James Spader explains the SDCC experience


You know how sometimes you go to San Diego Comic-Con full of anticipatory energy - and yet at the end you feel vaguely dissatisfied and incomplete?  Last night on the Tonight Show, James Spader found the words we've all wanted to say.

Get your SDCC Member ID now or else


A word of caution to SDCC hopefuls still in the embryonic stage of Comic-Con life. On their Purchase Badges page, CCI has a special section that addresses those of you who have never signed up for a Member ID.

It goes through the usual yammer about signing up, but then it says - pointedly - "We strongly suggest that you sign up for a Member ID now if you are interesting in attending Comic-Con 2015." Later it mentions that the Member ID system will close "without prior notification" in advance of any badge sale event.

I doubt it's going to close next week or anything, but since they probably wouldn't mind capping the number of badge sale participants (and neither would we) I fully expect them to seal that portal at some point well before next spring's Open Registration. So go ahead and get your Member ID if you're one of those procrastinators who just hasn't yet for some reason.

You're not obligated in any way by doing so - if you decide you never want to have anything to do with San Diego Comic-Con again, you can just leave your account hanging. But it's a good thing to have on the off chance you might want to try for a badge.

ECCC 3-day badges are almost sold out


I know this isn't the most welcome news, but here it is: ECCC 3-day passes are more than 2/3 sold out. The Celebrity Fast Pass has sold out completely (as the Deluxe Pass has been since the third minute of the sale.) Single days are still ripe for the picking.

There has been some ire around the fact that the badges are selling so quickly (they've been on sale for 2 weeks - last year they took until January to sell out) and that they are only available online. I kind of get it. And I do feel bad for people who are watching their comfortable local Con grow like a radioactive monster.

But mostly I feel bad for future us, because this is how it all starts. Last year it sold out in months, this year it's selling out in weeks. Next year it'll sell out even faster and the year or so after that we'll be yelling at our computers in an online sale that seems impossibly fast.

Get your 3-day badge now.

Cosplayers, your ideas are requested


The ECCC team has asked for suggestions from the cosplay community. (I do admire their collaborative spirit.) They want to expand the cosplay aspect for both cosplayers and their fans in what sounds like a designated area - perhaps like NYCC is doing.

I don't think you have to be going to ECCC to contribute your ideas - your general expertise as a cosplayer is enough. So if you have thoughts on how cosplay could best be showcased and enjoyed at Cons, go ahead and contact ECCC.

Help CCI fight censorship


No one wants their comic books taken away, right?  Or to be told how to think?

The tentacles of censorship spread in many directions - violence, sex, politics, religion - but they all grow out of one central tyranny: the need to control. Over the years, comics and graphic novels have been subjected to this as much as any other art form, with both consumers and governments trying to restrict the availability of "subversive" material.

Creators like Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Alison Bechdel, Jeff Smith and Marjane Satrapi have all had their work attacked - and those are just the top names in the field. Plenty of emerging writers and artists are silenced before they can even break into the public eye. While we can fight to preserve the availability of popular material, we'll never know what potential masterpieces are strangled by censorship in their infancy.

This year, for Banned Books Week, CCI is teaming up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to present Beware of Comics! - what they're calling "a lively conversation about comics, censorship and what makes the medium so dangerous in the 21st Century." Scott McCloud and Larry Marder will lead.

When: 25 September at 7:00 pm

Where: San Diego Central Library Auditorium - 330 Park Blvd, San Diego

Cost: Free! Donations welcome, of course, to help fight the good fight.

I feel like most nerds have a maverick heart - generally speaking, we tend to be the nonconformists of society. So consider supporting CCI and the CBLDF if you can, or fighting censorship in whatever way is expedient for you this September.

ECCC Minion applications bumped to October


The application process to be an ECCC Minion - i.e., a volunteer - has been bumped to October. Does that matter? Maybe a little if you were waiting to see how your application panned out before buying your badge.

(FWIW, I'm amazed at how bitter people are over the idea that the 3-day badges are already more than half sold out. Shows you how jaded SDCC has made me. I don't even blink when something seems inconvenient now.)

The Minion launch has been delayed due to "some internal development" which for now is partially a mystery. What has been shared: every Minion needs to be 18 and up as of the Con, 27 March 2015. Sorry, minors.


Yes, SDCC prices went up - and that's okay


Remember when San Diego Comic-Con cost $35 all those years ago? Yes, so do I. That was in the time of wandering upstairs to the Sails Pavilion and pre-registering at your leisure. The era of being deeply annoyed that you had to wait 90 whole minutes to get into Hall H on Saturday.

Times have changed and badge prices have risen every year. And they have done so once again to the outrage of many Con attendees. It's not a huge difference when comparing 2014 to 2015. But I know many of you thought prices were already outlandish - and that these new rates are a crime against nerddom.  

Here is what it will set you back to buy your SDCC 2015 badge.

For regular attendee badges:

Preview Night: $35
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: $50 each
Sunday: $35

For Junior, Senior and Military badges:

Preview Night: $18
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: $25 each
Sunday: $17

Remember that if you buy Preview Night, you buy it all. So the ultimate Comic-Con badge will cost you $220.

Now I'm going to say something that may sound insensitive and economically tone-deaf. I don't have a problem with the badge prices going up a bit. We put immense demands upon CCI and the convention center. The need for increased security is just one example. Our incremental spread into other facilities is another. This past summer CCI added programming in the Horton Grand Theatre. Possibly next summer they'll be using yet another new building.  While I haven't always been their biggest fan, I do believe them when they say they are looking for ways to improve the Comic-Con experience. We all want that too, right? Easier badge sales, better line management, security guards who are actually helpful?

Ultimately you can't go to the biggest and most popular Con in the world and expect prices to stay the same forever. I think $220 is an incredible bargain for a 5-day show when many people blow way more than that on tickets to a single basketball game or concert. I know that's a lot of money for some people and I do empathize - I was beyond broke my first few Cons. I remember those days clearly. But given how much Con attendance costs overall - hotels, meals, parking, events, whatever you buy on the floor - an extra $20 this year probably won't stop many people from going.

Personally I wish CCI would introduce a Fast Pass/VIP badge that was priced high enough to keep the rates low for everyone else. I would happily pay more for, say, an accelerated badge pick-up process, or some kind of special screening/swag bag/event/other incentive. I'm sure other attendees feel the same way. But I'm not crossing my fingers. For now, this is what we have.

ECCC passes are going fast


A few years ago, Emerald City Comicon wasn't nearly as well known as San Diego Comic-Con or New York. Then comic book fans started talking it up as their favorite Con destination and nerds caught wind of the fun to be had in Seattle, and now passes are selling fast fast fast.

How fast? Last year 3-day passes sold out in January, after months of availability; this year more than half are gone after only a few days. I cannot emphasize this enough: buy soon if you want to go to this Con. It really is becoming THE Con to go to and 2 years from now, ECCC passes may be a lot harder to get. Enjoy the relative peace of buying a pass while you can.

Deluxe passes sold out on the spot (and ECCC has confirmed they won't add more ) but everything else is still available. 3-day passes are only $85; the $295 Celebrity Fast Passes are still available and include 3-day access as well. No doubt people are waiting to snap these up due to ECCC's leisurely pace of announcing "one celeb and at least five comic guests per week." Single day badges are also available.

As for hotels, the Sheraton is already sold out but the Grand Hyatt is close by and still available. So are the other hotels.

ECCC has suggested they will provide updates on when badges look close to being gone, which is a help. But I still say don't wait any longer than you have to. Beg, borrow or steal that $85 and buy your pass.

Validate your badge now for November Pre-Reg


How exciting: we have an actual month for SDCC Pre-registration. And the month is.... November. If you're eligible - that is, if you had an attendee badge for this past summer - you'll get an email with the details and probably a link to one of CCI's mesmerizing instructional videos.

Now onto the important thing you need to do right now: validating yourself. You will do that by going into your Member ID account, selecting Registration Info, and following the instructions. You'll need your physical badge to do this - and the deadline is 15 October at 5:30 pm PST. That's plenty of time to work out any weird tech hiccups that might arise if you validate now.

The other important thing: if your formerly free child now qualifies as a "junior attendee," they have their own validation process. Check here to find out if your kid can still get in free next year or if they need to register like we do.

November is an ideal time - the digital maelstrom that is Pre-registration will spice up an otherwise boring month, and you can always try to get your parents to cover your badge as an early Christmas present. I haven't heard of any major upgrades to last year's lottery system, so I don't foresee any major delays as happened last year. Let's cautiously hope for the best.

ETA: I always forget the population of never-been-to-SDCC's that come across my blog. So for those of you who've emailed me (or are just wondering) "how can I take part in this wondrous Pre-registration you speak of?" - you can't. This is only for people who attended San Diego Comic-Con 2014. But you can register for a Member ID and then you'll be able to try for a badge in the big Open Registration sale next spring with everyone else.

Emerald City passes are on sale


Just a reminder that ECCC passes went live this morning.  You can get them here. Happy Labor Day.

ETA: Deluxe Passes (the $150 option) sold out in under 3 minutes. The Celebrity Fast Pass for $295 is still available, probably because of the price tag.

ETA: Everything else is still available but ECCC has confirmed they've "already had record breaking (for us) first day sales" and estimates that "You’ve probably got a couple months, if the current pattern holds true." Now obviously they know their numbers and I don't - but if you're dead set on attending ECCC, I wouldn't wait that long.

I have a feeling one reason the Celebrity Fast Passes haven't sold out yet is because ECCC is still considering which special guests to include. Hence people don't know if they want to pony up $300 for celebrity access yet. It'll be interesting to see how coming announcements (some this week) will influence that sale.

Some people seemed stunned and a little bitter that the Deluxe Passes went so fast - but for those of us accustomed to SDCC badge sales, this was a downright relaxing experience.

Making friends at Cons: the art of ConnectiKon

29 AUGUST 2014

A few months back, I posted about a new app called ConnectiKon. Designed to help Comic-Con attendees make friends and find events aligned with their interests, the app was a huge hit at SDCC – not only with attendees and fans but also with exhibitors and local businesses.
Here's how it works. You tell the app what city you're in, tap the keyword reflecting your interests, and see a list of users who match up. You can check them out and send them an Instant Message if you want - and you can post your own keywords too. And you can do all of this safely and privately, because you only reveal the information you feel comfortable sharing. 
Given that Labor Day Weekend is our entry into the second half of Con season, I decided to go back to creator Adam Klugman and revisit the app’s potential for other Cons. Dragon*Con kicks off this weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con is next weekend and that’s followed by Rose City Comic Con, New York Comic Con, and San Diego Comic Fest just weeks after that – all of which are prime breeding grounds for ConnectiKon users.
Adam, remind me again: what was the impetus for creating this app?
Well, we noticed that social media space was all about sharing. That’s how people use it, generally. We wanted to expand the horizons of what was possible in social media and evolve it - not technologically but through how we use it. We feel that’s the next evolution in social media: how people are using these platforms. We felt that it was time to move past using social for just sharing and virtual connections and move on to using it for real world connections.

Several studies have shown that many social media users have actually become more lonely and isolated – their virtual connections don’t satisfy their needs for real human connection. Our goal was to create an app that fostered real-world interaction.

I know the app launched right before SDCC this summer. What was the reception?
It was great. Of everyone who tried it, 70% returned to use it again, and most spent a fair amount of time on the app; the average use time was 12-15 minutes. What surprised us was that it wasn’t just attendees using it to find events and meet each other; vendors used to advertise offers and local businesses and restaurants used it for promotions. For instance, McFadden’s used it to advertise their cosplay events.

What we think is so great is that any group can find anything – Spiderman lovers can find other Spiderman lovers; Bronies can connect with other Bronies. It’s an app where you can get your arms around every community. You just have to put yourself out there.

Will it ever be available for Android?
We’re working on the Android version. Our idea is to keep tweaking and perfecting this version, then create a clone for Android. That should happen within the next 6 months.

Inquiring minds want to know: what’s your specific nerd background, besides attending Comic-Con?
I’ve been an avid comic book collector since I was 10 years old. Spiderman was my favorite growing up. I even had Spiderman #1 for a while – I found it in Hollywood in 1971 for $40. But I sold it a few years later for $80 when I needed the money. I kick myself for that to this day. I’m also a big sci-fi nerd.

Are there any unusual ways the app can be used, besides finding events?
ConnectiKon is designed to be flexible and accommodate whatever users are looking for. You post your keywords and get connected to other people who share those interests. We call it the dating app for people who aren’t looking for a date, so theoretically people can use it in many ways. I have to say that I’m looking forward to users showing me the creative ways they use it.

Based on how flexible it is, it sounds like ConnectiKon can be used at business conferences and other big events – or even just at home.
That’s true. It’s the people’s app. There’s no intermediary; you can use it to find a racquetball partner or find a date or a find a group that shares your interests. It’s about finding your crowd and connecting with them. That’s why it works at Comic-Con and that’s why we designed it with the Con in mind - because nerds are playful, tech savvy and open to new things. But it could also work at the Olympics or anywhere else your kind of people are, anywhere you have greatest opportunity to connect.

So there you have it; at just a few months old, ConnectiKon is thriving and ready to help you go to more parties, make more friends, or just locate the one vendor at the Con who has the lost collectible you're hunting. Maybe you're trying to find a Star Trek party at Dragon*Con this weekend. Maybe you're thinking about organizing a meetup for your favorite show at Rose City Comic Con next month. Whatever's on your agenda, ConnectiKon can probably help - so live up to its tagline "Do Something" and give it a try.

No appeal for the convention center expansion

27 AUGUST 2014

More dismal news on the convention center front; the San Diego City Council will not appeal the recent court ruling that killed its financing plan for the expansion.

This isn't as simple as the expansion happening or not. Other possibilities are now in play, some of which don't sound all that appealing. One option is finding alternative financing; another is exploring "a non-contiguous expansion at a different location that could include a new stadium for the Chargers."

Yes - the Chargers, the original foes of the plan, and their dream stadium are rising to the fore again. Their idea is that the stadium could be used for conventions (the ultimate Hall H) while JMI Realty likes the idea of putting exhibit space under the field. Either solution would be blocks away from the convention center. The Chargers originally threatened to leave San Diego over this very issue, so it's easy to frame this as a Jocks vs. Nerds battle - but municipal politics are always thorny.

In any case, it doesn't look like we'll get our expanded convention center by 2017. I still believe CCI won't pull out of San Diego entirely; I think either it will become a more dispersed experience like NYCC is doing or break into two Cons, one in LA and one in San Diego. No doubt people will be dissatisfied either way but let's hope for a positive solution.

Sorry I don't have better news for you.

Reminder: Emerald City sale goes live on Labor Day

27 AUGUST 2014

If you couldn't tell, I'll be loosely covering Emerald City Comicon doings over the next 7 months. Probably not to the smothering extent to which I post about SDCC, but I will be covering general developments.

So let's review what we know. ECCC 2015 is 27-29 March and passes go on sale Monday, 1 September. Minion applications also go live sometime in September (which I don't think is quite as competitive as becoming an SDCC volunteer.)

If you're an SDCC veteran who's decided to head to Seattle for the first time, as many nerds are doing, your stomach might clench with dread at the thought of a new online Con sale. To put this in perspective, here's how it went last year. Saturday and 3-day badges sold out in mid-January, Sunday badges sold out in mid-February and Friday in early March.

But that was last year. The law of accelerating return has seen every Con sell out faster and faster, sometimes with wild surges in interest. So I would advise acting sooner rather than later when it comes to getting your ECCC pass. I'm not trying to start a stampede - just giving you my best guess on the speed and voracity with which people will buy these passes. I don't think it will look like last year; there was a fair amount of surprised press when the 2014 3-day passes sold out, which was as good as ringing a bell and telling everyone to buy early for 2015. So while I don't think you need to panic, I wouldn't let months go by either.

Available passes

In a change from last year, the VIP program no longer exists. Instead you can buy a Celebrity Fast Pass for $295, which includes exclusive line access to celebrity/talent autographs and photo ops (and yes, you still have to pay for those). Only 500 of those are available; same goes for the Deluxe Pass for $150 which includes exclusive access to show floor.

A regular 3-day pass is a budget-friendly $85 and single day passes are available as well. See the details here.

Hotel rooms are live

I've already booked my room at the Sheraton for - wait for it - $145 a night. The other hotels have similar or even less expensive rates. Most seem to require a nonrefundable one-night deposit.

Do you want to go?

If you're asking why this Con has gotten so popular, one reason is that it's more focused on comic books; it's also relatively laidback and it has some of that exciting-but-not-frantic energy that SDCC had years ago. It's more navigable than San Diego (ignore the people online complaining about the lines and disorganization - if you've survived SDCC, this will be a cakewalk) and the organizers are interactive and fan-focused, which just isn't the case at many Cons. (Witness their Tumblr.) Passes are mailed out in advance, which is nice, and we even know the dates for 2016: 8-10 April.

But the main difference seems to be one of accessibility. Unlike SDCC, where you're constantly forced to boil down a multitude of options to one event - where you know your favorite actor on your favorite show is in the very next room but you'll never make it inside - Emerald City is still a place where if you want to experience something, you can probably do it. That's a major selling point for people deciding where to spend their Comic Con dollars.

Apply now for SDCC 2015 exhibit space

24 AUGUST 2014

It's hard to believe that a month ago today we were all at Comic-Con. It seems long in the past, doesn't it? And in fact it's already time to start preparing for 2015 - if you want to stake your claim on the Exhibit Hall floor or appear in Artist's Alley, that is.

If you'd like to be an exhibitor or showcase your work, now is the time to apply. You can find both applications here - just remember that applying doesn't guarantee you a space.

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 will be held 8-12 July, 2015.

Timeframe for SDCC badge sales

21 AUGUST 2014

After much speculation, we now know that Pre-registration will be this fall and Open Registration will be in spring of 2015 - subject to change, of course.

For you first-timers, this will be the order of sales:

Pre-registration (fall 2014)
The Early Bird Hotel Sale (winter or spring 2015)
Open Registration (spring 2015)
Hotel Sale (spring 2015)

This means there will be possibly half a year between getting your badge in Pre-reg, and booking your hotel room through Travel Planners. Given that the worst official* CCI sale of the year was when hotel reservations re-opened after the initial sale, it's likely that the Early Bird Hotel Sale will sell out quickly this year - and that many attendees who get lucky in Pre-reg will opt to book rooms on their own this fall.

* I know the parking sale was the worst sale but that was run by Ace Parking - CCI had no role in it.

Emerald City tickets go on sale 1 September

16 AUGUST 2014

If you're going to join me at Emerald City Comicon next March, be aware that tickets go on sale Monday, 1 September. It's not like an SDCC badge sale so there's no need for an anxiety attack - but given that this Con gets more popular every year, it's not a bad idea to be on point for this.

Emerald City is 27-29 March 2015. It's gotten the coveted branding of being "like San Diego was in 2004" but I'm not sure that's completely accurate; there isn't as much of a Hollywood presence here as there was then. But it does appeal to nerdier SDCC attendees (that's not redundant - many San Diego attendees don't fit the traditional comic book nerd/gamer/sci-fi fan trifecta) and attracts some top artists, along with those celebrities who tend to show up a lot on the smaller Con circuit.

Last year it had 70,000 attendees and occupied the entire Washington State Convention and Trade Center for the first time. The gaming portion had to be relocated to the nearby Sheraton. Will it be even bigger this year? My Magic 8 Ball says yes.

Hotel room rates haven't yet been posted but badge prices have. Here are your options:

Celebrity Fast Pass - $295
Includes 3-day admission, plus exclusive line access to celebrity/talent autographs and photo ops. Only 500 available.

Deluxe Pass - $150

Includes 3-day admission, exclusive access to show floor, your choice of a shirt, goodie bag, other stuff. Also limited to 500.

3-Day Pass - $85 

Friday Pass - $35

Saturday Pass - $45

Sunday Pass - $35

Child Pass - $10

If you're in Seattle, Vancouver or Portland, you're probably already going - but it might be worth a trip for those of you in farther flung locales. It's also a good starter Con for people who've never done SDCC, and a safety option in case you wash out in the San Diego badge sale. (Not that that's going to happen to any of us, knock on wood.)

Update on SDCC-Salt Lake lawsuit

10 AUGUST 2014

Last month, during the flush of San Diego Comic-Con madness, CCI served Salt Lake Comic Con with a cease and desist order. But that's old news; this month they are suing them for monetary damages and an injunction demanding Salt Lake stop using “any combination, reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation of the COMIC-CON marks in the marketing, promoting, advertising, offering for sale, or the sale of goods or services.”

CCI says: they did this on the principle that SLCC's name is confusing to the public and suggests an SDCC-SLCC alliance that doesn't exist. Basically, intellectual property infringement.

Salt Lake says: CCI lashed out because Salt Lake burst onto the scene last year like a boss, with their very first event attended by 78K and then over 100K at their next event. And because they drove a Salt Lake Comic Con Audi around San Diego during SDCC, which is the kind of guerilla marketing you'd expect from an audacious young upstart, but which CCI shouldn't have let bother them.

I know legal documents aren't always the most exciting reads, but the lawsuit is actually rather entertaining. I will highlight and hope that I don't get sued.

  • SDCC believes  that  in   2013, Salt    Lake   decided    to "capitalize  on  SDCC’s  creativity,   ingenuity and   hard   work   through  the  unauthorized    use    of    SDCC’s   trademarks    to    advertise    and    promote    Defendants’    own     popular    arts    convention   titled   “Salt    Lake    Comic       Con.” "           I        know         this       is           legalese        but          "Comic            Con"             seems         to          be        what         they're     referring          to        here.      See       below.

  • They     say    the    "extensive, unauthorized   use of    “Comic    Con”  (which   is   identical   to   or   confusingly    similar   to   SDCC’s COMIC-CON  marks)"     is    " intended   to suggest,   mislead   and   confuse   consumers into   believing that  the Salt Lake Comic Con convention   is   associated   with,   authorized   by,    endorsed   by   or   sponsored   by   SDCC."        They   don't     explain   why    this   argument   doesn't    apply   to  all  of   the   other Comic Cons     or    Comicons    in the   world.

  • " On   their     website    Defendants    advertise, market and    sell    merchandise      that     incorporates         SDCC’s         COMIC-CON        mark,     including         t-shirts,       sweatshirts, hats, blankets, bags, mugs,  phone cases,   flags,  key chains and much more. The    logos    affixed   by   Defendants   to such   items   prominently   display and   emphasize   the   COMIC-CON   mark, while   minimizing   any   reference to  “Salt  Lake.”     They    actually    say   "Comic   Con"   (no hyphen)  and   they   don't   look   even   close   to    the   SDCC    logo   to  my   eye.

  • Salt  Lake's    jaunty   response   toward  the   cease  and   desist   letter    seems   to   have   annoyed  CCI  as   well.   "In   a   further   effort  to   solicit   interest   in   their    convention   through   the unauthorized and   unlawful   use   of SDCC’s   intellectual    property, Defendants    invite   readers    to     propagate   their   skewed   accounting of    events,   by   “liking”   or commenting   on   various   publications   made or   driven    by   Defendants   regarding   the   dispute   in   exchange for   a    chance    to    win   a   pass   to   Defendants’   event.  Defendants    have   made   it clear in several   online publications that they do not intend to stop their unauthorized use and   infringement   of   SDCC’s   COMIC-COM   marks, but   instead   have brazenly   and   intentionally   continued    to   infringe  the COMIC-CON   mark   resulting   in   considerable   and    irreparable   harm   to SDCC."      Skewed    and  brazen!    I    hope   whoever   wrote  this   lawsuit   writes   our  badge  sale   emails.

  • They    are    concerned   that   the   "confusingly   similar  marks"   will   deprive   SDCC   "of    the    ability    to    control   the   consumer   perception  of   the   quality   of  the   goods   and  services"   and    basically   make   them   lose   control   of    their   own   reputation.    Which   is  a  legitimate  fear   or    would   be   if    Salt   Lake  actually    seemed   to   be  blurring   the    line.   I  just  don't  think  people   are  going  to  make   that   mistake.

So   let's   just  say   it,  IP   infringement    is   a  serious   matter.  But  it's   still   hard    to   see   what   Salt   Lake   is    doing   that    other   Cons    aren't,   other   than   their   stunt    with   the  Audi.   (You  can  see  it  here.   I'd  wager   it's   the  font  that  pissed  off CCI.)  They're   already   a   wildly   popular   event  and  clearly    don't  need  to   leech   off   San  Diego's  buzz;   and  their   branding  look  and  feel  is   nothing   like  SDCC's.    I   can't   imagine   this   lawsuit    doing    CCI   any   favors or   doing   anything   at   all    but   stirring   up   more  publicity   for   Salt   Lake   Comic   Con.

This   turned   out   to  be   such    a    contentious   year, didn't   it?

Expansion could be bumped to 2020

9 AUGUST 2014

This is disheartening; the expansion of the convention center, which was originally assigned to a completion date of 2017, is now being talked about in terms of 2020 or later.

We know the appellate court has officially frowned upon the financing plan/hotel tax increase - or rather, demanded that city voters sign off on it. The San Diego City Council has until 10 September to file an appeal, which could take a year or more. Other options: they could try to finance it a different way or stick to their plan but put it on a ballot, either by special election or in the 2016 election.

All in all, "the opening might not come before 2020, according to Joe Terzi, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority." Remember when you were little and 2020 sounded like you'd be flying around on a spaceship by then? That's when the expanded convention center might be completed.

And so it goes. There doesn't seem to be much we can do - but with all of invested players in this game, I'm sure other options will emerge over the coming months and years.

Pre-registration will have a "validation period"

8 AUGUST 2014

If there's one thing Comic-Con registration needs, it's more complexity and another step, said no one ever. But that's exactly what we're all getting.

We knew that we needed our badge for Pre-registration. A glance at the badge led to a safe guess that it would involve the "Badge ID" printed at the bottom. But if you thought you would just have to input that during Pre-reg, you were wrong; instead there will be a separate step called "pre-registration validation" completely separate from the badge sale.

And it's going to happen soon. Over the next few weeks, you'll get an email telling you how to enter your Badge ID for this validation. It will be open for "only a short window of time."  Sometime after that, when you're safely validated, you can participate in Pre-reg. Which as I predicted before, sounds like it also will happen soon. I say this because CCI refers to this validation period as in "the weeks preceding preregistration."

Again - this only applies to those of you who wore an attendee badge around your neck two weeks ago. If you were there as an exhibitor, a volunteer, press, anything else, you can't partake in Pre-reg.

I'm going to be churlish here and say that if CCI put as much effort into improving things like lines and badge pick-up as they've directed toward this badge code stuff, there would be - well, I don't know exactly, but I'm positive things would be a lot better. Obviously this is engineered to make sure only eligible attendees get into the Pre-reg badge sale and I appreciate that. But it does seem weird that with all the top IT experts they supposedly procured these last 2 years, they can't design their system to segment badge recipients automatically.

Convention center expansion plan blocked

4 AUGUST 2014

Image courtesy of San Diego Metro

If you've been following the saga of the planned expansion for the convention center, you'll be interested to know that the California appellate court struck down the plan to fund the $520 million expansion.

Foes of the plan - led by attorney Cory Briggs - have long objected to the strategy of taxing hotel owners to pay for the expansion. The court ruled that the tax violates the state constitution. In return, mayor Kevin Faulconer said the expansion was "critically important" for the local economy, as are large events like SDCC. The additional 740,000 square feet would give the convention center "the largest amount of contiguous floor space on the West Coast." What wasn't said: how many extra attendees that will accommodate.

All along I've assumed the expansion was a done deal, prone to typical legal wranglings and power moves, but ultimately a sure thing. Now I'm not sure at all. "The appellate ruling likely means the expansion won’t happen anytime soon. Comic-Con is committed to San Diego only through 2016."

Ominous words, but I sense that CCI wants to keep the Con in San Diego - and if we know anything about CCI, it's that change isn't their native tongue. We also know they trademarked "Los Angeles Comic-Con." So I still believe we'll see a new Con hive off SDCC before we see the entire show up and move out of state. Or more, likely, we won't see any change at all.