The Conan tickets are live & going fast

23 JUNE 2017

So much for our planned all-day vigil. Conan tickets went live before 9 am PST, with fierce demand pouring into the site.

It's still worth trying for a reasonable time. Request all 4 days, even if you know a certain day won't work. You can use those tickets to trade for a day that works better. And don't stress if your entry says "waitlisted" right after requesting - everyone's says that. You'll eventually get an email telling you if you have tickets or not.

But if you're coming into this later, you have options. You can start trying to find someone who got tickets for a day they can't use them or has extra tickets. You can always check with me since I usually know people with tickets. As we get closer to the Con, people will keep giving their tickets away - and you can always go standby.

Good luck.

ETA: In a classic CCI move, we got the promo code after the tickets went live. If you already put in your requests, you can edit them - log into your 1iota account and you'll see a list of your Conan requests. There's an option to edit each of them. Just put the promo code in the same spot with your Member ID.

ETA II: For those of you who are wondering why some attendees got an email with a promo code and you didn't, you have to accept third-party promotions in your Member ID account. Log in and you'll see if you have an X in front of it - if so, remove it. You won't be inundated with spam, if that's what you're worried about.

And don't freak out if you don't have the code. People have gotten tickets without it. But I would advise adding your Member ID to your request.

Conan tickets go live tomorrow

22 JUNE 2017

With barely any advance notice, we found out today that Conan SDCC tickets will go on sale tomorrow - Friday, 23 June 2017. To say this has surprised people is an understatement.

Last year tickets went live after 4 July, so this is a bit early. Conan does say "this Friday" in the video so let's assume that's correct and be vigilant.

Will we get emails tomorrow giving us a head start? We don't know. Previously SDCC attendees have been prioritized for the tapings, so hopefully that will continue.

Make sure you log into your 1iota account tonight and verify your password and other account information. Remember - the person who gets the tickets is the person who has to pick them up in person at Spreckles. So if you're trying to get tickets on behalf of someone else, keep that in mind. Otherwise you'll be dragging yourself out of bed the morning of the show.

If you're not familiar with the Conan tapings or getting tickets - this is for you.

I'll post what I know tomorrow. Talk to you then.

ETA: I did get a Team Coco email this evening but it didn't provide a special code. More will be revealed, I guess.

It's Comic-Con Scam Season!

22 JUNE 2017

You know San Diego Comic-Con is almost here when talk turns to scammers, con artists and thieves. Capitalizing on the thirst for Con badges is an old tradition and a profitable one. The game has changed along with badge sales and pick-up methods, but what stays the same is this: people losing their money without setting foot inside Comic-Con.

CCI blogged about fake badges today, a post everyone should read. Here's the gist of it:
  • Only badges procured through CCI are legit.
  • Counterfeit badges can look very convincing. Apparently the international game is strong on this one.
  • Badges sold on Ebay, StubHub or other "secondary markets" are voided.  
  • CCI security does spot checks to make sure you have the ID to match your badge.

What I will add: scammers steal social media photos of badges with names on them - and if CCI sees those, they void the badge. People have been warned about this for a year now but they're still posting badges with their names showing.

Can you buy a badge from a scalper?

Yes but you shouldn't. I know I'll get my usual wave of irritated emails telling me scalped badges are fine and I don't know what I'm talking about, but there are some good reasons not to buy from a scalper:

1) You're encouraging a toxic pattern where more and more scalpers fill the badge sales*, getting a bigger share of available badges to sell at wildly marked-up prices - hurting attendees (like you) trying to get a badge.
2) Scalpers won't hesitate to screw you over just like they're trying to screw CCI. Your Rick Grimes badge could be fake.
3) If you do get checked for ID and can't produce the right one, you may eliminate your chances of going to SDCC ever again.
4) CCI is against it. They don't want badges being resold.
5) While getting a badge legitimately is difficult, you can increase your chances by getting active in the SDCC community and working with a group. And then you can reallocate that extra $1-2K on a swank room at the Marriott Marquis.
6) You can go to other Cons that are just as fun while you wait for the 2018 badge sale.

I'm a realist; I know that people are desperate to go to SDCC and if they can afford to drop a small fortune on a Preview Night badge, some nebulous code of honor isn't going to stop them. I also know plenty of scalpers are operating offline to avoid the CCI Black Ops Task Force.** So go ahead and continue sending me your smug emails about the great badge you just bought on Craigslist where you actually saw the confirmation email. You may indeed have bought a real badge and you'll probably have a great time at the Con. But I guarantee some of you are getting taken for a ride.

* CCI and other people say the high demand for badges makes it hard for scalpers to prevail. I say: do the math. Let's say 100 scalpers got picked last year in Open Reg 2016, getting 3 badges apiece. (I don't know the real number but I heard of quite a few people being approached by scalpers or doing business with them.) That gave them 300 opportunities in Returning Reg this year. Assuming at least 200 of those got into either RR or Open Reg, and got 3 badges apiece, now that's 600 spots they have for the next Returning Reg and 900 for the next and so on. You get the idea: even if it's a "small" number of scalpers, they're still taking badges away from rightful attendees for their own profit.

**not its real name

The Exhibit Hall Map is live

21 JUNE 2017

How exciting: the Exhibit Hall map and Exhibitor List are live. First-timers, this may sound dry - but you really don't want to skip it.

Tell me if this is you: you hate reading directions, you can figure out everything on your own, you prefer spontaneity and rolling with your own personal Tao as opposed to following roadmaps, and you often feel blessed by serendipity. Yeah, me too. But I still study the Exhibit Hall map and plot my course - and you should too.

This is what CCI just published:

The Exhibit Hall map

The list of exhibitors

The list for Artists' Alley

The list and map for Small Press Area 

The Fan Tables map

Why This Matters

Because the Exhibit Hall is a mindblowing colossus of noise, crowds and visual stimulation, and you will not accomplish your goals if you try to wing it.

"But I don't have any goals," you might be saying. To which I say: "Hogwash" and point out there's no point in merely shuffling along zombie-like with the crowd, which is what you'll do if you don't have some kind of plan upon entering.

I mean, you can just trudge around and see what there is to see. But if you have any kind of collectible, comic book or general idea in mind - you want a Neko Atsume shirt, you want to get your boyfriend a certain ancient X-Men issue - it helps to look up vendors in advance. Sometimes you'll see a publisher you didn't know would be there, or get an idea for something you do want. You don't have to memorize everything, that would be impossible, but you will get a little more organized. And you won't be on a flight home Sunday night and realize you never did see that amazing Walking Dead photo op everyone else is posting on Instagram.

The myths and realities of the Exhibit Hall

You can see everything by walking up and down every aisle. No. The crowds are too thick and the booths too crowded for you to spot every single item. I've walked right past favorite artists doing signings because there are just so many people around. The above video gives you an idea of how crowded it is.

You'll remember everything on your list. First of all, you'll have your own list and the wish list from coworkers, roommates and friends - and much of the latter will take the form of "If you see a Ms. Marvel statue" or "Any Orphan Black toddler shirt" etc. And once you're on the floor, with video games thundering in your ears and Darth Vader blocking your path and footage flashing on multiple screens, a lot of thoughts will fly right out of your head.

It's all overpriced crap that's available cheaper on Amazon anyhow. No... er, not always. Yes, some of those "rare finds" aren't so rare once you check online. But you will see unusual gizmos you can't find anywhere else and if you have even a few nerd molecules in your blood, you'll probably spot some weird item you can't live without. My friend's girlfriend was so not into Comic-Con when he took her, but she was thrilled with a Lily Munster figure she found, and that happened only because he steered her to a small booth of vintage horror stuff.

Artists' Alley and Small Press are just indie people who don't have much commercial appeal. No a thousand times. This is exactly where you find new artists, books and work that are magnificent. There is so much talent operating outside the big houses these days. These areas may not be your cup of tea but if you have any comic/art/lit interests, you should make them a destination.

The Exhibit Hall is all Hollywood studios, with nothing for comic book geeks. Not true. Yes, there is plenty of studio bombast. There are also aisles offering books from Fantagraphics, Last Gasp, Boom, Drawn and Quarterly, Oni Press and others. Lots of back issue dealers. Graphic novels that get cheaper every day. I won't pretend San Diego Comic-Con is what it used to be in this regard (it's not) but this comic nerd always finds a few treasures to take home.

You've come so far on your Comic-Con journey. You've spent serious money on badges and hotel rooms and maybe cosplay and airfare. The last thing you want is to show up and not understand how to navigate the booming chaos around you - so please take a look at the maps and use them to shape your agenda. Because your mind will be blown the moment you walk into the Exhibit Hall for the first time.

Getting ready for Conan

20 JUNE 2017

Happy Summer Solstice! Let's forget about this West Coast heatwave for a minute and talk about getting Conan O'Brien tickets.

This has been one of the most in-demand SDCC events the last 2 years. As with many things SDCC, there's some confusion on how to get tickets and considerable disappointment when people fail to get in. So I want to talk about what it's like to really go to a Conan O'Brien taping and how you can increase your chances of going.

What it is

Conan O'Brien tapes his show at the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego during Comic-Con. A free Funko Pop is handed out to everyone who goes to the taping.

When it's happening

During Comic-Con. Right now only Thursday, Friday and Saturday are listed on his site but we may get a Wednesday show, as we have before. We know 4 Pops are being handed out so presumably there will be 4 tapings.

How to get tickets

Tickets are free and theoretically available to all - but SDCC members have been prioritized in the past, receiving an email with a special code. How do you get that email? You need to make sure your Member ID account does not opt out of third-party emails. You should also sign up to get the Team Coco notification which is from the Conan O'Brien team.

In the past, we haven't gotten much advance notice; you need to stalk your inbox and be ready to jump into action. Given this is unrealistic for most people with jobs/lives, the Conan sales are very much about luck. This sale is a bloodbath, as with everything SDCC, and even being quick on the draw isn't enough to necessarily get tickets. But it helps that in the past, we've been able to request tickets (maximum of 4) for every single day.

When the sale goes live, you'll go to the site and try to get the date and number of tickets you want. Previously they've asked for your Member ID and the email promo code. However, some non-attendees have gotten tickets.

How to go even if you don't get a ticket

This can be easier than actually scoring a ticket in the first place. Option 1: the time-honored SDCC tradition of trading. Maybe you have a Preview Night badge and can pick up an exclusive for someone in exchange for his Friday Conan tickets. Maybe he just wants you to give him the free Pop.

Option 2: just asking. This will be something you'll need to do consistently. Some people will give away their tickets right away (because their friend scored as well) and some will wait until the programming is released, to see if the Con is offering something better that day. And some won't give their tickets away until the day of or before. But trust me - people will give away their tickets. Going to a Conan taping can sound great until someone is too tired to go through it all. (See below.)

Option 3: flying stand-by. This helps if you're in cosplay or otherwise visually vivid, because the producers want crazy-looking people up front to say "SEE HOW COMIC-CON WE ARE" to the viewers at home. But even if you just show up in streetwear, you have a good (not guaranteed) chance of getting in.

What it's actually like to go

Armed with your photo ID and e-ticket, you'll wake up at daybreak and hurry to Spreckels Theatre to get in line. Eventually after 8 the line will begin to move and everyone will get a wristband and paper ticket at the box office. At that point you're free to go. You'll head back up early to mid-afternoon, line up and eventually be let into the theatre. It'll all be done by 5-5:30; as you leave the theatre, you'll be swarmed by desperate-looking people whispering bids in your ear for your Conan Pop.

Now, let's talk about if someone gives you a ticket. Unfortunately you can't just pass tickets around. My first year I had to go stand in line and then, when it started moving 2 hours later, text the person who actually had the ticket with his name on it. He and his friend came and took my place in line, got the wristbands, then deftly cut/taped them onto me and my friend at a hotel.

Timeframes, if you're curious: Year 1, I got in line at 6 am  and the line was already long. It began moving before 8:30; my friend had the wristband a little after 9. I got back in line around 2 and got into the theatre after about 45 minutes. That was the first year. Last year SDCC blogger Travis managed to get us VIP tickets so it was quite different.

Overall, this is a time-consuming affair.  It's not just popping in and out in the late afternoon, as  I naively thought. And please know that the actual cast is on the stage for a very brief time. I'm not trying to dissuade you from going, but you do need to be prepared to sacrifice most of a day for this. If you have a Preview Night badge, consider choosing Wednesday so you won't miss any panels; just be ready to hotfoot it back to the convention center after the show. And if you're missing badges for Saturday or other days, obviously Conan is a great alternative.

The guests

When buying tickets, you won't know which cast will appear on which day, though as we get closer it'll be easier to guess. You may not get your dream cast, but all of the guests will be good - so don't worry that it'll be a waste of a show.

For now, keep your ears perked for more information -  and create an 1iota account if you haven't already. Then be ready to swing into action. We're in Comic-Con season now and constant vigilance is the rule.

Batman and Harley Quinn premieres at SDCC

19 JUNE 2017

If you've spent your last few SDCC Friday nights in Ballroom 20, watching The Killing Joke and Justice League: Gods and Monsters, get ready to continue the tradition: Batman and Harley Quinn will be the next DC premiere to thrill (or disappoint) you.

If you're not familiar with the storyline, Poison Ivy goes full genocidal maniac in an attempt to save the planet - prompting Batman to seek Harley Quinn's help in catching her. It's described as "a thrill ride of action, adventure and comedy no Batman fan has seen before." And it probably won't have any gargoyle-laced sex scenes, so it has that going for it over the Killing Joke movie.

As always, you'll get a panel discussion of the voice cast and creators. Kevin Conroy, Melissa Rauch, Paget Brewster, Loren Lester, Sam Liu and ....maybe Bruce Timm? Not sure if he'll be there or not. But I do know this will be a top Comic-Con destination Friday night - so add it to your agenda.

San Diego Comic-Con 101: a primer

17 JUNE 2017

Sometimes I think these are the most frustrating weeks of the Comic-Con calendar. A month out from the Con, all the announcements on panels, exclusives and events make it seem like we should be walking into the convention center any minute now - but we still have these final weeks to get through. Time slows to a crawl.

So below is a list of tips on navigating SDCC for first-timers (or those of you who still feel you're getting the lay of the land.) I know you're smart, I know you can figure it all out on your own, but here's the thing - San Diego Comic-Con is really complicated. And figuring it out takes time. Yes, you can just show up and amble around but you'll miss out on so much magnificence if you do. To make sure you hit the right events, meet the right people and find the right nerd treasure, you'll want to make sure you're prepared on a number of practical levels. The SDCC devil is in the details - ask anyone who got derailed by a headache from Exhibit Hall noise or got incorrect directions and spent an hour in the wrong line.

These below posts can help you know what to expect and get the lay of the land in advance. Some of the particulars are outdated,  but you'll get the gist of navigating the Con.

Common questions about the Con

The size of the convention center

Transportation at SDCC

Advice for first-timers

Doing SDCC on a budget

What people haven't liked about Comic-Con in the past

Why you should ask attendees for help

The care and feeding of security guards

Staying healthy at Comic-Con

Is SDCC summer camp for creatives?

Portfolio Review and other marketing opportunities

Designing your Comic-Con agenda

Eating well at Comic-Con 

13 Tips for Getting in Line 

Packing for Comic-Con

And if you're one of the people fuming over all the excited tweets and posts you're seeing, because no one told you about the badge sale! - here's how to join us next year.

The IFF schedule is up

13 JUNE 2017

The International Independent Film Festival schedule is up. If you're headed to Comic-Con namely to see blockbuster trailers and get an autograph from your favorite actor, this may sound like a yawn to you. But here's why you should pay at least a little attention to the film offerings at San Diego Comic-Con.


The CCI-IFF is held at the Marriott Marquis, next door to the Hall A side in the Marriott Grand Ballroom 3 & 4. It runs every day of the Con and offers the chance to see indie films from around the world in the following categories:

  • Action/Adventure
  • Animation
  • Comics-Oriented
  • Documentary
  • Horror/Suspense
  • Humor
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy

There are awards for each category in a Sunday ceremony, after which the winning entries are re-screened.

If you're curious how "indie" is defined, that's changed somewhat over the years. You're not going to see the same lineup you'd see at your local arthouse theatre. But you will see a mix of truly indie films scraped together from someone's Kickstarter and slightly bigger-budget - but not quite mainstream - movies.

This year is strong in the horror/sci-fi/fantasy categories. But some of the most anticipated fall into the documentary category: namely Neil Gaiman's Dreaming Dangerously, Ukiyo-e Heroes and Welcome Home, Dick Van Dyke. All 3 air on Saturday so if you want to dodge the odiferous weekend crowds of the Exhibit Hall, head for the IFF.

Comic-Con Film School

Screenings aren't the only thing the IFF offers. They also offer educational workshops on topics like screenwriting, pre-production or managing a film crew; there are also panels about making movies on your phone, financing indies and other topics for creatives on the rise.

In other words, you can benefit from the IFF whether you're a budding filmmaker or just looking for some passive entertainment in a dark room.

The regular movie tracks and marathons

The IFF isn't your only cinematic option. SDCC will offer a steady stream of genre movies, from cult classics to obscure horror films to children's films to nerd favorite TV episodes. Whether you're looking for anime or the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk fights a giant rubber lizard, you'll find your favorite flavor of escapism.

You might be wondering why you'd ever waste your valuable Comic-Con hours watching a flick you can see in your living room. I can only tell you that SDCC movie tracks can be a welcome reprieve from the lights and thunder of the Con. They can also be an undemanding way to spend an evening when you don't want to stay in your hotel room but aren't up to some Gaslamp rager.

Just something to consider; you cineaste attendees already know where you're headed. But if your typical movie diet tends more toward summer blockbusters, don't write off the IFF too quickly. It might become one of your favorite parts of San Diego Comic-Con.

The SDCC Daily

12 JUNE 2017

Not the most thunderous day in Comic-Con news, but we did see some exclusives. Such as...

BifBangPow is bringing Batman and Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

How cute are the Ren and Stimpy from Funko?

Factory Entertainment unleashed a new Back to the Future Time Circuit keychain. Small + affordable ($15) + loyal fandom = a highly popular exclusive.

If you want to go incognito at SDCC but can't find the right mask, one of these crocheted superhero masks might do the trick.

Are you hungry for a free souvenir? NinjaBot is giving away free buttons at booth L-08.

Finally, Moebius Models showed off some very cool exclusives, including:
  • BvS Batwing finished version with bag, 150 pieces
  • Frazetta Death Dealer exclusive edition with signature sleeve and pin, 120 pieces
  • Frazetta Death Dealer Pin Set, 400 pieces
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey HAL pin, 1000 pieces

Being semi-obsessed with HAL, I am definitely getting that pin. I actually thought it was a fancy IoT doorbell at first, one that could address visitors in a HAL voice, but a pin is good too. And just so you know, the BvS Batwing (pictured up top) comes pre-assembled out of the box and includes a cockpit, landing gear and removable forward gun housing.

While anyone can order, Moebius is focusing on SDCC attendees picking up at the show. If you want to place a pre-order, email


And yes - badges are still arriving in attendee mailboxes.

Let's kick off the SDCC Daily for 2017

10 JUNE 2017

It's happening; we're getting new announcements on the regular about exclusives, comics and more. So what's happened lately?

If you got your badge days ago, it might be hard to believe they're still landing in mailboxes - but they are. Just like last year, photos are getting stolen off social media so block out your name if you post yours.

Diamond has paraded their 2017 exclusives around to Internet applause - Batman Beyond/Terry McGinnis, Dark Phoenix, an emerald-studded Poison Ivy, Ghostbusters, the Flash and more.

 Entertainment Earth brings us Spider-Man and Green Goblin; Icon Heroes brings a Rebirth Wonder Woman; Factory Entertainment announced that Deadpool co-creater Fabian Nicieza is doing a rare signing on Friday and Saturday of their Deadpool collectibles.

And if you have a spare $250 in your pocket, you can pick up Stan Lee's God Woke graphic novel there at the Factory Entertainment booth as well. It's okay if you keep accidentally calling it Woke God; I do too.

Do you want to walk the runway at the Her Universe SDCC show? Share your own personal Wonder Woman in this Hot Topic contest.

Black Panther has electrified the fan world this week; expect some expert cosplay and very long lines for anything Pantherian at the Con.

A word on exclusives for first-timers - they're not always that exclusive. If, for instance, you feel it's just not Christmas without the Starship Enterprise hanging from your tree, and you're worried you can't hack the SDCC Hallmark line, you'll be glad to know Hallmark will sell more of these ornaments beyond the 225 they're dishing out daily at the Con. Same holds for little Walrus Man below and some other booths/manufacturers. Do your homework before you waste time in line. I'll do a post on crafting your exclusives strategy.

After innumerable contributions to our collective nerd life, Adam West passed away at the age of 88. His Con panels were incredible and I think we can all agree that there's nothing better than watching stodgy Batman get flustered as Julie Newmar slinks around 1960's Batman episodes. Let's hope Adam gets the special commemoration he deserves at the Con.

We know Adult Swim is bringing the RickMobile to Comic-Con - but attendees are wondering if their On the Green tour is coming to SDCC. Dates haven't been announced yet if so.

Behold the first Preview Night acquisition I will hold in my arms: Death from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. What's your #1 exclusive wish so far?

Finally, a reminder for those of you who want to attend a Conan taping - make sure you are signed up in your Member ID account to receive third-party emails. Yes, you can try to get tickets on your own but in past years, attendees got emails with special codes to enter during the ticket request. Make sure you're one of them if you want to go. I'll do a special Conan post down the road to explain the process.

Oh - and really finally - I've been getting asked where all the offsites are. I know pickings seem slim so far this year. Bear in mind we still have more than a month to go and more events will be getting announced. But even if we do end up with an oddly low-event Comic-Con, I promise you will find plenty of things to go. It's not like you can ever run out of events, panels, tournaments or attractions at SDCC.

But if you're genuinely worried about this, you can always start your own event. Don't be passive - whether you want to arrange a small get-together of online friends or throw an actual bash for your specific fandom/hobby/lifestyle choice, be the change you want to see at the Con.

Stay tuned. More and more announcements are filling our world.

6 weeks to Comic-Con: a checklist

4 JUNE 2017

6 weeks from Wednesday, we'll be walking into San Diego Comic-Con. How long is 6 weeks? Long enough to get a lot done and not long enough to put things off. I realized that Friday when I tried to schedule a hair appointment and was told I couldn't get in for partial highlights until the end of June. Vapid story, yes, but there's a point; if I had waited a few weeks longer, I would have to go to Comic-Con looking like a cavewoman. And if you wait too long to get your stuff done, you too might regret it.

Maybe the delayed Returning Reg badge sale knocked our internal clocks off kilter, but I know several people who feel like Comic-Con is still months away. It's not, so here's a quick rundown of tasks you might want to take care of now.

#1. Get your car serviced. If you have some kind of arduous Comic-Con road trip ahead of you, get your oil changed and A/C and tires checked before departing. You don't want your Preview Night badge to go to waste while you're sitting around a California auto shop.

#2. Sell back issues, collections and action figures online. It's always good to clear out some display and storage space while making extra cash for SDCC.

#3. Get your money in order. If friends owe you money, if you need to transfer funds between accounts or if you need to resurrect a credit card for your final hotel bill, you may as well take care of it now. In case you come up short, you can still find ways to cover yourself.

#4. Take care of any prescriptions, salon appointments or medical care. Whether you want to get a pedicure for Comic-Con, need a different hair color for your cosplay or want to get new contact lenses or renew a prescription that might run out during SDCC, make your arrangements now. Think too about things like knee braces and other supports you might need to help you stand/sit for long periods.

#5. Get the jump on any deadlines and work coverage. Depending on your field, you might already be plunging into holiday/2018 launches and projects, so make sure your presence won't be critical for anything 19-23 July. If you can put in some overtime now to get someone to cover you during SDCC, do it. Being expected to call into meetings or "be available" during Comic-Con is like adding just one drop of cyanide to a milkshake. Do whatever you can now to unplug completely next month.

#6. Start walking. You did this already, right? .... Right? If not, 6 weeks is still plenty of time to build up some stamina. Break in your Con shoes while you're at it so they feel like heaven by mid-July.

#7. Order stuff online. If you need extra device batteries, an air hammock or special costume components, consider ordering ahead of time so you can make sure it's what you need. And speaking of costumes...

#8. Test-drive your cosplay. Don't just try it on. Take pictures of yourself from all angles in it, walk around in it, imagine you're spending hours in a crowd in it. Any discomfort you feel now will be magnified x37 at SDCC, so don't vow to just power through. You still have time to make adjustments or find something else.

#9. Contact your friends and arrange meetups. We're still a month from finding out the programming, but it's not too soon to talk about getting together. Float a few possibilities and get people thinking about it. If you wait until you're at the Con, everyone's schedule will book up. And if you need to reserve any kind of space - do that now.

#10. Get your networking and marketing materials ready. Whether you're printing new business cards, buying a special campaign domain or compiling samples for Portfolio Review, don't leave this to the last minute or it will show. Get everything printed, published and polished now.

This is a busy time of year - weddings, graduations, 4th of July parties and summer vacations can all overtake our schedules. The next 6 weeks will fly by. Take care of the practical stuff now so you have time to luxuriate in Comic-Con anticipation later.

Are you my favorite first-timer?

1 JUNE 2017

Going back 6 years now, I've collected stories from San Diego Comic-Con first-timers - what they thought, their biggest mistakes, their biggest wins, and if they'll try to return next summer. This cranky old veteran always gets a thrill from seeing Comic-Con through fresh eyes, and it helps me understand how SDCC comes across to attendees who don't share my interests. Because there isn't one Comic-Con experience - the gaming couple who focuses on tournaments has a very different Con from the guy who camps out for Hall H, who in turn has no idea about the comic nerds bouncing from IDW booth to Image panel to DC signing, who can't imagine what it's like as a cosplayer competing in the Masquerade.

And while you as a first-timer can benefit from the experiences of old-timers like me, you can learn just as much (if not more) from people who were recently new. Like many people who've been hitting SDCC for a while now, I'm guilty of operating within my own comfort groove and ignoring half of everything else. And my perspective is skewed - I'm so jaded I don't even blink when a volunteer directs me to the wrong room or someone's wing bops me in the head, because that's all part of SDCC. But first-timers who are used to having more control over their environment can be taken aback by some of the inconveniences of Comic-Con. And conversely, they can be enraptured by small wonders we senior attendees take for granted.

So. If you have a tale about losing your San Diego Comic-Con virginity - you loved it, you got a photo with your CW crush, your hotel room was wrong, your cosplay armor broke, you were discovered during Portfolio Review - I'm all ears if you want to tell it. You can shoot me an email during or after the Con. Because while I don't know precisely what kind of Con you're going to have, I do know you'll come out of it with some incredible stories.

I'll remind you of this again right before Comic-Con -  but if you want to get on my list now, let me know.

Jack Kirby is enthroned on the Souvenir Guide cover

31 MAY 2017

100 years ago, someone named Jack Kirby was born to co-create the world of comic books and superheroes as we know them. To acknowledge his spirit birthday - and honor another famous comic book cover - Bruce Timm and Todd Klein offer us a Souvenir Book cover that's markedly different from past covers.

You can see the original cover they drew inspiration from below: #141 Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, on sale for 25 cents! I love old comic books so I'm down with this.  What do you think?

First-timers, you may be wondering what a Souvenir Book is. The "Souvenir" part sounds a bit frivolous, as if this is just a glossy keepsake, but the annual Souvenir Book is something you'll enjoy reading - full of interesting articles and art. You'll receive your copy when you arrive at the Con.

We're finally past the aggravating part of Comic-Con season and into the good part. Can you feel it?

Badges are shipping out way sooner than we thought

30 MAY 2017

                                                            Last year's King Spam envelope

It's happening: after saying badges would ship out 3-4 weeks before SDCC, we're finding out that our badges are already in the mail! CCI, you wily minx, you are so unpredictable. First you make us wait what felt like 8 years for the badge sale; now you're catching us off guard with this early badge mailing.

This is good news for several reasons. One: it gives people more time to rectify any problems like "Oh crap, I moved and forgot to update my shipping address." You'll have time to have your mail forwarded to you. Ditto if you weren't sure where you were going to reside this summer and listed a more stable residence as an address. And in what is probably my favorite CCI email address ever, you can contact if you don't have your badge within 10 days of your email.

Another benefit: it jolts us all out of our holiday weekend "I don't have to think about Comic-Con yet" daze and makes us realize it's almost here. It's time to get the wheels moving.

A few words of advice:

  • Last year our badges came in the most spam-like envelopes ever. (See above.) It was an envelope that practically screamed "Sketchy house buy offer" or "Fake charity solicitation." I don't think we'll get the exact same envelope this year but we do know it will be "a plain, non-descript package for confidentiality." So you won't have to worry about your postmistress starting a side hustle of stolen SDCC badges... but you will need to be careful you don't chuck it in the trash. 

  • That said, this year's badge is coming in a pretty box with a special Comic-Con pin. So I don't think it will be easy to overlook as last year. (The badge theme is still Walking Dead, starring a grizzled Rick Grimes.) There's some question as to whether everyone gets the pin; I certainly hope so. It feels rotten enough to not get a full badge. Being deprived of a pin would just feel too classist.

  • Don't post pictures of your badge with your name showing. Devious criminals stole some badge photos last year, used them on Ebay and other online sites, and those innocent badge-holders got in trouble. Obviously you want to brag hard about your badge on Instagram, but block out your name first.

  • Find an expert hiding spot for your badge, especially if you have any parties or houseguests planned. True story: my friend's friend stole his badge as a joke last summer, intending to give it right back after watching him have an epic meltdown - but then he forgot where he hid it. They did find it in time for Comic-Con but barely.  Make sure your dog can't chomp on it, your most vengeful sibling can't kidnap it, etc.

Badges will be mailed in batches, so don't worry if you didn't get an email yet. Just be alert and watch your inbox and your mailbox. 

Shotguns and knives at Phoenix Comicon

25 MAY 2017

By now you've probably heard the news: a Phoenix Comicon attendee was arrested at the Con today with three handguns, a shotgun and several knives. He was also wearing armor.

Someone reported the man after seeing threats he'd made on social media toward the police, including photos of officers he'd taken at the Con. He was apprehended; PHXCC responded by outlawing prop weapons for the event and adopting tighter security measures. If you're headed to this Con this weekend, you may want to give yourself extra time to get in and out of the different buildings and adjust your cosplay as needed.

Here's what you can expect:
  • 3 dedicated access points for people with badges - 3rd Street at Monroe, 3rd Street at Washington, 2nd Street between Washington and Monroe
  • Only 1 access point for people who need to pick up their badge - 3rd Street at Monroe 
  • All costume props - shields, sabers, etc - are not allowed. If you buy a prop on site, the vendor will wrap it and it will have to stay that way. PHXCC prefers you take your purchased weapon to your car or hotel as soon as you can.
  • Any events or panels altered by today's security incident will be posted on the Phoenix Comicon site.

And that might be the end of this story - but it's not the end of the larger security issue,  one I know most of us have been thinking about after the Manchester bombing. San Diego Comic-Con is high profile, the dense perimeter crowds offer an easy target for anyone without a badge, and half of everyone is masked or lugging packages around. When terrorists target 12-year-old girls at an Ariana Grande concert and mass shooters take on movie theatres, there's no reason why nerds - or the celebrities at SDCC - would be exempt.

CCI has addressed this in the past; last year they announced that we would be protected by a variety of federal, city and country officials and bomb-sniffing dogs. I expect that this year security will be increased even more. As for whether security measures could affect Con entry, cosplay rules, bag checks and other policies, we'll just have to see.

And on a side note, I apologize for not posting much recently. My ex-partner and one of my best friends died last Friday. We went to our first San Diego Comic-Con in 2002 and every one thereafter through 2009, and I haven't much wanted to think or write about SDCC this last week. I'll be back to regular posting after Memorial Day.

ETA: Several people I've talked to are peeved because they worked hard on their cosplay and now they can't bring their cardboard props, light sabers, etc. PHXCC is giving refunds if you feel that strongly about it - you can email But I'd advise going anyhow.When you're not in cosplay and posing for photos, you can find all kinds of things to do at the Con.

I've also been asked if I think this will affect the Dick Van Dyke extravaganza on Saturday. My answer is no. However, I do think the line for general seating will be insane, so I'd advise getting your Exhibit Hall meanderings in today and scheduling line shifts with your friends for tomorrow.

Change your badge mailing address immediately

17 MAY 2017

Can you believe we're only 63 days from Comic-Con? I can't. It feels like we all just locked down our badges and hotel rooms 10 minutes ago and are just starting to breathe easy again.

And yet our badges will soon be sailing through the U.S. Postal Service, as CCI reminded us today. Tomorrow, 18 May, is the last day to change your shipping address for your badge. If you don't have a solid address for June - it happens, people are traveling all summer or embarking on internships or changing apartments - then pick your most dependable friend/family member and put in their address as your shipping address.

Because, and let's give CCI a virtual hug for this, they're now letting us have 2 addresses on our Member ID profiles: a home address and a shipping address. This is very convenient for more nomadic attendees, students, and international people.

Yes, international people can now have their badges sent to their best American pal. As you know, CCI won't mail badges to Hong Kong or Brussels or Mumbai; last year, international attendees had to pick up their badges on site. Which wasn't the worst thing in the world, but now CCI is eliminating even that step if you prefer to have a friend receive your badge.

As for when the blessed event/anxiety vigil will occur, CCI says badges will ship out 3-4 weeks before the Con. Basically, you'll know it's started when people begin filling Instagram and Twitter with pictures of their badges.

Make sure you're one of them - and change your address now if necessary.

Nerd HQ won't be at SDCC this year

12 MAY 2017

If you didn't get a badge for San Diego Comic-Con and you were hoping to fill your days and nights with Nerd HQ - forget it. Zach Levi just announced they aren't coming.

If you're familiar with their history, they've struggled in the past to find the funds to come to SDCC - and it sounds a lack of such is the issue this year.

Bright side: They are hoping to present other activations. He is "committed to whatever we can bring you, in whatever form" and promised that the next week will bring a flurry of announcements about other things they're doing.

So this may leave a hole in your Comic-Con plans - but if you have a badge, you should be able to find something else to fill it. If you don't and were coming mainly for Nerd HQ, you may want to rethink the entire idea.