CCI wants you to name their new attraction

6 MARCH 2018

I blinked in disbelief tonight when I saw a Comic-Con survey in my inbox. Naturally, I assumed it was from ECCC - who already sent out one survey invitation - and then I looked closer. "" was in the return address. Color me astonished.

CCI typically does host Talkback panels at their Cons, but that feedback is obviously limited to a small percentage of their attendee base. And they just haven't solicited input and opinions from attendees as openly or frequently as other Cons have. So it's a nice feeling to have them reach out and actually ask us what we think.

In this case, we're not being asked just what we think about SDCC; rather they want to us to help "shape the vision" for the pop culture museum/attraction they're building in Balboa Park. (Hilariously, the survey does ask what SDCC "does really well" but doesn't ask for any criticism or development areas.)

Now - while I urge you to take the survey if you haven't already, you should be aware of 2 points:

  • CCI asks you to actually name this attraction. So come up with something clever before you start the survey. I couldn't think of anything catchy under pressure.
  • CCI also proposes having a membership for this attraction and asks what different perks would interest us - nonchalantly including, "Early access privileges for Comic-Con badge sales."
WHAT? I responded they would have more members than they can handle. Did some random market research manager throw that in, unaware of our raving hysterical mania? Because there is no alternate timeline where someone says, "Oh, yeah, and if you become a member, you get early access to a badge sale" and someone else says, "Eh, no thanks."

At any rate - I like the way they're thinking. Not only are they asking our advice, which makes me downright tingly, but they're clearly trying to create a year-round community that extends the excitement and engagement people feel each July. That's great news for everyone who likes Comic-Con but it's especially great for people who don't get a badge. They'll still have a way to be part of things.

So go ahead and name our future Balboa Park headquarters something cool - and take advantage of this chance to be candid with CCI.

ETA: I realize not everyone has gotten this survey. They may be conducting them in batches or picking people at random - there are a lot of us, after all. I'll see how many other people get them and update you.

ECCC is over

4 MARCH 2018

Emerald City Comicon has ended. Did you have a good time?

I'd rate this year as being pretty typical, with no major surprises. My observations:

The swag was decent; ECCC isn't the place for astounding deals but most Cons aren't these days. Vendors offered up the usual "buy 3, get 1 free" type deals when it came to trades, plushies, shirts, games and other stuff. I thought the show floor was a good mix of the expected and the rare.

The events were good. I think SDCC and NYCC can have so many things going on that it's hard to choose, you find out about them after they're sold out, and you inevitably feel like you missed something. ECCC has a smaller number of parties but I think it works.The bar life is also better in my opinion. If you've been to the Gaslamp during SDCC, you know how many randos fill up the bars and restaurants just to join the party. I found Seattle bars had a higher concentration of attendees and nerds and people were more chill and interesting to talk to overall.

However, the cliquish-ness of this Con continues. I've noticed this other years; people tend to be cagey about who gets invited where and who's friends with who, where attendees at DragonCon, San Diego, New York and others tend to be more friendly and inclusive. YMMV. I reconnected with a girl I met last summer at SDCC and she and her friends outright stated they want ECCC to be "their people" as opposed to the more diverse mix they saw in San Diego, so I guess some people like that.

Speaking of DragonCon - just as Emerald City has been branded as the superior alternative to the SDCC/NYCC juggernaut, DragonCon seems to have risen up to claim that mantle for people who aren't into comics. ECCC still dominates for comic book fans; but I talked to multiple groups of attendees who are more into cosplay and parties and special events - and they all mentioned DragonCon as their priority destination.

I didn't have the time to make as many as panels as I normally take in. And to be truthful, I wasn't all that captivated by the offerings. ECCC definitely has a certain slant and it's one that I have grown away from. That said, I do appreciate that this Con allows for certain offbeat topics that you wouldn't likely find elsewhere, since other Cons tend to prioritize the most mainstream areas. I can't imagine finding out at SDCC, for instance, that Wonder Woman's creator William Marsten wrote an out-of-print book called "The Emotions of Normal People" (favorite title ever) and actually getting to read excerpts from it. If you don't care about weird little jibbets like that, you may not appreciate ECCC - but I like that this Con still dishes up some erudite and unusual vendors and panels.

At the same time, ECCC still brings out the classics - if you're a Funko freak, a fan of American Gods or Back to the Future, if you just wanted to sit down and play MTG with other zealots - you could wallow in your interests. And I saw more classic collector and nerd stuff for sale here than I see at bigger Cons. I'm sure that's a matter of floor space being more affordable. It's really nice for nerds and pop culture collectors who are hunting for the type of toys and collectibles that used to signal COMICON more than the freshly printed trades that dominate today.

I skipped the Main Stage as always but the people I talked to seemed mostly pleased. I met two guys who came from New York for the first time. They were relieved by the accessibility of the main room, stunned at the (comparatively) short lines and highly enthusiastic as a result. I also met a D23 cosplayer who thought ECCC was an easier place to keep her kids engaged and entertained. She intends to come back next year. I try to always get feedback from people who target different interests from me - parents, celebrity fans, cosplayers, people under 30 - and pretty much everyone I spoke to seem satisfied.

What Emerald City Comicon does so beautifully, of course, is the Artist's Alley. There's just no comparing it if you're used to big Cons that treat AA like an afterthought. It's a perfect mix of superstars like Jaime Hernandez (interview coming in a few days) and newer talent to discover. I remember when I first went to SDCC, I saw mostly pin-up girl art in Artist's Alley with some dragons/sci fi work thrown in. At ECCC, I saw a range of fantasy art, takeoffs of classic literature, original universes, Halloween-themed art, animal art and so on. Part of the thrill of going to a Con is finding that work that speaks specifically to you, and Emerald City Artist's Alley definitely has the variety to deliver.

Just as nice: seeing how many attendees were swarming the AA rooms. This Con attracts people who are passionate about art and comics and design, because they know they can find it here. I suppose I will sound like a snob if I call other Cons philistine in comparison, but there's a palpable difference in ECCC attendee interests. It's a comforting feeling for those of us who've watched other Cons turn into a Hollywood flea market.

One thing I need to mention: Musicalley didn't seem like a big success to me. Possibly I missed its best moments. Overall, it seemed like an admirable attempt to make the Con more well-rounded while giving local talent a spot in the nerd sun - but it just didn't work, what I saw of it. Other attendees didn't seem entranced with it either. Again, maybe there was some kind of stage glory happening and I was elsewhere. It's entirely possible.

Finally, I have to praise the ECCC staff. Maybe I just met the best of the best, but every volunteer/staff member I spoke with was a pleasure to talk to. None of them had that frenzied, ready-to-snap stress level of bigger Con volunteers, which tells me the organization and training is exemplary.

All in all, I'll continue to recommend Emerald City. I didn't feel quite the same magic this year as other years but that's more my jadedness than the Con itself. I think ECCC offers an ideal blend of Hollywood, gaming, comics, cosplay and events. You're not spending hours in line, you're able to have fun in Seattle and stay close to the Con, and it's just a much easier and often more fulfilling experience than the chaos and demands of a bigger show. For those of us who are sick of the latter, Emerald City feels like a final refuge of old-school nerd enjoyment.

ETA: ECCC next year is 14-17 March. Since some of you asked.

Kicking off ECCC

2 MARCH 2018

Emerald City Comicon is underway! Due to a plane malfunction, I got in at the tail end of yesterday but managed to arrive in time to see everything looking - and smelling - like a busy, thriving Comicon. I know some ECCC attendees still think Thursday is the "off day;" there were actually plenty of good panels and guests to be had. Just something to keep in mind for next year.

Here are a few things to see and remember as you squirrel your way around the convention center today.

Syfy Live is worth catching. It's on Level 4, booth 1850, right on the floor, with a schedule posted of the different interviews. You'll see a variety of people and topics, from comic book creators like Brian Michael Bendis and Tim Sale to body painting and cosplay workshops to actors like the Firefly cast and Shannon Purser. There is a line for the more popular slots, so swing by, look and the schedule and plan accordingly.

Autographs and photo ops are in the Sheraton. Just in case you didn't know.

Speaking of locations, Artist's Alley is up on Level 6. Yes, it's a lot of escalators but it's worth the visit. I've already spoken to several people who've had popular posters, comic issues, magnets and other items sell out and it's only Friday - so be sure to visit sooner, rather than later.

Skybound has a number of offsite events if you want to get away from the Con. However, you do need to RSVP. Today these include:                                   
1:30pm - 3:30pm / Geeks OUT! (RSVP HERE)       
4:00pm 6:00pm / Comic Book Women (RSVP HERE)         
On Saturday we have:                                           
11:00am - 1:00pm / Summoners War Meet Up (RSVP HERE)        
1:30pm - 3:30pm / Skybound Insiders Meet Up (RSVP HERE)        
4:00pm - 6:00pm / Women in Tech Meet Up (RSVP HERE)    

Also offsite tonight - Guardians of the Sexy burlesque show, which is sold out, and Kracklefest 8, which is not. That's right down the street at the Hard Rock Cafe. And there's a Thick as Thieves release party at the Nii Modo Gallery.

I've heard people say, "The PDX Broadsides are playing tonight" - but while they are in Musicalley, they actually take the stage at 5:30. So don't roll in at 9 looking for a show.

That said, you could do some late night gaming instead.  Just go to Level 2 and you'll see all kinds of tournaments, games and demos. Also note that in addition to their regular booth at 316, Skybound has a dedicated games booth at 815.

I'm still on the floor so I'll post more about specials and exclusives in a bit. Stay tuned.

Things to do at ECCC

27 FEBRUARY 2018

Is Emerald City Comicon really just a day away? Apparently so. And while you're clearly going to be focusing on the magnificent Artist's Alley, gaming, the writer's block, Musicalley and all those other parts of the Con, below are a few things you might not want to miss.

Get a preview of Seattle's upcoming Marvel exhibit at booth 1510 - Museum of Pop Culture.

Fix any unfortunate cosplay mishaps at the Cosplay Repair Station on TCC L2.

Present your best Doctor Who at the panel's cosplay contest Saturday at 12:30 pm.

Take your picture with the DeLorean from Back to the Future at the Sheraton.

Test your nerd knowledge at Inconceivable! Thursday evening at 6:30 in TCC L3 – Room 2.

Catch the last Saturday night show of Guardians of the Sexy vol. 3.

Draw your own character in a "dodle-ing" contest at booth 618 for a chance to win a $50 gift card.

Get a sneak peek at the new Netflix series Dreamworks Voltron Legendary Defender on Thursday night.

Strike a pose in the Dark Horse Happymatic Photo Booth.

Watch a live draw of a new Rick and Morty story at 2:45 pm Saturday in WSCC 309.

Explore the glittery world of nerd makeup at Espionage Cosmetics (1416.)

Learn how to make your own Jedi costume on Friday at 12:15 pm in TCC L2 – Room 2.
Pick up ECCC exclusive variants at Dark Horse (1708), Vault (1601), Oni (216) and Image.

Visit the public library for educator-focused panels.

Go to the Emerald City Supervillains party Saturday night at Seattle Funhouse.

Of course there are a jillion more things to do - and I will tell you about them when I land on Thursday. And if you're not going to be there? You can watch interviews, gaming tournaments, live art shows, panels and more right on your phone thanks to the magic of Syfy Wire. You can stream the coverage from or from ECCC.

See you Thursday.

Support LGBTQ with a cool ECCC shirt

16 FEBRUARY 2018

We all know t-shirts are an essential component of the Comicon experience. And if you caught ECCC's latest email, your eye may have spotted a rather vivid shirt not currently available on the merch page.

That would be the rainbow t-shirt above. These shirts will be available only at ECCC and some of the proceeds will go to Lambert House in Seattle. Essentially you can celebrate ECCC, show off your LGBTQ pride and help people who need it all at the same time.

While the shirt will only be sold at the Con, any shirts left over will be put online. But if you don't want to risk waiting, you can still get Thursday, Friday and Sunday tickets and pick one up yourself.

Did you get your SDCC hotel room yet?

14 FEBRUARY 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! If you were a normal person, your thoughts tonight would be on romance and gifts and the highway robbery that is the price of a fancy dinner reservation - but because you're a San Diego Comic-Con devotee, you're probably just thinking about hotel rooms. And not for Valentine reasons.

We are in traditional SDCC hotel room season. You know how these weeks feel. Early Bird rooms are available and you can't decide if you should be practical and resign yourself to a lot of shuttle rides or gamble on Hotel Day. You want the actual sale to happen but you dread it too. There's never a perfect answer where you can get a reasonably priced room that's refundable and downtown and a sure thing. Your options are pretty much:
  • Pay an obscene rate to book a downtown room of your own accord
  • Pay a cheap rate for an Early Bird room that is ... not downtown
  • Pray to the SDCC gods to get lucky in the Hotel Day sale

You know it's brutal if you've survived the last few sales. It really does seem to get more hopeless each year. And it's not just the sheer bad odds of it all; there's always some kind of unforeseen glitch that gives you the wrong form, boots you out entirely, freezes you, erroneously cancels your room because someone else has the same last name, etc. Hotel Day has become far more stressful than the badge sales for most of us - and let's be honest, this year won't be any better.

On that cheerful note, let's talk about two things - the Early Bird Sale and the hotel sale date.

The Early Bird Sale is still live. However, the best hotel in my opinion - Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina - is sold out and so are 4 others. 6 hotels still have rooms, including the reliable Town and Country. One reason you should pursue this option: because chances are high that you won't do any better during the actual hotel sale. That includes those of you who are lucky and special and sympatico with Fate. I used to always score too - something I chalked up to my glowing Comic-Con karma, and then one day I got this:

Another year I landed at Town and Country. Last year I zipped right into the sale in moments and wound up "downtown" at Bayside - still involving a shuttle ride. If you're well connected, you might feel confident about landing a trade. But there are increasingly more people wanting to trade than willing to make a trade. And a weirdly deluded group who think someone's going to give them their Omni room in exchange for La Quinta Inn.

I know you're probably going to bet the farm on Hotel Day. That's just the kind of risk-takers we are. But remember that it's one or the other - Early Bird shuts off before the sale.

Speaking of, we still don't know the date of Hotel Day. CCI has created a tradition of emailing me my worst results while I'm at Emerald City Comicon - so maybe Feb. 28 (2 weeks from today) will be the magic day. I cancelled an Oregon hiking trip on this day and 3% of my reason was the impending hotel sale. But it's just as likely that the first 2 weeks of March will be the time, and slightly less likely that the latter 2 will. Given how unpredictable CCI has been with sale dates, who really knows. They love to surprise us.

Most of the good backup rooms have been snapped up if you're looking to book on your own. But you should still look and work whatever San Diego connections you have to see who has a condo, guest room or timeshare they might loan out. Lots of attendees are open to finding roommates.  If you're the type who just wants a pillow, a couch and a shower, consider teaming up with a larger group. You'll have more options at a cheaper rate.

The point is that you can take control of your fate - sort of - by amassing a few options, which will make Hotel Day feel a lot less fatal. Because it's coming and we all know it'll be gruesome. Do what you can now to build yourself a safety net.

Give the gift of ECCC for Valentine's Day

11 FEBRUARY 2018

Emerald City Comicon is just days away - are you ready?

Maybe you think you're not going. If so, consider this: every day is still available but Saturday. That makes a Seattle Comicon the perfect romantic gift to give your most beloved nerd on Wednesday. And if you're sadly without a Valentine, consider spicing up your life by going alone to ECCC - where you can:

Game it up. Level 2 has it all for you, board games, arcade games, RPG, demos and more. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights have gaming after dark for those of you over 18.

Catch a burlesque show. Or gay it up at Qomix, bask in the genius of Jonathan Coulton or go to Kracklefest. Lots to keep you busy at night.

Get educated. Panels for librarians and educators will be at the Seattle Public Library, with topics on planning library programs, graphic novels for kids, lesson plans, LGBTQ work and more.

Try the official ECCC beer. Dark Heron will be available at the beer garden but also at various bars and restaurants. On that note, if you're not familiar with Seattle, you should check out the food guide. Everyone tends to gravitate to the Cheesecake Factory across the street where you have to wait an hour but just walking a block or two gives you great options.

Go to a Schoolism LIVE workshop. These cover character design, gaming, animation - you get the idea.

Sample the small businesses of Seattle. Speaking of avoiding chain restaurants, ECCC is bringing you Homegrown, a collection of local artists, bakers, entrepreneurs, musicians and more. You have to admit, this is a refreshing change from Cons that only put out the same generic, mass-produced offerings you can get back home.

Pick out your panels. Yes, there's a decided bent to ECCC panels and sometimes it seems like there's 134 different panels on "How to Be a Plus-Size LGBT Cosplayer Who's Editing A Comic Anthology about Diversity." But there are plenty of fan meetups, book and comic topics and really anything you might be looking for.

Take your little nerds to Family HQ. Legos, cosplay, Star Wars - this is clearly where the action is.

Activate your badge. That's required, actually.

And if you're overwhelmed by all this, check out the fan guides for day by day assistance. And if you haven't yet, I recommend downloading the app - it really will help you keep your panels and activities straight.

17 more days.

Celebrate your dark side for the 2018 Souvenir Book

29 JANUARY 2018

CCI has once again solicited your creative genius for the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Book - and this year's anniversary celebrations go in one of my favorite directions.

If you're new to SDCC, the Souvenir Book is a paperback keepsake of art and articles you'll receive upon arrival. You are welcome to submit your work for it (art, content or both) as centered around the important nerd anniversaries of the year.

Last year wasn't exactly rich with anniversaries; this year is all about the goth nerd in you. Consider what we're celebrating:
  • 10th anniversary of the Marvel cinematic universe. You could go in on a thousand angles on this one. Obviously it will be a competitive category so be insightful. 

  • 25th anniversary of Hellboy. I feel like Hellboy fans don't get nearly enough chances to stretch their creative legs, so this should be a welcome door to walk through.

  • 25th anniversary of Vertigo. From Swamp Thing to The Invisibles to Sandman, you could fill 66 Souvenir Books on this topic.

  • 25th anniversary of the X-Files. Wait, 25 years? Really? Don't I feel geriatric. I'm guessing a lot of people will go for the "Scully inspired me as a woman of science" narrative but personally I'd work the alien angle so hard.  

  • 200th anniversary of Frankenstein. There's really no end to the possibilities here. Your Villa Diodati/Lord Byron musings, your essay on the godmother of science fiction being a teenage girl, etc. As someone who owns a full set of Frankenstein-themed serving trays, I can't wait to see what people produce.
In case your fingers are already itching to write a story about Cigarette Smoking Man bumming a smoke off John Constantine - you can't write fan fiction and you can't commingle universes. (I mean, you can, but not for the Souvenir Book.) CCI specifies that "articles should be of a historical non-fiction nature" which is an awkward way to say "essay."  You also need to follow a range of formatting and submission guidelines, which you can see here.

Deadline is 13 April; CCI points out that's Friday the 13th so put a lodestone in your conjure bag and hope for the best. Good luck.

The Comic Con trademark battle keeps spreading

20 JANUARY 2018

If tedious lawsuits are your thing, and you were disappointed by the seeming resolution of San Diego Comic-Con's lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con in December, I have good news for you - it's ongoing and more players have jumped into the mix.

Here's where we are currently:

  • Salt Lake has spent over a cool million in fees on this case and is now considering crowdfunding to pay it all off.

  • There apparently will be a documentary about the case, which I am so here for. 

  • Salt Lake's reason: asking for a reconsideration on the genericness of the term Comic Con; also that the court precluded evidence and gave the jury improper instructions.

  • CCI's reason: they don't like the tiny settlement they were awarded ($20K) and they want a stronger verdict regarding the "willfulness" with which SLCC violated their trademark. They want a new trial, some of SLCC's profits, $4.5 million in legal fees and a pound of flesh - or at least, a recognition that Salt Lake's attorneys engaged in an "all-out war" and "staggering" misconduct in that they "preyed on the sympathies of the jury."
And they may need that $4.5 million for future lawsuits. While other Cons have proactively changed their names to avoid being sued by CCI, one of those Cons, Phoenix Comic Fest (formerly Phoenix Comicon) has filed a motion to strike down SDCC's "Comic Con" trademark and have CCI pay their legal bills. Nervy!

In other words, CCI may lose their trademark, letting Salt Lake and other Cons freely use "Comic Con," "Comic-Con," "Comicon" and any other permutations of the name - setting them back where they started but millions of dollars poorer. It's dizzying to contemplate. Even if they stay victorious in all these lawsuits, it's hard to foresee an outcome where they come out on top of their attorney fees.

In the meantime, we're left with our questions.Will the lawsuit documentary be screened at the SDCC film festival? Will other smaller Cons jump on, burying CCI in lawsuits like velociraptors attacking a T-rex? How will the new trial turn out, if we get one? We'll just have to wait and see.

ECCC photo ops, parties and more

11 JANUARY 2018

Emerald City Comic Con is only 48 days away - and it's time to take action to make sure you get everything you want.

Buy a Photo Op

If you want to frame a photo of yourself with the hottest love goddess on TV, you can buy a photo op with Yetide Badaki and other celebrities now. Don't delay on this - these do sell out.

Prepare for the Funko Lottery

Essentially it's a ticket raffle. Study up on where to go and when if you love Funko.

Think About Your Night Life

There will be night panels and various Seattle doings to hold your attention - but there are also some ECCC events and parties you might want to add to your agenda.

Guardians of the Sexy Vol. 3

"When fandom and burlesque collide live on stage." You have early and late shows on Friday and Saturday to choose from and yes, you have to be 18 or older. Sorry, baby nerds.

Qomix: Queer Comicon Party

Will you be in town on Weds, 28 February? Are you that way, as they used to say? Then you will want to mingle with your fellow rainbow nerds and maybe enter a cosplay contest. Also, if you are a queer nerd who's still contemplating ECCC attendance, know that this is a very LGBTQP+ friendly Con. You won't feel like an outsider.


Changing gears, this offers you stand-up comedy and nerd rock on Friday, 2 March. 21+.

You can get tickets to these fine events here.

Check Out the Exhibitors

Just to get excited. The Homegrown vendors will be all local, from bakers to artists to brewers and more. The regular showroom vendors you can examine here.

Buy Tickets

Thursday, Friday and Sunday are still available. If you buy before 16 January, they'll be mailed to you and you can skip the line to pick them up. Another option: participate in their ECCC Passport game and maybe win tickets.

See you in 48 days.

Are you going to Comic Con in 2018?

1 JANUARY 2018

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays involved lots of parties, presents and Christmas cookies - and if you were freezing in the Northeast like I was, a fireplace. I also hope your New Year's resolutions include some kind of Comic Con plan, especially if you didn't get an SDCC badge last month.

If you traditionally go to SDCC or some other spring/summer Con, the season may seem far away. But now's the time to think about where you really want to go and when you need to make it happen.

If you're still new to Comic Con life and all of its reservations, badge sales and budgeting, you might think of going to a Con as some kind of fun activity that either "works out" or it doesn't. But that's just not true. While luck does play into it (sometimes mercilessly), there is a fair amount of planning involved that ultimately determines whether or not you walk through the doors of a major Con.

Here's what you need to think about.

Which Comic Con do you want to go to? 

You already know if you're going to SDCC. But if you're not and you wish you were, you can set yourself up to go in 2019 by signing up for a Member ID, reading blogs and forums like Friends of Comic-Con, and getting a realistic idea of what is involved. San Diego can be nirvana but it can also fall devastatingly short of a first-timer's expectations. Get a grip on what's required now.

The key here is understanding what you want from your Comic Con experience. Don't think that the biggest Cons are necessarily the ticket to making your dreams come true. Let's say you want to meet celebrities. They are often more accessible at smaller Cons than the biggest ones. Or maybe you want to collect really obscure back issues. You'll definitely want a more comics-focused Con like Emerald City as opposed to Cons which have "Comic" in their name but focus mostly on Hollywood.

Maybe you'd like to host a panel of your own. Figure this out before you invest in a giant Con like NYCC or SDCC that's probably too competitive for you. Ditto if you want to network or promote your work - just because certain influencers are afoot at those Cons doesn't mean you'll have access to them. Cons like Salt Lake, Denver, Emerald City, WonderCon or C2E2 are rapidly become a more appealing choice for many people for this reason.

A word on New York Comic Con. You may hear people say that getting a ticket is now "as bad as San Diego." It's not. While the badge sales are pretty competitive, you're far more likely to get a NYCC badge. Ditto hotel room - it's New York. So don't write off NYCC as the East Coast San Diego Comic-Con just because it's big. This is a top choice if you got shut out of last month's SDCC badge sale.

On a related note, don't assume your local small-time Comic Con is a smaller version of the more famous ones. A lot of Cons boast high attendance numbers these days without boasting anything close to SDCC or NYCC guests, events, vendors and panels. I've been to several Cons with 100K+ attendees that were basically an indoors swap meet. If you want the magic of a major Comic Con, you'll probably have to travel unless you're lucky enough to live in Seattle, New York, Atlanta, San Diego/LA, Chicago, etc.

Which Con works with your budget and schedule? 

Size isn't the only thing that matters. Some of the newer or smaller Cons like Boston and Silicon Valley already have great reputations. SVCC is described as "where science fiction blends with science fact" and features new tech along with comics and fandom offerings.

You'll also need to figure out how many Cons you can realistically consume before the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Emerald City is in early March, which gives you breathing room before the summer season: Phoenix Comicon happens around Memorial Day weekend, Denver Comic Con shortly thereafter, SDCC in late July, Gen Con and Boston in August, Dragon Con on Labor Day weekend and Salt Lake Comic Con in September. Then NYCC is in October. That doesn't even include the 100+ Cons sprinkled all over the world.

In terms of money, you'll want to start your Con cash stash right now. After you account for plane fare, badge, meals and hotel, you'll still be tempted to spend on a number of things - original art, action figures, comic books, party tickets and more. Maybe you've ascended to a higher plane of consciousness where such things don't tempt you, but if you're like most attendees you'll covet at least a few Exhibit Hall finds. Start squirreling away money now so you can indulge your nerd hungers when the opportunity presents itself.

You'll also want to talk money with your Con companions now. If you've been going to Comic Con for a while, you've probably had friends beg to go with you, then fade away when it came time to book a plane ticket or go through the various badge sale hassles. You rejoice over scoring a room at the Hilton Bayfront - then months later your friend suddenly has a wedding to attend and you're paying the entire tab alone. It might seem like a tall order to get people to commit to Con costs now but it's a good way to suss out who's serious and who's not before you buy tickets and put down hotel room deposits. It's also smart to vocalize this in your social circles; you might know several people who would love to come but just don't know how to get started.

What logistics do you need to take care of?

This is what separates the attendees from the people who watch Comic Con updates from home. Some Cons are still walk-in status but the best ones usually sell out tickets and hotels. You'll need to figure out when these go on sale, how to register to even be eligible to get the email announcing the badge sale - you get the idea. It can be tricky to navigate.

And because the actual Con website is going to be full of marketing hype and cute graphics, you'll want to get active in digital communities for inside tips and advice from Con veterans. The community is generous about helping newcomers, from joining a buying group to knowing which hotels to avoid.

Another thing to check - what your badge or ticket actually gets you. I'll probably write a post on this, but right now know that more and more Cons are charging additional fees for top signings and panels. I find this beyond irritating but it's the way things are going at some Cons. Ace Comic Con, for instance, is charging more than $900 for a Chris Evans/Tom Holland "Dual VIP" experience for what boils down to autographs and photo ops and good panel seats. Phoenix Comicon is charging for a Meet and Greet with Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder that's actually a signing and photo op; you can also buy a "one-on-one moment" with Tim Curry from $200-300.

In other words, dig into whatever Con you're targeting and make sure you'll be able to see, meet and experience who and what you want. If shelling out $100 is a big deal for you, but you think it's worth it to meet your favorite artist - and then you find out that'll cost you another $150, which you don't have - you're not going to be too happy.

If all of this sounds like too much effort - and there's an excellent argument to be made that it is -  then stick to smaller Cons. Life is too short to exhaust yourself training to become a Comic Con ninja unless you really enjoy it. This is survival of the fittest and the Comic Con experience is not for everyone. But if you think it is for you, get ready now - and you'll reap the rewards a few months down the road with incredible Comic Con memories.

Good luck. Here's to an exciting and beautifully nerdy 2018 for all of us.

It's comic book heaven at Emerald City

21 DECEMBER 2017

Happy Winter Solstice. If, like any sensible person, you've allocated the snowiest days of your holiday vacation to reading comic books, you may be headed to Emerald City Comicon in March - now just 69 days away. Or maybe you're not, because you have this damaging Con myopia that limits your vision to San Diego and New York.

If you're in the latter category, you should really reconsider. Especially if the following conversation, which I have at least 23 times a year, rings true:

Them: San Diego Comic-Con just isn't about comics anymore. It's all about Hollywood now. They've completely forgotten their comic book fans and I'm so sick of it.

Me: Well, actually, Emerald City Comicon is very focused on comics and has great writers and artists -

Them: Nah, I only want to go to San Diego.

This is such a misguided attitude. So if you can find room in your heart for more than one Con, know that ECCC is widely considered a comic lover's Con - a place where you can buy coveted back issues, discover genuinely creative titles and go to panels featuring interesting talent, instead of just the same established artists and writers who always get trotted out at SDCC or NYCC. There's a reason people from all over the country fly to this Con.

And they've already announced some great people for this year - including one of the brightest stars in comic book heaven, Jaime Hernandez of Love and Rockets glory. It's hard to come up with anyone who can match the Hernandez Brothers in terms of the longevity, depth and complexity of their oeuvre, not just in comics but in all of literature. So obviously Jaime is a compelling reason to hit up ECCC but they also are offering people like James Tynion, Terry Moore, Chris Roberson, Dan Parent, Tim Sale, Chris Claremont, Colleen Coover and more, including guests who have yet to be announced.

The Artists' Alley is stellar and so is the shopping - it goes way beyond San Diego Comic-Con (which I think does still make an effort to balance TV/movies with comics, despite the ongoing public lament), especially in terms of small press and independent offerings. You know how sometimes you restlessly prowl through the SDCC Exhibit Hall aisles, looking for that new title or book or artist to blow your mind - and you realize you're just seeing the same titles you see on the shelf at your Barnes and Noble? That won't happen at ECCC. You'll make discoveries. I guarantee it.

The panels are good too and because you won't spend much (if any) time in line and it's all very centralized, you won't have to sacrifice 4 hours to make 1 panel.

 Love and Rockets

And because I know you're wondering, they bring the Hollywood starpower too. This year gives you Mark Sheppard, Felicia Day, Shannon Purser, various Walking Dead and American Gods stars - all without a Hall H line. And we're also getting Musicalley, which they describe as "Artist Alley for the Seattle nerd music scene." They have the cosplay championship, the Writer's Block, a vigorous gaming area, a family area with workshops for kids, the Schoolism Live workshops for artists and well, you get the idea.

But really ECCC has comics - comics in panels, comics at night events, comics spilling out of boxes and booths, signings and sketches and graphic novels and ancient back issues and whatever else you might want. So if you're wistfully hoping SDCC will one day return to the comic show it used to be (it won't) or just grumbling over your terrible luck in Open Registration - go ahead and get your ECCC tickets. Saturday is sold out but Thursday, Friday and Sunday are still available.

And then you'll be only 69 days away from your next magical Comic Con.

ReedPOP on the SDCC-SLCC lawsuit

11 DECEMBER 2017

Last Friday a fascinating court case came to an end: the trademark lawsuit between CCI and Salt Lake Comic Con was decided in CCI's favor.

Reactions have ranged from "what a stupid lawsuit" to "Salt Lake was asking for it" to "I thought all Comic Cons were run by the same company" and more. But one of the most dramatic reactions has also been one of the most unrealistic: that this is the beginning of a trademark tidal wave that will force every Con to change its name.

That just isn't going to happen. If you have any inkling of what attorneys cost, you can understand that waging a legal battle for 2.5 years likely cost CCI far more than the paltry $20,000 they got from this trial. There's no way they can take on every Con in the world. And CCI isn't some kind of warlord that wants to crush every other Con under its heel. I suppose they could send out Cease and Desist letters and request events to enter into licensing agreements with them, as some have done already. But we're not going to see a rash of name changes where San Diego is the only Comic-Con left standing.

ReedPOP and all those other Comic Cons

That brings us to ReedPOP, the apex Con master in the world. I'm not saying that to cast shade on CCI, just pointing out that the vast number of events they manage dwarfs everyone else. It's reached the point where if our planet undergoes some kind of massive dying-off that rescrambles nation-states, I fully expect ReedPOP to have their own continent where it's Comic Con all the time.

So I asked them what they thought and if they foresaw any interaction with the naming of their own many Cons. Here's their statement:

"We haven’t seen anything issued from the Court or the jury other than what has appeared in the press. Until there is a final disposition of that case, we will reserve comment.  Nevertheless, we expect there to be no impact on our continued use of the New York Comic Con name for our annual event now well over a decade in existence or use of any of our other proprietary event names."

So yes, we will have other Comic Cons and they will keep growing and multiplying and fascinating us. This lawsuit (which I still doubt is over) isn't going to change anything for attendees. Not anything that matters.

Welcome to Open Registration


10:16 am

So what did we think about this sale?

I noticed that Preview Night sold out quicker than in Returning Reg. That doesn't mean fewer PN badges were sold - the pacing could have been different - but I do wonder if CCI decided to allot more PN badges to returning attendees. There seemed to be a longer gap between PN selling out and Saturday going as well.

Several first-timers told me they got lucky with 3 or 4 days - this is always so gratifying. I was able to help some local first-timers get Sunday or Thursday and Sunday badges, including a mother and daughter who've tried to go for two years now without success. If you fall into this category, don't feel bad if you got a partial badge. SDCC can be quite overwhelming your first time, and you'll get plenty of Con in 1 or 2 days. You'll also find a lot to do outside the Con on your unbadged days.

And if you didn't get a badge? If you completely came up short? I'm sure you're pretty peeved right now. And that's natural. Go ahead and sulk and vent and indulge in something to make yourself feel better. But then you should turn your eyes to the future and look at all the other Cons out there just waiting for you to buy a ticket in 2018. I'll post more on that later.

Whether you did or didn't get a badge, you do know for certain if you're going to San Diego Comic-Con 2018. And you know now, on 9 December. Did you like completing both sales before the new year? I really see a lot of benefits in it - a major one being that you can claim that week as sacred now, before your family tries to guilt you into attending a cousin's wedding or your boss tries to make you cover for a coworker having surgery. You can legitimately explain you've already plunked down serious cash on badges and hotel rooms and it's just not up for discussion. You also have more time to hunt for a good airfare deal or find lodging.

Because that's the real monster in our future - the hotel sale. But we can talk about that later. Right now, enjoy your victories and start making plans for your Comic-Con life in 2018.

10:09 am

All sold out!

9:55 am

Thursday's almost gone.

The good news: I now know of 3 first-timers who got in on their own. It's always exciting to know people who going to experience San Diego Comic-Con for the first time.


Saturday and Friday are gone. Hang in there.

9:20 am

Preview Night is almost gone.

9:08 am

Okay, people are getting in.

8:57 am

Almost here. Our last sale, Returning Reg, took noticeably longer to sell out Preview Night and Saturday. Remember that today if you don't get picked right away. We don't know what today's pace will be, but you may as well grab at whatever hope you can.

8:38 am

A final word of advice for first-timers - grab whatever badge you can. Yes, even if it's just Sunday. Unless you're flying in from Melbourne or something, it's still worth it. You can fly in on Friday, get settled, do some events that night, do the offsites on Saturday and then enter the convention center on Sunday. And you'll be eligible for Returning Reg next year.

8:24 am

Welcome to Open Registration for San Diego Comic-Con! Today is the day you confirm you're going to SDCC - hopefully. You can start planning your Wrinkle in Time cosplay, book a room in the Early Bird Hotel sale and brag to all your friends.

Or today you realize you're definitely not going to SDCC next summer. If this happens, don't feel too devastated. You have time to plan for other Cons like New York, Boston, Dragon, Emerald City and others. Don't think these will pale in comparison - they won't. You'll have fun.

If you remember 2017 Open Reg, it was kind of ugly. It set a personal record for me of people not getting in at all. Let's hope this year is a little easier like Returning Reg- but even if it isn't, you'll work something out.

SDCC wins their lawsuit against SLCC - sort of


Surprising many spectators in the Con world, a jury today decided in CCI's favor in their lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con. But as victories go, it was mixed.

What did the jury rule? That SLCC improperly used the words "Comic Con." I know, I know - so does ReedPOP 800 times a day, along with other event organizers. However, the jury also found they hadn't willfully violated the trademarks.

The heart of the decision is this: "San Diego Comic-Con's trademark is valid and Salt Lake Comic Con used it without permission." So will other events be forced to stop calling themselves Comic Con? Realistically speaking, I doubt it. But a CCI attorney called other Comic Con events "infringers" and said "We are pursuing the worst offenders first." Tough talk, but I think we all know CCI isn't about to file lawsuits against more 140 other events.

Here's a summary of the trademark issue:

  • CCI, owner of San Diego Comic-Con, has a trademark on "Comic-Con" with a hyphen - but they were unsuccessful in their 1995 bid to trademark "Comic Con" with a space. 
  • Also protected by trademark: the unhyphenated name "Comic Con International," as well as the event's eye logo.
  • CCI insists its trademarks cover the term "comic con" in all forms, hyphen or not.
  • Salt Lake Comic Con does not have a hyphen.

So what did CCI win?

CCI originally asked for $12 million in damages, with $9 million of that staked out for a "corrective" advertising campaign. (Imagine the witty taglines, the smooth copywriting, we would have blessed with. Such a loss.) What that figure is allegedly based on - and this is very hard for this SDCC attendee to swallow - is a trial statement from San Diego authorities that "the organization generally spends between $20,000 and $30,000 for a month of advertising."

I'm sorry, what? Advertising? To who? They turn away 10x more attendees than they can handle! Maybe that figure covers salaries for PR and the social media director and graphic designer and the Toucan blog, but those are day to day operations, not special campaign costs. You cannot convince me they would have spent $9 million educating the gullible masses on the differences between themselves and a Utah Con where 80% of the attendees are local.

Anyhow, the jury only awarded them $20,000. Chump change in the scheme of things, and unlikely to even cover CCI's attorney fees. For SLCC, I'd imagine it's the humiliating sting of loss that's going to hurt the most. In any case, they interpreted the small amount in a flattering light: Dan Farr's take was "With the damages being nominal like that, I think the jury was saying, 'OK, we want to protect these marks, but you know what, Salt Lake didn't do any damage here'."

I was hoping for a colorful quote from CCI, now that they're flush with victory - maybe from the eloquent David Glanzer, maybe from their attorney Peter Hahn who threatened more than 2 years ago to have the court "force Dan Farr Productions to comply with the law" - but their statement was formal and restrained. Read it here.

So is it over? I doubt it. 

I'll be surprised if Salt Lake doesn't appeal this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of California, but the low amount of damages may persuade the organizers to put it behind them. They have 30 days to decide which takes them right through the holiday season and into the new year. That can change a person's perspective. But it has to be galling to have to change their name (eventually) when other Comic Cons are occurring every weekend. I know that would burn me.

You can chalk up this verdict to many things - the intricacies of trademark law, the flashy car SLCC drove around San Diego all those years ago, a California jury. In the end, both Cons will go on and they'll both continue to be popular and successful. As attendees, we're not affected that much. But it does show how willing these organizations are to draw blood to protect their image and the dollars we bring them.

See you tomorrow during Open Reg.

Are you ready for Open Reg?


On Saturday we'll face our 4th SDCC badge sale this year. At this point, your skills should be ninja-smooth - but because every Open Registration sale attracts its share of first-timers, let's go over the basics.

By now you've gotten your email from CCI with your registration code. Keep that handy for Saturday and don't share it with anyone else; that reg code you were given can only be used for one badge sale session. If someone else uses it to log into another session after you're logged in, you'll be kicked out.

If this is your first sale, here's how it goes:

  • On Saturday, you'll click the link provided between 8 and 9 a.m. PST. (FWIW: I usually do better with sessions that entered the waiting room closer to 8. Usually.) You'll hang out for a while, setting up camp with drinks and a credit card and a list of everyone you're buying for - their last name, their Member ID, the kind of badge they want and what they'll accept. It helps to print this out, by the way, so you don't have to flash back and forth between screens and risk accidentally closing out your session. Just before 9 a.m., you'll hit the loo and remind everyone in your vicinity to be quiet and respect the intense emotional experience you're about to undergo.

  • At 9 a.m., CCI will announce onscreen bar that the sale is about to begin and everyone is being organized randomly into groups. For some reason, it's this message that puts a squirrel in my stomach. But really at this point, it's a matter of fate. You'll wait... check Twitter and Messenger and your phone to see who's bought a Preview Night badge... check the clock.... realize Preview Night badges must almost be gone.... Tell yourself it's okay as long as you get all 4 days... And maybe you'll get picked then or later or not at all. It really is a game of chance. 

  • If you get picked, you'll be asked how many attendees you're buying for: 1, 2 or 3. Be careful - people have accidentally hit 2 instead of 3 and consigned their closest friend to staying home. You'll then be asked to input their last names and Member IDs. If someone has already bought them a badge, the system will tell you so. Then you'll pick from the badges that are left - be careful here too - and then go to a new screen where you'll put in your credit card info, buy the badges and close out.

It's all pretty simple. CCI has significantly reduced the number of glitches and snafus that used to infect every badge sale like a pestilence. While some still occur, it goes smoothly for most people.

Advice and Observations

Let's talk chances. They depend on several factors. Are you working with other people? Your odds went up. Working alone? Your odds are slim. (But not impossible! I know several 2017 first-timers who only had 1 or 2 sessions going and got 4 days.) Last Open Reg was incredibly harsh, the worst I've ever seen, but I believe this one may be slightly better. What I'm basing that on: the large number of attendees I've talked to who aren't coming back to SDCC. But I'll do a post on that topic after Open Reg.

And about new attendees and first-timers: did they create their Member ID before 27 November? If you're not sure if they're eligible, they need to log into their account and look under the Registration Info tab. It'll tell them if they can do the sale or not.

Make sure you've got a credit card with enough room on it for all the badges you might want to buy. Remember, your card isn't charged in real time - and even if your shaking hands mess up a number or your card gets denied, CCI will come back to you and give you a chance to pay with a different card.

If you're working with a group, make sure everyone has everyone's contact information, Paypal, phone number, etc., depending on how you're going to communicate and pay each other. If someone's at work Saturday morning and you're taking over their session, make sure they email you their code.

If you have some kind of office party or holiday gathering Friday night, don't stay out too late or get too destroyed. There's always someone who sleeps through the badge sale or tries to hangover their way through it. Don't be that person.

Screenshot your confirmation screen and any glitches. In the past, CCI has been good about making things right. But last year when I ran into minor trouble during Ret Reg, their answer was "See how you do in Open Reg and get back to us." I'm guessing people have tried to scam them or play on their sympathies to get a badge - so compile all the evidence you can of any hijinks. You'll also want that screenshot to send to anyone you bought for, because if they don't get their barcode when everyone else does, they'll start nervously asking you if you're sure the sale went through.

If someone buys your badge, don't exit your own session - hang in there so you can help someone else out. And don't flounce out in a rage if you hear Saturday has sold out. Three or even two days at SDCC is still pretty incredible.

Remember to have one session per browser and don't crowd too many browsers onto one device, or you're more likely to miss one going live or accidentally shut it down.

Make sure your laptop or other device is ready.

And finally, please remember CCI's warning that all badges bought in the same session will be canceled if one of those attendees sells/scalps their badges. Think carefully before buying for random Instagram friends and other people you don't really know. I know we all want to help each other out. It might feel like a waste to get picked when 4-day badges are available and you have a spot you're not using. But it's not a waste - it'll just go to someone else who's waiting.

Good luck. I'll be participating in the sale for friends and live-blogging and on Twitter.  I was lucky enough to get a Preview Night badge in Ret Reg, so I can't pretend this sale carries quite the same stakes for me, but I am still anxious on your behalf. I know many of you are hoping to upgrade an existing badge, hoping to get a badge for a best friend or new paramour, or even hoping to get your very first San Diego Comic-Con badge ever. I hope you succeed.

The SDCC vs SLCC battle rages on


Just in time to get you in the mood for Open Reg this weekend, we're hearing tantalizing news on the long-running battle between San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con - which you'll be thrilled to hear has finally gone to trial.

I know, I know - you thought this was settled somehow, or at least died from lack of interest. It wasn't, it hasn't. If there's one thing we know about CCI, it's that they are indefatigable when it comes to righting perceived wrongs.

(If you're newish in these parts, CCI is suing SLCC for trademark infringement and basically trying to mooch off their SDCC brand magic. This has dragged on for years and has eclipsed the Zombie Walk/car accident kerfuffle as the biggest court case associated with SDCC. You can read a lot of the coverage, court documents and commentary on SLCC's dedicated page.)

Opening arguments began last week. And make no mistake, this trial is of interest to every Con out there, since it centers on whether CCI owns "Comic-Con," "Comicon," "Comic Con" etc. despite a jillion different events calling themselves such. And it's of significant interest to Con attendees, especially those of us who love CCI for its special brand of absurdity. Only through this lawsuit have we learned:
  • CCI commissioned a study which proved Comic-Con has a higher brand recognition than Jello.
  •  People were attending Comic-Cons in the 1960s, before SDCC was even born. Martin Luther King, Jayne Mansfield, Jim Morrison, Robert Kennedy and Sharon Tate could have attended Comic-Con.
  • Other Cons like Rose City have struck licensing deals with CCI in a preemptive CYA move.
  • Emails from SLCC founders include talk like "leverage San Diego Comic Con to boost our brand here better."
  • George R.R. Martin attended the first Comic-Con at the tender age of 15.
  • CCI has allegedly been deluged with calls and emails from people complaining about a bad experience with SLCC - people who believed they are associated.

To fully experience the convenient nature of that last point, I recommend reading Bleeding Cool's coverage.

If you're beyond sick of the political maelstrom we're all swirling around in these days, this trial could provide an entertaining distraction. Hopefully we get some scandalous juror interviews. But regardless of what plays out now, I don't see a resolution any time soon - there will almost certainly be an appeal. Stay tuned.