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

8 AUGUST 2018




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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.



The SDCC first-timers of 2018

6 AUGUST 2018




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

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


Chris

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

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


Sean

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

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

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

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

Mari

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

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

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

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

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



 JT


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

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

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

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

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


Zach and Katie

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

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

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

They can't wait to go back next year.



Brea

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

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

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

Sara

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

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

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

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



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


ECCC hints about their ticket sale

1 AUGUST 2018



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

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



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

Was SDCC 2018 relevant for comic books?

26 JULY 2018






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

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

Apparently so - at least according to some vendors:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




We also had a few comic book announcements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

San Diego Comic-Con 2018: Review

23 JULY 2018




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

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

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



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

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

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




Okay, let's talk about the Con specifics. 

Panels

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

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

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


News and Gossip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Offsites and Events

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

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

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





The Future of Comic-Con 

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

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

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



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

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

See you at Returning Registration, nerds.

Goodbye, SDCC 2018

22 JULY 2018






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

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





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

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





What do you think so far?

19 JULY 2018





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

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

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



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

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

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

Overall, I heard that most panels have been accessible.




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


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

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

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



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

I'll report back in a bit.

When should you get in line?

18 JULY 2018






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

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

When is a line worth it?

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

When should you get in line?

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

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

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

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

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




What are common line mistakes?

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

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

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






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

I'll do a Preview Night recap later.

10 last minute SDCC reminders


16 JULY 2018




Are we really just 48 hours from Preview Night?

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

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


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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

A note on ConanCon, scalpers and TeamCocoHouse

14 JULY 2018




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

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

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

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



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

4 tips for first-timers

14 JULY 2018



First-timers! By now, if you've been paying attention to Comic-Con exclusives announcements, overlapping events, the shuttle map, the programming, the film festival, the various "when to get in line" tips - you're realizing how chaotic SDCC can be.

So in the interest of helping you simplify your impending Comic-Con - here are 4 practices that can save you time and make sure you come away satisfied.




1. Make of a list of 3-5 priorities.

These should be your absolute can't-miss events, exclusives, panels, signings, photo shoots, etc. Have them on your phone, have them written down, and schedule your Con around them.

Let everything else go. You should still keep a B-list, where if you do have the free time or opportunity, you can check those off your list. But if you show up with 22 priorities, you're setting yourself up for failure. There's just too much competition from other people who want what you want, too many long lines, and too many surprises. You'll wind up spending your time and energy on stuff that doesn't matter. Narrow your focus and you're more likely to get what you really want and come home happy.


2. Document your plan.

If you used CCI's app, your panels and programming should be mapped out. That's a start but you'll want to make sure you have everything else documented as well - contact information for the person who said they'd hold your spot in a panel line, booth numbers for specific items, back-up plans in case you don't get your first choice, all the items you're supposed to pick up for friends, etc. Once you're there, you'll be so distracted on so many levels you'll forget even things that previously seemed urgent. Have some kind of daily dashboard so you don't miss any of the offsites, people, booths and events that matter to you.

3. Make strategic restaurant choices.


An incredible number of people will gravitate toward the most crowded Gaslamp spots, meaning they'll waste 2+ hours on one meal waiting for a table and then waiting for the food and walking back. Remember there are other spots. The Fox Sports Grill at Hilton Bayfront can usually get you in and out without a super long wait; in the other direction, on the other side of the Hyatt, you have the Headquarters which has the always-crowded Cheesecake Factory but also Seasons 52 and Puesto which can usually seat you quickly. Little Italy is not that far away. And if you do go into the Gaslamp, the more expensive restaurants are usually quieter and faster.







4. Read Comic-Con coverage during the Con.

I know - you're there, you're experiencing it, why do you need to read about it? Because you'll find out a lot of things that may elude you in the moment. Lots of nerd sites will run features on the best comics/toys/whatever on the floor or announce "secret" shows or explain how to get into an event you assumed was off limits. It's amazing how often media coverage seems to portray an event completely different from the one you're attending - so check in just to make sure you're not missing out.

I also have some warnings to share about your line strategies, but I'll do a separate post on that.

Staying healthy at Comic-Con

13 JULY 2018




It's the last weekend before Comic-Con. And for many of us, it's our last chance to rest up before the madness starts. Come Wednesday, we'll be staying out very late, getting up very early or not going to bed at all. We'll eat too much bar food, drink not enough water, sit for hours in uncomfortable chairs and stand for hours in tedious lines.  We'll sleep on hotel room floors and slowly leaking air mattresses. And sticking to us at every opportunity will be the germs of thousands of strangers.

Which means you want to stay healthy, right? Or at least keep your engine running long enough to get through Sunday. So here are a few ways you can preserve yourself. First-timers, this is no joke.

#1. Relax this weekend. 

Sleep, lay around, be lazy, get a good massage. If you're already burned out or overworked or you're recovering from a recent surgery or illness, you really need to rest up or SDCC will hit you like a truck.

#2. Bring drugs.

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other painkillers can save your life at SDCC. If you're prone to headaches, the Exhibit Hall volume can bring them flaring to life. Your plantar fasciitis can come back or your hotel pillow can bother your neck. A slipped disc or bad knee can get irritated. If traveling and restaurant meals typically upset your digestion, bring something for that too. And if you plan on partying hard, you really need to bring a cure. You won't be able to hide away somewhere and turn off humanity like you can at home when you're hungover.


#3. Bring physical supports.

If you've had any kind of recent trouble like a sprained ankle, pulled muscle or an injured shoulder, I would recommend bringing any wraps, braces and muscle ointment you can. Sitting or standing in line for long periods can be difficult. Lots of people bring small fold-up stools or even air hammocks to make their line waits more comfortable.


#4. Get assistance if you need it.


CCI provides a wealth of resources to help out attendees who need it. This includes rest areas, private areas for nursing mothers, a first aid team, wheelchairs, ASL interpreters and special seating for large events. If you have mobility issues or any other circumstance that could benefit from a helping hand, go ahead and ask for it.


#5. Boost your immunity.

If you pick up colds and viruses easily, practice whatever faux-medical juju you normally do, like echinacea, bee pollen, Emergen-C, a B-12 shot, etc. I've never gotten sick from the Con but other people swear that Con Flu is real. And you will be touching escalator railings, book covers, photo op props and other surfaces recently contaminated by dozens or hundreds of others. I'm sorry to keep harping on that but I feel like people are so dazzled by the Con that they forget what an infection factory it can be.

#6. Eat well.

Some people like to eat lightly at SDCC; others feel powered by eating luxurious monster meals. Try to eat healthy and don't skip a lot of meals. Don't live off a box of donuts in your room or the stale snacks served up in hospitality rooms. SDCC can be physically tiring and emotionally frustrating, so set yourself up to be energized and in a good mood. I eat a lavish breakfast every morning and carry apples everywhere because you never know when you might have to skip lunch to hold your spot in line, or your friends delay dinner because they are still in Hall H.


#7. Stay hydrated.


Con-going is thirsty work. And buying bottled water on site adds up fast. Bring enough water to get you through the lines and the exertion. As a hiker I follow the "If you're halfway through your water, you're halfway through your hike" rule and the same holds for SDCC. Keep yourself hydrated, especially if you plan on standing in any lines at all, or you could run into trouble.


#8. Don't overdo the hedonism.


I mean, if you're there solely to obliterate yourself, go ahead. But if you're going to SDCC to actually do the panels and hunt exclusives and back issues and take in the offsites, I'd practice moderation. Even if you can pull off all-nighters at home without feeling much pain, SDCC is a much more demanding experience. You'll be irritable and wind up wasting your day in a nap. And you don't want to be a burden on your friends; I've talked before about the year a friend was so hungover we missed all of Sunday, and another time a friend's friend got so high that he wound up lost and we were looking for him until 3 a.m. No one wants to babysit you at Comic-Con.


#9. Prepare mental and emotional resources.

Maybe you're sensitive to crowds and noise. Maybe your roommate's every word is irritating you. Or maybe the Con isn't at all what you expected and you're on the verge of tears for whatever reason. If you're prone to these kind of reactions, make sure you have someone back home you can call and unload on. If you're in therapeutic care and you think the Con might push your buttons, see ahead of time if you can call your therapist. Bring any meds you need. Look up nearby meetings if you're in recovery. I know this all sounds very dramatic but I've seen attendees burst into tears or get into vicious fights with close friends where they had to change hotel rooms. Get help if you need it.

#10. Take breaks
.

If you start feeling exhausted or it's just stopped being fun, cut yourself off from the chaos for a bit. Go hang out in a dark room watching anime for a few hours or go swimming. Ask everyone to let you have the hotel room to yourself for a bit. Sometimes it's just too much humanity for too many days in a row.


#11. Get your sleep.

If you're prone to insomnia, do whatever you can (white noise, sleep masks, lavender oil, melatonin, whatever works) to make sure you sleep through the night. Maybe you're one of those people that doesn't need much sleep; but most of us will feel any severe sleep deprivation hit hard at SDCC after a day. At least take a disco nap before you go out.


Enjoy your weekend. Make it a leisurely one.

Where we are with Conan

12 JULY 2018



Since it whirled into our Comic-Con lives in 2015, Conan has been one of the major gets of SDCC. It's always been tough to get tickets but the first two years felt somewhat manageable. Last year took a turn into chaos, with ticket holders turned away and standby line campers wasting part of their Con on a pointless endeavor.

This year seems to have gone in a different direction; it seems that hardly anyone got tickets. Obviously some people did but those of us with extensive SDCC networks have noticed an eerie lack of confirmations. So here are a few thoughts.

  • Some people have found they do have tickets when they check their 1iota accounts - even though they didn't get an email. So check yours.

  • It's possible the ConanCon team is being extra cautious to make sure they can accommodate everyone, after having to turn people away last year. So maybe additional confirmations will still trickle out as we get closer and they feel comfortable releasing people from the waitlist. That said, I doubt they will be high in number even if this happens.

  • If you don't get a ticket, you can still ask around and see who has extras - but this year, you're part of a very large group and the odds aren't in your favor. Ditto with standby. My advice is to move on and plan a different day. Ultimately Conan is very time-consuming and pretty much hijacks your day for a brief taping. Make peace with not going and find something else to do. It's not like you lack options.

I know this has felt like a tough year overall, but I really believe that everyone will feel the same SDCC spirit once we're all there. Try to stay positive and I'm sure you'll come up with some kind of adventure.


What to wear to Comic-Con

11 JULY 2018






Hey, fashion plate. What are you wearing to Comic-Con?

If you're packing jeans and shorts and t-shirts and that's about it - congratulations, you'll fit right in. See the random attendee sampling in the above photo. But that's most of us, not all of us. I know some of you want to look like you're on a red carpet and some of you just aren't sure about weather and dress codes.

First of all, be assured that no one will mock your outfit at SDCC. This isn't a cotillion. People tend to dress for comfort and as for those attendees in outrageous outfits, no one even blinks. This is an independent-thinking crowd. But if you're a first-timer, the below should help.

Nerdwear: Don't worry about being challenged to prove your knowledge about the gaming character or superhero on the shirt you're wearing. Someone may yell out a quote in a spirit of shared fandom, but you usually won't encounter one of those alpha nerds who like to make people feel inadequate about their nerd knowledge. And don't feel like you have to be deliberately obscure or go in the other direction and be trendy. Wear whatever you want.


Cosplay: Even if you love your costume and the way you look in it, bring alternate outfits just in case. You may get sick of being stopped to have your picture taken, or you might get hot and itchy.  Or you could just sort of deteriorate and look less magnificent as the day goes on due to wig issues, broken weapons, etc. Experienced cosplayers know their limits, but new ones tend to want to change back into street clothes sooner than they think.


Formal wear: I used to shop for Comic-Con like it was the Super Femme Olympics, bringing an array of day and evening outfits, 6 pairs of heels, etc. Now I'm a lazy dresser because who cares? But if you lead the kind of fancy life where people might whisk you off to some kind of formal event, bring something - don't assume you'll have time to go shopping.

Shoes: Obviously bring something cushiony and comfortable. If you're really into flip-flops, be aware your toes may be stepped on when the Exhibit Hall gets crowded. If you don't have a pair of supportive shoes already, you'd better buy and break them in every day. And bring moleskin, bandaids and maybe insoles. Talk to the nurses and servers in your life; they always know all the latest supportive footwear tricks.

Weather: As someone who gets cold easily, I find San Diego nights chilly. I always bring a hoodie and a few sweaters. If you're planning on spending the night outside, I would advise bringing something warm to wear, in addition to whatever blanket or sleeping bag you've got. If you're going to camp through the day and night, wear layers so you can bundle up at 4 a.m. and then peel it all off under an 11 a.m. sun.




Amount of clothes: Don't count on being able to do laundry. I know people who will bring two outfits and alternate them, but you have to realize how grimy Comic-Con can be. You're going to be brushing up against people, leaning against walls, sitting on grass, sitting in seats a sweaty person just sat in, hustling through the Gaslamp under a hot sun, and basically sullying yourself in incremental stages all day. I can't wait to shower the Con off before dinner and there's no way in hell I would wear the same thing that night. Maybe you're not that squeamish, but you'll definitely still want to make sure you have enough clothes.

Makeup and sunscreen: If heavy makeup is part of your cosplay - or you typically wear a full face everywhere - be aware that the Exhibit Hall can get humid and that the hustle between rooms, or between the convention center and the Gaslamp, can leave your face in a smeary mess. That goes double if you're wearing a hat, wig or any kind of headgear. What works in your air-conditioned office can be streaky and melted by noon at the Con. Consider bringing fixative sprays or a repair kit. Bring a good supply of sunscreen as well.

Backpacks and purses: You will need some type of bag to carry your extra phone battery, water bottle, sketchbook, charger, program guide, collapsible chair, lunch and so on. This is especially critical if your hotel is distant, since you won't be able to quickly go back to your room and then return.

Basically, the goal at Comic-Con is to endure. Vanity is beside the point. We all wind up looking rumpled and tired and no one cares. As long as you're comfortable and can meet whatever daytime or nocturnal opportunity arises, you'll be fine.


Let's talk about New York Comic Con

11 JULY 2018

In four days, the general ticket sale for New York Comic Con will go live. You may know this if you're one of many restless SDCC attendees who've decided to seek more Con action in other cities. I've been hearing NYCC mentioned a lot the last few weeks - but often in a vague, not-terribly-well-informed way. So here are a few facts and opinions on buying NYCC tickets.

Is NYCC worth going to?

Yes. But it is different from San Diego, so don't view it as its East Coast twin. I know a lot of people love that feeling of immersion as they walk around the Gaslamp and hit various activations or take pictures of cosplayers. You won't have that exact experience in New York - the Con doesn't engulf the city in the same way. And you're less likely to see celebrities out and about.

However, there are more events to go to - game nights, concerts, comedy shows, benefits, poetry readings, live art shows, you name it. "Super Week" can actually offer too much of a good thing. There's also a more sophisticated bent to some events than you'd see in San Diego. Some are more hipster, others more mainstream. Basically, you'll have your choice of nightlife - whether they're official Con activities or not.

And the programming at NYCC has really improved over the years. On a Hollywood level, this Con is willing to expand the boundaries of who and what it showcases - you'll see movies and TV shows that you won't at SDCC. I find San Diego panels to still be more satisfying but that's me; most people will find something they like.

On a comics level, I'd say NYCC has the edge.


Is NYCC bigger than SDCC?

These Cons have gotten out their rulers time and again to argue about who has what attendance numbers and how those numbers are calculated. I think right now it's accepted that NYCC has more attendees but that's only because they can accommodate more - if SDCC could sell badges to everyone who wanted one, I believe they'd be biggest. All that matters is yes, they're both apex Cons.


Is it hard to get a ticket?

Not as hard as SDCC but getting there. You do need to be prepared, but your preparation outweighs luck. You'll get in if you work for it.


Is it hard to get a hotel room?

No. It's New York. And prices are reasonable.


How do I get a ticket for this year?

You won't, most likely. Just as SDCC has "Member IDs," NYCC has "Fan Verification." If you didn't already complete your profile, you can't take part in the upcoming sale. Fan Verification will open back up and you can then buy any remaining tickets. But I wouldn't count on getting a full ride.


So should I skip SDCC next year and just do NYCC?

No, I'm not saying that. San Diego has a charm all its own. Plus next year it turns 50! There should be some special celebrations afoot.

I am saying that if you really want a big Con experience, consider NYCC - especially if you're in that half of that country. I know a lot of you are done with the SDCC badge sale stress, the hotel room situation and what this year feels like a lackluster studio presence. This week's ConanCon results have also upset a number of attendees. If San Diego is no longer working for you, NYCC is a good place to sow the seeds of your future attendance. Because like SDCC, it's something to plan in advance.


Going it alone at Comic-Con

10 JULY 2018



If there's one theme you hear in connection with Comic-Con a lot, it's friends. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else; I'm always telling people to make friends online or go to certain panels to meet people or make plans to see their friends. But the reality is - and people don't talk about this much - is that a lot of attendees go to San Diego Comic-Con alone.

It's not that surprising. Obviously some of us really embody the shy introverted nerd stereotype and don't have many friends to begin with. Some of us start out with Con friends but then they have kids or mortgages or just lose interest and suddenly we're the 35-year-old whose friends think Comic-Con is childish. Or sometimes we're all set to embark on an SDCC adventure with a boyfriend or girlfriend and then ouch, we break up and now it's too late to get someone else a badge. There are a lot of reasons people wind up there alone.


If this is you - or you're technically going with someone but know you'll do everything separately - I have a few tips for you.

It's fine to be alone, but Con life is much easier with teammates.

I'm talking about line shifts, having someone pick up an exclusive while you're watching Preview Night pilots, bringing you food or holding your seat. Attendees are generally pretty nice people who will honor your place in line while you hit the restroom but overall, it really helps to join forces with someone. On that note...

Even if you don't want to bring someone, consider being part of a Comic-Con group. 

If you hang out online in various nerdy/Con spaces, you eventually drift into these digital tribes where everyone supports each other in badge sales, hotel sales and even panel/offsite access. Consider making this effort even if you're very shy in real life. You don't have to become boon companions once you're at the Con but a little support is nice. It might seem odd to you to become line partners with someone online but these arrangements tend to work out pretty well once you get there. Give it a shot.

Talk to people once you're there.

Look, I hate small talk. I am not chatty with strangers by any means. But there is something about SDCC where everyone somehow easily converses with everyone else. There's always something to talk about - the jerk who tried to cut in line, a celebrity bar story, some kind of badge or wristband fraud, a fistfight in an exclusives line - and people are generally chill and open with each other. You don't have to be pushy, but just participating in these conversations (and they will inevitably spring up around you) can help you make worthwhile and even lasting connections. Remember - you are around people who share your interests. This isn't like being forced to talk to your bigoted neighbors or your coworkers who think having a comic book collection is sad.

Look for fandom meetups, happy hours and dinners.

You don't need to feel awkward walking in (though you probably will) because most everyone else there is a stranger too. Yes, this includes people who "know" each other online. Meeting your favorite forum or Twitter friends in real life can feel even weirder than meeting a regular stranger. No one's what you expect! So just roll with it, introduce yourself and see what happens. You will usually click with at least one person (if not several) in the group. And don't worry about the "odd one" - it's Comic-Con. Most of us are a little odd. Your social awkwardness is completely fine here.

If you're looking for company, say so.

I can think of at least a dozen times when I've been talking to someone who openly says, "I'm here by myself. Can I hang out with you guys?" There's always this adoptive spirit at Comic-Con where people enjoy adding strangers to their wolf packs. So if you're on your own and want some company, just say it. SDCC attendees are generous that way. It's not a snobby crowd by any means.


And if you're extra alone - alone in your hotel room at night while you listen to the city revels outside - do not make the mistake of thinking you're the only one. Lots of attendees are in your shoes. You have the power to make your Con as social as you want it. It just takes a tiny bit of effort.

Calling all first-timers

 9 JULY 2018



Is this your first San Diego Comic-Con? If so, I want to hear your story.

Like a nerdy Elizabeth Bathory, I love seeing Comic-Con through virgin eyes - which is why I've collected stories from San Diego Comic-Con first-timers for many years. I like hearing what they thought, their biggest mistakes, their biggest wins, and if they'll try to return next summer. 

I've noticed that many people who've been hitting SDCC for a while begin to operate within their own comfort zones and tune out much of what the Con has to offer. We also become accustomed to the inconveniences; we don't even blink when a volunteer sends us to the wrong room or someone's foam wing pokes us in the head. That's just part of SDCC. But first-timers who are used to having more control over their environment can be taken aback by some of the inherent Comic-Con chaos. And conversely, they can be enraptured by small wonders we senior attendees take for granted.

Seeing Comic-Con through fresh eyes also helps all of us experience SDCC vicariously through attendees who don't share our interests. Because there isn't one Comic-Con experience - the gaming couple who focuses on tournaments has a very different Con from the women who camp 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.

So. If you have a tale about losing your San Diego Comic-Con virginity - you loved it, you got a photo with the Riverdale cast, your hotel room was wrong, you lost your cosplay wig - I'm all ears if you want to tell it. 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.

You can shoot me an email during or after the Con. I'll remind you of this again -  but if you want to get on my list now, let me know by emailing sdccguide@gmail.com.