halloween party wearing a t-shirt that says "costume." Just don't.
And if you do rock a costume, prepare to be asked for your picture, again and again and again. You'll sling an arm around people you've only just met. You'll be asked to pose like a Stormtrooper or a Hobbit or whatever you happen to be dressed as (or maybe just because).
But that's the one takeaway from the world's mega-ist mega con: people rule, even when they're dressed as monsters or beasts or big insects.
Getting to meet so many other fans is the very, very best bit of four overwhelming, exhilarating days.