Please accept my many apologies for the radio silence as of late. Between early summer con going and a 2 week trip to Italy, my time has been spent sorting interviews and photos more so than writing. THERE are updates on all of that forthcoming, I promise!
In the meantime, please give a warm welcome to a good friend of mine, Rick, who had a great idea for an article and wanted to share it here.
I became fast friends with Rick and his lovely wife Amanda when I met them at Heart Camp (please see earlier posts in this section for information on that) this past January.
While we share a passion for fandom, our passion for mental health and wellness is the reason for this post.
Rick recently attended what many consider the epitome of fandom, San Diego Comic Con and had these thoughts after.
So the con is now over… now what? For me, that con is San Diego Comic Con, the mother of them all. The post-con funk, the blues, the haze, the depression, it all sets in… no matter how big or small the con. I’m a firm believer in talking through things to identify and combat them, so I wanted to write something on the post-con blues for myself, as much as I wanted to for you, the reader. I’m going to walk through some of what I have experienced over my SDCC adventures, and how they compare and contrast with my large local con, C2E2. If runner’s can get the post-race depression, than there’s definitely something to the con-goers’ post-con blues!
For me, a major part of SDCC is seeing people that I only see here… some that I have met by only being at Comic Con. There is very much a force multiplier applied to the end of Comic Con, since I most likely see most of those folks for another 360 days. As much as technology has brought us together more easily in the Internet era, it still cannot replace the feeling you have camping out in the Hall H line with your amazing con group and the completely random experiences you get in doing so. I always try to be thankful for the time we were able to spend with our larger instead of focusing on the “never enough” aspect, because frankly, it’s never going to be enough for the people we truly care about.
There is so much glitz and glamour wrapped up in the presentation, programming, and experience at Comic Con. It would be ridiculous to think that you’d be able to replicate any given experience from San Diego year after year. My first year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary panel in Hall H and it brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t want that feeling to end… and it hit me hard. But year after year, those high-quality experiences happen again and again. From the entire Marvel cast on stage two years ago in 2016 to introduce Bree Larson and Captain Marvel to this year having a little girl asking Melissa Benoist what it feels like to be a role model to many kids like her and watching Chyler Leigh have to hide her face behind her hair to not cry on stage. The moral of this story is stay in the moment, be thankful for the wonderful experiences that you have in that exact moment, and know that they will keep happening year after year… because that is the magic of Comic-Con.
One way to combat the post-con blues is to plan a few days after the con to stick around San Diego and relax. I’ve had varying dates of departure post-con from first thing Monday morning to later in the week Thursday. It definitely feels better to give yourself a few days to decompress without the worry of travel looming over your head. Taking a beach day, going to the San Diego Zoo, doing something that you would do on a normal vacation to keep the endorphins flowing all make it easier to process those words that come every year at 5pm on the Sunday of Comic Con – “Thank you for another great Comic Con. The floor is now closed.” Instead of being forced to deal with the end of a con, as well as packing, AND thinking how you’re going to get all of your Exhibit Hall & giveaway home at the same time, space it out over a few days and just do… nothing. There’s so much going on over the course of 5 days with 150,000 of your closest nerd friends, it isn’t always easy to recognize it’s okay to let it settle back down to your regular daily hum.
All of this so far has been specific to my experiences at San Diego Comic Con as someone who has traveled across the country to attend. I have attended the last few years of Chicago’s largest comic convention, C2E2, as well. While not having quite the star power of southern California, C2E2 has a pretty well-established exhibit hall and a very burgeoning set of socially & culturally-relevant panels. Nevertheless, the post-con blues still set in there, but definitely not as much. Being able to return HOME each night with your loot, recharge and sleep in your own bed, shower in your own shower – that all definitely goes a long way into combatting the end of the con and the “what’s next?” feeling. Attending a local con means attending with people you’re used to seeing on a regular basis, so the feelings of being disconnected from your con family don’t hit so hard. All of this is relevant to any of the larger regional cons, such as Ace Comic Con, Emerald City, etc, as well as the set of Wizard World cons that are navigating the continent year round.
In planning trips to Comic Con every year, there are always a few tips that many folks often reiterate in “How to prepare for SDCC” or “What you need to know before going to your first San Diego Comic Con”. While they’re not wrong, these tips also help me to fight the post-con blues by having a lot of preparation built-in to the con experience.
- Plan for one major thing each day. Do not try to overbook yourself with too many “must-do” activities in a single day. Trying to juggle them all will often lead to not being able to do any of them. Make sure you’re able to get at least one of your “must-do” activities before attempting to plan out what to do next.
- Stay flexible when the situation arises. Getting into that must-see panel or the super exclusive item for the current year is a great feeling, but now that it’s over, what’s next? Maybe you’re on the floor and you walk out with no line for Hall H (hey it’s possible!). Popping in there may be a great surprise, even though you didn’t plan for it. Or your walking towards a panel through Sails and there’s a signing (with an uncapped line) for one of your favorite childhood shows. These things WILL always surprise you, due to the magnitude of Comic Con!
- Stick to your con budget, but understand there will be opportunities to get once-in-a-lifetime pieces. Art, signings, exclusives, commissions, pre-orders, they’re all there to attack your wallet. Knowing what you’re looking for on the floor ahead of time is a definite boon to not feeling lost on the floor, but also helping each day have a sense of accomplishment on the floor when you’re able to check stuff off your list each day.
- Try to take stock of each day, either through blogging, journaling, or talking with friends, because it will all be a blur by the end of the con.
- Compare your con experience against yourself, your expectations, and your possibilities.
– Do not judge your con experience against the adventures of others’ on social media. Just like life, you’ll often see social media posts showing the results of many hours waiting in line, but not actually waiting in line.
In summary, the Comic Con experience is no different than life. Try to focus on what you have, what you did, and who you did it with. Those are the most important parts. I wouldn’t have the friends I have today if it wasn’t for the lines that come along with SDCC. The events we were waiting in line FOR are mostly forgettable or uninteresting, but the friendships that were made, the experiences that we’ve shared since then, and the love of all things comics and pop-culture that is shared between those groups is unparalelled.
Rick is a lifelong nerd, geek, pop culture enthusiast, or whatever you want to call it. He’s been watching Star Wars on TV, since before he understood the concept of a programming schedule. He’s branded with X-Men and Magic: The Gathering tattoos. Rick was married while wearing a boutinerre made from the first issue of the X-Men he ever collected (X-Men #11), while also wearing cufflinks that are made from D20 dice. It’s safe to say that Rick is a fan of fandoms and has been attending comic & pop-culture conventions for many years, but has been an annual attendee of SDCC since 2013 and C2E2 since 2016.
Solid advice Rick! While I’ve loved diving into larger conventions like DragonCon and NYCC, there is most definitely a sinking feeling when it is all over, not to mention the anxiety involved with changes in plans and budgeting issues.
We very much appreciate your insight as we start trying to process attending SDCC in the future.
Thank you so much for your willingness to share! You are welcome back anytime!