Comic-Con may look like a four-day saloon brawl of geek culture, but know that there's a well-defined code of conduct designed to make everyone's experience optimally enjoyable. For all you San Diego pilgrims this week, here be the rules.
1.) Stay hydrated throughout the day. This is both for A.) your own well-being; and B.) everyone else's. The convention center is crowded already without parched corpses, and nobody packed smelling salts (unless you're cosplaying as Night Nurse).
2.) If you're cosplaying as Night Nurse, pack smelling salts.
3.) For the same reasons, stay nourished. Nutrient deficiency causes lethargy (which causes bottlenecks). Don't just eat $5 pretzel dogs, as they will induce a common condition known as "Pretzel-Wiener Psychosis." It's triggered by looking into your wallet and realized you've spent an entire month's rent on tenuously edible convention slop.
4.) Complaining about lines will not make them go faster. Why? Uatu the Watcher will notice your griping and whisk you away to a 99.9% identical parallel dimension where every line is 5 minutes longer.
5.) Grousing aloud about Twilight fans is tantamount to yammering about airline food. The Twihards will be done by 12:30 PM on Thursday. You are however free to bellyache if Stephenie Meyer announces a new series about crypto-Mormon centaurs or some other mythical fauna.
6.) Ditto goes for bleating about Glee fans. It's like getting into a fistfight with barometric pressure. Imagine stink lines coming off Hall H if you must.
7.) Keep all pens in your pockets.
8.) Don't expect your favorite writer or illustrator to sign all 72 issues of your complete run of The Zoo Crew Meets Mr. Magoo...
9.) ...unless your favorite writer happens to be yours truly. Come to the io9 panel on Thursday and I'll autograph family photos, subpoenas, 95% of all body parts (must be attached), and your favorite woodwind instruments. (Yes, I will be there. The powers that be at SDCC have dubbed me a "possible surprise guest.")
10.) If you're over 18, don't ask panelists if they're single.
11.) If you're between 8 and 17, you're allowed to inquire about panelists' relationship statuses, but be prepared for a chorus of nervous titters.
12.) If you're under 7, you have carte blanche to do whatever you damn well please. Gurgle, yell at the panelists, languidly recapitulate how much you adored the Canine Hell scene from All Dogs Go To Heaven.
13.) If you're staging a cosplay weapons duel, avoid the escalators, restrooms, sidewalks — basically any place nobody wants a foam Mjolnir in the grill.
14.) If you're brandishing a cosplay weapon, it does not deserve its own seat during panels. Learn to perch on your gun-sword like a warlike parakeet.
15.) If you desperately need a 90-second cosplay costume, go as Gambit. Put on a sweat band and scribble on some 75¢ playing cards with a pink highlighter.
16.) If you want to take a photo of a cosplayer, it's proper form to ask first. Most will be happy to oblige and pose fiercely.
17.) Similarly, don't even think about sneaking panty shots. People will notice, and you'll be tarred and feathered in spirit gum and shredded issues of Jughead.
18.) Cosplayers, if you are wearing assless pants, please put down some manner of kerchief before you sit.
19.) If you plan on cosplaying as Hawkman, Hawkgirl, the Silverhawks, the Hawk Men from Flash Gordon, or Hudson Hawk, you must have a wing sidekick who will usher people away from your wingspan.
20.) The 6,000-person canyon of Hall H is not the time to eat your patented limburger-and-durian tart...unless you brought enough for the whole class, that is.
21.) Similarly, Hall H is not the place to commandeer the microphone and practice your stand-up routine. It's also not the proper location to practice your "heavy breathing" routine either.
22.) Should you be starstruck by your favorite actor/writer/puppeteer, simply say, "Hi, I'm a huge fan of your movies/comics/marionettes. Thank you, and keep on doing what you do and/or puppeteering."
23.) Absolutely nothing at Comic-Con is worth stampeding over.
24.) I'm going to put this as delicately as possible. Sometimes we get so excited at Comic-Con that we forget to wear antiperspirant. Hell, my schedule is so tortuous this week that my only ablutions will be dust baths and shampooing my hair with industrial-grade lye. When you leave your hotel room, ask yourself, "Do I smell like a dew-dappled Alpine dell?"
25.) Have fun. Seriously. If you're having a lousy time, the San Diego Fun Police will find you and BOOM. You're on the title card of a bare knuckle Tijuana cage match.