Pre-registration and validating your badge

31 JULY 2015

CCI's Toucan blog announced something we already knew/guessed; the number at the bottom of your badge is critical for Pre-registration. And there's going to be another "window of validation."

For those of you who went to SDCC for the first time this summer, and thus are embarking on your first Pre-registration ever, here's how this works.

You'll get an email notifying you that you have a certain period in which to log into the system and "validate" your Member ID for Pre-registration. You'll do this by entering your badge number. Here's the email from last year:

As for Pre-registration, that functions as a lottery much like the Open Registration you took part in earlier this year. Only 2015 attendees can participate, but only a portion of badges are available. So yes, it increases your odds of going in 2016 but it's nothing to feel overly confident about since the demand still outweighs the supply.

I know everyone is all about the when of Pre-reg; it's tempting to read into this announcement as a hint that validation and the subsequent actual sale could happen earlier this year. Last year was November and the year before was February, though that delay was due to a new system being tested.

I'd say it's highly possible that Pre-reg could happen earlier this year since CCI seems fairly settled on the process. But if you're frantically trying to set up a buying group now, I'd wait. Things can shift quickly in terms of peoples' priorities. Once the official validation window hits, you can start making arrangements then.

Finally, if you lost your badge or an absent-minded roommate tossed it, I'd contact CCI now and throw yourself on their mercy. They may or may not help you out by looking up your badge number but it's worth a shot.

Overall, it's rather incredible to feel this far out from the Con and be thinking of Pre-reg when we're still in (okay, the last minutes of) July. Although - please indulge my old-timer's reminiscence - it wasn't that long ago when we all pre-registered onsite in the Sails Pavilion and never thought about SDCC again until hotel reservations opened up. It's the year-round pervasiveness of Comic-Con that's different these last few years.

Another hotel option for SDCC 2016

30 JULY 2015

If the brief flurry of excitement over Hotel Z this week got you thinking about next summer, here's another option you may want to keep in mind. That would be the Pendry San Diego, a massive hotel that's going to rise up on 5th Ave, J Street and 6th Ave and no doubt play a role in the future 120,000 future hotel nights allotted to SDCC.

When you were at Comic-Con a few weeks ago, did you walk by what looked like a mass grave site or archeological dig in the middle of the Gaslamp? That would be the womb of the future Pendry. So here's what we know about our newest SDCC hotel option.

Rooms: 317, including 36 suites.

Hotel Motto: Know Thyself.

Amenities: A rooftop pool, 2 restaurants, an "ultra-lounge," a spa and "energizing fitness facility." Also a beer hall, which sounds as if it will feature dime-a-dance girls from the 1930s. Oh, and there will be 22,000 square feet of meeting space so you know CCI is eyeing this place for future panels.

Branding: Pretentious. Pendry was raised on the confidence that service doesn't have to be sacrificed for edifice, because somewhere along the way, your experience has occasioned you to expect both. I'm not sure what this means but I do know it doesn't apply to Comic-Con attendees.

Opening Date: Ah, here's the rub. Summer or fall 2016. So it could be open for Comic-Con 2016 - but maybe not. No doubt the developers are probably anxious to accelerate and collect all that sweet SDCC revenue. But construction is always such an iffy business, so who knows?

Travel Planners Status: If the opening date is still murky by February/March, that suggests that Pendry will not be part of Hotel Day. And thus could be up for grabs for those of you desperate and diligent enough to stalk its very first reservations.

I'll post more when I have a firmer opening date forecast. For now, add this to your playbook of San Diego Comic-Con strategies if you're looking outside the system for housing next summer. Maybe it will be available, maybe not - but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Now everyone's trademarking everything

28 JULY 2015

You clearly didn't get enough trademark legalese served up to you over the weekend regarding San Diego Comic-Con vs Salt Lake Comic Con - so here's more.

Bleeding Cool reports that various other Cons are trying to trademark their names, specifically Boston Comic Con, Rhode Island Comic Con and Kansas Comic Con. (Nary a hyphen to be found, you'll note.) And that Grand Rapids Comic Con actually quit trying for a trademark after being rebuffed by the trademark office with a complicated statement that began, "In the case of Comic-Con, applicant has merely added geographically descriptive wording to a registered trademark. Adding a term to a registered mark generally does not obviate the similarity between the compared marks..."

Et cetera.

I skipped on over to Salt Lake's exhaustive page about the whole subject and found some interesting claims. Such as:

- "Comic Con" has been a "common expression since 1964," years before San Diego Comic-Con was born. Really? I'm sure they have sources for this, but that's definitely news to me. That means the characters on Mad Men could have gone to Comic Con.

- Wait, yes, they even have a newspaper illustration that says "Attend the 1967 Houston Comic-Con June 16-18!!" This is real. SDCC is not the Lucy fossil of comic conventions.

- Just to drive that home: "San Diego wasn't the first comic con. According to the history books, comic cons originated in New York and the United Kingdom at least 6 years before the first San Diego event."

Salt Lake also dug in by posting Alexa scores and some weirdness about SDCC adding 500,000 Facebook fans from Mexico City. And they included one of my favorite articles about SDCC, which goes beyond panting over celebrities and addresses the actual Con itself.

My point being: it's worth visiting their page and looking through all their historical documentation. Even if you're growing bored with this lawsuit, it's generally interesting stuff. Again, I would love to point people to SDCC's "side" of this for the sake of fairness - but there's nowhere to point.

Which is kind of what makes this all so fascinating. You have two major players committed to battle. One old, one new; one bull-headed and silent, one tireless and expressive. Neither shows any sign of wavering. It's like an old Norse legend or lost George RR Martin manuscript come to life - but in a really tedious way. Who's going to win? How will this affect other Cons? What actually happens in SDCC's most secret High Cabal meetings?

We'll probably never know that last. But this legal grudge match has to end decisively at some point or another. Let's just hope it doesn't turn into another convention center expansion and linger unresolved for years.

Booking safety hotels for SDCC 2016

27 JULY 2015

Today I did something I haven't done in several years: I booked a fully refundable downtown safety
room for San Diego Comic-Con 2016. It was a bit of a rush, to be honest - something I thought was lost forever. Years ago I would book the Horton Grand or some other not-first-choice hotel as a backup and then let go of it when I scored on Hotel Day. (And I always scored, until this year.) Then everything started getting non-refundable and I just released the whole concept of backups.

Thanks to "Ace," the best attendee in the world and my very own Winston Wolf - he also got me my room at the Hard Rock and my Conan tickets - that just changed. I have a backup, a good one. Since you're probably curious, it's Hotel Z at 6th and Island - a new hotel, close to the convention center. They're now reserving rooms for next July. With only 96 rooms and reasonable rates, it's selling out fast. (Be aware that I'm working other hotel room angles so I'll probably let go of this room at some point; check back with me in the spring if you fail to get a room on Hotel Day.)

If you're still licking your wounds from last Hotel Day, you might be considering your own safety room action. A few things to consider:

  • Start now and be tenacious. I visited my top 2 hotels in person at the Con to see if I could charm or cajole anyone into an advanced booking. Was I successful? Not at all. But a nice man did give me a date to start checking and a specific person to contact, rather than just letting me go through general reservations. Lesson here: even though it's still too early for most hotels to book SDCC 2016 rooms, you should find out all you can. Sometimes you'll get the right person on the phone, play to someone's sympathetic side or discover a side door. On that note...

  • Do call on the phone instead of going through the site reservation app. Possibly you hate making phone calls; I do too but a human will sometimes do for you what an algorithm can't. Get names, make any personal connection you can, and see if you can find out who to call back a few months from now. Run through all your special discounts and memberships and see if the hotel makes an exception for any of them.

  • Don't just contact hotels on the Travel Planners grid. There are quite a few other hotels in the area, even downtown. Commenter Ferd swears by the Comfort Inn Gaslamp, an easy walk to the convention center; do your research and you'll come up with a list of options.

  • There was a whole bizarre mix up last year involving lost Omni reservations through Hotwire. It all worked out fine in the end, but it does bear a lesson: if something seems to be too easy or perfect, it probably is. Do your due diligence on any opportunity you find. And check back on any reservations you make.

  • Before you panic and invest 2-3K in a non-refundable, distant room, remember Early Bird.  I realize these rooms are a shuttle's ride away but they are a sure thing (again, I recommend the Sheraton just 3 miles from the Con) and reasonably priced. And you don't have to make a decision until 2016, after you'll actually know whether or not you have a badge.

  • If you've never been to SDCC but are gunning for next summer with fire in your eyes, you're probably determined to get your room now and worry about a badge later. To which I would say... slow down, maybe. Odds are not in your favor of getting a badge. It would be a shame for you to spend thousands on a hotel room and airfare and then realize you can't even get into the convention center. Yes, there's a lot to do around the Con but it's crowded and insane and just one ginormous outdoor madhouse, if you want to know the truth. Slow your roll and go through the normal channels of the badge and hotel sales.

Good luck. And remember, it's never too early to start thinking about your next Comic-Con.

Solving the panel representation issue at Cons

25 JULY 2015

We didn't hear much about sexual harassment this past SDCC season, but the Con world is humming with a different outrage: the failure to include women on woman-oriented panels. This happened last spring when Denver Comic Con had an all-male "Women in Comics" panel and now it's happened again with GenCon offering an all-male panel on "Writing Women-Friendly Comics." The latter has since scurried to include women, but in both cases the initial explanations were similar: We didn't know who to invite or we only knew a few women and they were all busy. It was like a nerd version of Mitt Romney's Binders Full of Women.

Of course, you can see how hard it would be to find women. It's not like we're half the world or something.

Now a huffy person might counter with, But women aren't half the comics industry! Most creators are male! It's just panel math! But it's a little more complex than that. While certain nerddoms and fandoms are weighted by gender, there are certainly enough women creators that organizers can come up with participants with a little effort. Take a look at publishers like Boom, Image, IDW, Oni, Fantagraphics - female colorists, writers, pencillers, editors and more abound.

But effort is where it falls apart. Reaching out and finding a woman creator is apparently just too strenuous for some organizers, who tend to go, "I'll ask around. Wait, I only know two people who fit that category and they're both busy. Okay, I tried."

Resources for Representation

This is an age where the word culture has been elevated into a flag of homogeneity. From New York corporate offices to Hollywood studios to Portland art collectives, people tend to hire and promote people who look like them. People who "fit into our culture," people who "seem like our kind," people in the same social circles with similar political values and education and wardrobes. And sometimes that extends to asking people to sit on Con panels.

It's rarely deliberate; it's just how it shakes out. I've worked in several creative fields and it's exceedingly rare that I see anyone look beyond their network, consider clips or portfolios from strangers or track down talented outsiders. Some of it is ego ("I'm the important one so you need to come to me") but a lot of it is innate human laziness and habit.

Will that change soon? Probably not. But as someone who believes - apologies for the cliché - that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, I hope panel organizers get less comfortable about going with who they know. If you're influential enough to be on a panel at a Con, you have a responsibility in terms of representation. It's not show and tell for you and your cronies. It's content for attendees and you need to provide the richest content possible. That includes having women on panels about women, queer people on LGBTQA panels, people of color on diversity and racial dialogue panels.

Which brings us to Comic Book Women, who put out a press release after the GenCon dustup. Comic Book Women started at ECCC this March, and now the organization serves as an advocacy group for women in the comic book industry. They made it clear this weekend that they can offer candidates for any organizers who need a female professional guest or panelist.

Gail Simone gave them her endorsement: "I get asked to be at a lot of cons. Last year, I turned down over 120 events all around the world, even though I accepted as many as I thought I possibly could. Having Comic Book Women as a resource to offer to convention organizers will be really helpful. Our hope is that we can add a wider range of voices to the many great conversations about comics at these conventions."

And ultimately that's the end game here: helping organizers find relevant and appropriate talent. This shouldn't be viewed as an exercise in political correctness, but rather a tool to open up a more engaging and accurate dialogue. That's one reason we go to Cons, right? To learn, think, explore, discover? To that end, having a wider assortment of panelists with a varied range of experiences is a great thing.

So if you're putting together a panel, event or anthology in the near future, you may want to make a note of these resources:

Comic Book Women will work to find female guests "who can speak on all aspects of the comic book process."
Cartoonists of Color offers a resource for anyone looking for a cartoonist of color for a project or panels on racial diversity.
Prism Comics can suggest LGBTQ creators for events and projects.

It's a start. The Internet made a minor fuss over the fact that San Diego Comic-Con was 50/50 male/female this year; that seemed like a yawn of a statistic to me but then I remembered the number of comic shops that assume I'm there for the manga, the number of Con attendees that try to cut in front of me at a booth because they assume I'm just the girlfriend of the guy paying for his comics rather than waiting to pay myself. Our world still has some cobwebs and stereotypes clinging to it. It's probably going to take groups like Comic Book Women to brush them away for good.



SDCC fires back at SLCC

24 JULY 2015


If you were wondering what CCI had to say about Salt Lake Comic Con's victory lap yesterday, the answer is quite a lot - delivered in their characteristically stiff and inimitable manner, of course. I realized today I've grown rather fond of the stilted statements and emails that emerge from the CCI office. If their communication team is ever replaced by a league of silver-tongued poets, I'm going to have to protest.

Anyhow. San Diego Comic-Con is unfazed by Salt Lake Comic Con's trademark win; they countered with a whole bunch of legal details no doubt intended to chill SLCC's flush of triumph. Paraphrasing wouldn't do it justice so here it is from Bleeding Cool:

 "We were less surprised by the registration than we were of the organizers’ take on it. As there is no opposition process for a Supplemental Registration we of course were not able to oppose it, however we are engaging this matter as part of the normal course of protecting our already granted and incontestable trademarks.”

That's from David Glanzer, CCI's fearless spokesperson. But their attorney Peter Hahn really dishes it out: 

 "The issuance of a Supplemental Register Registration has no effect on San Diego Comic Convention’s exclusive rights afforded by its Principle Register Registrations for various marks including the mark ‘Comic-Con.’ Contrary to Dan Farr Production’s statement, the Supplemental Registration will have no effect on the on-going infringement litigation in San Diego. San Diego Comic Convention will continue to protect its incontestable rights in the Comic-Con mark until Dan Farr Productions discontinues infringement of the Comic-Con mark—even if that means having the Court force Dan Farr Productions to comply with the law.”

Good grief. This is like listening to a spurned lover carry on months after anyone else would have let it go. One hypothetical silver lining: maybe an enterprising filmmaker will make a documentary about this and enter it in the SDCC 2016 IFF. I will throw the after-party myself if that happens.

US Trademark office legitimizes SLCC

23 JULY 2015

If you've been following the legal skirmish between CCI and Salt Lake Comic Con, here's a fresh development: Salt Lake Comic Con got its name trademarked by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This is good news for SLCC and probably a bitter pill for SDCC.

Why this is relevant: "The trademark specifies that no claim is made to the exclusive right to use 'comic con' apart from the mark as shown." Apparently USTPO already ruled that "comic con" was "nondescript" (which as someone who owns a domain called, I enjoyed hearing); this trademark further solidifies SLCC's legal claim to use those words in its name.

If you're not familiar with the history of this lawsuit, it started with SLCC driving a flashy car with an SLCC decal around SDCC last year. (It feels like this has been dragging on for at least 3 years but it really was that recent.) A highly perturbed CCI fired off a cease and desist letter which led to a lawsuit and countersuit.

SDCC's claim: intellectual property infringement, SLCC is too confusingly similar to SDCC in terms of a name, and other branding crimes. SLCC's view: there are a jillion events called "Comic Con" and "Comicon" and "Comic-Con" already so why target them? You can read SLCC's summary of the situation here; in the interest of fairness, I'd point you to SDCC's summary but - shockingly - they aren't sharing much about it.

So that's the situation. SLCC founder Dan Farr provided a telling quote: “Now hopefully we (and many others around the country) can fully focus on producing exciting comic book related fan events called comic cons. Maybe, in some small way, we have played the role of heroes in this battle.”

That would suggest the "battle" is over - but is it?

Comic-Con is more important than football, says SD

21 JULY 2015

Obvious choice is obvious: a highly scientific poll has found that San Diego thinks Comic-Con is almost twice as vital to the city as the Chargers, with 61% choosing SDCC and 38% choosing the football team at most recent count.

But we could have told them that, right?

Your Comic Con fall forecast

18 JULY 2015

Are you:

1) lamenting your inability to go to San Diego Comic-Con last week?
2) still reverberating with euphoric adrenaline because you did go, and now you're desperate to renew your high?

Then this is for you. Just a quick reminder that there is Con glory beyond the San Diego Convention Center and that you still have several appetizing options before you:

Boston Comic Con. Okay, this is right around the corner and not really in the fall. But as a former Bostonian, I can tell you that it is a beautifully brainy, nerdy city that will appeal to any book lover/cineaste/gamer. And Boston Comic Con seems to be pleasing the local geek populace. Full tickets available except for VIP and Stan Lee VIP. 31 July - 2 August.

DragonCon. Full memberships still on sale. This is the best farewell to summer party you could have. 4-7 September.

Alamo City Comic Con. This Texas Con launched 2 years ago with 35,000 attendees; last year it shot up to 73,000, fast-tracking it to major Con status. All ticket types are available, including VIP packages. 11-13 September.

Salt Lake Comic Con. Full tickets are still available, including VIP and Gold packages and multi-passes and other deals. I won't pretend this is an SDCC replacement Con (which the lawsuit seems to have suggested to some misguided minds) but it is a big, busy Con with a lot of impressive guests lined up already.  24-26 September.

New York Comic Con. This is not sold out. Thursday tickets are available and so are Super Week passes. And please remember that unlike SDCC, there are no ticket refunds and so quite a few people will be selling theirs. Yes, some resale prices have been ridiculous but expect that to fluctuate a bit as we get closer and more people start having conflicts. 8-11 October.

If you're international - or simply well-funded - there are Cons in London, Sydney and Paris too. My point is that you shouldn't be moping around and waiting for next summer. Don't give in to learned despair just because you missed out on San Diego. There are many great ways to spend your Comic-Con dollars and if you choose to explore one, I don't think you'll be sorry.

What first-timers thought of Comic-Con: Part II

17 JULY 2015

They're back: another group of first-timers has weighed in on their experiences at the greatest pop culture convention on Earth. Read on for a mixed group of reactions.


Lea is not just a first-time SDCC attendee but a first-time cosplayer. She spent the entire Con in 2 costumes - day and night. Her experience: She didn't realize how often she'd be stopped to be photographed, which made it hard to get through the Exhibit Hall or even go eat. She said being a cosplayer involves a lot of small talk, which she's not good at, and that several attendees quizzed her on her knowledge of the character she was cosplaying as. (Fake Geek Girl subtext alert!) However, she also went to 2 cosplay events and met "a mentor" and said that on the whole, she found the SDCC culture to be "welcoming even if you don't know what you're doing or where you're going. I had to ask a lot of people for help and everyone was very nice about it."

Her biggest complaint was staying at a Comfort Inn far away from the Con. "The shuttle was ok but it made a difference in how tired I got because I couldn't go back whenever I wanted. And once I got back to the room I didn't want to go out again."

Verdict: "I want to go back next year. And stay closer."


Technically Cory is not an attendee as he worked at a booth but it was his first Con. His impression as a booth babe: he expected the worst but most attendees were "decent enough" and well-behaved. He said that very few tried to barter with him. (This is surprising given what he was selling, which I can't reveal here.) He did get to see Kevin Smith and got into the Nerdist party, which he said was dull. "It was like any other party." As an action figure collector, he didn't have the freedom to chase down what he wanted; however someone else at his booth was able to buy some Hot Wheels exclusive for him, which was his main wish list item. He also was able to tap into some kind of vendors' exclusives trading circle, which he said was useful for some people but didn't have anything he wanted. So that's a thing apparently.

On the business side: His boss "didn't sell as much as he thought. He goes every year and he says the last few years have been dropping and it probably won't be worth it much longer."

Verdict: Will possibly go back. "Maybe, if I can talk my girlfriend into going."


For someone who wound up in the Thursday/Sunday split, Julie had a pretty full SDCC. They camped for Hall H on Thursday and did the Exhibit Hall the same day. That's fortitude. On Friday, she did Petco Park and Nerd HQ and the Nintendo Lounge, and - oh dear god - stood in line for 7.5 hours for the Game of Thrones experience on Saturday. "Definitely wasn't worth it." That just convinces me these activations need to pass out time-slotted tickets or do scheduled onsite reg to avoid wasting everyone's time. On Sunday, she got Patrick Rothfuss's autograph and did the Exhibit Hall again. She also wound up with Con Crud and had a sore throat and cough by Monday night, just to complete the experience.

Her feelings: "Nothing prepares you for the crowds. Nothing prepares you for the lines. I read your blog and lots of blogs but it still doesn't bring it home until you get there." She also thought they should move the exclusives sales out of the Exhibit Hall. Speaking of which, "I didn't see anything on the floor I couldn't get off the Internet so wasn't really blown away with what you could buy." The exceptions were a Cartoonist Guild t-shirt and a Weta Hobbit t-shirt.

Verdict: Not sure if she's going back. "If you asked me Sunday night - I would have said no. Given a little time - now maybe."


I met James on Thursday at the Grant Morrison panel, at which time he was confident that he could completely control his Comic-Con experience. When I saw him again on Sunday, he was somewhat demoralized due to a string of disappointments. Now that he's integrated his experiences, he thinks that better planning would have helped. "There's no way to know how hard it is just to get places in time, or the number of people you're up against just to get into panels. I did get all my variants. I saw the Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo panel and got signings at the Boom! and IDW booths. But I kept hearing about things like the Grant Morrison signing after they happened and I still don't get how everyone knows about them. Not everything is in the guide." Ultimately he felt like he missed a lot of events that were what he'd hoped to find, so he went home on a somewhat bitter note.

Verdict: "I might go next year but I'll do it better this time."


He and his wife had Sunday badges only, so they did offsites the other days, including Conan's Friday show which he described as "priceless." He especially treasured the Funko Zombie Conans. "Little did I know that these free toys would be worth so much and be my most prized possession of this SDCC." On Saturday, they did the Little Italy farmer's market and then did the FX Fear Arena. Wait times were: 15 minutes for a bag and lanyard, 30 minutes to get a picture in Fargo snowglobe, 10 minutes for free Squishees from the Kwik-E-Truck. Adult Swim was too packed for them so they headed over to Petco Park, where they did the Hello Kitty food truck, and the Gotham and Dark Souls exhibits.
Once he was in the Con proper, he had a good experience: "Our goal was to buy stuff and we did.  I was able to get the comic book exclusives with no lineups and my wife picked up some Marvel/Star Wars toys similarly from independent retailers." He also got "a great storm trooper hoodie from Stylin" and "some awesome Star Wars dog toys." Around 5 pm, they headed upstairs and discovered an SDCC secret I didn't know: they start giving away extra bags at this time. He acquired a few Supernatural bags and partook in some of the trades in the area for a Supergirl bag. They stayed over until Monday, at which point he reported the Gaslamp District "reminded me when Vancouver 2010 Olympics ended and suddenly the energy was gone."
His one celebrity encounter: "Finding Ron Jeremy slumped over in a chair in his booth of movies, pretty much out of it.  At least I got a picture with him while he was awake." I have to say here that Ron Jeremy may have achieved the highest visibility of any celebrity at the Con; he showed up in 3 separate friends' photos, 2 other friends' stories and I was at the same party as him on Saturday night. Say what you will, but many celebrities wish they got talked about that much.
Verdict:  "We are totally going back with the intention of getting as many days as we can.  Our friends saw our pictures/reports and are now seriously contemplating a trip out to SDCC too." In particular: "I'm still seeking that 4 day badge experience. We're also thinking maybe we should fly in earlier to see the city a bit more before the convention (and leave Sunday night before it dies.) I've heard positive things about ECCC so maybe we'll hit that one up too since it is close to us and might fill the void if we fail at SDCC 2016."

This is another long-lost returner who last attended in 2006-2007. She did the Con Thursday-Saturday. One complaint: that when picking up her badges at the Town & Country on Weds, there was no sign saying parking was 15 dollars until it was too late to turn around. That was annoying, as they were there less than 10 minutes getting their badges. They camped for Hall H Thursday starting at 3 pm, which let them take pictures with Peter Capaldi, and also fit in the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, waiting for 45 minutes at the BBC booth for a Doctor Who shirt and Tardis jacket. That's really not that bad; she didn't have any line to get her exclusive Arrow/Flash coffee cup the next day, and also made it into the Indigo Ballroom to see Rick and Morty, Bob's Burgers and Archers with only a 90 minute wait.

Saturday she got to the Ballroom 20/everything else line at 4:30 am so she could immediately get into the Exhibit Hall (which she did) to get a ticket for Outlander autographs (which she didn't.) Comic-Con disappointments, they come to all of us. But she did get into Ballroom 20 without missing any panels and wound up only 3 rows from the stage for Outlander. That night she did Hall H for the Superhero night screening. Side note: we've had years where it was almost impossible to do Hall H and Ballroom 20 in the same day. In a year where the lines were weirdly manageable, that ability has apparently returned.

Verdict. "Oh yeah, for sure going back next year!"


One of Warren's roommates was ill in their hotel room, which forced him to stay out and about as much as possible.  So it's not surprising the crowds wore on him. "I was ready to go home by Saturday morning. It's just too many people." However, he also befriended a number of attendees and got invited to a small press party Friday night which led to an offer of some work. "It was out of the blue, I didn't expect anything like that so that was awesome." While the Con "was downhill from there," he doesn't regret going. "It's been on my bucket list for years and now I did it. I don't have to wonder. And I know how different it is from what I thought so I don't have to worry I'm missing out."

Verdict on going back: "No, definitely not."

And that's it for San Diego Comic-Con 2015. I hope you all had a beautiful Comic-Con and got something you really love out of it. I'm now shifting to an off-season posting schedule, which means I'll post items of interest related to SDCC and NYCC and ECCC as they arise, until we hit that nexus of anxiety known as Pre-registration. Until then, stay nerdy and try not to miss me.

What Comic-Con means to investors

16 JULY 2015

Are you curious how San Diego Comic-Con is going to impact your portfolio? (Assuming you have one and it's chock full of major studio stocks.) I'm pretty sure the Motley Fool just wanted an excuse to talk about Star Wars, but this article does contain a few speculative points on how Con performance can impact trading prices and where you might want to invest your discretionary stock dollars. Spoiler alert: that would be Disney, who consistently makes 15%-17% returns on equity year after year.

What first-timers thought about Comic-Con: Part I

16 JULY 2015

Comic-Con ended 3 days ago, but I'm betting most of us are just beginning to acclimate to normal life again. Going back to work, catching up on your sleep, sorting through your piles of merchandise and connecting on social with the attendees you met; it's a process. And many of us still have boxes from UPS and Fed Ex to unpack in the coming days and professional leads to follow up on. Comic-Con is like a bell that takes a while to stop ringing.

But a few first-timers have already compiled their thoughts on what they thought about SDCC, so let's hear what they have to say.

Emma. Emma had a fairly lucky Con in that she experienced very few lines and got into top panels at Indigo and Ballroom 20 without waiting. The longest line: 30 minutes for Stephen Amell at NerdHQ. Which of course is nothing. "I feel that I was incredibly lucky this year to get all the exclusives I wanted, plus others, and get to see everything I wanted to without much of an issue, and in good seats." That's the ideal first time SDCC experience.

Verdict: "Totally going next year."

Lane. Lane is more of a returner than a true first-timer, which made his take interesting. His last SDCC: 2005. His reaction was thus split into two parts. "When I first got there, I thought Holy shit and just wanted to go home. It was too much. The Exhibit Hall is not at all what I remember. I was more or less depressed the first day but the second day I snapped out of it and tried to take it for what it is now. It was great people watching. But I went to fewer panels than I used to, so even though the Con is bigger now it felt like it shrunk for me."

Verdict: May go back. "If it happens, it happens. I think I will be looking at more focused events."

Rob. As a gamer, he focused entirely on the tournaments and a few gaming offsites. His take on SDCC for gamers: "There are people of all levels which can make it hard in either direction to get a good play in. Some of the demos were good. I wish now I had done more of the other stuff." It's worth noting that he did not do Gam3rCon, which might have changed his perspective.

Verdict: "I wouldn't go back just for gaming." He said he would go back with his girlfriend for more of a well-rounded Con.

Colin. Colin had one of the unluckier stories I heard. A hotel reservation misfire kept him busy all of Thursday looking for alternate rooms. (His original hotel was finally able to accommodate his party with a smaller room and cot.) One roommate lost his wallet and had no photo ID to pick up his badge. Somehow that got worked out but once they were in the Con, they experienced these rites of passage: wrong directions from a security guard/uniformed person, leading them away from their panel, and waiting in the wrong line on a separate occasion, which they didn't realize until they were in the room and the panel started. But after all that, they still had a good time.

Verdict: "I might go back but I'll be okay if I don't get a badge."

Manuel. This attendee was all about exclusives and thus had the most dramatic ride of any first-timer. There were toys that sold out, misinformation on where to get in line, deals made with shadowy resellers, money exchanged behind a food truck, and finally, 3 of his 5 top items in his hands. "It's worth it to work every angle because that's the only way you can get some of these figures." He still has plans to track down his other items on the post-Con online market.

Verdict: "Yeah, I'll be back next year."

Calista. She was at Comic-Con for the vaguest of reasons: her friends got her a badge. So she went along for the ride and as it happened, that ride was pretty spectacular for her. She did Hall H on Saturday and loved it, did some animation panels on Friday in the Indigo Ballroom (less enthusiastic) and discovered an author she liked was at the Con. While she missed the autograph session, it did inspire her to go back next year and focus more on the publishers' booths. One thing she didn't like: the nightlife. "It seems like there's a lot going on but really it's just a lot of people and not much to do." I can see that.

Verdict: "I'll go next summer but I'll probably do it on my own."

Amber. Amber is a 2nd-timer (you can read her report from last year here) but I thought her experience was worth including because it shows how SDCC can feel on return. Thursday they spent 4 hours in line for the Game of Thrones experience. "I'm sorry to say it wasn't worth it. It was basically a bunch of photo ops (insert pics of us getting burned up by a dragon, as white walkers, or on the Iron Throne) and the lines inside were slow-moving too. It was actually pretty dull and we missed the NASA and Industrial Light and Magic panels to attend it." She said they won't bother with it next year. She also gave an unfavorable report to the Black Panel.

What was great: tacos at Puesto in Seaport Village, the Orphan Black panel, the Quick Draw panel, and the Her Universe Fashion Show. "It was well-organized and fun, had great swag, and showcased incredible creativity!" She also had Jared Padelecki from Supernatural come to her dinner table and chat for a few minutes. "He was so friendly and charming - definitely the nicest celebrity I have ever encountered." Amber, you are officially the envy of one of the most berzerk fandoms on the planet. She and her husband also saw Stan Lee, the cast of Gothan and the Superman v Batman trailer at the Con, the Nerd HQ conversation with Joss Whedon, and a guy from KISS, Kevin Smith and M. Night Shyamalan at the Omni.

So that's my first crop of first-timers. Other reports are rolling in; I'll post those in a few days.

Comic-Con 2015 in summary

14 JULY 2015

So what did we think of San Diego Comic-Con 2015? Let's break it down.


The lines were easier than they’ve ever been in recent history. Even Hall H had walk-in panels, and the wristbands allowed people more freedom to leave if they wanted it. Picking up your badge: not as onerous. I’ll say here that I did hear complaints from mostly first-timers about being shut out of panels after failing to anticipate their multiple-hour waits, so bear in mind you’re hearing my fatalistic veteran’s perspective. But overall I think a lot of us would agree that one of the worst aspects of SDCC was not that bad this year.


I can’t really speak to this. I did see someone break down in sobs over some kind of exclusives line kerfuffle. I also failed to procure a collectible for one of my best friends, but only because she didn’t ask until Saturday. And as I mentioned earlier, I waited in a Preview Night line only to be told they took cash only. I saw the usual lines and disgruntled faces around Mattel and Hasbro. But most people I know got what they wanted, or just skipped the whole ordeal. The fact is, it’s pretty rare for any SDCC exclusive to stay exclusive – even when they wash up on Ebay at inflated prices, those prices tend to drop quickly – so I think a lot of attendees aren’t as life-or-death about it at this point.

Preview Night. 

This year I was hit with an immediate ennui walking through the aisles. I waited for that accelerating thrill to course through my veins – and it didn’t. Partly this is because I know I can buy almost anything there somewhere else – and partly because I have been to so many Comic-Cons at this point that finding fresh offerings is rare. You could say that’s just me, but my overall feeling is that PN is not as much of a get as it used to be. If you’re an exclusives fanatic, PN is probably a major deal for you. If you like PN because of the ease of picking up your badge, well, the other days are pretty easy for getting your badge as well. If you like it because it’s not as crowded as other days – it’s gotten pretty crowded. That said, I will probably scream with outrage if I fail to get a Preview Night badge next year.

The Exhibit Hall. 

Let’s start with the temperature. Last summer it was humid and rather repellent at times. This year the ventilation seemed much better and even the crowded areas were more comfortable. As for the booths – as I said above, I’m a jaded attendee at this point who’s seen a thousand vendors selling lanyards, spooky dolls, vintage Godzillas, woolly mammoth paintings, Daryl Dixon tank tops, ancient Weird Tales back issues and 50% off graphic novels. So what do I know? You probably loved it.  I did cart home an incredible pile of books, so I’m not complaining. And I did think some of the photo ops were great.


I think CCI continues to provide an ideal mix of panels. I luxuriated in the abundance of science and comic book panels. Plenty of you probably enjoyed the collectors’ panels or TV pilots or trivia games. Hall H was epic this year. The selection was top notch. The actual content provided? Mostly it was killer – from where I stood anyway – but an exception was a lot of the big Hollywood panels. This is an unfortunate trend of the last few years; some of the biggest name panels deliver up the barest bones content. They don’t make any interesting announcements. They don’t put together any behind-the-scenes reels or sneak peeks. The cast seems disengaged and counting the minutes till they can walk off the stage. It all feels obligatory and flat, and frankly is a bit of a pisser for fans who just traveled through 11 circles of hell to see that panel.

I realize the numbers have been run and SDCC marketing doesn’t drive the ROI once thought. Hollywood isn’t quite as generous with us as it used to be. But dialing in perfunctory panels doesn’t solidify fanbases. It alienates them. And when someone does bring the thunder – like Star Wars – that just shifts loyalties even more.


Oh, was there some? I missed it. You hardier types who endured the lines for certain panels probably picked up t-shirts in the Premium room, but most of us left most panels empty-handed.


Some were good, some were a snoozer. Some wanted attendees to jump through too many marketing hoops, like when I walked up to Adult Swim (there was no line) and they stopped me and said I had to get out my phone and register online first before I could take the 2 steps inside. Some seemed to close quite early or maintain inconvenient hours. Given the massive crowds in the area, it seems odd to invest in erecting an activation and then keep it dark for most of the day or night. A lot of attendees who waited for GOT said it wasn’t worth it; I couldn’t find anyone who did the AHS Hotel one (and why didn’t AHS rent a few rooms in an actual hotel and do something there?) and the Fear the Walking Dead seemed good, but many people didn’t know about it. Assassin’s Creed looked fun.


I skipped pretty much every “official” party so I can’t talk here. Reactions seemed mixed. I think a lot of this comes down to the ability of you and your friends to create fun wherever you are – which is a summation of SDCC in general. If you wait for a party to electrify you, you’ll probably be standing around awkwardly and wondering why all the Comic-Con coverage makes the parties sound like a nerd Sodom and Gomorrah when they’re more like a boarding school mixer for introverts.

Overall I thought Comic-Con went smoothly.  “Smooth” may not be what most of you were looking for and if you don’t have past Cons for comparison, you might disagree. But while many of the usual inefficiencies prevailed, mostly the massive beast that is the Con moved and roared as it was supposed to. 

If you didn’t get out of it what you hoped, my advice is what it’s always been:

  1. Be more proactive about creating your SDCC fulfillment instead of waiting for it to be dished up. The Con is too big and too busy for you to be a passive recipient. You have to decide what you want, find out where it is and do what you have to do to conquer it.
  2. Consider if SDCC really is for you. Maybe another Con is a better choice. Despite all the “Nerd Prom/Vegas/Mardi Gras” appellations associated with SDCC, many nerds and fans don’t find it that enthralling. Knowing that it’s not for you is a gift, because you can spare yourself the spending and stress the rest of us zealots go through.

One thing that’s changed is the personal significance of each Con. There was a time when if you didn’t particularly care for the panels or fought with your roommate or had some kind of major miss, you could shrug it off and look forward to next year. With the odds going increasingly dire in each badge sale, none of us can know for sure that we’ll be there in 2016 or the year after that. That does lend a heightened emotional value to this or any Comic-Con – an awareness this could be your last immersion in its glory for some time.

The Buzz Awards for Comic-Con 2015

13 JULY 2015

Now that San Diego Comic-Con is over, what's getting the loudest buzz? Here's what I'm hearing about - not just from attendees but from people at home. These may not be the "best" of what was served up at Comic-Con, but they are definitely getting talked about and burrowing their way inside the collective fandom psyche.

Trailers & Sneak Peeks

The Magicians
Ash vs Evil Dead
The Hateful Eight
LEGO Dimensions
Batman vs Superman
Hand of God
The Expanse
Black Ops III
Con Man


The  Killing Joke will be an animated feature.
Dark Horse is bringing back Lady Killer.
Vampironica returns to Archie.
Joss Whedon is creating a female Victorian Batman in Twist.
Multiversity is getting more books.
Fight Club will be a rock opera.
The journey to Mars is survivable and will have its own drinking water for us when we arrive.
Legend of Korra comic is coming.
Squirrel Girl is relaunching.
Milestone is coming back to the DC Universe.
Her Universe is getting a reality show.
Raina Telgemeir is releasing an original graphic novel called Ghosts.
Lena Headey and John Oliver are part of the Danger Mouse cast.
Ben Affleck's Batman will have his own movie.
Grant Morrison and Stan Lee's Humble Bundle project will help underprivileged girls in India.
Vertigo is releasing The Twilight Children, teaming up Darwyn Cookie and Gilbert Hernandez, and New Romancer.


The Vikings drinking horn that could be refilled with discounted beer at Gaslamp bars.
The Star Wars concert.
JJ Abrams passing out donuts to the Hall H line.
The actual lack of lines for many panels and badge pick-ups.
The accelerating fandom for Steven Universe.
The Lumberjanes winning an Eisner.
Gwen Christie getting her due.
John Lewis cosplaying as himself during the 1965 Selma march.

On the whole, there weren't many upsets at Comic-Con. While no one could have predicted the Star Wars concert (which like a burning bright star blotted out the buzz of every panel around it) we did expect Star Wars to be big, and Batman v Superman too. We probably didn't expect GOT panel and off-site to be a yawn. (Though we didn't care much that they were.) We were curious about The Martian and Fear The Walking Dead and Warcraft and Suicide Squad, and our curiosity was sated. (Sort of.) We got a lot of good comic book announcements. We found out Conan was coming back.

In short, nothing really shook up our nerd world. Comic-Con this year was like a massive gourmet pop culture feast at our favorite restaurant - it satisfied with a lot of favorite dishes and very few risks.

Remember to save your badge

12 JULY 2015

As you sort through all your SDCC receipts and papers and crumpled fliers, you might be tempted to toss everything in the garbage as fast as possible. But wait! Remember that you need your badge for Pre-registration (congratulations, first-timers, on having 2 chances to go to SDCC 2016) so save it in a very well-protected place.

I'm not going to get into all the nonsense of photographing it or scanning it vs saving it physically. Just save it. And watch your email (and me) for announcements of Pre-reg.

And Comic-Con is over

12 JULY 2015

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 is over. I'm home and you might be too, or maybe you're headed home tomorrow.

This year seemed to be an especially good Con for many and different in some marked ways; I'll talk about that all in my upcoming summary. Right now I need to decompress and I'm sure you do too.

First-timers, don't forget to send me a brief report of your Comic-Con experiences. I'll post those in a few days too.

Making the most of your last day

12 JULY 2015

The last day of San Diego Comic-Con is here. How are you going to spend it?

If you haven't done the offsites, you're probably thinking this is the day to do them. Again, it's a horrible day to do them; that isn't to say you should abandon all hope, but you should be prepared to wait a long time. Prioritize before you invest your line time.

Obviously the Exhibit Hall will be full of good sales. Don't go crazy with your negotiations but feel free to propose alternative pricing. And don't forget to take advantage of the Fed Ex Office office and local hotel shipping services; if you want to load up on books or other heavy/space-taking stuff, just ship it home and make it easy on yourself.

For panels today, it's obviously Kids Day. But if you're looking for other panels to wind down the Con, you have a few options:

  • What would be one of my first choices: the "exclusive sneak peek panel" for Adventure Time's book trailer, musical numbers and "audience participation" for the Enchiridion and Marceline's Super Secret Scrapbook. Noon in 7AB.

  • For writers: How We Tell Stories at 11 at in 28DE and Where Do Ideas Come From? at 2 in the same room.

  • And for every creative: Full Time Creative Work on a Part-Time Schedule. 24ABC at 4.

  • The End Bullying panel is back at 10:00 in 24ABC.

  • I know a lot of people are excited about the Sailor Moon panel. 1:00 in 6A.

  • Also at one: the world premiere of DC's Halloween-themed feature, Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem.

  • Another one of my top picks: Starship Smackdown XV. 2:15 in 6A.

  • This sounds interesting: Queer Imagery in Animation. 3:00 in 28DE.

  • And of course a lot of you will be going to the Buffy Musical at 2:45 in 6BCF.

  • Finally we close the day - sort of - with the much anticipated Comic-Con Talk Back. 3:30 in 23ABC. Remember, this is your chance to unburden yourself and provide CCI with that all-important feedback that will shape future changes - or the idea of them, at least.

And if none of that appeals to you, blow it all off and go to the beach with your friends or just splurge on a long leisurely meal. SDCC is just as much about socializing as nerding, and there's no better day to tell your stories and show pictures than Sunday. It's all going to be over in a few hours so enjoy it while you can.

How was your Saturday?

11 JULY 2015

One more day. How is everyone doing?

By now you probably know that Star Wars just set the bar for future Comic-Cons so unachievably high that I'm not sure any panel will ever escape its shadow. The surprise symphony concert, the light sabers, the Storm Troopers: it all made a regular Hall H panel seem like an afternoon nap. But that's for future panels to worry about. Let's talk about today.

Even though the sponsorship and swag aspects of the Con seem dialed down this year, the bombshell announcement aspect has been roaring like a lion.  Behold:

Joss Whedon is doing a "Victorian female Batman" called Twist, a 6 issue series from Dark Horse.

We're getting a Green Lantern Corps movie.

Yes yes yes: next season of Agent Carter is inspired by the Black Dahlia.  And Lash is joining Agents of SHIELD.

The Fantastic Four will be "more science than science fiction." Hmm.

In my feverish posting of last night's Killing Joke news, I forgot to mention these almost-as-good announcements: Bruce Timm is also providing us with a Justice League vs Titans movie and Batman: Bad Blood with Batwoman.

Riverdale, the upcoming Archie show, jumped frrom Fox to the CW, stunning no one.

Del Toro thinks Crimson Peak is the most gorgeous movie he's made. Shiver.

Civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis wore his trench coat and backpack from Selma.

Conan O'Brien will return to SDCC next year.

Other good buzz goes to:

Batman v Superman.  Everyone seemed fairly dazzled.

Westworld. This panel got thumbs up from pretty much everyone. Coming on HBO.

Deadpool. We expected that, right?

The Expanse. Did you read James Corey's book? If not, put it on your summer reading list. Because The Expanse, coming on Syfy, is getting called the new Battlestar Galactica. That's a bold claim - so we'll see.

Warcraft. Sort of. I heard from 1 grumpy person and 4 approving people. What did you think?

Outcast. Other people seem enthused about this, and I don't know if it's Kirkman fever or just a really solid show.

Ditto Goosebumps. I want this to be excellent. Everyone else seems to think it will be.

What hasn't gotten good buzz: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Blindspot; Self/less.

Tomorrow's the last day; make it count.

Bruce Timm announces The Killing Joke movie

10 JULY 2015

Something pretty major happened at the end of the world premiere of Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Bruce Timm casually dropped a bombshell that he's doing an animated feature of The Killing Joke - and that it will be at San Diego Comic-Con 2016.

I know today was historic for several reasons, not the last of which was Hall H and the surprise Star Wars symphony all Hall H attendees were led to - but this is life-altering news for comic book fans.

Pre-reg just got that much more urgent.

Midway through the Con - where are we?

9 JULY 2015

As Friday afternoon dawns, most of you have now been inside Comic-Con. (Sorry, Sunday badge people. Your turn will come.) As always, the time invested in your picks makes it hard to see what else is going on - so let's review what has unfolded so far.

Of the pilots we've seen so far: The Limitless and Lucifer (go figure) are getting the best reviews. Of course, Colony has yet to be screened. Supergirl we already knew about; Blindspot I've heard less than favorable things about.

If anyone asks you what you got up to last night, say "horseback riding." Captain Kirk will fill you in.

Fear The Walking Dead and Walking Dead trailers are everywhere. Fear's trailer wasn't as inspiring as TWD's original trailer, but still intriguing. Apparently the apocalypse will build throughout the season, so we won't be plunged into chaos in episode 1. We also found out from Chris Hardwick that Fear will have a Fear The Talking Dead after-show "if it works out." I feel pretty sure it will, Chris. Also interesting: these zombies are "fresher" and look more like sickly people.

Future attendees, take note; we are seeing the same trailer Hall H'ers did on the same day. No, the trailer isn't everything about a panel but if it's your everything about Hall H, spare yourself the campout and just wait for YouTube. (That said, I'll admit that being in the moment is rather magical.)

People at the Doctor Who panel seemed enthused about a female Doctor.

Ben Affleck is getting his own individual Batman movie.

Here's a new kind of swag: weed. American Ultra is handing it out in the area if you have a legal cannabis card. I hope they don't offer it to the protesters! Although it might help them mellow out a little.

We got a look at the girl Ghostbusters in uniform.

The Legacy Effects panel showed how to make a dinosaur.

Sideshow Collectibles really brought it this year. Stop by their booth if you like this type of thing.

I haven't seen much mind-blowing cosplay so far but here's one collection. And another general review of cool Exhibit Hall stuff.

Possibly we're getting more Hunger Games movies due to a slip on actor Josh Hutcherson's part. Unless he was acting.

We saw a trailer for the Sherlock Christmas special. And we found out Her Universe is getting its own reality show.

We found out the some things are coming back to us: Legends of Korra, the Lady Killer comic book. Hannibal? We don't know yet.

ONI announced some intriguing new titles. And apparently Batman will team up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a new miniseries.

One show I'm hearing a lot of positive buzz about: Hand of God. And not just because it was Amazon's debut at SDCC.  This might be one of the major Comic-Con buzz winners.

Tales of Halloween looks more like slasher-based than supernatural-based and promises lots of gore.

Great news for Archie readers: Vampironica is returning! Yes, this is the dangerous fusion of Veronica Lodge and Vampirella. I'm so ready.

The Game of Thrones panel was rated as rather boring, based on one text message I got' Star Wars panel is happening right this second so more on that later.

For now, we've got a lot of news to think about. And it's only Friday.