Is SDCC news finally starting to flow?

22 MAY 2015

                                                                        Courtesy of Previews World

Today felt like someone finally kicked in a dam and a river of SDCC announcements started to flow out. Did you feel it?

Maybe it was the Supergirl pilot leaking. So far everyone seems to like it, even if they're a bit cynical about the leak itself. Will we still get a showy Supergirl panel at Comic-Con? It's on CBS and their demographic/style is foreign to our ways, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Or maybe it was all the talk about the Transformers writers room/wolf pack. Robert Kirkman, Jeff Pinkner from Lost, Zak Penn from Amazing Spider-Man 2 and other writers join Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg for an explosive supernova of Hollywood male starpower. And the result will be... another Transformers movie.

It could also be that Poltergeist came out today, making horror fans dream of superior future fare like Crimson Peak, Tales of Halloween and Before I Wake. Some of which we'll probably see at SDCC.

Then there was the news that the sequel to World War Z (movie) is going to compete against the Fantastic Four sequel on 9 June, 2017. If you recoiled at the very idea of a WWZ sequel, be aware that this one allegedly starts with a "clean slate." So maybe it'll be truer to Max Brook's incredible book.

But really what the last 2 days have delivered are a boatload of exclusives announcements. Mezco is bringing us one of the cooler collectibles I've seen so far: Batman vs. Mutant Leader which is up for pre-sale right now. There's also a Jim Lee Batman and a Krypto plushie - in fact, you can see a bunch of Previews exclusives here. And speaking of Transformers, we have this.

On the speculation front: not only has James Gunn's Marvel comment now grown into an acceptance that Marvel is "boycotting" the Con, but now there's a rumor that they will have their own annual Con. Given the number of movies they have on the docket, this isn't a terrible idea. I just don't know if it's a plausible one.

And on the panel front, we have news of a Sunday panel called Superpowers & Ordinary Superheroes at 10 am. A mix of middle grade and YA authors will talk about what it takes to be a true superhero; panelists include Rob Venditti, Noelle Stevenson, Marie Lu, AG Howard, James Dashner and Rachel Hartman.

What will the weekend bring? More panel news hopefully and more events. There haven't been as many ticketed shindigs to announce so far, unless they're all waiting until the last minute - not a bad strategy since many attendees want to wait and see what they'll be giving up before committing to something.

At any rate, it's clear that news should be coming on the regular. Stay tuned.

Portfolio Review schedule will post in July

22 MAY 2015

If you're a creative attending SDCC for the first time, you may want to consider participating in Portfolio Review. This is a program where industry pros from companies like Cartoon Network, Lucasfilms, Disney, Nickelodean and others will evaluate your work and give you professional feedback.

It's not a job fair, but it can be a doorway to collaboration, networking and even an offer. It's best to go in prepared and make the best of whatever interaction you get. For attendees who are early in their careers, this can be their first opportunity to get feedback from the type of people they want to work for. Taken in that spirit, it can be a worthwhile use of your Comic-Con time even if it doesn't lead to a new position.

Here's who can participate:
  •  Animators
  • Comic book writers and artists and editors
  • Inkers, letterers, colorists
  • TV writers and copywriters
  • 3-D modelers
  • Illustrators
  • Motion graphic, background and concept designers
  • Storyboard artists
  • Video game designers

Be aware that not all companies will be looking in all of those categories. Also be aware that - as with everything Comic-Con - it can be a game of chance. In the past, you had to sign up to be reviewed by a specific company and then check a printed list at the company's booth to see if you made the cut.

Which brings us to preparation. Obviously you want to show work that aligns with the company's objectives. An attendee who shows off brilliant surreal illustrations might be admired, but they won't be hired as fast as the attendee who demonstrates solid work that could easily fit into the company's brand. But the schedule won't be posted until a week before SDCC - so for now it's best to collect your strongest work and be ready to pivot on the fly if needed.

This is just one opportunity of many to market and network at SDCC, so now is a good time to start thinking along self-promotional lines. I'll post more about that this weekend.

Roger Corman documentary will premiere at SDCC

21 MAY 2015


Do you love low-budget creature features? Movies like "She Gods of Shark Reef" and "Night of the Blood Beast" and "Attack of the Giant Leeches"?  If so, you have excellent taste in cinema - and you may have occasionally wondered whatever happened to B-movie god Roger Corman's lost "Fantastic Four" film.

Well, now you can find out. A highly anticipated documentary called "DOOMED: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four" will premiere at Comic-Con to "shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the legendary cult classic." Shiver.

It will screen as part of the SDCC International Independent Film Festival, not as its own panel. That schedule hasn't been released yet but we do know that Executive Producer Mark Sikes and editor/director Marty Langford will be present to introduce the film.

For people who only know Roger Corman from his recent Syfy movies like "Sharktopus" or "Dinocroc Vs. Supergator," this should be a fascinating look at both obscure Marvel lore and Roger's colorful Hollywood history. No, it probably won't tantalize as many people as the Back to the Future documentary - but for a certain segment of attendees, it's the movie equivalent of being handed a basket of kittens.


Comics & Cocktails at San Diego Comic Art Gallery

20 MAY 2015

Earlier this year, IDW announced its relocation to San Diego - as well as the new San Diego Comic Art Gallery.

The gallery opens in June, with a special Comics and Cocktails event on 11 June. This will feature an exhibit from Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Be assured that though the gallery is housed within IDW's new space, it will show original art from comics and animation and feature author signings, artist appearances and installations from well beyond the IDW universe.

What: Comics and Cocktails at the San Diego Comic Art Gallery

When: 11 June

Where: IDW Publishing at NTC at Liberty Station, Barracks 3 at 2675 Truxtun Road, San Diego

Cost: 40 for outsiders - free for Admiral's Circle and Lifetime members. Cocktails and beer will be served.

If you can't make it to this, or down to the gallery at all while you're at SDCC, don't forget you can still check out CCI's "The Art of Comic-Con." One way or another, some kind of comic art will be yours for the viewing.

DCU, Hasbro panels & other SDCC updates

19 MAY 2015

I think it feels like we're still waiting for the really big SDCC announcements to get rolling, but in the meantime we have a few tidbits to mull over. Let's get right into it.

DC is unleashing a summer campaign called DCU. It's about convincing readers that DC has a comic for everyone, which seems like a bold promise. Major writers like Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Annie Wu and others will be highlighted; the comic books you pick up tomorrow will have inserts and ads to prepare you for this magnificence. Overall the campaign will involve 24 new series, 25 ongoing fan-favorite series, and "fun and engaging" activities at SDCC.

Everyone is saying that there could be a 2nd Batman vs Superman trailer shown at SDCC. This actually wouldn't surprise me, even though the previous 3 predictions were dead wrong.

I find this so bizarre: there's a DC/Thomas mashup, with the result that you can buy a little train that looks like Harley Quinn. There's a comic to go along with this.

Hasbro has announced five panels. Those first panel announcements are always exciting, aren't they? Whether you even want to go to them or not. The panels are:
  • Transformers Generations - Thursday - 11 am in 25ABC
  • Transformers: Robots in Disguise - Thursday - 3 pm in 5AB
  • My Little Pony - Friday - 10:30 am in 6A
  • Star Wars - Friday - 12:00 pm in 7AB
  • Marvel - Saturday - 4:00 pm in 25ABC

Mezco is bringing two more Batman exclusives: an actual Batman and a Poison Ivy keychain thing.

SpongeBob fans, you will want to get involved in this: Nickelodean is hosting a SpongeBob panel this year that will have a live episode reading. And you can vote for which episode by visiting Facebook. Choices are: Squidtastic Voyage, The Two Faces of Squidward, A Flea In Her Dome, Grandma's Kisses, That's No Lady and Idiot Box.

Will there be a hands-on preview of Disney Infinity 3.0 at SDCC? Given that it will feature Star Wars characters, I'll say yes.

I'm not sure how many major announcements we'll see this week; companies might be waiting for Memorial Day Weekend to pass. We'll see.

Another SDCC job - be a Ninjabot

19 MAY 2015

Did you get rejected from those other Comic-Con jobs? Do you feel qualified to be a Ninjabot Helper? Then you might want to quickly apply for a booth job before 5 June.

Qualifications: you must be energetic and friendly. Give it a shot here.

Image Expo tickets are on sale now

19 MAY 2015

Image is rolling into San Francisco with another Expo on 2 July. This year's guests include Robert Kirkman, Greg Zucka, Brian K. Vaughan and others, and will take place at the Yerba Buena Arts Center.

Why you want to go if you're local: these expos typically announce a lot of upcoming new books, partnerships and products, and are generally a fairly entertaining event.

Why you shouldn't stress about missing it if you're not local: because it's mainly about announcements that you're going to hear anyhow, even if you're sitting at your kitchen table in Barcelona. Image holds this expo ahead of SDCC so they don't have to compete with the other 12,000 new book/show announcements that come out of the Con.

Tickets are on sale now.

SDCC updates & speculation

16 MAY 2015


As you know, I'm compiling information on the SDCC 2015 page. However, we're at the point where there's too many news bites to find easily and it's all merging into one chaotic mess - so I'm going to post collective ongoing updates here, and clean that up to keep only the main stuff there.

Let's start with Marvel. One random comment in March from James Gunn has convinced all of Earth that Marvel will not be at San Diego in any shape or form. I don't necessarily think this is so. Maybe Marvel will appear in Hall H and maybe they won't, but I do think they'll have some kind of presence. At any rate, this speculation over the Thor: Ragnarok trailer is kind of silly to begin with since it releases in 2017. I think if Marvel does show up, they'll focus on Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy and of course Ant-Man.

This article is mostly a look-back at the digital gizmos that dazzled attendees last year, but I'm including it so first-timers can get an idea of what to expect this summer. Word of warning - these tend to involve lines or limited tickets that are hard to get. But if you haven't lost your VR virginity yet, SDCC is a fine place to do it.

The Kings of Con founders are launching a new entertainment site called Heroic Hollywood. It won't just be a fan site; it will create its own branded content as well, meaning this could become a good source for SDCC news.

This Raiden figure from Gecco will retail at Comic-Con for 195.

... And David Lynch is back on Twin Peaks, which has also added episodes. Thank you, Showtime; now please bring us a beautifully strange panel at Comic-Con that includes Lynch, Sherilyn Fenn and Madchen Amick. Bonus footage of Lynch walking around the Exhibit Hall and commenting on everything he sees would be especially appreciated.

Scream Queens is getting major social attention. Let's expect this to be a top panel if Ryan Murphy brings it to San Diego.

I haven't given this much thought, but apparently people are clamoring for the title of the 3rd Planet of the Apes movie to be announced at SDCC. It's really just one word that's a mystery, right? _____ of Planet of the Apes. Collider says it's "War." 


Mezco is bringing Breaking Bad fans a 12" Walter White and a Walpurgis Living Dead Doll that goes up for presale on 18 May. Yes, you can also get one at their booth, #3445.

Naruto cosplayers will have an event Sunday afternoon of the Con.

Red Giant will debut GIANT-SIZE #1 at SDCC, a "free ad-supported giveaway" which you could also call a comic book.  YouTube star Markiplier and other creators will be on hand to sign copies, and a "bevy" of Red Giant merchandise will be available at booth #2635.

The Loyal Subjects are previewing their TMNT exclusives.

Remember how Adobe and Marvel got together to pick 4 students to make an Avengers comic? The 4 creators have been selected and they'll be at SDCC. If you're thinking "That could have been me" then you might want to follow this story - Adobe says they'll possibly want 2 more students to contribute.

A bunch of vintage arcade game cosplayers are holding 2 photo shoots on 10 July. You're invited if you're cool enough.

The Jem and the Holograms trailer has left mixed feelings in its wake. I'm sure people will flock to see it at Comic-Con no matter what, but I'm not sure this is going to be one of the more buzzed-about panels if it's there.

What will be: the Syfy adaptation of The Magicians, since the trailer already has everyone salivating.

And finally, we all know by now that the X-Files reboot is real and returning to us on 24 January 2016. This has to have some kind of SDCC panel or celebration, right? It has to.

As with everything on this list, more will be revealed.

A SDCC contest for clever people

16 MAY 2015

Well, this is corporate. Cybersecurity company ESET is offering writers - or just quippy people - the chance to go to San Diego Comic-Con.

To enter, you need to create a caption for the ESET Android as he battles cyber threats. My question: what about contestants who create the same caption? Because as a former copywriter, I can assure you that will happen. I'm guessing one will be randomly selected, but that would mean people who think they have a winning caption can make their friends submit it as well to triple or quadruple their chances. Anyway.

ESET is Nerdist's "official cybersecurity partner" and so the winner gets, in addition to the airfare/hotel/badge, VIP access to the Nerdist party and an interview on the Nerdist News. They'll also get brought on stage for an additional prize.

Now, onto the part that applies to everyone. ESET is going to be at Petco Park on 10 July with "one of the largest activations in downtown San Diego." What will that entail? Well, we know Nerdist is bringing back their laser tag, but they promise to have "a veritable ton of activities" as well. So who knows.

I initially cringed when I read about this contest - not because I don't want 2 more people at SDCC, but because I dislike the creeping corporatization of the Con. It seems like only yesterday attendees were griping about Hollywood taking over, and then it was March of the Brands and now we have companies that have nothing to do with pop culture.

This time, I'm not so displeased because I have a personal interest in seeing the cybersecurity space go B2C instead of just B2B -  i.e., I want to see security become a consumer-based, individually marketed product instead of just something peddled to businesses. But overall, this is definitely a sign that corporate America is moving in. Maybe next year corporations can cut a deal with downtown hotels to make more rooms available at discount rates in return for forcing attendees to watch their ads on the hotel TV. Anything is possible in the marketing mecca that SDCC has become.

These last 8 weekends before Comic-Con

15 MAY 2015

I've known San Diego Comic-Con would kick off on 8 July since last year when I arrived at the Con and saw it in the guide. Usually it comes a little later in the month, but I didn't think the time difference was that big a deal - until now, when it seems impossible that SDCC is that close.

Counting this one, we have 8 weekends before we walk into the convention center. That final weekend is the 4th of July, which means most American attendees will be busy with barbecues, vacation days, fireworks and other celebrations.

Counting backward, we'll probably get programming announcements starting June 25 - I say that, first-timers, because CCI usually drops all the panel announcements day by day 2 weeks in advance. And be warned, SDCC has an insane amount of panels on every topic you can imagine. You'll want to study those lists, as opposed to winging it on arrival, because you'll need to make tough decisions - two of your dream panels will overlap, it's inevitable - and you'll need to roughly calculate your line time as well. This isn't an exact science, but in general you can't count on running from a panel that ends at 3:00 to a highly popular 3:30 panel and expect to walk right in.

So it's safe to assume we'll all be feverish with plans and holiday obligations from the end of June on. Before that, we'll be in the crux of peak announcement time. While lots of exclusives are getting announced now, this is nothing compared to the torrent of exclusives you'll see over the coming weeks. I used to list these; I'm not going to this year, except for top picks. Plenty of other sites cover them exhaustively and CCI does a good job of listing them and telling you which booth they'll be at. And yes, you'll want to note that too. Don't think that they'll catch your eye eventually as you meander around the floor. The crowds are too thick (and your fellow hunters too competitive) for that.

We'll also hear more about events. Parties, bands, cosplay contests, gaming events - there will be many, many outside events for you to attend, whether it's a Geek & Sundry party, an Orphan Black meetup, a nerd fetish ball, a live art show or a Star Wars collectors happy hour. I'll cover the major ones here but there will also be many more obscure ones that only get mentioned in various fan community and music sites - so if you have your hopes set on a specific fandom or type of event, search around as we get closer.

CCI will also announce their outside events. Let me say this here; wandering around, it can be hard to tell which is an official Comic-Con event (open to the badged only) and which is just a company putting on a show for the public. If in doubt, ask. But rest assured there will be plenty for you to do. I can't stress enough how awesome the outside events have gotten in recent years. Adult Swim funhouses, Game of Thrones attractions, Nerdist laser-tag, virtual reality tours, ziplining, obstacle courses - they're endless.

And of course we have Nerd HQ. Once those panels get announced, you'll really want to pay attention. Those tickets go fast fast fast so yes, it's competitive - but they offer opportunities that often surpass the official panels inside the Con.

CCI will also announce things like signing up for Portfolio Review and Comic Creator Connection, and the big companies will offer professional opportunities themselves, like Nickelodean inviting attendees to pitch them on the floor.

In short, you'll want to pay close attention over these final weeks because this is when it gets real. The information that's about to flow your way will feel overwhelming at times, but don't tune it out - you'll miss some of the most exciting parts of the Con. I don't know what you have planned between now and 8 July, but trust me when I say these weeks will fly by and you'll be at the Con before you know it. Buckle yourself in for the ride.

Masquerade entries are closed

15 MAY 2015

In a repeat of last year, Comic-Con has already filled their Masquerade lineup well before the June deadline. Don't say you weren't warned.

If this is crushing news for you - if you really wanted to compete this year but just haven't had time to get your application together - try not to be too disappointed. There will be plenty of cosplay events for you to attend, and of course you will be able to strut your glory all over the convention center and city. Put together a good costume or group and you'll have all the attention you could want. And of course there will be Marvel and DC cosplay photo shoots, there's that Horror Celebration and various themed meetups and parades for cosplayers.

In conclusion: even if you didn't make it into the Masquerade, you should still bring your A game. I guarantee others will appreciate it.

Thoughts on NYCC vs SDCC

14 MAY 2015

If you were watching the New York Comic Con sale unfold online yesterday, you may have come away from it with the impression that NYCC is as impossible to get into as San Diego Comic-Con, and that it's pointless to even look in the direction of the Javits Center.

That's not true, but I think the bumps and difficulties of the sale created that idea. Yes, that was a tough sale yesterday. Its overall arc went like this:

  • NYCC site crashed minutes before the sale went live.
  • NYCC sent out an alternate link on Twitter and other social, which meant the ticket buyers saw and accessed it in waves.
  • Many of us who did get into the queue suffered an incredible number of errors and delays. I battled my way through 408s and hangups straight through to the confirmation page. My first queue page tried to convert just a few minutes in, but continually struggled for 2 hours. My 2nd and 4th  queues converted at just under 2 hours.
  • Tickets began appearing on StubHub minutes into the sale - providing dismal confirmation that in fact some people were indeed buying tickets.
  • About two hours into the sale, the chokehold lightened and more people could get in. While VIP sold out quickly, then 3-days, 4-days were still available 1 hour and 45 minutes in, and by 2 hours, all 4 days were available as well.
Currently Thursday and Super Week passes are still available.

Conclusion: while not everyone got the badge they wanted, anyone who wanted some kind of badge could get one. Compare that to the roaring clamor for SDCC badges - in which only 1 out of 7 Member IDs that I tracked got any badge at all - and it's clear that San Diego still has to deal with a massive wave of demand compared to NYCC.

So allow me to be tediously repetitive and hold up NYCC as an alternate Con for those of you who get shut out from SDCC. It's in New York, so you're already guaranteed an array of incredible bars, shows, museums and activities. It's not as Hollywood-heavy as SDCC but many of the major players like The Walking Dead will be there. Hotel rooms are easier to get and reasonably priced. It's just an appetizing Con on multiple levels and it should be a top pick for anyone who got shut out of SDCC. Or, for that matter, anyone who just doesn't want to deal with SDCC's madness.

Obviously it's too late to go this year - but I'd still point out that Salt Lake and DragonCon are available, and that it's not too early to make your 2016 plans. Which in general should include alternatives to San Diego. Think about Emerald City if you're a cosplayer or comic book fan. Think very seriously about the new Silicon Valley Comic Con in March. Think about Denver. Just don't take an "SDCC or nothing" attitude, because you will probably in fact wind up with nothing.

To end on a more positive note - additional NYCC tickets will be sold at Special Edition and Midtown Comics.

Today is the NYCC ticket sale

13 MAY 2015

11:30 am PST

Right now Thursday, Friday and Sunday, plus Super Week, are available. Which means that as tangled as this ticket sale got, it was never as dire as I feared. Who wouldn't want a Saturday free in New York?

I have to point this out - for all that NYCC crowed about surpassing SDCC's numbers, it clearly doesn't have anything close to the demand for SDCC. Compare the huge rate of badge sale failures for SDCC hopefuls vs. the availability of tickets still on the NYCC site. It's not even close - the number of people who want to go to San Diego Comic-Con far exceed the number of people who want to go to New York Comic Con.

11:07 am PST

Please don't give up if you're still waiting. With fewer of us in the system, there's some breathing room and there seem to be fewer errors.

I understand your despair; I was right there 20 minutes ago, making plans to go to DragonCon instead. Then the Nerd Goddess smiled upon me and voila, I was in.

10:50 am PST

I bought 2 sets of all 4 days. At single day prices, mind you. When I got in, I clicked for three 4-days and progressed; error message ensued; I went back and the 4-days were gone. In the blink of an eye, I went from paying 105 for 4 days and a Super Week pass to over 200. Oh, the whims of our Comic Con fates.

Still. What matters is the timing. It took me almost 2 hours to get through - and I did not get through on the first queue I set up but the 2nd and 4th one (which converted within seconds of each other.) Several errors were encountered during check-out but nothing fatal.

Oh and ReedPOP, it's "first of its kind" - not "first of it's kind." Yes, I get pedantic and irritable after a 2 hour anxiety marathon.

10:10 am PST

Every single time a queue window starts to advance, I get hung up or get a 408.

The fact is, people ARE buying tickets and certain categories have already sold out - so in a sense the system is working. The bad/low servers act to hold most of the crowd at bay, turning it into a lottery.  But rather than subject us to crashes, delays and error messages, they should simply handle it as such. 

SDCC's sale was smoother and faster than this, though still riddled with disappointment. I'm beginning to think the best way to handle these sales is like Ace did with parking - everyone sends in an email with a name and address and later they find out if they got picked or not. Each person who is picked gets to bring 1 friend. It would be far less stressful than these online sales that just aren't functioning past a certain threshold.

10:00 am PST

3-Days are sold out.

9:46 am PST

Special Access is sold out.

9:38 am PST

Allegedly everything but VIP is still available. Have hope.

9:34 am PST

What a world we live in when NYCC tickets are already appearing on Stubhub even as most of us are stuck in the queue.

9:21 am PST

VIP is gone.

9:16 am PST

I have had:

1 queue start to convert and then hang up
Another queue that is stuck on Waiting for Showclix
3 other current queues still going.

People are getting through, though.

9:02 am PST

Use this link:

8:58 am PST

The site is down.

8:41 am PST

NYCC tickets are about go live. It's going to be rough; last year's sale was lightning-fast and it's a safe bet that we'll have more people trying to buy tickets - both because of Super Week and because they've been shut out of SDCC.

I'll post whatever I hear. Good luck, everyone.

SDCC rolls out "The Art of Comic-Con"

12 MAY 2015

What an arty summer we're going to have. First we have the new San Diego Comic Art Gallery at the  IDW Headquarters to visit; now CCI is going to dazzle us with "The Art of Comic-Con."

Which is them partnering with the San Diego Public Library to show off art from their archives. I want to visualize CCI's archives as a vast and closely-guarded hangar of artwork, Raiders of the Lost Arc-style. And maybe it is; this is what the exhibit will show.

"Providing unprecedented access to original art by over 60 comics artists, the exhibition traces the history of Comic-Con through art and provides a sneak peek into the evolving process of creating comic art. Visitors to the show will have the opportunity to see process drawings in a variety of mediums that were used in souvenir and program books for Comic-Con, WonderCon, and APE, the Alternative Press Expo, artwork that is representative of the comic books and comic art Comic-Con International presents to a growing audience."

That quote gets a bit clunky at the end, but you get the idea. I'll assume that the "sneak peek into the evolving process" refers to digital tools, which could be interesting. If you want to know exactly who will be showcased, you'll see work from Sergio Aragonés, Howard Chaykin, Cliff Chiang, Michael Cho, Colleen Coover, Rick Geary, Gilbert Hernandez, Jim Lee, Dave McKean, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers, John Romita Jr., Bill Sienkiewicz, William Stout, Babs Tarr, and others.

What: The Art of Comic-Con

When: Saturday, 20 June - 30 August 2015; a reception will be held from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm on 20 June.

Where: the Art Gallery on the 9th Floor of the San Diego Central Library -330 Park Blvd, San Diego.

Cost: free

Obviously this is a great way for non-badged people to soak up some Comic-Con art, but it should also be on the agenda of any comic fan attendees.

NYCC tickets go on sale Weds, noon EST

11 MAY 2015

Back in the day, San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con never seemed like rivals. It was assumed that West Coasters went one place and East Coasters another, and anyway, SDCC had Hollywood in their pocket.

Things have changed radically in the last 5 years. SDCC is extremely difficult to get into and NYCC has outgrown it in several ways - such as boasting 151,000 attendees last year to SDCC's 130,000. (Note: NYCC uses a different counting system than SDCC, so it's debatable as to how many unique attendees they actually had.) NYCC has Super Week as well, with multiple events around the city. Serious fans are now looking at NYCC as a viable replacement for San Diego - not because it replicates the SDCC experience (it can't) but because it offers a massive pop culture event that's enthralling in its own right.

Tickets for 2015 go on sale this Wednesday, at noon EST and 9 am PST.

Single day badges: $40 for Thursday, 50 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Three-day badges: $75 for Friday-Sunday

Four-day badges: $105 for the whole shebang, and that includes a New York Super Week card.

You can't beat those prices. For those of you who are feeling flush, there are more upper-tier packages granting special access, line-jumping, private lounges and other benefits:

VIP: $525

Special Access: $215

Word of warning - yes, tickets will go fast. If you're entertaining notions of a leisurely badge sale with plenty of tickets to go around, check out Bleeding Cool's story on last year's ticket sale as well as CBR's. Tech glitches, tickets on Ebay at 400% markup, and other disappointments abounded.

However, it's worth noting that some day badges did not sell out right away - so if you do participate in the sale and fail to get a 4-day or 3-day badge, well, you know what I'm going to say. Grab Thursday, Friday and Sunday and go anyhow. You'll be in New York; there's no end to the ways you can amuse yourself.

Final special guests announced for SDCC

11 MAY 2015

It's here: the final special guest announcement for San Diego Comic-Con 2015. This brings the total to 70, which means you should be able to find a favorite of yours somewhere in the batch.

They are:

Samuel L. Glanzman: writer/artist - A Sailor’s Story

Caitlin R. Kiernan: author - The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, The Dreaming

Dave McCaig: color artist - American Vampire, Superman: Birthright

Jim Steranko: writer, artist, publisher - Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Prevue Magazine

Kazuki Takahashi: creator - Yu-Gi-Oh!

And here is the complete list:

David Aja, Lalo Alcaraz, Sergio Aragonés, Franco Aureliani, Peter Bagge, Art Baltazar, Jerry Beck, Allie Brosh, Greg Capullo, Michael Cho, Katie Cook, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Michael DeForge, Mark Evanier, Carlos Ezquerra, Matt Fraction, Samuel L. Glanzman, Lev Grossman, Tom Grummett, Jackson (Butch) Guice, Asaf Hanuka, Tony Harris, Jonathan Hickman, Hugh Howey, Reginald Hudlin, Matthew Inman, Lora Innes, Chip Kidd, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Denis Kitchen, Boaz Lavie, Bob Layton, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Paul Levitz, Steve Lieber, Laura Martin, A. Lee Martinez, Dave McCaig, Scott McCloud, Kevin Nowlan, Matt Phelan, Joe Phillips, Ed Piskor, Hilary B. Price, Humberto Ramos, Jimmie Robinson, Dave Roman, Rainbow Rowell, Luis Royo, Sara Ryan, Scott Shaw, Jeff Smith, Jen Sorensen, Richard Starkings, Eric Stephenson, Jim Steranko, J. Michael Straczynzki, William Stout, Kazuki Takahashi, Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki, Raina Telgemeirer, Jill Thompson, Maggie Thompson, Jhonen Vasquez, Bernie Wrightson, Craig Yoe, Skottie Young, and Chip Zdarsky.

The mating call of the Comic-Con scammer

9 MAY 2015

A lot of people who don't know any better think going to Comic-Con is like going to a stadium show; they can just show up in the vicinity and a sketchy-looking guy in sunglasses will be waving physical badges over his head and calling out to the crowd. And they believe that the digital equivalent of those people can be found on Craigslist.

It doesn't work like that, of course. Badges have names and days printed on them, and must be picked up with a photo ID. Sometimes guards stop you and ask to see your ID to make sure it matches the name on your badge. But there's no quick way to know this if you've never been to SDCC, so Craigslist keeps filling up with offers - and people keep answering them.

Here's a rogue's gallery of scammers and the lines they'll feed you.

I got a full Preview Night badge but now I can't go this year, so I have to sell my badge. '

Anyone can request a badge refund up until 15 June. And if they're so busy, overworked or out of town, why are they able to go retrieve the badge in person?

I just need your name and address and I can transfer the badge to you.

CCI doesn't transfer badges. Any badges bought will be waiting under the name of the person who bought them, and only a photo ID with that name will work.

I'll just give you the name it's under and you can say you're me.

See above. Photo ID is required.

As soon you pay, I'll mail out the badge.

No one gets an advance badge. Everyone has to pick them up on site. Anyone who pretends to already have a badge in their possession - and I've seen some laughable fakes already on Craigslist - is a vile liar.

I have 5 one-day badges, 3 two-day badges, 4 weekend badges, and 2 four-day badges.

No one refers to a "two-day badge" or "weekend badge." They're just trying to sound legit by presenting several options.

This isn't an attendee badge, it's a special industry all-access badge because my friend works in the industry. You just have to go to this special guest badge desk and pick it up.

You will see some true guest badge offers online, so this one is dicey. However, because it's so hard to disprove until you're actually there in the convention center lobby, being told that no, there is no badge waiting for your name, a lot of scammers tell this story. If you do find someone who seems to be the real deal, check him or her out as deeply as you can.

(And for a different kind of scam: those of you who are going the Airbnb route know not to make any wire transfers, right?)

If you are desperately seeking a badge to San Diego Comic-Con right now, my heart goes out to you - I understand how panicked you might feel as we get closer and closer. And let me be clear, it's not just neophytes who are looking to get a badge through dodgy means. I know a family who got badges for both parents and one child, while their 14 year old is out in the cold. They are frantic to get him even a Sunday badge. Given the badge sale logistics, it's very common to see families and groups of friends fractured in this way. (Including my best friend and I.)

There's no easy answer, and it's not surprising that someone might feel compelled to roll the dice and trust one of these Craigslist sellers. But more often than not, it just results in more heartbreak - so please, please, be careful. Don't do anything to jeopardize your chances at attending next year and use your common sense. Missing Comic-Con is definitely going to sting - but losing a thousand dollars and missing Comic-Con anyway will feel far, far worse.

Get ready for your annual exclusives combat

8 MAY 2015

In another Comic-Con mile marker, Mattel has announced their first toys for SDCC. You can see them here: Ghostbusters Egon Spengler, Masters of the Universe Rotar vs. Twistoid and Hover Robots 3-Pack. And they've announced the voucher sale launches 28 May, which means we should see an incredible rollout of toys over the next 3 weeks. May just got exciting!

                                                        courtesy of

If you're new to SDCC, you should be aware of 2 things:

1) Some of the SDCC items you'll see announced are exclusives and some are just collectibles. The term "exclusive" has become somewhat elastic, to the point where people use it to mean "launching at SDCC," "sold only at conventions," "sold for now only at SDCC but we could change our minds" and other conceptual possibilities. Sometimes companies will imply a product is exclusive to drum up interest when really it's just new. So if you're planning on buying something to sell it for a huge profit on Ebay, be warned that your item may not be as rare as you think.

2) Getting exclusives is so competitive that you pretty much have to train for months in the Himalayas in an elite school for assassins just to get your hands on one. There was a time when a Preview Night badge (and being fleet of foot) pretty much guaranteed you'd get what you wanted; you'd hotfoot it to the right booth, which you'd already memorized on CCI's Exhibit Hall map, and get in line. Or you'd play dirty and find a way to already be in the Exhibit Hall through some vendor-ish trick and beat out the attendees waiting outside.

That's all changed. Lots of manufacturers use a voucher system now in the interests of crowd control. My best advice for you is to pay attention to what's coming out and follow whatever instructions are given. There are so many exclusives rolling out that it can be hard to stay on top of them; CCI will publish a fairly exhaustive list as we get closer. Whether you're trying for something from Hasbro, Funko, Dark Horse, Mattel or some other company, be aware they'll use slightly different processes. Some companies sell pre-sale vouchers online, some hand out vouchers physically at the Con, some still sell product right from the booth. Be aware that you're competing with people who want to get the exclusives just so they can resell them, and that these people tend to find sketchy ways of trumping the competition.

I'm not trying to sour you on getting the collectible of your dreams - just warning you that you really have to be on point for this. You can't just roll up to the booth, point and say, "I'll take that."

Anyhow, let's look at Mattel's game plan. You're going to buy a purchase voucher at on 28 May 8 am PST if you're a member of Club Eternia. That's not some weird comet-worshiping euthanasia cult, but a special club for collectors.

If you're not in Club Eternia, you can buy a voucher from 1 June at 9 am PST to 8 June at 11:59 PT.
You may or may not get one, depending on how popular your item is. If you do get one, you'll pick up your toy at SDCC Thursday-Saturday. Sometimes vendors have you come to their booth for this but Mattel and many other places usually have you report to a room in the labyrinth halls of the Marriott. Some of those items will also go up for sale on Mattel's site during their SDCC After-Party Sale on 27 July.

San Diego Comic-Con is two months from today, people. Two months.

Conan O'Brien will broadcast from SDCC Weds-Sat

5 MAY 2015

We've known for a long time that Conan O'Brien will be at San Diego Comic-Con this year. He's just announced that he's going to break with his long-standing show tradition and air new shows on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

He also tantalized the audience by promising that "All of our comedy and all of our guests are going to relate to the magic of Comic-Con." This could be something to make your parents and non-nerd friends watch so they understand just what it is you get up to in San Diego every July. On the other hand, it's probably going to inspire a new 394,723 people to sign up for Member IDs, so there's that.

First-timers, don't bank on watching this in your hotel room each night - it's highly possible you'll be out at an event or already snoring in bed. So you might want to set your DVR if you're interested in seeing these episodes.

As far as getting tickets - this is where you can normally go for Conan tickets. They're free and they go fast. The SDCC shows aren't on the site yet and I'm not entirely sure they'll be handled the same way. If you'd like to attend one of these shows, I'd suggest monitoring the site closely and applying the same obsessive focus you used to get your SDCC badge, because it will be almost as competitive.

Stay tuned.

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 Horror Gathering

5 MAY 2015

Are you into horror cosplay? Do you want to meet a bunch of other horror cosplayers at SDCC and take pictures with them?

That seems to be the focus of the San Diego Comic-Con 2015 Horror Gathering. It's happening 11 July at 5:00 pm in the Children's Museum Park and is open to anyone, badged or not. I would imagine something else beyond just photography will transpire, given the grand name, but maybe not. At any rate, this might be a fun opportunity to cosplay for locals who didn't get a badge but still want to dress up.

 Probably more details will be available as we get closer.