Q&A Roundup

25 JULY 2011

Yesterday and today have involved a lot of questions - more than I got before the Con. I'm surprised because I didn't think there would be quite so many newcomers, given how hard it was to get passes this year. Anyhow.

Q: Why is Comic Con so crowded? What's with all the lines?

A: It's crowded because it offers tons of fun stuff and is hyped nonstop. The media has convinced the public that Comic Con is this big party where you can meet celebrities and gawk at silly people in costumes. In the last few years, it's appealed to people who have no idea how strenuous (and non-celebrity-mixing) it really is. As for the lines - that's what happens when you have ten thousand people interested in a panel. Despite complaints about expense, the Con is actually quite cheap compared to many conventions, and that invites in crowds as well. Basically, you have another version of the good/fast/cheap conundrum; you can't have the most popular pop culture convention in the world, keep it inexpensive, and be surprised when you're stampeded.

One of the most humorous things about the Con is how entitled we all feel. Whether we're gamers, comic book fans, cosplayers, whatever, we all tend to feel that we belong there and not those other people. The fury of a "true" geek being denied access to their obsession is something to behold. I know I'm guilty.

Q: What is so magical about Preview Night? Who cares if those badges sell out?

A: There's nothing special that happens on Preview Night. But it's desirable for three reasons.
 - Exclusives. If you're passionate about this, and there are people whose sole purpose at SDCC is to get exclusives, you need to be at Preview Night or you miss the boat.
- Mobility and disability issues. If you're in a wheelchair, injured, use a walker or cane, or have any other kind of issue where navigating intense crowds is awful, Preview Night is a godsend. Especially since even if you get your wheelchair through a Saturday crowd, you won't be able to see much of anything.
- Hardly any lines. I breezed in at 1:30 pm Wednesday and was badged in an instant. If I had a regular four-day pass, my options were to get caught up in the traffic meltdown on 5 and 163 for hours and/or get up at four a.m. and spend hours waiting in line, losing 1/2 a day. And lines aren't just a bother for some people; lots of older people come to the Con now and their knees, feet and backs are just not capable of standing or sitting on the floor for hours.

Q: Why doesn't it just move to Vegas?

A: Everyone has an idea of how to "fix" the Con, whether their solutions are to get rid of Hollywood, move to Vegas, move to Anaheim, go back to just comic books, build more hotels, hire Ticket Master for registration and so on. Some are just ridiculous and some have logistical issues. San Diego does not want to let go of us and to that end, the Convention Center is being extended to accommodate more people and new hotels may be built. One reason other cities may not want us is that we're allegedly a miserly demographic who spend all on our money on Con stuff, which doesn't stay in the city. (I believe this is partially true, but not wholly.)

One thing is for sure, it's going to stay a frustrating experience for at least a few more years. It's really boomed these last few years and CCI is trying their best to keep up - unfortunately, their best isn't always successful. My opinion is that their heart is in the right place, but they need new leadership equal to a task they're unequipped for.

Q: How do you register, get the best hotels, get into panels, etc?

A: If you didn't register on site this year, and most of us did not, watch for online registration to be announced this fall. There's no guarantee either way, but see my advice elsewhere on this site. Ditto for hotels. It's just a matter of being prepared and informed. As for panels - get there early. But watch a few panels on Youtube first and then ask if you're willing to give up eight hours for a forty-five minute talk you can see online anyhow.

Q: How do you meet people at the Con?

A: I get asked this a lot. Some people just feel left out of all the parties, and they don't understand how everyone else hears about them or gets invited. Look around online and take initiative; be bold and just show up at the meet-ups and parties that are listed. A lot of people are strangers to each other. Also, ask your line pals - those people in front of you and behind you that you wind up being besties with for a few hours, then never see again - what's fun to do at night. Everyone's in the same boat.

As far as "meeting" people, as in romantically, I'll give the same advice - go to events and talk to people and work your mojo the way you would anywhere else. Don't be obnoxious, don't be crude to people in sexy costumes, and if you're trying to meet women, don't treat them like some kind of alien species who couldn't possibly share your geeky interests.

Q: What's with all the cosplayers/nerds/Twilight people/families?

A: The Con is open to everyone. It's not your private social circle. Deal with it. And if you're one of those people new to the Con who's making virgin jokes and snickering at the costumes - you really don't belong here and should go home immediately, because the general Con spirit is one of acceptance. And the geeks were here first.


  1. As a person who has gone to SDCC for years I have found a rule of thumb for getting into panels. I have never missed a panel. You go to enuff panels and you learn which ones will have 100% demand and which will have 80% demand etcc.. For a high demand panel 3hrs early has gotten me into every single panel. For a in demand panel 2hrs had gotten me in. Panels with average demand range from 0-2hrs. Will you be at the front no, middle probably not, way in the back ...theres a good chance yes. But what many new SDCC ppl don't realize is they have huge screens spread out in the room so you can see no matter where you sit. The second thing is invariably no mattter what the panel is some will leave. It is not uncommon for me to go from the very back to the middle in one session. By the end of the next panel I rinse and repeat and I usually find myself in the first set of rows.

  2. My question is comic con is supposed to be the place t make connections in the industry and theirs no way to do that that I have seen. You don't have access to those influential people.

  3. Not true they offer a portfolio lottery system. Many ppl have been hired from Comic Con through this exact mechanism. Also IGN was passing out a referral postcard with huge rewards if you passed along a name to them who would be a good fit for their company.

    And this doesn't even include you have the very artists, devs, and producers onsite.

  4. Anon 1 - Thanks for this. You are dead on. Sitting through the preceding panel, then moving up when everyone leaves, is usually the way to go.

    Anon 2 - I realize there isn't a designated booth where you walk up and talk to the head of Marvel. However, the Con can still be a good opportunity. Cast your net wide and build connections in the industry, even with people who are only peripherally connected to what you want to do. I'm not in the comics industry but I am in a creative field, and building a general network is often more helpful than seeking one top dog who makes it happen for you. Ask artists how they got their start and listen to what they say. You never know who might do you a favor someday, if you prove to be talented and reliable.

    Anon 3 - Thanks for giving your advice. As I said, I'm not an artist but I do have friends who've found help building their career through Comic Con - not just in comic books, but also voice acting and film. It might not be as easy as everyone hopes, but there are opportunities to be had.

    On an unrelated note, this blog is obviously going to slow down for the next few months as SDCC goes into hibernation, but I will be fixing the comments issue. I know people are having a hard time commenting via their Google accounts.