by Alicia Glass, contributing writer

Welcome to the insanity known as San Diego Comic-Con 2014! Grab your sunscreen (I’m serious about this) and snacks, schedule and funds, and dive headlong with me!

Who doesn’t love the inevitable FREE STUFF? The question is, how much work are you willing to put in, in order to get it. Dead shoe leather and interminable lines, misdirections and new volunteers, and the inevitable “we’re out of that thing you just stood in line two hours for” aside, here is yet another way to the not-so-secret FREE STUFF.

ticketPanels as SDCC these days are legendary for their craziness, but don’t let that slow you down. As you’re sitting there watching Marvel or DC titans talk about their latest creation, Con volunteers will sometimes pass  these little faire-type tickets along the rows. Every person is, in theory, supposed to get one, but I have seen people who have empty seats in their rows take the leftover tickets for themselves: whatever. The tickets aren’t for a raffle at the end of the panel, they’re for the Fulfillment Room. Not every panel does these tickets, and it’s hard to guess which panels will have them –big or small, popular or not has little to do with it, as far as I can tell, it’s likely a matter of whether or not the group doing the advertising had the money to get several thousand free geegaws made. Your SDCC badge is usually a plastic sleeve with a paper insert; I store my tickets in the back of my badge and that has always worked for me.

What do I do with these tickets?

The next thing you need to know is where the Fulfillment Room is, and that is the first of a few minor issues with this funnery. Next to the convention center is the Marriot Hotel, and this is where the Fulfillment Room is located. Sadly, for some reason, the room is almost always put up in the farthest-from-the-front building of the Marriot, and signs or people indicating which way to go are usually posted only halfway along the route you’re supposed to take. Fortunately (sorta), these days quite a lot of people know about the Fulfillment Room, which means if you get lost, just follow the line of cosplayers to the right location.

marriot hotelOnce you’ve made it to the room itself, you’ll find booths set up with color-corresponding ticket posters on them. Break out the tickets you’ve managed to collect, match up the colors, hand them over to the volunteers, and get  free swag! In previous years, there have been Game of Thrones goodie bags that had freaking folding chairs, preview video games, pins and bracelets, bendable collectible toys, entire books that some movie or TV show was based on, and tons of other unique stuffs!

Be aware of a couple of very firm DON’Ts:

Don’t try talking the harried Con volunteer at the orange-ticket booth into giving you an extra Marvel Rubix cube or whatever – this can actually get them into serious trouble if they’re caught. The same Don’t applies to crying or screaming at the volunteer if/when they tell you they’re out of whatever geegaw this particular ticket is for. Running out is inevitable at SDCC, and regardless of whether you’re willing to go every day to the room for the free stuff, or hedged your bets on a last-day Sunday all-or-nothing ticket spree, there is very likely to be at least one ticket booth that is all out by the time you get there. Yes, even on Thursday, so be aware – forewarned is forearmed with yet more FREE STUFF!

We’d love to see your SDCC photos and photos of your awesome swag! Tag us on Instagram or Tumblr (#kryptonradio), or post up on our Facebook page! See you there!