Returning Reg is here

13 OCTOBER 2018





10:26 am



Well, that was fast. And rather dismal: compared to last year, hardly anyone I know did well. I got lucky fast and then so did a friend's code. But mostly there was an odd lack of activity in my group. One friend's group didn't get in at all. Another group I know that is always supernaturally lucky did get about half their members badges - but half didn't.

One theory: CCI shifted the allocation of badges, saving more for Open Reg - and the high interest in SDCC50.

If you bombed out today, stay confident about Open Reg. And while I say this every year, it goes double for 2019: having a partial badge is not that bad, because of all the offsites that will almost definitely be happening. Yes, I know the offsites weren't great for 2018. But with the hullabaloo SDCC is making about #50, I'm sure many companies will seize what they see as a great marketing opportunity. You will be kept very busy outside the convention center next summer.

So how did you do?



8:38 am

Returning Registration is just minutes away. By now you've (probably) logged into the waiting room, conferenced in your digital war room and braced yourself for the worst - or the best.

I've heard a few reports of people getting kicked out of the waiting room but nothing else so far. Let's hope for a smooth badge sale like last year.

I'm manning a few sessions but will report back any issues I hear.

Last minute Returning Reg prep

12 OCTOBER 2018






Do you feel lucky? Fortune favors the prepared, as they say - so make sure you're ready for tomorrow in these specific ways:


  • You have your money locked down. If your bank account or card limit is a fragile thing, you might want to check funds tonight. Should your card fail, CCI will circle back to you to get it sorted. But it's best to have everything smoothed out now.

  • Your friends are clear on everyone's Member ID, last name spelling and badge preferences. I have seen people fail to get badges because someone had someone's last name spelled wrong. I once bought someone more days than they asked for. Another time someone sent me their Member ID with a hyphen in it and I figured it out with seconds to go. If your info is on a spreadsheet, check and make sure it's correct.

  • You understand the proper time zone translation. Maybe you're traveling, maybe you still think of badge sales as not happening in Daylight Savings Time; just make sure you know what 9 am PST looks like in your land.

  • Your tech is ready. You've tested your browsers, ensured you have a device that won't hang, have a system so you can talk to your buying group while still keeping an eye on your waiting room.


Last year Returning Reg went quite smoothly; of course not, everyone got a badge and that could be you tomorrow. If so, don't spiral. You still have Open Registration. And even if you get partial badges, you'll be fine. All of the 50th SDCC hoopla means there will be plenty of activities going on outside the Con.

Good luck. I'll live blog the sale as much as I can tomorrow but it should go pretty quickly.

Quick reminder about SDCC Open Registration

11 OCTOBER 2018





I know your nerves are going haywire right now over the hand of Comic-Con fate that will descend on us in 2 days. But here's something else to think about - and work into your conversations - over the next few days and weeks.

We don't know yet when Open Registration is, but we do know last year it was well before the holidays. We also know CCI shuts down Member ID registration before the open badge sale. So if you have any friends, beaux or family you'd like to bring along next summer, make sure they register for their own Member ID soon.

There's going to be quite a bit of press about SDCC 50, so it's possible interest in next summer's Con may be even higher than normal. Make sure you do everything you can to help out your first-timer friends who want to go next July.

Tips and answers about Returning Registration

8 OCTOBER 2018






We're just days away from one of the most gut-wrenching mornings of the year. And while Returning Registration is only open to people who attended San Diego Comic-Con this past July, apparently some of you are still headed into your first badge sale. I guess that's not surprising, since many first-timers probably got their badges through a friend who handled the 2018 sale.


Below are answers to the questions I've gotten about Returning Reg.


You can only buy for people who attended 2018.
If you were a first-timer this year, you might be eager to open the door to your friends who haven't gone yet - but that will have to wait for Open Registration. This Saturday, you're only allowed to buy for people who swiped their badges this past summer.


They have to be official attendees, not press, pros or anything else.
The various categories of SDCC citizens can involve a fair amount of crossover. People quit their blog/outlet job and lose their press credentials but want to keep going to the Con; or they decide to embrace the freedom of an attendee and leave vendor life behind. However, only people with a 2018 attendee badge can participate in Ret Reg. If you or your friends are transitioning from one category to another, you'll have to wait for Open Reg.


You can't Paypal, Zelle, etc - this is credit card only.
 I know - some of you have dodgy credit or certain card limits or some other barrier to slapping 3 Preview Night badges on a Visa. The only answer here is to transfer funds to a debit card, make some arrangement with your bank for a temporary card or borrow someone's. Or find someone kind enough to cover you while you make installments.



There's no payment plan. You need to pony up on the spot.

I got an angry email this weekend from someone who informed me there was no way they could pay almost a thousand dollars this weekend. I don't make the prices. But they have a point everyone should consider - if you're working in a buying group and get picked while Preview Night badges are live, that's 3 badges at almost $300 a pop you'll need to pay for.

Now imagine you're covering your own session and someone else's and they both get picked for Preview Night for 3 badges - that's $1800 you'll fork over. Ideally your comrades will pay you immediately but it's still something you're responsible for covering during the transaction.


If someone buys you a badge, your waiting room session is still active - but you'll need to use other member IDs and names.
Several people asked me this. Let's say a friend gets picked and buys your badge. You're taken care of - but you're still live in the waiting room. Should you drop out? Will your session be cancelled? No and no. Once you're picked, you can buy other people badges by inputting their last names and Member IDs. The system doesn't know or care that the person (you) who started that waiting room session already has a badge.

And if you input someone's last name and Member ID who already has a badge - which can happen in the fast pace of a badge sale - the system will tell you that. Just move on to the next person who needs one.


They don't release the exact percentage of badges sold, but it's a good amount.  
You're competing against a smaller number of people in this sale - so don't skip it. That said, if you don't do as well as you hope, you'll get a second chance in Open Registration. Let's say you only get Thursday and Sunday this weekend. In Open Reg, you can try again for Saturday, Friday and Preview Night.


If this is your first badge sale, follow all of CCI's recommendations to test your system.
Don't take a laissez-faire approach to this sale. Weird tech glitches and browser incompatibilities and other issues can crop up, so make sure you're in good shape ahead of time.



If this is your first buying group, be respectful of other people's information and generosity.
People will share quite a bit of personal information with their buying group - email addresses, last names, Paypal data, Facebook and Twitter info. Some people even swap credit card information. Be discreet. And don't be the person who "joins" multiple buying groups to better their chances. People will be able to tell that you're not actually participating and you'll just end up alienating potential friends and helpers.


Yes, it's probably too late to join a buying group. But it doesn't hurt to ask.
Just realize that most groups are formed by people who trust each other because they belong to the same forum or have interacted extensively online. If you're a complete stranger, people may not be ready to put their financial trust - or Comic-Con future - in your hands. It's not just a question of money and privacy, but also reliability. Can you be counted on to smoothly complete the sale? Will you try to sell your badge online six months from now, making CCI cancel all the badges in that transaction? People want to make sure nothing jeopardizes their SDCC badge, so expect some vetting. It's not personal.


And one final tip - try to keep your calendar loose on Saturday. If you do fail to get a badge, you won't want to spend the afternoon or evening with people in a glum mood. But for now, think positive!



Returning Registration is 13 October

2 OCTOBER 2018



Lucky 13! That's the day your next San Diego Comic-Con badge jumps into your life, assuring you a spot in the convention center next summer. (Or maybe not, but let's think positive.)

Returning Registration will take place on 13 October, Saturday morning, and it looks to be business as usual: an emailed link and reg code, a waiting room, your accelerating heartbeat. What is new: CCI's #SDCC50 hashtag, which they are very excited about, so please use it often.

If you need to refresh your badge sale memory, all the rules are here.

2018 first-timers: this will be your first Returning Registration. It functions just like the Open Reg you got your badge in. The good news is that your odds are slightly better, because you're only competing with 2018 attendees instead of the general public. So don't skip this. Even if you're on the fence about going (yes, there are people like this) or think you might have a summer conflict, try for a badge anyhow. You can always get a refund.

Pricing

Here's what you'll be paying:
Preview Night: $48
Thursday: $66
Friday: $66
Saturday: $66
Sunday: $45

The handling fee is $7.50. So should you get it all, you'll be paying just under $300.

(Polite reminder for you multi-Con nerds: ECCC registration is 17 October and you'll book your hotel the same day. So that may be an expensive few days for you.)

So we're off to the races. Make sure you've got a viable credit card at hand and are clear on sale arrangements with friends and buying comrades. If someone can't cover anyone financially, or may have to work, get that sorted now.

Returning Reg is here!

Get ready for Emerald City Comic Con registration - press, pros and attendees

13 SEPTEMBER 2018




If you're a comic book nerd, you obviously have Emerald City Comic Con on your mind right now - because this is the season tickets go on sale. And now ECCC has announced a few dates for all of us:

14 September: This is when Press and Pros can apply. If you get your application in by the 28th, they'll get back to you by 12 October - so you'll know if you need to buy a ticket the old-fashioned way on...

17 October: This is the open ticket sale for ECCC. It's on a Wednesday, so you don't need to worry about it conflicting with SDCC Returning Reg, which is usually on a Saturday morning.

Emerald City happens 14-17 March in Seattle. And yes, you want to go.

Stay tuned!








The clock is ticking on the Comic-Con Museum contest for SDCC 2019 badges

11 SEPTEMBER 2018




You have to hand it to CCI - they know how to keep us guessing. Usually our questions are along the lines of "When is the badge sale?" and "Why didn't I get a hotel room?" and "Am I even in the right line?"

But then CCI tantalized us with hints about the Comic-Con Museum - and then at SDCC, they announced an audacious contest-fundraiser for 2019 SDCC badges that has sparked a few questions. If you haven't entered it yet, skip on over right now. The deadline is only a month away. And it's worth a shot, even if you don't feel like raiding your 401K to play.

Because yes, this is a contest where you have to pay to play. It's for a good cause, of course; the ultimate nerdy experience, Comic-Con Museum. You may be wondering just how much money it takes to create a museum like this - the answer is apparently $25 million. That seems high to me but I guess you can't put a (reasonable) price tag on pop culture memorabilia. 

How The Contest Works

You fork over a certain amount of cash - anything from $10 to $5,000 - and receive a commensurate amount of entries. $10 gets you 100 entries, $5,000 gets you 50,000 entries, and everything else falls somewhere in between. (For some reason, paying $25 for 250 entries is the most popular option, even though paying $50 gets you 1000 entries.)

What You Get

Quite a bit, actually:
  • Full badges, including Preview Night
  • Airfare and hotel
  • Photo ops
  • Exclusive tickets to live shows
  • An SDCC "concierge" to help the winner plan out their show
  • Reserved Hall H seating
  • An invitation to the Comic-Con Museum inaugural event - or a "similar 50th SDCC event"
  • Dinner with a Comic-Con executive who will answer any questions about SDCC

The Important Questions

Badges, hotel, plane tix: that's expected. Ditto photo ops. The concierge and AMA dinner, that's not something other contests can offer and potentially interesting. I would take full advantage of that dinner.

But what's really intriguing is the "similar 50th SDCC event" mentioned as an alternative to the Comic-Con Museum event. I'm guessing that's because they aren't quite sure the Museum will open in tandem with SDCC (I've seen 2020 mentioned as a more realistic date) or at least be event-ready. (Right now it is hosting small events, though not technically open. But I can't imagine they'll hold a fancy inauguration until every finishing touch has been perfected.)

So what kind of 50th event are we getting? If it's something where tickets are hotly coveted, that implies most of us won't be able to attend. So will there be a celebration that's open to all attendees?

And more importantly - does the October 18 contest deadline hint at a Returning Registration date?

I know many of you went on high alert with the child validation deadline passing last week; others are convinced RR won't take place until after this fundraiser ends. However, I'm not sure that's the case since you could argue getting shut out of Ret Reg would be a powerful motivator to contribute. In other words, I just don't think we're in a position to make good predictions. As someone who's going to be on a plane all of Saturday, October 20, I'm hoping there's no connection.


We're in that season where SDCC 2018 already feels like a distant memory while SDCC 2019 feels too far in the future to worry about. But with this contest-fundraiser drawing to a close, it's something to pay attention to. You and I probably won't win anything, but at least we'll be contributing to the Comic-Con Museum and our futures at SDCC.

You can become a charter member of the museum here.

Yes, it's already time to get nervous and excited about Returning Registration

8 AUGUST 2018




Admit it, you were slightly confused when you got your email about SDCC Child-to-Junior Validation today. The very first line reads, "If your child attended Comic-Con 2018 with a paid adult attendee they may be eligible to participate in our Comic-Con 2019 Returning Registration badge sale!"

Badge sale. Returning Registration. It seems a little soon to hear those words, doesn't it? But it isn't, really - we had Pre-Reg in August in other years, and of course we all remember that we had both Returning Reg and Open Reg last year before the holidays. There's no telling when CCI is going to spring the next badge sale on us, though we do know it will be after 6 September. That's the deadline for validating your children for the sale.

You may still have a stack of unread comics from this year's Con, but you might also be only weeks away from buying next year's badge. Of course, it's Returning Reg so there isn't much to prepare for - you already know the drill.

2018 first-timers, this will follow the same process you went through in Open Registration. (Unless they change it.) The good news is that you'll be competing only with your fellow attendees and not the public at large. Getting a badge is not guaranteed but you also can try again in Open Reg. On the whole, it pays to be a returning attendee.

And if you do need to validate your kid, you'll need their physical badge from this year. This should help.

Stay tuned.



The SDCC first-timers of 2018

6 AUGUST 2018




San Diego Comic-Con ended 2 weeks ago yesterday and I'm still getting first-timer reports. Why the delay? Maybe they were especially tired, these tender newcomers to our world. Most of the reports have been positive, mixed in with a few complaints - which is to be expected.

Here's what's different from last year: fewer political complaints. Either people heard fewer Trump jokes or they didn't mind the ones they heard. People also had fewer complaints about there not being enough to do (presumably because they had no other year to compare it to.) What surprised me - just as many line complaints as ever. Again, this may be due to not having any standard for comparison.


Chris

Like many of you, Chris wanted to hit SDCC for exclusives. Imagine his disappointment, then, at finally getting three single day badges and not getting a single exclusive. He was even more frustrated when he found out other attendees had been picked for multiple exclusives or autographs - and then went to an even higher level of annoyance when he saw people flipping them.

"I don't know what it was like before but at Baltimore CC I've usually been able to get what I want so this was a rude awakening. I had a list of stuff to get for friends and I didn't get any of it. I felt like a loser, going home without hardly anything. Assuming the same thing happens next year, I'm not going back, although I will go to a different Comic Con."


Sean

Sean is all about the parties. And so he was ready for SDCC to light up his nightlife - but it didn't! He says:"We went to six parties, that includes Ready Player One and the open attendee party and some bar parties, and they were all lame. Did not see a single famous person. Did not meet a single person who was someone. We did hang out with some guys from <redacted> Saturday night and that got crazy."

Sean was the only first-timer I've heard from in years who wasn't expecting the lines. "We left the lines for 3 offsites because it was too hot to wait. The Adult Swim state park was... pointless. I wouldn't do outside stuff next year, you waste your time and for what."

What he didn't do was the Con programming per se, such as panels. Those are on his agenda for next year. "I wasn't prepared this year, we took it kind of as it comes, but next year I'll have a plan. We'd spend all day trying to do something and wind up doing nothing. I wish someone had told us how much walking there was. There's no way to understand that till you get there."

Sean had only Thursday and Sunday badges but wants to try for a full badge for 2019.

Mari

I met Marisol and her teenage daughter last year; they told me they were dying to go to SDCC but had washed out in Open Reg three years in a row. This year they wound up getting jobs helping a local vendor in the Exhibit Hall for three days each, with a one day badge for the other day. This created a skewed experience where they were inside Comic-Con without the freedom to explore - but what they did see sparked their determination to go back next year as full attendees.

Mari's perceptions: "There was too much to do all at the same time. I found so many panels and speakers to go to but could only fit three in for my free day. I also got lost several times in the center. The staffers were not a help so I began asking other people with badges and that was how I got around. I did manage to buy a lot of Christmas presents and wound up spending a lot more money than I expected."

Mari's daughter wanted to go out more at night but didn't feel she could "just walk into a party." She also didn't understand where everything was. This seemed to be a theme this year; I suspect this happens when first-timers walk around the Con without using guides and blogs to find out what's happening and where. She thought she would just run into things, but only found the FX and Cosmos and Adult Swim activations behind the Con.

Despite my warning them, they were shocked by the lines and ultimately dissuaded by them for some top panels and events. I think I failed them by not explaining that even super long lines can fit into rooms more easily than you think. Seeing hundreds of people waiting for your panel can feel discouraging until you remember that room seats more than a thousand.

They were some of the most enthusiastic first-timers I met and the most committed to 2019.



 JT


JT's friend is an SDCC veteran who not only got him a Preview Night badge, but was able to steer him around the Con. Because of that, he made smart choices so they didn't waste a lot of time on lines for dud offsites and panels. He liked some of the gaming and animation panels but did not get into My Hero Academia as he hoped.

"This is not the Con for animation fans. Not if you are deep into it. The Crunchyroll panel was good but we're going to CRX 2018 in September so we'd see the previews anyhow."

Like Sean, his other disappointment was the nightlife. He had the impression that SDCC is full of opportunities to gay it up and then he arrived and well, it wasn't. It's true that local LGB bars used to throw more Con-themed events but even so, San Diego Pride the weekend before is really the time to come for that.

JT is the other first-timer who is definitely not coming back. "I feel like there are so many Cons now that the attractions and guests get spread too thin and it's harder and harder to find that one super Con that offers everything. I did think San Diego would have all this special stuff but while it's larger than other Cons it's not more unique than other Cons."

As you can probably tell, both Chris and JT are experienced Comic-Con goers, unlike my other first-timers. That seems to have colored their feelings about SDCC.


Zach and Katie

Zach and Katie were those rare first-timers who had no SDCC friends and no buying group assistance, but landed four-day badges in their first badge sale. In the following months, they learned how lucky they were - but also heard dire things about the hotel sale. So they booked a downtown room on their own at full rate.

Here's why: "I have an autoimmune disease and get tired easy. We didn't want to be too far away. Even so we had no idea how much energy it would take just walking to events and the convention center. And there was nowhere to rest so I would go into random panels just to sit down for a while. Friday AND Saturday night we went to bed early. I'm 31 but I felt like an old man! Next year we're going to Uber more and use those pedi cabs so I'm not busted by dinner."

Overall, they found Comic-Con "amazing" with "great energy" and thought most attendees were "such happy people, always willing to answer our questions." While they didn't get into every panel they wanted to, and were too tired to do as much as they hoped, they came away appreciating the camaraderie of the Comic-Con spirit.

They can't wait to go back next year.



Brea

Despite being her first SDCC, Brea knew exactly where she wanted to go: the Her Universe fashion show. "It was the highlight of my trip." She bought a jacket with what I believe are little anime characters on it (hard to tell from photo but it's pretty) and went to the Horton to see the My Neighbor Totoro screening. "I thought the show floor would be more about geek stuff, like a comic or collectible shop, so I was surprised by all the jewelry and clothes and old Hollywood booths. I thought I wouldn't be enough of a nerd to go but it didn't seem very nerd-oriented at all! I was also surprised to see as many women as men."

Brea's confidence was also bolstered by the cosplay she saw - specifically by the range of professionals and people who are just having fun with it. "I was afraid to make a fool of myself by dressing up as Wonder Woman, because I thought people would roll their eyes at me or I'd get it wrong. I will dress up next year for sure."

If there was one downer for Brea's trip, it was her hotel - a distant Best Western. "We heard it was almost impossible to get a hotel room so we did the Early Bird Sale to be safe. But it really sucked having to take shuttles back and forth and it restricted what we could do. I'd like to stay downtown if we go back." Good luck with that, Brea.

Sara

Sara almost didn't go to SDCC - I actually had to talk her into it. She thought one day (Thursday) wouldn't be worth it; I told her it would and she could do offsites on Friday, which is plenty of Con for anyone. She finally took the train down.

Her thoughts: "I'm glad I came. It's a bucket list kind of thing and I'm glad to have experienced it. However, the lines are just too long for the outside things like The Walking Dead and Jack Ryan. I didn't have time for that."

Some of the staffers or security guards were apparently rude to her and she thought the attendees kept pushing her in the Exhibit Hall. I think that's just the nature of the crowd. She also thought there should be more lounge areas for attendees and more meet-ups. Her other big complaint was the food inside the convention center being lousy. That tells you just how much of a first-timer to this type of event she is; crowds, overpriced pretzels and sullen staffers are par for the course.

Sara's current plan is to go back next year on Friday morning and do the entire weekend. 



And those are my first-timers for 2018. I'm done talking about San Diego Comic-Con until, oh, Returning Registration. Which may not be that far away - so stay prepared. It's never really over.


ECCC hints about their ticket sale

1 AUGUST 2018



Today is Lammas, the first Pagan harvest festival - so it's fitting that Emerald City Comicon ponied up and offered a cornucopia of updates designed to put new comic books in our hands. Such as....

  • New monthly pull lists to help you find new comics and graphic novels. You can find August's list here.



Just something to keep front and center in the Comic-Con part of your brain.

Was SDCC 2018 relevant for comic books?

26 JULY 2018






Yesterday at my comic shop, someone who's never been to SDCC told me he heard it's returning to its roots as a comic book convention. It seemed he'd heard of the pervasive calm defining this year's Con - and that he assumed comics would flood back in where Hollywood retreated.

Is that true? I don't think so. It could happen. But right now SDCC is sustaining the same low simmer of comic book content as the last few years. Obviously there were some great spotlight panels (very sorry I missed Emil Ferris) and of course, Drawn and Quarterly, Oni, Fantagraphics, Boom, Dark Horse and all the other usual suspects showed up with their trades. But let's be honest - you'll see those same publishers at many other Cons. So is San Diego Comic-Con still a magnet for comic book readers and collectors?

Apparently so - at least according to some vendors:

  • Alison from Drawn and Quarterly said yes, business was good. "We really like coming to San Diego become we see fans who come year after year. Sometimes they don't buy books all year and then stock up here, so they're really happy we're still here." They were selling a lot of Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal and Berlin by Jason Lutes, but also books by Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine, Tom Guald and others. 

  • The all-woman Kymera Press also said they were selling well, particularly their Pet Noir and Mary Shelley Presents titles.  

  • Chronicle Books was in their 12th year of being at SDCC. They reported good sales, particularly having "great success with our Game of Thrones Tarot deck, which is a real deck with 78 cards, licensed from HBO." (Arya is the Death card, obviously.) They were also selling a lot of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, produced in tandem with the John Oliver show.

  • Dan from Skybound said they sold a lot of The Walking Dead four piece sets (they had bloody and color versions) and the Die Die Die figure sets. But comic books are still a big seller. "There's 100% interest. Comic books will always be a thing at San Diego. Skybound has everything - superhero, horror, true crime, action - just show up and ask someone what we've got."

  • Tomorrow's Publishing, which has books and magazines for pop culture enthusiasts and comic collectors, said they were selling a lot of Comic Book Implosion, which explores how DC almost went out of business in 1978. Their new pop culture magazine Retro Fan was also popular. They felt pretty secure about the future of comics at SDCC.

  • Comic Pop Collectibles reported brisk business by Friday morning. "We've had good business so far - our sales are better than last year. We had a strong Wednesday and a good Thursday." Their top sellers were more recent books and vintage toys, like an Argentina Batman utility belt from the 1960s ($300) and a Japanese Batman book and record set ($100.)

  • Emily Silva from Fantagraphics said they were selling a lot of My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris. "San Diego Comic-Con is still a magnet for comic book readers and indie comic fans but you have to search a little more. The true comic fans still find us and find their niche comic creators and so SDCC is fulfilling its purpose that way."

  • Joe from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund said they went through Deadpool books quickly but sold well across the board. If you're not familiar with CBLDF, they help protect embattled books, fighting censorship and fighting for freedom of speech in comics. They were also confident about the number of readers coming to the Con: "San Diego Comic-Con is definitely still a community for comic fans."

So - yes, people are still buying comics at SDCC. But so many vendors mentioned collectibles as their top sellers that I wondered if most comic fans get their books elsewhere (comic shops, Amazon, Comixology) and spend their San Diego dollars on figurines and rare items.




We also had a few comic book announcements.

Remember Cherry, the dirty comic book you had to hide from your mom? It's back! Or it will be very soon. Technically I found this out a few weeks ago but I'm sharing it now.

Also not technically announced at SDCC but rather in the letters column of the new Saga: your favorite interplanetary family is going on hiatus for a year so Staples and Waid can "creatively recharge." But they also said they want Saga to hit 100 issues and we're only in the 50s, so it sounds like you can count on their return.

You may recall the Locke and Key kerfuffle at SDCC years ago when the pilot screened and it looked like we were getting a TV show based on the comics - and then we didn't. Well, the show is officially with Netflix now. Between that and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and all the other comic shows - will Netflix return to wow us at SDCC 2019? I'd say yes.

Marvel is bringing out digital comics for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daughters of the Dragon. 

Very exciting: George Takei is doing a graphic novel memoir based on his time in a Japanese American internment camp. How timely.

Gail Simone is moving over to Catalyst Prime Universe of Lion Forge Comics. Which means... I guess we don't know yet.

Uncanny X-Men is coming back in November. Marvel is also bringing out a six issue run of The Vision from Chelsea Cain and a massive 24-issue Star Wars epic arc.

Also on the Star Wars front: IDW will spook up your Halloween with Tales From Vader's Castle, which will offer weekly horror stories from people like Robert Hack and Francesco Francavilla. So here for it.

Dan Parent is drawing all 6 issues of the Batman '66 Archie run and bringing out the third hardcover of the magnificent Die Kitty Die with Fernando Ruiz.

DC is getting psychological. As Kelly Sue DeConnick moves to Aquaman, her run will examine his roots and relationship with his mother; we're also going to delve into Joker's childhood in Justice League.

Grant Morrison is taking over The Green Lantern and steering it into space cop territory. He's also writing VR experiences for Magic Leap, who is partnering with MadeFire for mixed reality comics.

If you were curious what it will cost to subscribe to DC Universe, it's $7.99 a month. I feel like people are getting tired of shelling out for Netflix, Crunchy Roll, Hulu, etc, which add up collectively - so DC will have to make it worth our while.

Vertigo will supposedly revive itself with a Sandman sequel that will be more like the original, exploring how Dream influences real people's lives. Other titles include the Mexican-themed Border Town, Hex Wives and American Carnage, which looks at crime and white supremacy.

Jaime Hernandez is going to continue doing Love and Rockets stories about Maggie and Hopey's pasts, including more stand-alone Hopey stories. Fantagraphics also brought out a beautiful big Studio Edition hardcover of his work, if you missed it.

Scott Snyder calls The Batman Who Laughs the "darkest, scariest Batman story I've ever done." In addition to the Three Jokers and Batman/Joker: Deadly Duo books, DC seems to be sticking with what they know.






I think if you're a hardcore comic nerd, you already know that San Diego Comic-Con isn't #1 on that front anymore. Other Cons deliver more titles, newer talent, more innovative work. But SDCC does still offer a basic level of panels, back issues, signings and discounted trades - and you can still end up carrying home bags of plunder if you look hard enough.

San Diego Comic-Con 2018: Review

23 JULY 2018




Remember those days when SDCC felt like a fever? You caught it and then you burned to do every offsite and see every Hall H trailer and go to every party. You prepared for it all year. No matter how stressful the badge sales and hotel reservations were, San Diego Comic-Con always seemed to deliver once you arrived. And it was a fever that could sustain itself for years.

But is that still true? Because it seems to me our collective fever is cooling off. More than any other year, I heard a lot of misgivings and grumblings - namely about the lack of studio presence but also about a shared sense that we attendees weren't being catered to like we had been in the past. Superfans have always liked that feeling that Hollywood needed their fandom - that Marvel or HBO showed up at SDCC in part as a token of appreciation. Here, have this autograph, this t-shirt, this photo of you with a zombie or dragon. That's the kind of experience a lot of attendees crave at SDCC and there's no denying much of it has gone away.

There was a quiet to Comic-Con this year. On Friday someone said to me, "Every night feels like Tuesday night." He meant that there was a persistent feeling that Comic-Con was about to start, that we'd lurch into the real show the next day. But that subdued feeling was the real show.



If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. I had a good Con. My inner Eeyore was strong starting out but I wound up enjoying my panels and making some new friends. And I'm not alone - quite a few attendees loved the shorter lines, the easier access to panels, the extra hours they had every day that they used to spend chasing other things. Even the Gaslamp felt oddly empty. (I was in the Whiskey House one night where it was almost eerily slow, to the point you never would have believed it was Comic-Con outside.)

But other attendees felt deprived of the bombast and glory they used to soak up for hours on end in Hall H or Ballroom 20; some (okay, many) were peeved over not getting any exclusives and quite a few reported boredom with the offsites. Others (I'm in this camp) just didn't find much they wanted to buy in the Exhibit Hall. Friends who normally do a decent amount of networking and minor deal making at SDCC told me they talked to barely anyone, accomplished little.

But even if there was a hollowness this year, I don't think it's necessarily fatal or permanent. This might have just been an off year. We've known for a while that the marketing ROI wasn't great for Comic-Con and some studios and publishers were cutting back on the swag and events. And with some of the bigger players stepping down, others will have an opportunity to step up. SDCC will continue to evolve. If you've been going for a while, you know a sense of ownership over this Con is futile - change is inevitable and some of the upcoming changes may be welcome ones.




Okay, let's talk about the Con specifics. 

Panels

You may disagree, but I thought the quality was still there. You may not have gone to a Game of Thrones panel but you certainly had your pick of various shows and upcoming films to bask in. There were the usual creative how-to panels (although I think the number of questing young writers and artists that go to SDCC specifically for networking/panels has slackened) and the science panels were decent. My friends were happy with the kid-oriented offerings.

And let's face it - the lines were beyond friendly. We still had them, especially for Indigo and Hall H at times, but overall this was a very accessible year. I overestimated my need to line up several times. However, there were cases when CCI apparently underestimated the need for a bigger room. I heard several complaints about the Black Panther Costume Design panel, which was scheduled in a room for 280 - and then over 1,000 attendees lined up.

If there's any complaint to be made, it's that maybe we see too many of the same panels each year. I think SDCC could use some new blood and new topics.


News and Gossip

Oh look, James Gunn was fired from the Guardians franchise for tasteless pedo jokes on Twitter from a long time ago. This didn't actually seem much of a controversy, perhaps because attendees already have controversy fatigue and were just looking to enjoy Comic-Con. In fact, the people I know were more perturbed by Johnny Depp's surprise appearance and the attendee who creepily asked Amber Heard to undo his bondage outfit during Aquaman Q and A.

We're getting a feature-length movie of Steven Universe. That's nice. And remember how Star Wars: Clone Wars got cancelled? It's coming back. We also may be getting a reboot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

On the trailer front: Aquaman's trailer was wildly anticipated - but didn't surprise much. Nightflyers and Disenchantment seemed to get mixed reviews. However, Deadly Class, Shazam and Godzilla all seemed to get people jazzed. So did footage from Venom and It Part 2.

I'm not sure why everyone seemed stunned that Andrew Lincoln/Rick is leaving The Walking Dead. Didn't we already know that?
 

Some people seemed really appreciative of the drunk Rick and Morty show behind the convention center - and other people didn't. 

Line controversies! Despite lines being mostly easier this year, SDCC was not without its rumors and complaints. What I heard: some panels didn't have an ADA line; some ADA lines were formed and then forgotten; attendees were kept out of Hall H despite empty seats; attendees cut in front of all the good people who waited obediently in line and nothing was done about it!

Comic book news: I'll do a separate post on that.






Offsites and Events

Yawn. I mean, some were good. Some were humdrum. The Taco Bell experience should serve as a lesson to really understand what you're waiting for before you wait for hours - because in this case, it wasn't much. The Castle Rock house supposedly wasn't as scary as people wanted (despite passing it 6 times, I never went in) and people seemed to do the Adult Swim park and Cosmos dome without much feeling either way. FX usually generates middling grades with their AHS and other activations on the Hilton Bayfront lawn and that was the case this year. I heard mixed reports on Jack Ryan and the Walking Dead and Cartman's Escape Room.

As for official parties, I only went to the Mars/National Geographic party, which was good. The others seemed to be business as usual based on what I heard. 2 of my first-timers adorably thought these parties would be full of celebrities, so apparently I failed to adequately distinguish for them between the actual Hollywood parties (that most of us will never get into) and the parties for attendees which are - surprise! - full of the same people you saw in the Exhibit Hall that day, but now with a DJ and special lighting.

I do feel Conan was the MVP of the Con. Their different TeamCocoHouse offerings gave attendees something to do if they didn't get tickets to the tapings. And while many people are disappointed about not getting tickets, at least the team didn't repeat the mistakes of last year and leave people lined up pointlessly for hours/overnight. That said, when I look at who got tickets (sometimes for every show they requested) and who didn't (year after year now), it's hard not to notice a pattern. I looked around at the Friday audience and it did seem to be a younger crowd than you traditionally see at the Con overall.





The Future of Comic-Con 

Overall, I think San Diego Comic-Con is finding its feet again. Its original heydey as a major geek destination rolled into years as a pop culture/celebrity worship fest - and now it may be settling into something balanced between the two. I don't think Hollywood will completely withdraw. I think our days of being drenched in swag and surprise concerts and elaborate activations may be over, but we'll still receive a more mitigated version of that. And if SDCC regains a reputation as a more navigable, nerdy experience, some of the comic book nerds and gamers and collectors who've walked away may come back. (Well, probably not the collectors, not anytime soon.)

From my perspective, this shift is a good thing for those of us who'd like an easier badge and hotel sale, less anxiety and more chill. But I know some of you don't like it.

For the past few years, I've heard many nerds talk about Emerald City Comicon and Dragon Con as their new favored Cons. However, in 2018, I'm hearing more mainstream attendees talk about New York as their new target. I thought it was just my friends at first but at the Con this weekend, multiple strangers all said the same thing - they're looking eastward at ReedPOP's behemoth convention. Partly that's the greater ease in nabbing a badge and room, but it's also a matter of being attracted by the sheer size and spectacle of New York Comic Con - which is the allure San Diego used to have a monopoly on.



In many ways, there was a ghostly quality to this year. If you remember the old days, San Diego Comic-Con felt like a haunted house. You could still feel how it used to be, but that old magic was more of a phantom than anything tangible. You had to appreciate what was available and move on.

I still think SDCC has a lot to offer and I'm still looking forward to next year. If you're not, I understand - but I hope you do find something else that thrills you just as much. And I hope that everyone remembers that Comic-Con may not always dish up exactly what you hoped for, but it will always offer other appealing experiences. Sometimes it's just a matter of leaving your comfort zone behind to find them.

See you at Returning Registration, nerds.

Goodbye, SDCC 2018

22 JULY 2018






San Diego Comic-Con 2018 is over. By now, many of you are on planes or various highways or already home doing laundry and admiring your new stuff. Are you glad it's over? Sad? Or too tired to feel either way?

I'll publish a proper summary of news Monday or Tuesday. For now, let me know what you thought about this Comic-Con. I heard a lot of gripes about the lack of substance this year; let me know if you felt that way, if you shrugged it off and found other things to value, or if you thought it was always going to be spectacular - and then it was. Or maybe you anticipated something magical that didn't happen. There's always an element of surprise. And there are always new things to discover - so if you didn't find anything incredible this year, maybe you weren't looking hard enough.





Over the next few days, I'll publish my 2018 summary, a list of comic book news updates and of course, my collection of first-timer stories. (I only have 6 of those so far, so if you want to add yours to the mix, email me at sdccguide@gmail.com.)

Okay, I'm off to decompress with pad thai and Buzzfeed Unsolved. I hope you had fun this year. I hope you made new friends or hung out with old ones or found a new interest. I hope all your months of anticipation and your badge sale battles and hotel room tradings paid off in the end. That you remembered what you originally loved about San Diego Comic-Con. But mostly I hope to see you at Returning Registration a few months from now, so we can start the whole process over again.





What do you think so far?

19 JULY 2018





So Comic-Con 2018 is fully underway and so far it's been business as usual. What are you thinking?

Preview Night was pretty average. It wasn't quite as capacious as last year but was still manageable in terms of getting around. Once we got in, there was the usual surge of energy and desperation as everyone fought their way to their desired hunting area; then it settled down and people got to their usual ambling and shopping.

I didn't see any of the Ballroom 20 pilots but I did hear favorable reviews for Manifest.



So far the lines haven't been terrible unless you're a first-timer who is shocked, shocked, by all this. I've gotten an earful from my first-timers so far who seem to expect that logic and order should prevail at all times. It doesn't, it won't, it's Comic-Con. Apparently they were told this morning to line up for the C doors, where the staff told them to go down to E, where I met up with them; we were then redirected (after a very long time in the sun) to go back to C. I barely blinked but they were incensed.

I was in panels all morning so I haven't been back in the Exhibit Hall yet but it too seems business as usual. I noticed one of my favorite booths, Bud Plant, is gone completely after shrinking last year. That felt like the end of an era. But a lot of old favorites back and honestly, sometimes it seem even the same merchandise returns every year. I didn't buy anything until 6:47 pm last night, which is probably a record.

As for panels, I heard The Predator panel was fantastic. That's a nice way to start off the Con. I went to Anatomy of a Robot where I sat right in front of Mother, the robot from I AM MOTHER. This is a dystopian SF flick where a little girl is raised by a devoted robot in an underground bunker after humanity perishes. When the girl is a teenager, Hilary Swank busts into their bunker to tell a different story. The trailer looked good; put it on your list. Also saw the National Geographic panel for the second season of Mars, starring my celebrity crush Jihae, with NASA astronaut Leland Melvin and The Martian author Andy Weir.

Overall, I heard that most panels have been accessible.




Good photo ops include the NASA astronaut, Jurassic Park and the Walking Dead. Topic of bar conversation last night: are computerized photo ops as fun as ones with a physical props? We all agreed that the "A real T Rex is about to eat me" looks cool but the ones with mannequins and fake beasts are probably more satisfying to pose in.


I haven't done any offsites yet but am collecting reviews. I did hear the American Horror Story was better than last year's and that Cartman's Escape Room was decent. My friends left the Adult Swim State Park because the humidity got to be too much for them but they'll go back. What people seem to really like: the giant laptop at the Dell activation.

If there's one dynamic that I've walked into both last night and today, it's the split between people who are still peeved that Marvel, HBO and Netflix pulled out and the people who are sick of hearing about it. (Team Over It, personally, but I do understand why the rest of you are still bristling.) Some attendees seemed especially rankled that they bought their badges last year, their hotels in the spring, and then found out in June that their favorite shows and movies won't be here.

All I can say is - that's San Diego Comic-Con. Most Cons, really. It's ultimately a grab bag. But I still think there is plenty here even for those of you who come strictly for Hollywood trailers and panels.



Back to the first timer indignation issue. Maybe I need to run another post on security guards and staffers - because I saw a number of people trying to argue their way inside the convention center or into forbidden areas. Look, I am as anti-authoritarian as anyone, but this is not a fight you will win. You will get further with these people if you're polite and reasonable and accept it when they give you a hard no. Even if you think they're wildly mistaken, it's best just to move on and ask someone else or try another entrance. I'm sure that sounds passive to some of you but ultimately you're here to have a good time, not start a scrap. I've never seen any kind of victory come from antagonizing a staffer or guard but I've seen several bad outcomes. Just my two cents.

I'll report back in a bit.

When should you get in line?

18 JULY 2018






Happy Comic-Con! Most of us have arrived in San Diego if we weren't here already - and all around the convention center are early lines.

For some of you, the new lottery system has eliminated some lines from your life (and created other frustrations.) But most of you probably still have panels and events and offsites to line up for. And these are, make no mistake, some of the biggest grievances at San Diego Comic-Con.

When is a line worth it?

First off, let me say I am a big believer in enjoying the Con you're at - and it's hard to do that if you spend all of it in a line. I know some people work in groups with complicated systems involving assigned shifts, but the vast majority of attendees just have their friends to rely on. So here are a few considerations before you get in line:
  • Would you be okay seeing the panel on YouTube or in the Playback room?
  • Will you be disappointed if your favorite cast member only speaks once, while the director and some other cast member dominate the panel?
  • Will you be annoyed if you get stuck so far back in the room you have to watch the panel on a screen anyhow? Or if the offsite experience is over with in 3 minutes and doesn't offer significant swag?
  • Is there anything else at the same time you want to see?
Always compare what you're getting with what you're giving up. 

When should you get in line?

Early enough to get a good seat - but not so early that you miss out on the Con. There's no Magic 8 ball to tell you what time, but you can check Twitter for real time updates on line length or swing by to monitor it. Smaller panels really aren't that competitive, unless you want to stake your claim to get the very best seat.

Don't necessarily count on panels and events having the same line situations as previous years. The number of "good" offsites and panels can disperse a crowd across many lines or concentrate it in a few unbearable ones. Something that's penetrable one year can be a madhouse the next.

Also remember that offsites are best done early on in the Con because the lines grow throughout the weekend. Or you can try popping in at the very end. Typically, a few activations will get the best buzz and have ungodly lines by Saturday.

Don't assume Hall H is completely inaccessible. Some panels will be walk-in - and it's not too late to find people who want someone to partner with in line. Obviously Riverdale, Supernatural, Doctor Who and other big magnets are going to be tough but you've got a good shot if you dedicate yourself to the cause. Ballroom 20 will fluctuate and so will Indigo, and I think they'll be a little easier to get into this year.

Also consider the context of other lines. Let's say Hall H is having a highly popular day Saturday and a not so in-demand day Thursday. Saturday will draw more people out of your Indigo Ballroom line - but on Thursday, your line could be more crowded and competitive.




What are common line mistakes?

There are usually multiple lines at any given moment - which makes randomly joining a line a bad idea. Verbally check which line you're in. It's easy to be told the wrong thing and spend 90 minutes in a line for something you don't care about.

Some people put too much faith in volunteers and staffers. Use common sense. If people tell you "Oh, they're still letting people in" 10 minutes after a panel has started, move on. Take control of your destiny at SDCC; there's a lot of confusion flowing around and sometimes you need to recognize nonsense when you hear it.

Don't duck out for food if there's any chance of the line getting into the room. Sounds obvious, but people will often delay their need to hit the restroom or get coffee as long as they can - and then jet out, only to find the line has started moving when they get back. Either go as soon as you need to or wait until you're in the room and ask for a pass. Let's all remember the poor Twilight fan who was killed a few years ago when she heard the Hall H line was moving and ran through traffic to reclaim her spot.






Always remember that this Comic-Con could be your last. Badge and hotel sales are too unpredictable to count on being here next summer. So live this Comic-Con as intensely as you can - and don't spend all of it in a line.

I'll do a Preview Night recap later.

10 last minute SDCC reminders


16 JULY 2018




Are we really just 48 hours from Preview Night?

Some of you may be packed and ready to go; some of you may be postponing your SDCC prep till tomorrow night. Some of you may already be there. Or maybe you're in a Putin/Prime Day rabbit hole. If so, remember that Comic-Con is the cure for what ails you - so here are 10 last minute reminders.

1. Bring your badge! There aren't enough panic attacks in the world for the moment you step off the plane and realize your badge is in another time zone. And if you need to pick up your badge, remember you can do so in the Sails Pavilion starting Tuesday.


2. Confirm your hotel. Today I cancelled Saturday night at my hotel. Of course the Hyatt robot effed it up and changed my reservation to Saturday to Tuesday. There's always some last minute drama. If you've had anything dodgy with your hotel room - a transfer, multiple reservations, etc. - it doesn't hurt to confirm your details now, before arriving.

3. Keep checking for Conan and other event tickets. Don't waste a lot of time on this, but remember that people will cancel their plans and give away their tickets. Keep your ear tuned on Twitter and the forums in case anyone has an extra ticket to something.

4. Make backup plans. Veterans know this: a lot of your plans won't work out. Bless your heart if you've designed some tightly plotted schedule, but at least 1/2 of it will fall through. Look through the guide and pencil in backup plans. And don't be too militant with yourself; let your day evolve in unexpected directions, whether that's deciding to sleep in, skip a panel or accept an invitation to a Hall H line effort.

5. Bring extra batteries, headphones and portable chargers. Don't count on charging up when and where you need to. It's faster and more reliable to just pop in a fresh battery or use your own charger.




6. Abandon any half-assed cosplay plans. Every year someone goes into an 11th-hour cosplay panic where they want to be a certain character but haven't actually pulled something together. If you aren't at the finish line yet, forget it. You won't look as convincing or finished as you want to, and it's just more unnecessary stress. If you are committed, make sure you bring adequate repair supplies for sewing, armor, weapons, makeup wounds and anything else that can fail suddenly.

7. Print out anything you might need. I know, we're all so digital now, but devices fail. And sometimes you really need a hard copy of your friends' contact info, your schedule, your hotel confirmation, your Conan tickets, your barcode confirmation, etc. On that note, make sure you have a unified list of everything you're picking up for friends back home. You won't have time to scroll through text messages from 42 people, trying to remember who wanted what and where you can find it.

8. Clarify any murky hotel arrangements. Who's sleeping in what room? Who gets the bed and who's relegated to an air mattress? If you're part of a large group with multiple rooms/roommates, it doesn't hurt to do a final check to make sure everyone's covered.

9. Set expectations with family, friends and coworkers. If people insist on bothering you at Comic-Con, let them know now that connectivity is very faulty in the convention center and you probably won't get their texts, emails and calls! Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't, but it's a statement that serves a greater cause: the potency of your Comic-Con joy. If you absolutely have to be accountable, schedule a daily check-in time and restrict them to it. Having your phone go off all day with work questions and annoyed demands for attention from your SO can really poison a fine SDCC moment. Their neediness can wait until Monday.

10. Take care of any banking transfers now. I'm always surprised by the number of people who show up at Comic-Con without any money. Often they're depending on someone to transfer money into a certain account or they thought their mom would let them borrow a credit card or some other mishap has ensued. If you have even slightly precarious finances, I would transfer funds around now to make sure you have valid credit cards and sufficient cash.

A note on ConanCon, scalpers and TeamCocoHouse

14 JULY 2018




In what's been a rather dispiriting year for offsites, ConanCon has really come through for attendees. I know many of you are still disappointed you didn't get tickets to the tapings. However, TEAMCOCOHOUSE should take some of that sting away. I thought everyone had heard about this but apparently not. So take a look at the schedule.

Podcasts, comedy shows, free pizza - a variety of mini-events are running at their pop-up comedy club from afternoon till late at night. Even if you couldn't get a ticket to an event you wanted, you'll have an easier time trading or finding someone with a spare.

Now. On that note, some people are trying to sell their Conan show tickets for hundreds of dollars. I find this repugnant. One of the most enjoyable things about San Diego Comic-Con is how generous and community-minded the attendees are. People will most definitely do a little horse trading, but selling a free ticket for more than an entire SDCC badge? That's beyond crass.

I know you may be desperate to go to Conan, but please don't buy tickets off these people. That's just going to encourage more of this behavior. Also, be wary of people who promise you can get a sky-high, specific price for the Funko Pop. Sure, you can sell it for a decent amount but it fluctuates. I've always hung onto mine; if you want to flip yours, I'd wait a bit.



And first-timers - two of you have emailed me about Conan, asking what else there is to do since you didn't get tickets. So let me say here that there is so much to do at Comic-Con. You will be fine without Conan tickets and in fact, will not even think about it when you're there. The online mania you currently see is an SDCC trait. We're collectors, we're fans, we're zealous by nature, and we can overreact when we miss out on something, acting as if one event or action figure or panel is life or death. Then a few days later we've moved on to obsessing about something else. Ignore the histrionics and be assured you'll find something wondrous at the Con.