Dealing with your badge sale disappointment

10 NOVEMBER 2018

Today was your last chance to go to San Diego Comic-Con 2019. I don't ever recall Open Registration being this early, which may bring an extra sting to your defeat; you have eight months ahead of you in which you'll listen to everyone else get excited while you know you're staying home.

Open Registration has been difficult for years, but this year did seem especially competitive. I had seven people I was buying for and not one got picked. Granted, I was very lucky during Returning Reg so it all balances out (kind of) but I heard (and saw firsthand) many sad tales today. One of my friends, who's gone to SDCC with her boyfriend-now-husband for the last 7 years, got nothing and is vacillating between shock and crying. And when the death of John Rogers, CCI President, was announced, it just intensified what was a gloomy day for many attendees.

If you got nothing - or "just" a Thursday or Sunday badge - here are your options.

Go anyhow. 

You can show up, take pictures of the cosplayers, go to public parties and try to feel like an attendee. Would I recommend you do this? No.  You'll feel more like a ghost as you see people line up for activations and panels you can't get into, and you'll still suffer through the uglier parts of Comic-Con: crowds and long wait times for restaurants. 

See if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone.

This has gotten harder and harder to do, but see if you can shake the tree and find a studio, publisher, retail or industry contact with a badge to spare. If you live in LA, this isn't a Herculean feat.

Stoically prep for next year.

This is the most sensible option. Make friends in the SDCC online community and work with a reputable group next Open Reg. Or build a local network of nerds and fans from your city's Comic-Con, film societies, comic shops, gaming nights and cosplay clubs. You'll meet people who might want to join forces for San Diego Comic-Con 2020.

Start researching other Cons. 

My friend screamed at me today when I said this to her. SDCC is where she and her husband have their rituals, their restaurants, their memories, etc. I get it. Nostalgia is powerful. But if you're not going to SDCC, there's no point in sitting home and moping. Look at ECCC, NYCC, Salt Lake, DragonCon, Denver, Gen Con, London and so on. No, they won't be SDCC but they'll have their own attractions and offerings and in most cases, offer an easier attendee experience. Just go. Or look into a different kind of convention. Two of my ex-SDCC friends recently went to a true crime convention and had a great time.

Keep an eye out for Comic-Con jobs.

Some places will need help setting up and tearing down, handling transactions, passing out swag and promotions, or being a glorified gopher. Sometimes you'll have to send in a headshot and look pretty, and sometimes not. Before you commit to anything, see if you actually get badges and access. If you don't, or you only get 45 minutes a day to roam the convention center, it may not be worth it. Two of my first-timers had Exhibit Hall jobs last year and they wound up wishing they had more freedom to explore.

Keep your Thursday/Sunday badge.

If you're new to SDCC, you might naturally assume that Saturday is when the glory rolls forth. It's actually pretty glorious on every day, and Saturday can be a revolting mass of humanity. So yes, your Thursday and Sunday badges are worth going for. There are plenty of offsite events to busy yourself with. And SDCC can be tiring and baffling for first-timers; taking a break in the middle to slow down and collect yourself is actually a good idea.

I'm so sorry if you didn't get a badge. Obviously it's a devastating loss. But try to look at it as a doorway to a new adventure. Use your SDCC budget for some exotic location and don't look back. SDCC will be there the following summer.

SDCC Open Registration is here!

10 NOVEMBER 2018

11:14 a.m.

And it's over. All badges for San Diego Comic-Con 2019 have been sold.

10:47 a.m.

Friday is gone.

9:43 a.m.

Saturday is gone. Slow moving sale.

9:27 am

Preview Night is gone.

8:38 a.m.

Just got a panicked text from someone who can't find their code - as in, they can't find the CCI email with the link and code. If this is you, remember that your unique registration code is also listed in your Member ID account. Just log in and click on the Registration Info tab. You'll see your eligibility status and your code.

8:03 a.m.

Our own personal Hunger Games are just an hour away. Are you ready??

There's been a lot of talk about demand for next year. My observations:
  • It's seemed like the SDCC mania has abated just slightly over the past few years; quite a few people I talked to this summer said they wouldn't return. Yet all but one of them changed their mind. 
  • With the CCI hullabaloo over SDCC50, we may have more combatants than usual. However, I don't think your average bear is thinking about San Diego Comic-Con in November or tuned in to the early SDCC50 campaigns. 
  • Many of us perceived a drop in the usual number of Returning Registration spots and theorized that maybe more badges would be available in Open Reg.
I guess we'll just have to see.

One last-minute tip. If you're managing multiple sessions for people today, make sure you know exactly whose code goes with what session. Obviously you want to be fair, but it can also help if you run into problems. One year I had to contact CCI about a person who never got a badge despite my going through the system and they asked what registration code was used for the session. So it can matter.

Good luck. I'll post what I find out.

SDCC Open Reg is tomorrow!


Is it hard for anyone else to believe that tomorrow - Saturday, 10 November, 9 am PST - is Open Registration for the 50th San Diego Comic-Con? This is a monumental occasion. If you've been around for a while, you remember the days when an online badge sale was something you got around to when you felt like it - and if you're been around for a really long time, you may remember the days when you had to mail in a form. (Before my time, but I like hearing about it.)

So. Let's say you're a first-timer, trembling with excitement and nervousness about your very first SDCC badge sale. You probably have some idea of what's in store if you got far enough to create a Member ID and get a registration code. Let's review it all anyhow.

  • Tonight you'll go to bed at a decent hour and forswear all damaging substances. Why? Because your wits need to be sharp for the badge sale.

  • Tomorrow you'll click the magic link provided between 8 and 9 a.m. PST. Does it matter when? There's a whole school of online thought about this, but I will say that my lucky Ret Reg sessions came from the close-to-8 am waiting room session and the almost-9 am waiting session. In other words, don't worry about it.

  • Once in the waiting room, you'll see the infamous spinning blue circle that seems like you're being brainwashed. You'll see mild nerd jokes from CCI. You'll see a lot of social media meltdowns. If you're smart, you'll organize a little camp of drinks and credit cards and your buying group documentation - last names, Member IDs, days requested, payment methods. 

  • If family members, housemates or anyone else seems like they might be a nuisance, you'll warn them to leave you alone. You absolutely cannot take your eye off the ball for a second during a badge sale. During Ret Reg, I heartlessly locked my brand new kitten in my bedroom despite his cries because he has a gift of shutting down laptops with a single paw. If you have rambunctious pets, make sure they cannot interfere with your equipment by leaping onto keyboards, chewing on cords, etc.

  • At 9 a.m. PST, CCI will tell you the sale is about to begin and everyone is being organized randomly into groups. This is when your anxiety will skyrocket. Minutes will tick by, you'll wonder if people have been getting placed in buying sessions yet, you'll keep checking Twitter - and eventually you'll find out that yes, other people are buying badges while you're being ignored.

  •  If you stay ignored: it's going to hurt. First you'll hear a message that Preview Night badges are sold out, then Saturday is gone, then Friday is gone, then Thursday, then Sunday and then CCI announces it's all over, you lost, good day, sir.

  • But if you do get picked? Try to calm your shaking hands. You have some time. 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 ruined a friend's fate this way. And if someone else buys your badge for you? You can still enter your buying session to buy for 3 other Member IDs.

  • 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 so you don't skip a day. Then you'll be taken to a new screen where you'll put in your credit card info, buy the badges and close out.

None of this is quantum physics. While badge sales used to be a nightmare of crashing systems and weird glitches, they usually proceed pretty smoothly these days. You might get bounced; if so, just use the same code to log back in. The real danger is human error. If you do fall victim to a glitch, screenshot everything and email CCI immediately.

And if you're new - please know that the odds aren't great. There will be a lot of people competing for badges tomorrow. Try to maintain perspective. And always remember SDCC is not the only Con worth going to. 2019 will be full of exciting Comic Cons with easier badge sales. I promise.

Talk to you tomorrow.

You can buy and sell ECCC badges on Lyte now


If you've trafficked with Emerald City Comicon before, you know their badge system works a little differently than some other Cons; you can buy a bunch of badges without saying who they're for, but you haven't been able to resell those badges legitimately or turn them in for a refund.

And if you missed out on getting the ECCC badge you want (it happens), you have to lurk around StubHub and Craigslist and other places to buy a ticket, usually at inflated prices.

That's all changed now.

How It Works

Emerald City is working with Lyte to adjust some of their previous badge practices. Essentially you can both resell a badge you don't need and buy a badge you weren't able to get - no scalpers, ticket scams or mark-up in the mix.

  • Let's say you really want a full ECCC badge but didn't get one. You can "reserve" one through Lyte for any badges that become available.
  • Or maybe your friend bails on you or you get sick or some deadline rears its head - and you tragically can't go to Emerald City after all. Instead of eating the cost or trying to sell your ticket online, you can resell it to Lyte. 
  • How much will you get if you resell? A "fair market offer." Decipher that as you will.

This should bring some hope to those of you who didn't get a full ECCC badge, and offer flexibility to those of you with unpredictable and demanding schedules. It also opens a different Comic-Con window to those of you who don't do well in tomorrow's SDCC Open Registration badge sale.

You can put your name on the Lyte badge reservation list here.

Open Registration is 10 November

31 OCTOBER 2018

Happy Halloween, Samhain and an early Dia de los Muertos, my spooky nerds. If you were one of the many, many attendees who didn't get a Preview Night badge a few weeks ago, then CCI gave you a scary half-trick, half-treat today: Open Registration for San Diego Comic-Con will be held on 10 November, 2018.

Good news? Bad news? I'm-not-ready news? Apparently early Open Reg is the new way of SDCC now - and it does seem to carry an even more fatalistic feeling, coming so early. Before the trees have even gone bare, you may know for certain that you are not going to San Diego Comic-Con.

Or you may know for sure that you are and can settle in with some security.

Two reasons to be optimistic:
  • If you do fail to get a badge, you have more than enough time to make alternate plans. Emerald City, Boston, New York, Gen Con, Salt Lake - you have so many options. 
  • There does seem to be a widely held (if unproven) theory that CCI held back more badges than usual for Open Reg. So your chances may be better than normal. (Or they may not, because #50 may be attracting more combatants than usual.)
As for the sale itself, it will proceed like normal. If this is your first sale, I'll spell it all out for you as we get closer. And if you're so new that you haven't even created your Member ID account yet.... Bad news, you won't be going to SDCC next summer. Only accounts created before this morning can participate in Open Reg.

Have fun tonight.

ECCC Saturday is almost gone

18 OCTOBER 2018

For ECCC 2017 and 2018, Saturday took a week to sell out. Within 24 hours of the 2019 badge sale, Saturday was 95% sold out.

There are a few left now as of Thursday night, but I wouldn't wait much longer if you're looking to get all 4 days. Good luck.

ECCC tickets are live

17 OCTOBER 2018

12:20 pm

And I've gotten my first complaint about full tickets being sold out. Apparently some people still think of this as a sleepy 2nd-tier Con that's easy to get badges for. While it's not quite as competitive as SDCC or NYCC, it's still highly popular and not an easy get.

I'd advise jumping in now to get all 4 days if you want them.

12:14 pm

Looks like full tickets are gone - but you can still get all 4 days separately. You'll just pay a bit more.

12:13 pm

Just a reminder - you can book your hotel too when you're done. I booked a room at the Sheraton, natch, and rooms with double beds were already unavailable for Wednesday night (king rooms were available.) In my experience, ECCC hotel rooms tend to look booked and then be available again - but it's best to book your room now.

12:06 pm

That was painless. I was in the queue at noon and into the buying session at 12:02.

How are you doing?

11:58 am

Tickets for Emerald City are about to go live. The sale should go smoothly - but I expect full tickets will sell out quickly. If you are planning on going and want the full show, make sure you get in at noon PST on the dot.

Tomorrow is the ECCC ticket sale

16 OCTOBER 2018

The ticket sale for one of the most exciting Comic Cons happens tomorrow - Wednesday, 17 October, at noon PST. I'm referring, of course, to Emerald City Comic Con.

I've sung Emerald City's praises many times - you can see two examples here and here. But here's a quick summary of why I love it and why I think you could love it too:

  • ECCC feels like a real comic book convention - not a booming Hollywood hype machine with a few boxes of back issues crammed in. 
  • The Artist's Alley is like no other. It's not shoved in some ignored corner of the convention center. It's a major part of the Con and it's spectacular.
  • Their guests are on point. Generally speaking, there is one room that functions as a Hall H and that's your main option for seeing TV and movie guests (who tend to be really good.) In some ways, that simplicity adds up to an easier and more satisfying Con.
  • In fact, pretty much all of ECCC is easier. Lines are shorter or non-existent, your hotel will be very close and so will most of the events you go to. 
  • Eating, drinking and sleeping is more civilized than at NYCC or SDCC. There are plenty of bars and restaurants right there. And you can sleep in without missing the day's events, because you can usually get into them last minute.
  • The cosplay is world class. 
  • The tickets and hotels are at a friendlier price point than San Diego and New York.

And - sorry to rub salt in your wound - this is a very attractive option for those of you who didn't get an SDCC badge last weekend. Open Registration offers you a second chance but the competition will be stiff. Putting Emerald City in your back pocket can take the sting out of missing San Diego.

Conquering the Sale

  • There will be a queue, as with most big Con ticket sales. Put aside some time for this.
  •  Full tickets will go fast. You should be able to still get all 4 days separately but Saturday has sold out within a week the past 2 years. 
  •  Hotels will go live at the same time.
  •  Don't spin out with anxiety - this isn't as ruthless as a SDCC badge sale. Just be prepared with your hotel choice and your credit card and you'll do okay.

To get tickets, go here tomorrow and wait for the sale to go live.

And if you're on the fence - say yes to this. ECCC has gone from a cool local Con to a semi-secret gem popular with comic fans to one of the highest-rated Cons in the world. Take a chance and go. I don't think you'll regret it.

Returning Reg is here

13 OCTOBER 2018

10:26 am

Well, that was fast. And rather dismal: compared to last year, hardly anyone I know did well. I got lucky fast and then so did a friend's code. But mostly there was an odd lack of activity in my group. One friend's group didn't get in at all. Another group I know that is always supernaturally lucky did get about half their members badges - but half didn't.

One theory: CCI shifted the allocation of badges, saving more for Open Reg - and the high interest in SDCC50.

If you bombed out today, stay confident about Open Reg. And while I say this every year, it goes double for 2019: having a partial badge is not that bad, because of all the offsites that will almost definitely be happening. Yes, I know the offsites weren't great for 2018. But with the hullabaloo SDCC is making about #50, I'm sure many companies will seize what they see as a great marketing opportunity. You will be kept very busy outside the convention center next summer.

So how did you do?

8:38 am

Returning Registration is just minutes away. By now you've (probably) logged into the waiting room, conferenced in your digital war room and braced yourself for the worst - or the best.

I've heard a few reports of people getting kicked out of the waiting room but nothing else so far. Let's hope for a smooth badge sale like last year.

I'm manning a few sessions but will report back any issues I hear.

Last minute Returning Reg prep

12 OCTOBER 2018

Do you feel lucky? Fortune favors the prepared, as they say - so make sure you're ready for tomorrow in these specific ways:

  • You have your money locked down. If your bank account or card limit is a fragile thing, you might want to check funds tonight. Should your card fail, CCI will circle back to you to get it sorted. But it's best to have everything smoothed out now.

  • Your friends are clear on everyone's Member ID, last name spelling and badge preferences. I have seen people fail to get badges because someone had someone's last name spelled wrong. I once bought someone more days than they asked for. Another time someone sent me their Member ID with a hyphen in it and I figured it out with seconds to go. If your info is on a spreadsheet, check and make sure it's correct.

  • You understand the proper time zone translation. Maybe you're traveling, maybe you still think of badge sales as not happening in Daylight Savings Time; just make sure you know what 9 am PST looks like in your land.

  • Your tech is ready. You've tested your browsers, ensured you have a device that won't hang, have a system so you can talk to your buying group while still keeping an eye on your waiting room.

Last year Returning Reg went quite smoothly; of course not, everyone got a badge and that could be you tomorrow. If so, don't spiral. You still have Open Registration. And even if you get partial badges, you'll be fine. All of the 50th SDCC hoopla means there will be plenty of activities going on outside the Con.

Good luck. I'll live blog the sale as much as I can tomorrow but it should go pretty quickly.

Quick reminder about SDCC Open Registration

11 OCTOBER 2018

I know your nerves are going haywire right now over the hand of Comic-Con fate that will descend on us in 2 days. But here's something else to think about - and work into your conversations - over the next few days and weeks.

We don't know yet when Open Registration is, but we do know last year it was well before the holidays. We also know CCI shuts down Member ID registration before the open badge sale. So if you have any friends, beaux or family you'd like to bring along next summer, make sure they register for their own Member ID soon.

There's going to be quite a bit of press about SDCC 50, so it's possible interest in next summer's Con may be even higher than normal. Make sure you do everything you can to help out your first-timer friends who want to go next July.

Tips and answers about Returning Registration

8 OCTOBER 2018

We're just days away from one of the most gut-wrenching mornings of the year. And while Returning Registration is only open to people who attended San Diego Comic-Con this past July, apparently some of you are still headed into your first badge sale. I guess that's not surprising, since many first-timers probably got their badges through a friend who handled the 2018 sale.

Below are answers to the questions I've gotten about Returning Reg.

You can only buy for people who attended 2018.
If you were a first-timer this year, you might be eager to open the door to your friends who haven't gone yet - but that will have to wait for Open Registration. This Saturday, you're only allowed to buy for people who swiped their badges this past summer.

They have to be official attendees, not press, pros or anything else.
The various categories of SDCC citizens can involve a fair amount of crossover. People quit their blog/outlet job and lose their press credentials but want to keep going to the Con; or they decide to embrace the freedom of an attendee and leave vendor life behind. However, only people with a 2018 attendee badge can participate in Ret Reg. If you or your friends are transitioning from one category to another, you'll have to wait for Open Reg.

You can't Paypal, Zelle, etc - this is credit card only.
 I know - some of you have dodgy credit or certain card limits or some other barrier to slapping 3 Preview Night badges on a Visa. The only answer here is to transfer funds to a debit card, make some arrangement with your bank for a temporary card or borrow someone's. Or find someone kind enough to cover you while you make installments.

There's no payment plan. You need to pony up on the spot.

I got an angry email this weekend from someone who informed me there was no way they could pay almost a thousand dollars this weekend. I don't make the prices. But they have a point everyone should consider - if you're working in a buying group and get picked while Preview Night badges are live, that's 3 badges at almost $300 a pop you'll need to pay for.

Now imagine you're covering your own session and someone else's and they both get picked for Preview Night for 3 badges - that's $1800 you'll fork over. Ideally your comrades will pay you immediately but it's still something you're responsible for covering during the transaction.

If someone buys you a badge, your waiting room session is still active - but you'll need to use other member IDs and names.
Several people asked me this. Let's say a friend gets picked and buys your badge. You're taken care of - but you're still live in the waiting room. Should you drop out? Will your session be cancelled? No and no. Once you're picked, you can buy other people badges by inputting their last names and Member IDs. The system doesn't know or care that the person (you) who started that waiting room session already has a badge.

And if you input someone's last name and Member ID who already has a badge - which can happen in the fast pace of a badge sale - the system will tell you that. Just move on to the next person who needs one.

They don't release the exact percentage of badges sold, but it's a good amount.  
You're competing against a smaller number of people in this sale - so don't skip it. That said, if you don't do as well as you hope, you'll get a second chance in Open Registration. Let's say you only get Thursday and Sunday this weekend. In Open Reg, you can try again for Saturday, Friday and Preview Night.

If this is your first badge sale, follow all of CCI's recommendations to test your system.
Don't take a laissez-faire approach to this sale. Weird tech glitches and browser incompatibilities and other issues can crop up, so make sure you're in good shape ahead of time.

If this is your first buying group, be respectful of other people's information and generosity.
People will share quite a bit of personal information with their buying group - email addresses, last names, Paypal data, Facebook and Twitter info. Some people even swap credit card information. Be discreet. And don't be the person who "joins" multiple buying groups to better their chances. People will be able to tell that you're not actually participating and you'll just end up alienating potential friends and helpers.

Yes, it's probably too late to join a buying group. But it doesn't hurt to ask.
Just realize that most groups are formed by people who trust each other because they belong to the same forum or have interacted extensively online. If you're a complete stranger, people may not be ready to put their financial trust - or Comic-Con future - in your hands. It's not just a question of money and privacy, but also reliability. Can you be counted on to smoothly complete the sale? Will you try to sell your badge online six months from now, making CCI cancel all the badges in that transaction? People want to make sure nothing jeopardizes their SDCC badge, so expect some vetting. It's not personal.

And one final tip - try to keep your calendar loose on Saturday. If you do fail to get a badge, you won't want to spend the afternoon or evening with people in a glum mood. But for now, think positive!

Returning Registration is 13 October

2 OCTOBER 2018

Lucky 13! That's the day your next San Diego Comic-Con badge jumps into your life, assuring you a spot in the convention center next summer. (Or maybe not, but let's think positive.)

Returning Registration will take place on 13 October, Saturday morning, and it looks to be business as usual: an emailed link and reg code, a waiting room, your accelerating heartbeat. What is new: CCI's #SDCC50 hashtag, which they are very excited about, so please use it often.

If you need to refresh your badge sale memory, all the rules are here.

2018 first-timers: this will be your first Returning Registration. It functions just like the Open Reg you got your badge in. The good news is that your odds are slightly better, because you're only competing with 2018 attendees instead of the general public. So don't skip this. Even if you're on the fence about going (yes, there are people like this) or think you might have a summer conflict, try for a badge anyhow. You can always get a refund.


Here's what you'll be paying:
Preview Night: $48
Thursday: $66
Friday: $66
Saturday: $66
Sunday: $45

The handling fee is $7.50. So should you get it all, you'll be paying just under $300.

(Polite reminder for you multi-Con nerds: ECCC registration is 17 October and you'll book your hotel the same day. So that may be an expensive few days for you.)

So we're off to the races. Make sure you've got a viable credit card at hand and are clear on sale arrangements with friends and buying comrades. If someone can't cover anyone financially, or may have to work, get that sorted now.

Returning Reg is here!

Get ready for Emerald City Comic Con registration - press, pros and attendees


If you're a comic book nerd, you obviously have Emerald City Comic Con on your mind right now - because this is the season tickets go on sale. And now ECCC has announced a few dates for all of us:

14 September: This is when Press and Pros can apply. If you get your application in by the 28th, they'll get back to you by 12 October - so you'll know if you need to buy a ticket the old-fashioned way on...

17 October: This is the open ticket sale for ECCC. It's on a Wednesday, so you don't need to worry about it conflicting with SDCC Returning Reg, which is usually on a Saturday morning.

Emerald City happens 14-17 March in Seattle. And yes, you want to go.

Stay tuned!

The clock is ticking on the Comic-Con Museum contest for SDCC 2019 badges


You have to hand it to CCI - they know how to keep us guessing. Usually our questions are along the lines of "When is the badge sale?" and "Why didn't I get a hotel room?" and "Am I even in the right line?"

But then CCI tantalized us with hints about the Comic-Con Museum - and then at SDCC, they announced an audacious contest-fundraiser for 2019 SDCC badges that has sparked a few questions. If you haven't entered it yet, skip on over right now. The deadline is only a month away. And it's worth a shot, even if you don't feel like raiding your 401K to play.

Because yes, this is a contest where you have to pay to play. It's for a good cause, of course; the ultimate nerdy experience, Comic-Con Museum. You may be wondering just how much money it takes to create a museum like this - the answer is apparently $25 million. That seems high to me but I guess you can't put a (reasonable) price tag on pop culture memorabilia. 

How The Contest Works

You fork over a certain amount of cash - anything from $10 to $5,000 - and receive a commensurate amount of entries. $10 gets you 100 entries, $5,000 gets you 50,000 entries, and everything else falls somewhere in between. (For some reason, paying $25 for 250 entries is the most popular option, even though paying $50 gets you 1000 entries.)

What You Get

Quite a bit, actually:
  • Full badges, including Preview Night
  • Airfare and hotel
  • Photo ops
  • Exclusive tickets to live shows
  • An SDCC "concierge" to help the winner plan out their show
  • Reserved Hall H seating
  • An invitation to the Comic-Con Museum inaugural event - or a "similar 50th SDCC event"
  • Dinner with a Comic-Con executive who will answer any questions about SDCC

The Important Questions

Badges, hotel, plane tix: that's expected. Ditto photo ops. The concierge and AMA dinner, that's not something other contests can offer and potentially interesting. I would take full advantage of that dinner.

But what's really intriguing is the "similar 50th SDCC event" mentioned as an alternative to the Comic-Con Museum event. I'm guessing that's because they aren't quite sure the Museum will open in tandem with SDCC (I've seen 2020 mentioned as a more realistic date) or at least be event-ready. (Right now it is hosting small events, though not technically open. But I can't imagine they'll hold a fancy inauguration until every finishing touch has been perfected.)

So what kind of 50th event are we getting? If it's something where tickets are hotly coveted, that implies most of us won't be able to attend. So will there be a celebration that's open to all attendees?

And more importantly - does the October 18 contest deadline hint at a Returning Registration date?

I know many of you went on high alert with the child validation deadline passing last week; others are convinced RR won't take place until after this fundraiser ends. However, I'm not sure that's the case since you could argue getting shut out of Ret Reg would be a powerful motivator to contribute. In other words, I just don't think we're in a position to make good predictions. As someone who's going to be on a plane all of Saturday, October 20, I'm hoping there's no connection.

We're in that season where SDCC 2018 already feels like a distant memory while SDCC 2019 feels too far in the future to worry about. But with this contest-fundraiser drawing to a close, it's something to pay attention to. You and I probably won't win anything, but at least we'll be contributing to the Comic-Con Museum and our futures at SDCC.

You can become a charter member of the museum here.

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

8 AUGUST 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.

The SDCC first-timers of 2018

6 AUGUST 2018

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Zach and Katie

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

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

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

They can't wait to go back next year.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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