I worked a booth at Comic-Con in July 2005, so my time for money-making was limited. Hell, my time for eating and bathroom breaks was limited; I spent over 12 hours a day at that damn booth…drinking cans of beer somewhat surreptitiously under the table…less and less surreptitiously as The Con dragged on. But in my brief runs for food and bathroom, I managed to accumulate several bags of schwag which would later get flipped on eBay for a nice bonus of around $800. Not bad for five days.
You too can make money off Comic-Con. First, buy a pass for as many days as you can stand. If you have industry connections, get a pass for Wednesday (preview night), as that’s when a lot of valuable schwag gets thrown around.
Next, uh, attend The Con (duh). Bring a huge backpack. Get there EARLY. Have your grabby-grabby hands ready. And Go For It. I’m not even going to cover the stuff you could make money on buying and reselling, as you would need some level of expertise for that; I’m just talking about the free stuff. Some measure of common sense is helpful here: Focus your energies on promotional items for upcoming blockbusters, popular video games, and the like. You may have to stand in line for hot items. Don’t neglect the promo bags, and don’t use them to carry your stuff – they too have resale value. Many people go to signings, and ask for sketches; I think it’s kinda crass and lowball to sell a sketch made personally for you, as opposed to mass-marketed promo crap, which is clearly meant for just this.
In your travels, keep an ear out for the hot parties, and get on the guest list. If you don’t know how, well, you need better connections. The parties are where the serious goodie bags get thrown down. Get yourself some free booze and food and start filling your goodie bag (discreetly of course) with the schwag decorating the tables. Sightings of stars make for good stories but only their autographs are saleable. Work that party.
If you have (or can make) friends working booths, they can be another source of goodies. See what they’re giving away and get extras for trading. I managed to walk away with seven “Sith Happens” t-shirts by trading Yu-Gi-Oh! shirts and the like; I later sold them for an average of $70 apiece…this went some way towards appeasing my angst at being away from home in the duckpond known as downtown San Diego for a week.
The crush of humanity, the freezing air conditioning, the absence of daylight for five solid days, what roninspoon has called “the stench of fandom,” the heavy heavy drinking…. Comic-Con would truly suck except for the blessedly high level of ambient nerdiness. My booth-partner was resorting to hijinx like wedging a beercap over his eye and popping it out at me, then yelling, “Where’s my contact lens?” as he ducked under the table for a swig off his beer. I started yelling at people in costumes to “Fight! Fight! Fight!” and when they obeyed, I’d add, “TO THE DEATH!” -–Just to touch on the tip of things. It’s a long goddamn con. Make sure it’s worth your while.