Since Comic-Con blossomed into the mother of all pop-culture conventions with more than 100,000 attendees, getting around the San Diego event has been something of a nightmare. This year — as my colleague Marc Graser documents in a nice scene-setter for the confab — the clusterf**k could be even clusterf**kier than usual, thanks to an invasion by "Twilight" fans.

The initial implications of having a lot of teenage girls (and maybe their mothers) attend the convention is obvious: Thanks to the self-named "Twi-Hards," lines for the ladies room will, for once, be almost as long as lines for the men's room.

In the broader sense, Comic-Con is usually a big, sprawling, semi-organized mess, one where security's answer to almost every question is "Go stand in that line." Fortunately, as I've observed in the past, the geeks in attendance are well-schooled in two things as it pertains to their fan-based activities: Standing in line, and disappointment.

The weather ensures that it's going to be another sticky few days in San Diego, and the convention air-conditioning has in the past been defeated by the throng of people, many of them in costumes. A few years ago the AC broke down entirely, causing an odor to waft through the convention's exhibition space that seemed alien in origin and caused one producer to tell me that he nearly passed out when he walked through the collectibles pavilion.

The other not-to-be-missed, off-the-beaten-track feature of Comic-Con is the autograph pavilion, less for the big movies and TV shows that drop in (and create long lines) than the individual actors, models and other assorted near-luminaries that pay their own freight to get down there. Some do a brisk business selling photos and memorabilia, but there's always something a little sad about seeing actors scrounge in this manner off roles with which they were associated 20 or 30 years ago.

Anyway, the excitement associated with the convention and the chance to preview upcoming projects always dissipates after about 18 hours of the grueling march around the sprawling convention center. It will also be an enormous relief to stop receiving a deluge of emails from publicists wondering if I want to come to their booth and profile the video game/obscure independent movie that they're representing. (Here's a hint: If you haven't heard from me yet, the answer's a big fat no.)

So here's one valuable tip from a veteran for surviving the convention: If you really, really want to see a certain panel, get there early, and bring all the patience you can muster. If history is any indication, you're going to need it.

And make a little time to walk through the exhibition space and maybe even buy a comic book or two. After all, the poor bastards peddling comics and memorabilia built this convention into the studio-dominated monster that it has now become. In this economy, it'd be nice if they came away with something to show for it.

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