If SDCC has you thinking WTF, well, friend, you're in luck: We're here to help demystify the Pandora's Box that is Comic-Con!
In case you hadn't noticed, Comic Con attendees are legit codetalkers (that's code for "they talk in codes")—here are a few of the must-know terms so you can talk about the event without making yourself look like a total padawan.
SDCC: We'll start with the absolute basics (this is a no judgment zone, don't worry). SDCC is short for San Diego Comic-Con, not be confused with NYCC (New York Comic Con) or WonderCon, the annual convention in Anaheim, Calif.—not, as you may have guessed, in Wonder Lake, Ill. See, just when you think these geeks will zig, they zag! Each year, over 100,000 geeks and nerds and pop culture aficionados descend on San Diego, transforming the downtown Gaslamp District into a bustling 24/7 geek party that lasts five days.
Hall H: The biggest, baddest event space at SDCC, Hall H holds 7,500 people and is the place to BE. This is where Hollywood's biggest stars unite on stage to give fans an exclusive look at their upcoming films. Remember that time Joss Whedon introduced the entire cast of the Avengers on-stage? Yeah, that's why people camp out in line overnight—outside! In downtown San Diego! Sometimes for days!—to secure a spot in Hall H. Not even a good spot. Just A spot. And how we laugh at the people who wander over right before a panel starts to try to get in. Dream on suckers, ya late!
Ballroom 20: Is the Prince Harry to Hall H's Prince William—smaller, less of a circus, but still Comic-Con royalty. While movies are the main draw of Hall H, Ballroom 20 (#B20 on Twitter) is where the stars of television hold court. Entire casts of fan faves like Teen Wolf, Arrow, Hannibal, Once Upon a Time and more have come together with 5,000 of their closest friends for sneak peeks at upcoming seasons, hilarious Q&A sessions and more. And in case you're wondering, no, it's not any easier to get into Ballroom 20. We've witnessed more than a few people sleeping on inflatable pool toys to get a good spot to see the Supernatural panel. OK, that was actually us. Sorry.
Panels: We've been dropping the P word quite a bit without explaining it. Apologies—let's rewind. SDCC is essentially a series of concurrent panels over four days on everything you can imagine: Sometimes a panel is made up of the biggest names in Hollywood, others are niche groups of writers and artists talking with a smaller crowd. The bigger the star power and fandom mania of a panel, the earlier you'll have to line up to get in. If vintage manga is your thing, you'll probably be able to walk right in. Want to see Benedict Cumberbatch on any panel ever? Be ready to face waves of Cumberbitches camping overnight to see his face.
"The Floor": probably the most recognizable image from Comic-Con, this is the shorthand used for the exhibition hall, where fans show off their sick cosplay (see below) while finding exclusive SDCC merch and buying one-of-a-kind artwork directly from the creators in Artists Alley. Warning: People who have issues with large crowds should practice their deep-breathing skill before attempting to walk The Floor. Personal space isn't really a thing when you're trying to wedge yourself between a group of lady Ghostbusters and a dude in a 7-foot Chewbacca costume.
Cosplay: OK, this may be the most recognizable image from Comic-Con. From sexy Slave Leias to intricate, handmade Mass Effect uniforms, Comic-Con is the place to show off your fan style. See also: the annual Masquerade Ball that kicks off the SDCC festivities!
Booth Signings: Another draw of navigating the masses on The Floor? A chance to meet your fave celebs up close and personal! Attending panels and breathing the same air as Captain America himself is fine, but getting a spot in line for a booth signing guarantees your face to face time with the stars at the event to profess your undying love and make them fall in love with you get your swag bag signed and maybe a selfie if you're lucky? Priceless.
Bag Swap: Speaking of swag bags, this is the real underground black market trade of SDCC. As soon as you get your badge and enter the pavilion, you're given a program and a random folded up bag. Is it Batman? The Big Bang Theory? Or a random cartoon no one's ever heard of? Some bags are hot commodities that people will try to trade you for (or even offer cash!), while the rest get discarded in hallways like crumpled up grocery bags. It's the luck of the Comic Con draw—may the odds of a good bag be ever in your favor.
Con Crud: This unpalatable phrase describes the post-SDCC sickness that affects pretty much everyone who attends. This is why savvy Comic-Con veterans take the Monday after SDCC off of work. Hey, you try partying and sleeping outside and being stuck in a huge room with thousands of other people, see how your immune system holds up.
And on that note, congratulations: You are now officially a graduate of E!'s SDCC linguistics program! Go forth and geek out like you know what you're talking about.