Comics/Graphic Novels

Navigating a Comic Con While Under the Weather

Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

New York Comic Con (NYCC) comes around once a year, and my first time going to NYCC—or any Con, for that matter—was last year. I had a blast, and ever since then had been looking forward to this year’s Con. I arranged for childcare for my son, made sure to get my work done ahead of time so I wasn’t stressed out about it (hello freelance life), and got my punk Leia cosplay together.

And then I started to get sick. Well, not sick per se—but really bad allergies. You know the kind: carrying around a box of tissues, that aching sore throat that doesn’t go away and feels like your throat is stuffed with pillows, and the headache and fatigue. I loaded myself up with vitamin C, took some allergy meds, washed my hands often, and hoped for the best.

I could only go one day, Thursday, the first day. That morning was rainy and chilly, and didn’t help my already iffy mood about it. I packed some Ludens cough drops and went on my way.

Before I go any further, let me say this: if you are SICK sick, like fever, mucousy, vomiting, intestinal issues—don’t go to a Con. You will only infect other people and run yourself down further. It’s not fair to you and others with whom you come into contact. Allergies are different. But sickness? Stay home.

Walking from Penn Station to Javits (where NYCC is held), the patches on my vest started to peel off, so I took the vest off and just wore my Hutt Slayer tee. I tried to ignore the already worrisome ache in my feet, even though I’d worn the same Docs last year to NYCC and was fine. By the time I got to the Con, the damp weather was already irritating my sore throat and I knew this would be a different experience than last year—but the excitement of NYCC was helping already.

The atmosphere of NYCC feels like no other to me. I love being around my fellow comic geeks and cosplayers, I love seeing the excitement people have about their fandoms, and I have experienced nothing but friendliness both times I’ve gone. It was crowded, but if people bumped into each other, they’d apologize, or compliment cosplay, or start talking about something nerdy. This made me feel better, to an extent, but at the same time, I realized I’d have to leave early; there was just no way I could do all the things I did last year.

NYCC 2019

Here are some things I did to help survive NYCC while battling super bad allergies:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Admittedly, I am bad with this in general. I’m a Diet Coke and caffeine fiend. (I’m drinking one right now as I type this, actually). I was able to snag two small bottles of water that were being given out and stashed them in my tote for later.

Rest often.

This might be easier said than done—I was able to go up to the press room and sit down for a bit and rest, several times. Walking around the show floor and pushing through crowds of people can be exhausting and draining on a good day, let alone if you’re dealing with feeling less-than-optimal. Find a spot out of the way that you can sit, drink some water, eat a snack, and just recuperate for a while. The vendors and panels will be there when you’re ready. I was able to see a lot of great cosplay just sitting off to the side: Shuri, many variations on Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen, T’Challa, Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, the Incredible Hulk, Maleficent, and more.

Don’t forget to eat.

Sometimes with the excitement of the Con and all the lines and things you want to see, by the time you look at your watch, it’s well past lunchtime. If you’re not feeling great, eating is important to keep up your strength. Pack some crackers, a granola bar, dried fruit—something easily packable and snackable that you can shove in your mouth when you need a boost, before you can get a real meal.


I knew I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do. I was just too exhausted. So I made sure to get to the booths I wanted to see most, and took my time walking around the Javits center looking at everyone’s cosplays. I didn’t stress about hitting all the comics booths or picking up any exclusives, comics, or books. If there was something that caught my eye but I couldn’t bear to wait in line or brave the crowd, I noted in my phone or took a picture, to look up online later. I was aware of my limitations and made the most of what I could. (That being said, I definitely hit up Chronicle Books, Boom! Studios, and Del Rey books, all of which have amazing books and comics that are out now and forthcoming, as well as I Heart Guts, because who doesn’t love plush body parts??).

Luke Skywalker cosplay

I did manage to find Luke Skywalker, in my allergy haze.

If you find yourself under the weather before a Comic Con, take stock honestly: if you’re truly sick, don’t go. If it’s allergies, take some precautions and make adjustments as needed. As for me? I’ve learned my lesson and will be fortifying myself with vitamin C and allergy meds in advance, to help stave off any germs and allergies. In the meantime, I’ll be looking at everyone else’s NYCC posts and pics and have faith that next year will be better.