The Comic Con trademark battle keeps spreading

20 JANUARY 2018

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

Here's where we are currently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

ECCC photo ops, parties and more

11 JANUARY 2018

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

Buy a Photo Op

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

Prepare for the Funko Lottery

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

Think About Your Night Life

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

Guardians of the Sexy Vol. 3

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

Qomix: Queer Comicon Party

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


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

You can get tickets to these fine events here.

Check Out the Exhibitors

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

Buy Tickets

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

See you in 48 days.

Are you going to Comic Con in 2018?

1 JANUARY 2018

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

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

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

Here's what you need to think about.

Which Comic Con do you want to go to? 

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

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

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

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

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

Which Con works with your budget and schedule? 

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

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

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

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

What logistics do you need to take care of?

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's comic book heaven at Emerald City

21 DECEMBER 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Love and Rockets

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

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

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

ReedPOP on the SDCC-SLCC lawsuit

11 DECEMBER 2017

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

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

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

ReedPOP and all those other Comic Cons

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Open Registration


10:16 am

So what did we think about this sale?

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

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

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

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

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

10:09 am

All sold out!

9:55 am

Thursday's almost gone.

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


Saturday and Friday are gone. Hang in there.

9:20 am

Preview Night is almost gone.

9:08 am

Okay, people are getting in.

8:57 am

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

8:38 am

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

8:24 am

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

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

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

SDCC wins their lawsuit against SLCC - sort of


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

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

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

Here's a summary of the trademark issue:

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

So what did CCI win?

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

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

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

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

So is it over? I doubt it. 

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

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

See you tomorrow during Open Reg.

Are you ready for Open Reg?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice and Observations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure your laptop or other device is ready.

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

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

The SDCC vs SLCC battle rages on


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

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

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

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

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

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

Play Santa with ECCC holiday certificates


ECCC Happy Holidays

Emerald City Comicon is once again celebrating the season of giving with pretty gift certificates to its Con. One is more nature-themed and one more Seattle-themed; you can see them here. Obviously the one with the dragon and Sasquatch is my favorite. (Have we ever had an ECCC t-shirt of Sasquatch attending the Con? We need one.)

You will note that "ticket type" is left blank for you to write in. These aren't tickets themselves, just a colorful way to notify someone else you bought them a nice nerdy present. And if you didn't already buy a 4-day ticket or all 4 single days, well, you can still get Thursday, Friday and Sunday - but Saturday is sold out.

I'm kind of hoping CCI will do something similar with San Diego Comic-Con, since this is the first year in forever that you could surprise your first-timer child, best friend or beau with a badge on Christmas morning. (Sparing them the trauma of the badge sale: an additional gift.) In the meantime, we've got these pretty certificates. If they don't motivate you to buy some ECCC badges and give your favorite nerd an amazing holiday gift, I don't know what will.

Open Registration is 9 December

27 NOVEMBER 2017

Just in time to bring you some holiday cheer - or plunge you into winter bleakness - CCI is rolling out Open Registration on 9 December. For the first time in I think ever, your last chance to grab a San Diego Comic-Con badge will be done before Christmas.

Open Reg will function as usual this year - the code, the waiting room, the blue circle, your pounding heart. If you're one of the few people new to a Comic-Con badge sale, I'll post step by step advice for you later on. It's not complicated. Essentially you need to get your Member ID account clean and correct, organize with your buying group/friends and have a credit card with the capacity to buy all the badges you might get. You also need to know not to refresh the waiting room, screenshot your confirmation screen and other tips I'll share later.

And now let's talk about buying groups.

People have always teamed up to help each other get badges. However, as badge sales have moved solely online and been restricted to 3 badges per session, people have become much more formal and organized about it. If you're not in a "buying group" and wonder what that is, people use it to refer to both an organized buying network and their own family members and friends who are buying with them.

People swing it in all different ways, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You should have some kind of feel for who you're working with. I know some people consider anyone they haven't met IRL a stranger - but you'll find the online SDCC community is pretty engaged with each other and most of us have worked with online comrades to get badges, rooms, and event tickets. That said, try to establish some kind of identity/context before you trust because...

  • You're going to exchange personal information at some point.It could be last names, home addresses, phone numbers, registration codes, Paypal account names, even credit card numbers. People take all kinds of risks when a coveted badge or hotel room hangs in the balance. Think about what you're willing to share in advance. Get a temporary credit card or dedicated SDCC email account or other resources if you want to protect your privacy. I know someone who has been livid this year because LinkedIn and Facebook keep showing him as a Person You May Know to other attendees and he didn't realize that would happen. Just something to think about.

  • Think also about the personalities of the people you're working with. Most of us know people who swear they're invested in going to SDCC, then drag their feet, sleep through the badge sale, vanish, forget to pay the hotel room deposit or are just generally irresponsible. If this describes your friends - find new SDCC friends. We're all so interdependent at this point, having a stable network is invaluable.

  • Hopefully this doesn't need to be said, but - don't try to max out your chances by joining 5 different buying groups and cheating on 4 of them. There's nothing wrong with having someone else get you a badge but if you're promising your session to help your group when you're actually using those spots for someone else, that's low. Find a group you can trust and then be an attendee they can trust. One of the nicest things about the SDCC world is how generous everyone is with each other.

  • And on that note, please read carefully what CCI buried in the middle of their blog post today: "If someone in your buying group attempts to sell or scalp their badge, all badges in the order will be canceled, including yours." Yikes! Think about that. Your friend buys your badge in December, falls on hard times in April and decides to sell his badge - and gets caught. Your badge is canceled too! That is a harsh policy. So that's another reason to make sure you're working with non-sketchy people and to stay in touch with them throughout the season.

Finally, I will play the role of the Grim Reaper and remind you that most contestants (because Open Reg does feel like an epic global game show, does it not?) won't get a badge. Which means that your New Year may begin on a somewhat depressing note, since you won't even have the hope of going to SDCC.

So remember the silver lining of this dark winter cloud: you'll have plenty of time to plan on a different Comic Con. Like Emerald City, New York, Boston, Salt Lake, Dragon, Denver, etc. There are so many good options out there - don't plummet into despair if you don't get a badge. Just dedicate 2018 to new Con horizons.

Just a little over a week till the most important remaining Saturday morning of the year. Stay tuned!

Snap up your Early Bird room right now


What exactly is CCI intending to spring on us in the first 6 months of 2018? At the rate they're going, we'll have Open Reg after Thanksgiving, the hotel sale in early December and the parking sale right after Christmas. They are on a roll.

Today they announced that the Early Bird hotel sale is live. Which means this post is for those of you who romantically believe in your CCI destiny. I used to be one of you. I loved Comic-Con, I was devoted to it, surely the gods of lodging and nerddom would gift me with a decent hotel room, right? Then I got one of these:

If you've gotten locked out of the hotel sale, you know what a kick in the teeth it is. You battled the badge sale odds and won, and now you have no place to stay! And it's not getting better - the hotel sale gets tougher each year for some reasons we understand and some we don't, but what it boils down to is that you cannot count on getting a downtown room - or a room at all - in the hotel sale.

But you can lock down a hotel room in the Early Bird sale easily and peacefully, and you can do so right now. No, the rooms aren't downtown, but most of the hotel sale rooms aren't either. My Early Bird choice remains the Sheraton, a mere 3 miles down the road and just a quick shuttle ride away. But that's me - your choice depends on your personal criteria.

Pros of Early Bird

You have more control over your hotel choice.
You really don't have jack to worry about for the next 8 months.
You can save money by paying (contextually) reasonable rates.

Cons of Early Bird

You have to pony up now for the entire stay.
It's nonrefundable.
You won't be downtown.

Again, though, on the downtown issue - last year out of a sample group of 30, only one person (me) got a downtown hotel - and it was Wyndham Bayside, the farthest-away downtown hotel you can get. It's not quite 2 miles from the Con where the Sheraton, available from Early Bird, is 3 miles. So - you're literally talking about the difference of just over a mile, and one was easily procurable and one was obtained through sheer, unlikely luck in a blood battle. 

Just something to put your odds in context. As someone whose luck died hard in a Carribean casino this weekend, I know that sometimes it's better to err on the side of prudence. Especially when it comes to having a comfortable Comic-Con.

I will admit that I am not doing Early Bird, but that's because I already have a downtown safety hotel booked. If you don't, and you lack the kind of San Diego connections that could help you find a couch to crash on, you should really consider this. When Hotel Day results roll around and all your friends are crying and homeless, you'll be glad you put a roof over your head the pragmatic way.

Dealing with your post-Ret Reg grief

31 OCTOBER 2017

Happy Halloween! In addition to being the season of candy and inappropriate costumes, it's also the season of darkness and grief - so it's fitting that some of you are currently reeling from a loss in Saturday's badge sale.

Initially the mood was one of jubilation on Saturday - it seemed like everyone was getting in super quick, people were surprised by getting picked for Preview Night or 4 days for the first time in years, and the smoothness of the sale itself was a welcome change for those of us who remember the days of crashed sites and constant error messages.

But not everyone got in. Not everyone got a badge. Some wound up staring at a receipt for Sunday only. So it's to you I'm speaking today. Just two things to remember:

  • Open Registration is brutal, but it is still another chance to upgrade. Work with a group if you're not already. Reach out to online Con communities and ask for help. Even if you don't wind up with the badge of your dreams, you'll still have more Con friends who might be able to help in other ways. Don't forget Volunteer Reg as well.

  • Don't dismiss your Thursday/Sunday badge. I know a lot of attendees were disappointed when Nerd HQ pulled out last summer, but everyone can admit there's still plenty to do outside the Con. I can't even count the number of people who insisted they had to have a full 4-day badge and then by Saturday they were too tired to get out of bed. Do the offsites, sleep in, round up your pals for a long eating and drinking extravaganza. If there's a panel you absolutely cannot miss on Friday or Saturday, see if someone will loan you a badge for a few hours.

And if you're reading this because you've never even been to San Diego Comic-Con, let alone participated in a badge sale - fear not, because I'm going to post on how you can squirm your way into the Con next summer. For now, read these basic steps and create your Member ID.

Till then, have some Halloween fun and try not to feel too gloomy over your dismal luck on Saturday. You'll find a way to triumph.

Returning Registration is here

28 OCTOBER 2017

10:39 am

So we lived through the 3rd SDCC badge sale of 2017. And it seemed oddly benevolent. Most - not all - people I know were pretty lucky. My ex-boyfriend's group of 4 people got picked for Preview Night and all 4 days. My own group did incredibly well. A group of 2017 first-timers picked up their first Preview Night badges. And so on.

I have heard from people who weren't so lucky, of course. But overall, this Returning Registration was downright cozy. I have a feeling that:
  • CCI slowed the sale down slightly. Maybe it was better for their processors, maybe there was some other reason.  It took Preview Night slightly longer than normal to sell out, but it really took Saturday a while to go, and then Friday vanished almost immediately. I think this was less stressful for people - it can feel a bit demoralizing when everything is selling out right away.
  • CCI converted more single days badges into 4-day badges.
One odd thing: I got in when Thursday and Sunday were live to buy a friend's badge. It showed there were 3 Thursday badges and 3 Sunday badges. The numbers dropped to 2 and 1 while I was typing. I freaked out and assumed someone else would grab them before I could finish, but it all went smoothly .... and then someone else in my group bought additional badges. Lesson learned: between inventory being held for people while they complete their purchase and other systems, don't stress too hard over whatever quantity messages you see. Just complete your session and assume CCI will honor it.

9:53 am

So Saturday and Friday sold out almost on top of each other. I'm guessing that CCI made more 4-day badges available and fewer single days. Just a theory.

9:43 am

This has been a rather peculiar badge sale. It started almost immediately after 9, yet Preview Night took slightly longer to sell out than last year. By now I would have thought we'd seen more "sold out" notices. Are they processing people more slowly? Not a bad idea.

9:09 am

Well, that was fast. Hello, Preview Night badge.

 8:36 am

One of the most important days of the year is here - for the 3rd time in 2017. Today is your best chance to go to San Diego Comic-Con 2018, which means you're probably already logged into the waiting room, watching the spinning circle and practicing yogic breathing.

You know the drill - don't refresh, screenshot everything, don't crowd half a dozen browsers onto one device.

And let me say something about Preview Night. I know that's the Holy Grail of badges. But don't be too disappointed if you don't get one. The pilots shown that night are screened a second time; while some exclusives are only gettable then, they're few in number. Most booths now offer pre-sales, daily allotments, or rig the whole system so Preview Night isn't enough anyhow.

I used to feel like I HAD to have Preview Night or I was a failure, but I no longer feel that way. I'm actually perfectly fine this year with anything from 3 days on up. That's probably me being a jaded old veteran whose grip on SDCC is starting to fade, but I would advise you to try to keep a similar perspective. These days a partial badge experience isn't much different from a Preview Night badge experience if you're doing offsites, staying out late or focused on hanging out with friends. So whatever you get today - as long as you get something, you're doing pretty well.

And let's be honest, it's the hotel situation that's the bigger panic zone these days.

Good luck. I'll live blog the sale as much as I can.

Are you prosperous and desperate? Buy your way into Comic-Con.

26 OCTOBER 2017

After years of plodding along on a predictable course, CCI has put on their pioneer hat these last few years - founding Barriohaus LLC, surprising us with badge sales late and early, gifting us with attendee pins and making other unforeseen moves. And now they're doing something even more brazen - auctioning off SDCC badges to the wealthy/desperate for a good cause.

10 pairs of Preview Night badges, to be specific, with all proceeds going to UNICEF. But before you leap onto Ebay, be ready to crack open your 401K - the initial bids have already climbed as high as $7,000. Hey, it is a charity auction.

And just to make this whole affair even more exciting, some of the badges will be auctioned off at the exact moment Returning Reg goes live on Saturday. Don't worry, you can do both - but this is a way for people ineligible for Ret Reg to feel like they're part of the madness, I guess.

 So there you go. If you're a trust fund nerd, a Silicon Valley robber baron or some other well-funded geek in the 1% - get ready to beat the competition with your wallet. You could have the dubious honor of paying more to go to San Diego Comic-Con than anyone in history.

And who knows - maybe next year CCI will have an entire reality show bequeathing badges to those nerds who prove themselves most worthy. Not going to lie: I would watch it.

Prepping for Returning Registration

25 OCTOBER 2017

It's almost here - our next rollercoaster ride through hell. Are you ready for Saturday?

By now you know the drill - you'll get an email with your unique registration code, you'll log into the waiting room and begin your agonizing wait. You'll be taunted by a blue spinning circle and tepid dad jokes from CCI. You'll keep checking Twitter to see who's getting badges. Your heart will drop when you see the message "Preview Night badges are almost gone."

Or maybe not! Maybe your screen will suddenly transform into a door to Comic-Con heaven, and you will be ushered into that transformative screen where you type with shaking hands your Member IDs and last names and pick the badges you want.

It can go so many ways - all four days, three days, Thursday-Sunday, nothing at all. And if you've been around these parts for a while, you know that the second chance offered by Open Registration is a slim one indeed. To illustrate: last year in Returning Reg, out of the 8 sessions I handled for people, 2 got picked for Preview Night. In Open Reg, my group had 30 sessions - and only 1 got picked for Preview Night.

So yes, this Saturday is pretty important. I can't pretend it's not.

How You Can Prepare

  • Get your finances in order. If your credit cards can't accommodate you and whoever you're buying for, borrow someone else's. Transfer money in your accounts around. Ask your richest relative for an early Christmas present.

  • Finalize arrangements with your friends. Who has to work and who doesn't Saturday morning? Who wants which days? Which days will they settle for if they can't get that?

  • Don't party too hard Friday night. Sorry to sound like your mom, but I know most of us are planning on some kind of occult costumed decadence this weekend. Save your Halloween all-night shenanigans for Saturday/Sunday - to celebrate your new badge, of course.

  • A word of advice for non-West Coasters: remember your time zone. Usually badge sales don't happen in Daylight Saving Time. This one does. So make sure you understand what 9 am PST translates to in Cleveland, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv or wherever you are.

I was going to post on buying groups, but decided it was more necessary for Open Reg than Ret Reg. Anyone in the running for Saturday is probably already working with people, after all. But I will post after Returning Reg to help people looking to connect with others for Open Reg.

Three more days. Stay positive and try not to let your anxiety ruin the rest of your week. I'll talk to you Saturday.

The pros and cons of Open Reg in December

20 OCTOBER 2017

Buried in all the hoopla over Returning Registration was CCI's tantalizing suggestion that Open Registration - otherwise known as the Nerd Rites of Spring - will be more like the rites of early winter this year. If CCI stays on track, they say - and to give them credit, they do seem to be on top of their game lately - we might get an email in late November or early December about an Open Reg sale before the end of the year.

We also might not. But for now, let's assume they pull this off. How do we feel about it?

A few ways your thoughts might go:

  • For nerds on a budget, it's a tough time of year financially. Whether you're trying to pay for airfare for a trip home, throwing a lavish holiday party or putting gifts under the tree, December is already a spendy month. 

  • On the other hand, if you manage to somehow secretly create a Member ID for your best friend/soulmate AND get them a badge - what an incredible Christmas present. Maybe since CCI created those snazzy boxes and pins last summer, we'll get a special Christmas certificate option? With little Professor Toucan in a Santa hat?

  • Of course, if you wash out in both sales, you'll be extra grinchy over the holidays...

  • ...But you'll have time to stoically accept your fate and find an alternative Con. Which is better than deluding yourself straight up through June that you'll get a badge from someone who knows someone whose cousin works for Dark Horse.

  • And if you do get a badge, you'll have more time to land a non-sketchy Airbnb or find roommates for that expensive non-discounted downtown room. 

  • Finally - cynically - with so many people associating Open Reg with spring, maybe this will slightly reduce the number of combatants? I can't imagine anything ruining your New Year's like someone telling you SDCC Open Reg already happened and you missed it, so I guess I'd feel bad if that happened ... but not really.

Regardless of whether you dread or welcome the thought of a December badge sale, one thing is certain: any friends who want to go to SDCC with you next summer need to create their Member ID profile now. We know CCI shuts all that down before the badge sale - and with this new over-achieving phase that they're in, who knows how fast they'll move in the next six weeks.

In other words, we all need to get our friends and finances organized now. This may be the first year ever there were 4 San Diego Comic-Con badge sales. Be ready to say you triumphed twice at this historic event.