Every summer while I'm at Comic-Con, I get earnest emails from people who ask how they can get a badge for the following year. Some even ask when certain panels will be. This is what all the SDCC coverage reaps.
So here's a quick primer for those of you who long to go to San Diego Comic-Con but perceive it as an inaccessible Mecca.
- Sign up for a Member ID on CCI's site.
- You'll get an email, probably in 2015, telling you about an online badge sale called Open Registration. Follow all instructions to the letter.
- Expect not to get a badge. The system is currently a lottery and badges sell out almost immediately.
- If you do get picked to get a badge, you will have your choice of single day badges for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or a Preview Night option that includes all four plus a Wednesday night Exhibit Hall preview. Preview Night sells out first, then Saturday, then Friday, then Thursday and Sunday.
- After that, you will get another email telling you of a similar sale for hotel rooms. You don't have to participate in this - you can book your own - but the CCI sale offers discounted rooms and reflects a huge portion of what's available.
That said, if you've never been to any Con at all, start elsewhere. Salt Lake City just kicked off and is already huge - and you can get still get tickets for September. NYCC is fun and takes place in October, though only Thursday tickets are still available, and Dragon*Con in Atlanta is great for sci-fi/fantasy fans. Emerald City in Seattle is becoming the Con of choice for comic book fans like me. You probably have a smaller Con in your area as well.
I would suggest starting small because Cons aren't for everyone and it's best to find that out before investing a few thousand in your hotel and plane fare. If you get wildly aggravated by the lines and crowds and letdowns of a smaller Con, you probably will blow a gasket at SDCC. It's not all celebrities and parties and costumes like they show on the news - it's tedious and incredibly frustrating at times. Read my FAQ page for a better idea of what the experience is like and decide if you still want to go.
And since I'm guessing you still will, since SDCC exerts that kind of spell on people, I'll wish you good luck and tell you to pay close attention to the whole badge-getting process. Comic-Con isn't for the lazy or distracted - you need to be on top of your game to successfully pull it off.