So the 2022 SDCC hotel lottery wasn't easier after all

 3 MAY 2022

Just in case we were worried the pandemic changed San Diego Comic-Con forever, the hotel lottery showed us it didn't. Like every other year, today's results brought disappointment and frustration - with a high number of attendees receiving nothing.

I was shocked to get my first choice - Marriott Marquis. In a horrific twist of fate, I was booked to speak at an online conference at the exact moment the hotel sale went live and while I was lucky enough for my session to get picked immediately, I was unable to jump in until about 30 seconds had passed. So I've been kicking myself for the last week, assuming I flubbed it beyond repair. Happy surprise: I didn't.

The rest of my group was not as lucky. They got nothing (so, like everyone else, I am on the hunt for rooms, HINT, HINT) and that seemed to be the story for many people. This despite so much hopeful opining that perhaps the sale would be easier this year, given the decent number of people relinquishing their badges.

Enough complaining. Here's where we are.

If you didn't get an email

Don't give up hope. There's next week's batch of emails still coming. Some (a minority) will have downtown hotels. There's also the waitlist, which can offer surprisingly top-tier hotels. I have gotten Hilton Gaslamp and the Hyatt from the waitlist in previous years.

You'll also occasionally hear about someone who somehow has a room available at the Omni or something as late as June or early July. At least I hear every year about these people who produce a spare room long after everyone else has settled their arrangements.

What matters here is not being picky. I know that's easy for me to say. But there have been years I was a hotel room beggar and I accepted what downtown pickings I could get. You might not get Hard Rock or Hilton Bayfront or whatever your #1 is, but if you manage to scrounge up some kind of downtown room - just take it and don't look back. You're still at Comic-Con. You're still downtown. 

And if you're not downtown, that's not the end of the world either. You might have to adjust your comings and goings, but you're still going to SDCC and you'll still have an awesome time. And if you find you're too tired come evening to catch the shuttle downtown and party all night - well, you'll be that much more energetic the next day. 

If you did get an email

Ignore the mistake about putting down your deposit by May 13 - it's May 6. You knew it wouldn't be a complete SDCC hotel sale without some kind of confusing weirdness and this is it. May 6. That's your deadline. Confirm your room now.

Good luck, everyone. Remember, this is just round one. More opportunities will present themselves - and all that really matters is you walking into the convention center to revel in San Diego Comic-Con splendor. You'll get some kind of room no matter what and it's just a place to crash and shower. So keep your eyes on the prize and don't let this ruin your anticipation.

Wake up, SDCC sleepers! It's time to book a hotel, request a refund, and more

 26 APRIL 2022

Today, with less than 48 hours notice, CCI jarringly sent out an email about the SDCC hotel sale. It wasn't totally a surprise, if you know they usually hold the hotel lottery about 3-4 weeks after Early Bird goes live - but still. It was a bit of a (welcome) slap in the face after our long sleepy SDCC inertia.

They also announced a few other deadlines. Here's what you need to know and do.

  • April 28: the hotel sale goes live. Not a lot different this year - you log into the waiting room between 8-9 am and then at 9, you wait to get picked. One thing that's different: you can sign up for 12 downtown hotels. 

  • May 1: Request a refund or forever hold your peace. I know a lot of people have forgotten they even have a 2022 badge, and others might have been waiting to see what their financial situation was. So many attendees have new jobs with iffy amounts of PTO; others have moved away from the West Coast. There's just been a lot of change in general since the last badge sales in autumn 2019. So if you decided not to go - put some $$$$ back in your pocket.

  • May 13: Last day to update your shipping address. Yes, unlike with Special Edition, CCI has returned to mailing our badges to us. My Member ID account went through some malfeasance during their system change and I had to reset my password - so if you haven't gone into yours and investigated, you really should. Make sure all the right information is there so you can get your badge.

I know it's been kind of weird, this SDCC sleepwalk we've been doing. We're less than 3 months from Preview Night and yet there have been few announcements and little pre-Con buzz. Will that pick up in May? I'm sure it will. I know there's some cynicism about the caliber of SDCC 2022 but let's think positive and wait to see the exclusives, events, and programming coming our way.  I'm sure we'll all find something magnificent to anticipate at Comic-Con.

Comic-Con Special Edition is pretty much what we thought it would be

 26 NOVEMBER 2021

Today the first SDCC of any kind in a long time kicked off. This little shadow Con has been subject to much dubious speculation and disdain - and now we know just what it has to offer. 

Which is.... a weird assortment of panels, with a few good ones sprinkled in amongst some truly amateur ones; a lot of clothing, sticker, and Funko vendors; artists who are mostly talented if obscure; and some very limited cosplay. The absence of studios, big publishers, beloved artists, TV pilots, rare toys, and overrated parties is far louder and more lingering than the presence of anything here.

Harsh, I know. And I would say it's worth coming if you set your expectations accordingly and line up the kind of friends you always have fun with no matter what. You also have to view this for what it is: a fundraiser. Whether you want to plump up the city's coffers or feed some vendors who've probably struggled these last 2 years, this will ideally be a weekend of purposeful generosity. But if you come here expecting the best, well, you'll be disappointed. 

Granted, this is only Friday. It's clear that Saturday's offerings will feel a little richer. And there's the museum, which I'm visiting tomorrow and will review in detail. But on the whole, if you stayed home, you didn't miss any kind of magic.

The lack of crowds is enjoyable. Last night we had drinks at the Pendry, then Friendsgiving at Meze - no lines. (Granted, we couldn't get into Huntress but everything else looked accessible.) Tonight we waited all of 10 minutes for an outside table in the Gaslamp. I think Funko was the only serious line I've seen so far. One of my panels was nearly full, but still walk-in, and another half full. There's no stress or exclusion at this Con.

If there's one group of people I worry about, it's the first-timers. I haven't actually met any, which I normally do in the course of Comic-Con stranger chat, but I'm sure they're here. I hope they don't think this is typical, and I hope they use their ability to be grandfathered into the next badge sale to experience the full splendor and bombast of a proper San Diego Comic-Con. 

Because for those of us who are veterans, it's impossible not to be haunted by the ghosts of everything and everyone who isn't here. Walking across an empty hangar-like Hall H to get our badges felt eerie.  Looking at blank booth space where a favorite comic seller typically holds court or a favorite artist always does signings was a bit gutting. Even walking back to the hotel at night and not passing a single attendee carrying pillows and blankets for their Hall H campout was jarring. There's been a persistent feeling of waiting for the real Comic-Con to start - but this is as much Comic-Con as we'll get until next July.

If you're local and you're wondering if you should come down - I'd say yes. It may not be your most exciting weekend, but you'll be supporting an ecosystem that supports us every summer. Walking around the Gaslamp and seeing how many favorite restaurants have gone out of business is a good reminder of how precarious economic survival is these days. Hopefully the turnout this weekend is enough to strengthen SDCC's prospects for a beautiful 2022.

It's time for Comic Con: Apocalypse Edition

 25 NOVEMBER 2021

It's here! Comic-Con Special Edition - the first SDCC of any kind we've had in 2.3 years - launches in less than a day. It's true that some people view this Con as a boondoggle, lacking the celebrities and parties that make SDCC so riveting, but others are looking forward to a more laidback weekend. Some of us like the idea of a chill Comic-Con - something that's previously been an oxymoron.

So far the scene is looking rather ghosttownesque - but that's true of most places on Thanksgiving morning.

I did see this fun La Brea activation. I feel like I'm the only person who watches this show, but maybe it's more popular than I thought. Hopefully this will include the giant prehistoric sloth who stars in it.

My favorite sign so far. I love the idea of COVID being an event that ends on a specific day, like a gruesome street festival.

Now. If you're stressing over bringing and possibly losing your vaccine card, allegedly you can show photos of it and you're good. Allegedly. After you show it, you receive an attractive wrist brand that marks you as one of the Approved. So don't worry that you'll have to flash your card around constantly.

Onto the real question: will this Comic-Con be fun? I think that the fun quotient will be in your hands. Manage your expectations; focus on bonding with your friends and exploring new fandoms or interests. SDCC is so crowded that a lot of us operate within narrow parameters. To access our favored panels or events, we spend a lot of time in line. That shouldn't be as much of a factor this weekend, so ideally we'll all have more time to broaden our nerdly horizons.

And there's the museum opening.

We'll see. If you're here, enjoy the rare event of a Comic-Con that's more spacious, more leisurely. And if you're not - July 2022 really isn't that far away.

The Special Edition badge sale is here!

 25 SEPTEMBER 2021

11:53 am

So did everyone get a badge? It seems like it. Even if it hasn't sold out yet, I know local people who normally feel shut out of SDCC will be interested in picking up any badges available. I just texted one of them and he's in. 

Congratulations to everyone who got a badge today. I know lots of people are a bit disdainful about this Con. That's their right - but this is definitely going to be a magnificent weekend for those of us who love the idea of a more relaxed, less crowded Con where we can enjoy time with friends. 

11:32 am

Okay, I'm going to say not too competitive. I'll be interested to see if everyone gets a badge, most, or just a portion.

11:12 am

I can't tell if the sale is more competitive than I anticipated or just going slow. Or both. Right now, out of a buying group of about 30ish sessions, only 1 has been picked with two under 5 minutes away.

The good news: some people are reporting their wait times dropping really fast. So maybe there's our answer.

11:04 am

What's your estimated wait time??? Don't get discouraged if it's long. Just see it through.

10:36 am

You probably know this but - you have to use a credit card to buy badges. No Paypal, Venmo, GPay, bitcoin, etc. Just a reminder!

10:24 am

After eons of Comic-Con inertia, a real, bonafide SDCC badge sale is here! So far several signs point favorably in our direction - a too-easy hotel booking process, a lack of interest in almost everyone I know. And a few signs point the other way too - limited attendance, a messy pro badge sale.

But overall, today shouldn't be as nerve-wracking as a normal badge sale. The stakes are lower, for one thing. I'm excited for Special Edition, but should I not be able to go, I won't be devastated like I would with a normal SDCC. And hey, no spinning blue circle.

Good luck. I'll live blog the sale as much as I can.

Book your lux downtown hotel room if you haven't already

 23 SEPTEMBER 2021

Increasing our sense of a distorted, off-kilter but still appealing SDCC, hotels went live today - and we all strolled in and casually picked up rooms at the Marriott Marquis, Hard Rock, Hilton, Hyatt and any other downtown hotel that struck our fancy. And it wasn't just a 2006 hotel room booking experience - those were 2006 prices as well.

So yes, it's safe to say that signs are hinting this won't be the most popular SDCC ever. Which is fine by those of us who are going.

If you haven't booked your room yet, I'd jump in there. Why not enjoy this rare opportunity to pick your dream hotel?

Badge sale links, vax cards, and other considerations

 22 SEPTEMBER 2021

Happy Fall Equinox! CCI delivered its own harvest today in the form of badge sale links! These are going to play a huge role in everyone's fate, so let's talk about that right off. We've been waiting to see which of 2 possibilities was true:

  1. Everyone gets a generic link, which they and every colleague, family member and friend paste into a zillion browsers.
  2. Everyone gets a unique link, workable for one entry into the badge sale waiting room.

Now that we have our links (check your email and your Member ID account), what's the verdict? At a glance, the links are labelled the same. But in my group, the links point to different targets. And it makes sense they'd be unique, because CCI has promised that if we get ejected from the badge sale, we can just click our links and go right back to our spot in the waiting room. It also makes sense because CCI does not want to crash their badge sale with an astronomical number of entries. That said, we'll see on Saturday how it all plays out.

Onto other business.

Once again, review the different screens. The badge sale process has changed slightly. In my conversations over the last week, I am amazed at how many people did not realize this, or notice we were losing registration codes. Look, if there's one thing I've learned over the years - never take CCI for granted. They will always throw a monkey wrench into your assumptions when you least expect it.

Also - please log into your Member ID account pronto and make sure everything's working and accurate. I got locked out of mine, had to request a new password which didn't work, had to contact support, etc. The trouble started because of a weird nonsensical message that came up as soon as I typed in my Member ID name. Who knows what gremlins were at work there - but I'd make sure your information looks good, even though you have the link in your email. 

There were also some troubles with the professional badge sale, which is another reason to play it safe.

Let's talk vaccines and testing.

I know this upsets many people, but you do need to be vaxxed or have a negative COVID-19 test result in the last 3 days. That's vaxxed as in fully vaccinated - 14 days from the last shot. If your last shot is 5 days before the Con, you'll need a negative test as well. You can do the math here; counting back two weeks from November 26, and a month between shots for that, you can see that you need to get vaccinated pretty damn quick.

Vaccination proof needs to be directly from the healthcare provider that vaccinated you and it needs to be on your phone or a physical copy. My own vaccine card looks super sketchy - it's handwritten and the clinic I went to has a bizarre, non-healthcare-sounding name, so I'm going to try to get something digital as proof. Consider doing the same for the sake of expediency. And yes, you'll need to show government-issued ID with a matching name. 

For negative tests, they can be PCR or antigen, but they must be done by a certified lab, clinic or physician. In other words - your home test from Amazon won't cut it.

And yes, you'll be masked, even if it conflicts with your cosplay. If you're anti-mask or anti-vax, this is not the place for you. You need to provide your own masks - but you know vendors are going to be selling the most fun masks ever, so there's that.

Badges won't be shipped out - we'll have to pick them up.

This sounds burdensome, I can't lie. It'll happen in Halls G and H (see, you ARE getting into Hall H for once!) and it'll also involve the vax/test checking and ugh, I'm having flashbacks to the days of waiting in line for hours to get my badge. I'm hoping they open up on Thanksgiving night and let us come in and get situated - otherwise many of us will miss half of Friday.

This won't be "the large gathering reflective of the summer event."

Yeah, we know. There will be reduced attendance for a more "intimate gathering" - and something called Fannish Friday Shopping for Black Friday. All of this sounds like heaven to me. But I've never been into the gargantuan pageantry some attendees look for. If you crave long Hall H campouts and snapping selfies in huge outdoor activations, maybe this isn't for you. Those of us who fondly recall the old, more laidback, days will probably be smitten with this Con.

But we will get the Comic-Con Museum opening!

A "limited opening" will happen on Friday, 26 November, with the grand opening scheduled for next July. I'll go if I can, but "limited" in this case sounds extremely limited.

So there's where we are. I'll admit I'm surprised by how many people are blowing this event off, but hey, more badges for the rest of us. To me, this is about seeing friends, blowing money, enjoying some offbeat panels, and luxuriating in that convention center feeling. And of course, supporting CCI.

Good luck! I'll live blog the sale like always. I'm guessing it will go quite fast unless a storm brews up like with professional registration.

The Special Edition badge sale will be Sept. 25

 16 SEPTEMBER 2021


And we're back in the saddle! It's the news we've been waiting for: an SDCC badge sale is right around the corner. Yes, technically this is for Special Edition. But it's a Comic-Con, it's in San Diego, it will feature high demand for limited badges - so it's an SDCC badge sale in my eyes.

During our long hiatus, CCI apparently had time to tinker with its badge sale buying process - and a lot has changed. Even if you're planning to skip Special Edition, you probably will want to read this.

Here are the two most impactful changes:

  • You won't need a registration code for this badge sale, just a Member ID. Which means that instead of having one waiting room session per code, people will be able to have a jillion browsers open just for themselves. I don't like this change. I'm hoping you need your Member ID to actually get into the waiting room, but it doesn't sound like it.
  • Everyone who goes to Special Edition will be eligible for Returning Registration for 2023. I dislike this change as well. Either it's in addition to we 2022 badge-holders, which increases the number of us in the 2023 mix, or it replaces us (unlikely.) Granted, the Venn Diagram of 2022 badge holders and Special Edition attendees probably looks pretty tight - so hopefully this won't affect us too greatly. But I had a very petty reaction when I first saw it.

Let's talk about demand vs. supply

If you tracked the NYCC badge sale, which was easy like Sunday morning, you might predict that demand for Special Edition won't be intense as for a normal SDCC sale. Sorry, I just don't believe that. Even if it's fewer people in the mix, there will still be more combatants than winners. The Thanksgiving factor will eliminate some farflung fans - but there are plenty of locals who can still feast with their families and roll into Comic-Con on Friday. And plenty of people like me (and a lot of others I've talked to) who are excited to jettison our families and enjoy Friendsgiving with nerd friends on Comic-Con Eve.

Now - it definitely is different, the aura surrounding this Con. For instance, I effortlessly booked a fully refundable safety room at the Horton for $249/night. Plenty of other downtown hotels like Hotel Z had availability too as of today. I'm guessing that indicates most nerds didn't realize Special Edition was happening and that perhaps their Con skills atrophied a little. 

The actual badge buying process is different

For the better? The worse? I haven't studied it closely enough to have an opinion. But it's something we all need to review. CCI put together an instruction page with diagrams - and really all that matters is you can still buy for 3 people and they all still need to have Member IDs.

CCI is tired of our buying group drama

This advice is gold: "It is critical that you only work with a well-organized buying group. Buying groups can be helpful, but we've seen an increasing number of people get shut out due to disorganized efforts. If your Member ID has been used by another participant, you’ll receive an error message if there is an attempt to use it again."

*raises hand* A few years back, I was managing like 8 sessions for people, which I tracked through little maps so I knew whose code/session got picked and bought accordingly. One of those sessions got picked but bombed out, cancelling the sale. I was able to contact CCI and tell them exactly whose code/badge was robbed. Did they give them a badge? No. They had to wait for Open Reg. But at least I knew who it was - and I've seen people manage so many waiting rooms that they completely lose track of the process. I've seen people stop speaking to someone who claims to have bought their badge, taking them off the list, only to be mistaken. Etc. You've probably seen the same disasters. So I can't even imagine the kind of frantic emails and calls CCI has to deal with on our behalf.

And the badge sale details are...

Date: September 25

Time: "shortly after" 11 a.m. PST

Where to find the link: in your Member profile, as well as an email arriving within 48 hours of the sale

Price: $150 for three days of sheer splendor - no single day badges, sorry

Since it's been a while, now is the time to visit your Member ID account, make sure your details are correct, and that you're ready for battle. Prod your more sluggish friends to do the same. It's been a while since we've done this, and I've seen many people deteriorate - socially, mentally, physically - over the pandemic. Make sure your comrades are in fighting shape for this, especially since the process is slightly different.

Stay tuned!

Let's give thanks for a nerdy November - Special Edition is on


After our long Con inertia, signs of life are stirring in the earth - especially for we SDCC widows who technically possess a badge we never saw to a Comic-Con that never was. Today CCI gave us 3 options for our SDCC future:

Probably some of you have aged out of Comic-Con life at this point (it happens) and some attendees may have passed away (not morbid, just true) but I'm guessing the rest of us are locked in for 2022. And - despite current COVID rates and predictions, and the holiday timing - I bet a lot of us are just itching for that Special Edition badge sale. 

SDCC 2022, Special Edition, or Both?

If you're trying to decide between a potentially infectious 3-day Con that's only 2.5 months away, as opposed to waiting for the whole (and probably safer) shebang next summer, a few things to remember:

- The sale is tomorrow for NYCC in October if you can't wait. If you're not in their Fan Verification system, someone else who is can buy you a badge with your email address - and you'll be prompted to create a profile after that.

- Special Edition is requiring vaccine cards or negative test results. It doesn't mean we'll all be clean as a whistle - think of how revolting the Exhibit Hall is when there isn't a pandemic raging across the world - but it helps. 

- While many cynical predictions have been made regarding the paucity of Special Edition guests and panels, I think it'll be fine.  How much starpower do you need? It's the Comic Con experience that I think many of us are so nostalgic for - and it'll be fun to eat a Friendsgiving feast with our nerdy comrades. Besides, plenty of exhibitors are anxious to get out there and sell their wares, and the kind of panelists and guests who make a lifestyle of the Con circuit will be more than ready to show up. 

But don't let me persuade you. Competition for the badge sale will be fierce, plague be damned. If you want to stay home eating leftover turkey and watching football, I applaud your choice.

Just anticipating a frustrating badge sale and hotel sale feels luxurious, doesn't it? Special Edition won't be an exact time machine back to our halcyon SDCC past - but it'll be pretty close.

Let's appreciate the controversy and ambiguity of "Comic-Con Special Edition"

 29 MARCH 2021

CCI stepped up today and shared additional information about their in-person November event. (Which by the way, should NOT be called SDCC and is instead named Comic-Con Special Edition. You know CCSE-emblazoned swag will be major collectors' items one day.) This message was somewhat in response to the three main reactions to their Saturday night announcement:

  • Why are they trying to hold an in-person Con when this pandemic is still out of control and we don't know if the vaccines really work and this one event could undo all our precarious progress?
  • Yes, I want to go but Thanksgiving was an idiotic choice between travel chaos and family obligations and they should have tried harder to pick a different weekend.
  • I'm going no matter what, holidays and pandemics be damned.

Guess which category I'm in.

The Plus ca Change of CCI

I've really enjoyed all the cynical coverage and teeth-gnashing of the last 2 days, because it's quintessential Comic-Con. CCI is blamed for their fumbling ineptitude and lack of clarity on an important subject; fans, vendors and reporters have weighed in with sulking, enthusiasm, and confusion; attendees have jumped into action to start plotting new badge sale strategies. It all feels so comfortingly familiar!

Or maybe not, for you. I've heard from people who are genuinely annoyed and they have a right to their opinion. But I do think we need to remember 2 points:

  1. This isn't taking the place of some other, bigger SDCC we would otherwise get. It's just a bonus event that happens or not. So you can't really feel robbed if it's impossible for you to go, or if it doesn't roll out the same pageantry and splendor of real SDCC.
  2. CCI needs money. They admit, no surprise, they've lost $$$$ because of this pandemic, and I fully support them creating new revenue streams any way they can. The same applies to the hotels, vendors, restaurants, artists, etc. who've lost income. David Glanzer referred to "reduced work schedules and reduction in pay for employees" which is very sad and I'm sure you want CCI to put on a beautiful show in 2022 - so this show would be a step in helping them recoup their losses.

So will Thanksgiving ruin Comic-Con Special Edition?

I don't think so. It may cast a shadow, but not a fatal one. Will travel be tough to book and ungodly expensive? Sure. But other than that, I think plenty of people - attendees, studios, exhibitors - will happily prioritize this event over turkey and football with the family. By November, many of us will have already caught up with distant relatives, and others have been cooped up with family members they're desperate to get away from. People are feverish to travel, see new faces, drink in bars, blow money on pretty toys that are right in front of them. 

Maybe I'm overestimating this because I don't celebrate Thanksgiving or care about Black Friday, but I do know many people are craving adventure right now. "Comic-Con Special Edition" is kind of perfect in that it will dish up both excitement and nostalgic gratification.

If it happens. Their statement today admits they don't know if "having this event in November is even feasible." So, as has happened so often in our Comic-Con histories, we will wait for more information, tantalized and jaded at the same time. I, for one, am enjoying the return to normality.

SDCC 2021 might be on Thanksgiving Weekend - which feels so weird

 27 MARCH 2021

Were you looking forward to an old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner with your family this year? Making up for all the aborted 2020 holidays you didn't have?

Well, cancel all that, because SDCC might be on Thanksgiving weekend. It will run 3 days, Black Friday - Sunday, which means you might have to make some uncomfortable travel decisions. Fly in Thanksgiving night? Fly in Wednesday and spend Thanksgiving in a hotel room? Maybe this one is just for locals. And in fact, you and I might not get to go at all, as David Glanzer said, "I assume it will be limited attendance" and that CCI is taking their lead from health officials.

A few facts:

  • The November event isn't for certain yet.
  • If it happens, it will be in addition to the virtual SDCC held this summer. I would prefer to call these Part 1 and Part 2, but maybe CCI will cook up a jaunty name for the November event.
  • Your 2020 badge rolls over to 2022, but probably not this one - which means we might have a tighter, extra-bloody badge sale. 

Here's what we don't know - if this is worth going to. Of course, I assume most of us are starved for just a glimpse of this:

So yes, this will probably feel like a warm bath of nostalgia after the monotony and loneliness of the last year. I know I'll enjoy it no matter what. But I also know some attendees hang their SDCC hat on one specific experience, whether it's Hall H or Exhibit Hall artists or exclusives or events. I'm guessing many exhibitors will welcome the chance to sell (surely this will be the ultimate Black Friday/Small Business Saturday spending joyride) but I'm not so sure Hollywood will be able to pony up much for us. Then again, probably most of us would be thrilled with just a few good trailers and cast panels.

I guess we'll just have to see.

If you're wondering why CCI canned in-person SDCC for July so quickly, it's because of the intricate and colossal planning involved. As David Glanzer said, "Safety really is paramount" and they had to make the decision well in advance, saying, "It's a massive 150,000 person shift and if you want to put the brakes on, it takes a while to come to a complete stop." We understand that.

Stay tuned.

How do you feel about virtual SDCC panels?

24 JULY 2020

So now we've had a full day of virtual San Diego Comic-Con. While we'd all rather be there in the flesh, there are some obvious advantages to this format: For the first time ever in history, you can see every single SDCC panel. You don't have to wake up early, get in line, sacrifice your favorite show for your favorite comic book; you don't have to sit through a boring panel to see the panel you want; your feet aren't aching from walking too many miles the day before. You can eat your preferred snack, loudly discuss the content with a friend, and skip back to make sure you heard something correctly. You don't even have to get out of bed.

That said, some panels have definitely been better than others. Lessons learned include.....

If you're going to just offer up a Zoom call, like we have every day with friends and coworkers, be witty and fun.

You can tell the actors from the creators here, sorry. The performers tend to be more engaging and play to the audience; creators often just talk to each other in the typical mundane conversation we all have with our friends, which can be boring to the thousands of people watching. The Upload cast, below, didn't really share any groundbreaking announcements but they were fun to watch.

Footage is always good. A mix of footage and talking is even better.

Some panels really nailed this, like the Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza and Crunchyroll. I didn't stop watching for a second.

And then some made little effort at all and showed this when someone was speaking by phone:

Come on, seriously?

Trying to fit too much on screen, however, is a fail.

Some panels tried to offer up artwork, screenshots, panelist thumbnails and desktop shots all at once which was hard to look at.

The How-To Panels actually worked well in this medium.

I think this format might even be better than a traditional in-person panel. What do you think?

Final lesson: There's high demand for virtual panels.

Last I checked, Star Trek's first panel had a 42K view count and that will keep rising. Obviously as these panels filter into public consciousness, the demand will grow. So will SDCC offer virtual badges in the future? It's not as if merely recording a normal panel would be as satisfying, but possibly they could offer two tiers of panels - something that could offer promotion to at-home creators while saving them travel expenses. 

We'll see what the other panels bring.

Top panel picks of Comic-Con at Home

23 JULY 2020

So Comic-Con at Home is officially underway. So far it feels a bit underwhelming. Ordering a variant cover issue or Funko Pop online isn't quite the same as physically holding and admiring it in your hotel room; the Art Show on Tumblr has been kind of meh; I can't speak to gaming and other activities but I haven't heard anyone mention them, either.

Let me be clear, I really appreciate CCI pulling this together and I think they've done an outstanding job on short notice. But this experience has proven (for me, at least, and many others) how vital the visceral experience of SDCC is - even the lines, the frustration of a clogged Exhibit Hall aisle, the annoyance of getting stuck in a back row at your most anticipated panel. Being there really has no substitute.

However, I do think the panels are going to be a bright spot. I know a lot of attendees are all about offsites and partying, so maybe they won't be interested, but those attendees who live to see their favorite actors and creators in person can still get a (remote) taste of that over the next 4 days.

You can see all your options here but my top picks would be:


Thursday - 10 am
Star Trek Virtual Panel
Various cast members kick off a Comic-Con that is sort of boldly going where SDCC hasn't gone before.

Thursday - 11 am
Marvel's Storyboards
In addition to Joe Quesada, you're promised a mix of storytellers from film, media, comics.

Thursday - Noon
Cartoon Networks
Clips from a variety of shows will roll out, along with "special announcements."

Thursday - 1 pm
Marvel's 616
Different documentaries explore "the intersections of storytelling, pop culture and fandom within the Marvel Universe." Definitely worth watching.

Thursday - 2 pm
Upload on Amazon
Fun new show that isn't super geeky or futuristic, but worth watching.

Thursday - 2 pm
Virtual Tour of the Comic-Con Museum
I know you're curious...

Thursday - 4 pm
80th Anniversary of Bugs Bunny
Is Bugs Bunny really that old? A look back at his evolution.


Friday - 11 am
HBO Max and Cartoon Network: Adventure Time
I feel like Adventure Time is the perfect antidote to this grim year so I will definitely be catching this.

Friday - Noon - 3pm
Fear the Walking Dead
The Walking Dead
The World Beyond
The Walking Dead panels are the quintessential Comic-Con experience. 

Friday - Noon
Undiscovered Country 
Are you reading this yet? 

Friday - 1 pm
Ray Harryhausen Archive
Even if you've seen his old footage before, this is still a fun panel.

Friday - 5 pm
How often have you wanted to be in the Indigo Ballroom late on Friday afternoon to see Archer's voice cast - but were always pulled elsewhere?

Friday - 5 pm
Yes, that Mueller Report is now a graphic novel. "Pithy," according to the description - and probably a thousand times more interesting than the upcoming election debates.


Saturday - 10 am
Start Saturday off right with your favorite intergalactic commentary.

Saturday - 11 am
NASA usually brings good SDCC content and their panels typically have lines out the door. If you haven't caught one yet, now's your chance.

Saturday - 3 pm
Despite not seeing a Bill and Ted movie until 3 years ago, its iconography is burned into my brain and I'm guessing yours too - which makes this a nice nostalgia bath. 

Saturday - 4 pm
Will focus heavily on his brand new memoir, which looks compelling.

Saturday - 4 pm
HBO new series about a "thrilling journey" across 1950s Jim Crow America as the characters face "racist terrors and monsters ripped from an HP Lovecraft novel." Yes, please.

Saturday - 5 pm
Wynonna Earp
She's back on SYFY and bringing you sneak previews and bingo games in this panel.

Saturday - 5 pm
What We Do in the Shadows
Your favorite vampire show is back.

Saturday - 6 pm
Kevin Smith
More SDCC nostaglia. Pretend you're in Hall H and get a look at his new film.


Sunday - 11 pm
We're all starved for new shows and this one (starting on FOX this fall) is about a rogue AI and how technology is our new overload. Not exactly fresh territory, but the panel will tell us if it's worth a shot.

Sunday - 2 pm
Nathan Fillion
And good guest speakers to match.

Sunday - 3 pm
Ripley's Believe It or Not
"The most bizarre, iconic and truly terrifying artifacts in history." A fun hour of schlock with which to end SDCC.

Sunday - 4 pm
Ray Bradbury in Hollywood
This old-timey look at greats like Bradbury, Leonard Nimoy and Ray Harryhausen promises to teach even "avid fans" something new.

What are you watching?

Comic-Con at Home kicks off - are you in?

20 JULY 2020

Bespoke limited edition pin from Yesterdays, on sale Thursday, 23 July.

Today San Diego Comic-Con launched its inaugural Comic-Con @ Home - sort of. According to the programming, Wednesday seems to be the official start. But when you put out a glorious Souvenir Book chock full of fan art and exclusives and a mesmerizing EC Comics gallery, I'm going to say that Comic-Con magic has begun.

And it sounds like some traditional frustrations are also in play, like tech difficulties, overcrowded sales and an inability to get the action figure of one's dreams. Plus ca change and all that. I'm not super attracted to the offerings in play this year, but I sympathize with those of you who had your heart set on something. With SDCC 2020 open to literally anyone in the world, competition may be especially stiff this year.

If you've been dismissive of a virtual SDCC, well, I understand. No, it's not going to be as good as the real thing. But it still offers a welcome diversion from the isolation, boredom, death, illness, unemployment and fear many of us are facing this year. And I think CCI has done a fantastic job of making the best of a bad situation. I can't imagine how hard their team worked in recent months to pull all this together.

So what does SDCC look like this year?

You won't be getting squiffy in a Gaslamp bar this week but you will be able to indulge in a few other joys like...

  • The Souvenir Book. I really want a print version to hold in my greedy little hands and I bet you do too. The PDF is gorgeous, with some beautiful art and interesting articles. I know many attendees ignore the Souvenir Book year after year; if this is you, but you've saved yours anyhow, maybe go back and take a look at past issues. They really are great to curl up with when SDCC is over and you have the time for a deeper dive into certain fandoms or creator histories.

  • The exclusives. Just like every other year, you'll need to be wily and a bit aggressive - but this year, it's more about understanding who's selling what and how to get it. CCI's Exhibitor Hall map (which can springboard you into certain sellers/companies) only offers part of the story. As always, divide and conquer with your team if possible.

  • The programming. Okay, you're not going to be in Hall H while Marvel dazzles you with glimpses of the future. But there are some compelling panels available and you don't have to line up for them! Kevin Smith, Bill and Ted, The Walking Dead, Star Trek, Archer, NASA, Nathan Fillion, etc. If you're scoffing at the idea of a satisfying virtual panel, remember that your typical past YouTube footage of an SDCC panel was just recorded from the audience. These will be produced with viewers in mind and I'm sure they'll be worth watching.

  • The community. We may not be stepping on each other's toes in the Exhibit Hall this year but we're commingling online and sharing praise, advice and complaints just like always. If you've been hiding out from the world like a pandemic zombie in recent months - or consumed with hospitals, layoffs and funerals - take a break to celebrate SDCC with your fellow nerds. No survivor's guilt this week.  

Now onto the real question: will this show be so successful that SDCC offers virtual badges in the future? I know many of us will yearn this week for even the worst SDCC experiences - the lines, the humidity, the shuttle bus rides, the barking of an Exhibit Hall security guard. But what about non-attendees who don't know any better? Will they offer up a lucrative new market for CCI? I would think so, but let's see how this week goes.

And let's give CCI some appreciation for their efforts. I'm sure they're taking quite the financial hit this year and having to pivot like this couldn't have been easy. Let's try to support them, exhibitors and creators in any way we can.

ETA: Several of you have asked how to buy a print Souvenir Book. CCI isn't printing a hard issue this year - unfortunately for those of us who've always dreamed of an issue dedicated to our favorite Rays. Sorry!

The SDCC Souvenir Book cover is everything we want but can't have

23 JUNE 2020

Today CCI did something cruel and beautiful: it reminded us of the Comic-Con we'll never have this year, but it also depicted what might happen to nerds after we die - Ray Bradbury riding up on a dinosaur to welcome us to the afterlife.

I'm talking about the 2020 Souvenir Book cover. This is always a sizzler of a reveal - sometimes with less than enthralling art, but still signaling an important pre-SDCC milestone. It says, Comic-Con is almost here. But this year it's bittersweet. I think we can all agree that nothing satisfies like "a long section devoted to Ray Bradbury" - but there's also a special section for Ray Harryhausen, which is almost more than my deprived quarantined heart can take.

CCI also promises it will feature "amazing ads, featuring exclusive products that would have debuted at Comic-Con, that you can order directly from the exhibitors!" In other words, we can go on a spending joyride while reading. The SDCC 2020 Souvenir Book is truly the issue of my dreams.

So it's a bit upsetting to read that this will be a free PDF but not necessarily available in print. We all want a print Souvenir Book, right? It will make late July a little less melancholy to have at least one physical piece of SDCC in our hands. Hopefully CCI will spot an income stream and make print copies available for purchase. (Yes, these are covered in the cost of our badge but our 2020 badges now cover 2021, including the 2021 Souvenir Book, so I'd expect to pay for this one.)

We'll see. They may not want to bother, which would be a shame, but understandable. Stay tuned as we get closer to Comic-Con@home.

And on another topic - remember that 1 July is the deadline to request a badge refund. If you don't want your 2020 badge to transfer to 2021, request a refund now. But remember that the next SDCC you'll probably be able to go to will be in 2022 - and at our current global pace, a new pandemic/doomsday cult/leviathan may have swallowed us up by then.

Stay safe, stay nerdy, and stay tuned. We can still make (parts of) this year a good one.

SDCC updates: Refunds, badge sales & online Cons

10 MAY 2020

Happy Mother's Day! We're at a point where most of us have emotionally accepted the deletion of San Diego Comic-Con from our summers. Now that it's May, and we're entering the traditional season of watching for announcements and lusting for exclusives, that absence is beginning to feel painful. Maybe that's why there is still so much fervid talk about Comic-Con - buying groups, badges, hotels, fond memories of SDCCs past. As Marx (probably) says in the afterlife, Comic-Con is the opiate of the masses.

So let's talk about a few developments.

I have been involved in 2 badge refunds so far (neither my own) and both were easy to request and quick to be paid out. As in, the quickest I've ever seen CCI act in regard to anything. However, you will need the Member ID of both the attendee and whoever bought their badge so prepare for that when you make your request.

Badge Sales for 2021
Some rumors and misinformation are circulating online, namely that Open Reg has been cancelled for 2021. Fact time: CCI has stated "There will be no Returning Registration for Comic-Con 2021." That's logical, since there will be no 2020 Con for anyone to return from. Anyone with a 2020 badge is already locked in for 2021 if they want to be.

But Open Registration? No official announcement has been made. CCI did say, "Depending on the number of refund requests received, there may be reduced inventory for sale in the fall of 2020." No kidding. But they did not officially cancel Open Reg yet. There's still 51 days to go for attendees to request refunds and many people could be driven to do so by financial despair - but probably, few refunds will be requested. SDCC attendees, even broke and unemployed ones, know to hang onto any existing badge for dear life. So maybe if there's not enough room for Open Reg, CCI will auction off packages (hotel and badge, as they've done before), hold contests or choose some other route. Regardless, let's wait for CCI to announce their plans when they're ready.

If you lost out for 2020 and had high hopes for 2021, the news that you may need to wait for SDCC 2022 is probably a bitter pill to swallow. But in a season where we're all swallowing many bitter pills, it helps to remember there will be other Cons you can go to over the next 2 years.

Comic-Con at Home
You may have seen CCI's pithy little video announcing no lines, comfortable chairs, free parking - i.e., an online version of SDCC 2020. We don't know what it will involve yet. It's a fair guess that some of the content (celebrity interviews, panels) will be interesting and some not so much, and the final sum won't be much like the real thing.

But I hope everyone still checks it out to see if there's some way they can support a favorite vendor/artist or connect with their fandom. As attendees, we're saving money by staying home - but the other side of fence is taking a financial hit. You won't be spending $$$ on hotels or restaurants, so consider getting yourself an expensive exclusive, back issue, print or other treasure. You can indulge yourself a bit with new toys while helping creators stay in a position where they can make more great stuff. Obviously this is if you can afford to do so.

CCI is also serving up Comic-Con Museum at Home, promising videos and downloadable content for all ages. If you haven't done much with the Museum so far, take a look.

Hope you're all keeping your spirits up and staying connected with your nerd brethren. We're at a stage where our pandemic experiences are beginning to differ. Some of us are employed, some aren't, some are recovering from illness, some have a positive antibody test, and some are hiding out. Some are scared witless and some think this is all a conspiracy. (There's going to be a COVID-19 graphic novel anthology with all our different stories covered, right? Right?) Whatever you're thinking and however you're coping, I hope you're still finding ways to escape into the magic of your favorite nerd world. Be safe and one day we'll walk back into Comic-Con.

The Year Without a Comic-Con: SDCC is cancelled

17 APRIL 2020

We knew it was coming, but this morning's email still stung. San Diego Comic-Con is cancelled for the first time.

David Glanzer summed it up with a nice quote: "Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision."

It's easy to be blithe about the decision, which many of us have expected for a month now, but it really will have financial and emotional repercussions across all SDCC communities - the attendees, the vendors, the studios, the surrounding hotels and restaurants, everyone. I'm sure there's a sense of premature termination for cosplayers planning their outfits, gamers looking forward to tournaments, collectors anticipating specific items, etc. It may sound silly, but there's going to be a grieving process involved while everyone lets go of what is a profound annual pilgrimage for many of us.

A few notes:
  • You'll have the chance to transfer your badge to 2021 or request a refund. We don't know yet how the refunds will be made, but I would imagine it'll be the buyer who's refunded, not the attendee. So get in touch now with whoever bought your badge and let them know if you're requesting a refund. They'll need to transfer that money back to you.
  • If you got a partial badge and are transferring, would you still be eligible to try to upgrade to a full badge in Open Reg 2021? I hope so.
  • Any Early Bird deposits will be refunded.
  • However, any other deposits on hotel rooms that you booked on your own aren't impacted by this - so you'll need to negotiate with the hotel directly.
  • Remember that other Cons are still scheduled - as of now - for late summer and autumn. Will they still happen? Probably not. But it's something to keep in mind if you're desperate to get some kind of Con in this year.

Finally, don't turn your back on the Comic-Con world until next year. There are plenty of digital efforts to promote and sell work, foster online parties and keep everyone connected. No, it's not the same - but it's something.