You know spring is almost here when Craigslist starts filling up with sketchy ads for overpriced SDCC badges and hotel rooms.
They're out in force already: those people offering single day or Preview Night badges for hundreds more than the official purchase price. They know there are a lot of people still reeling from their Open Registration failure and they're ready to move in for the kill like some kind of fraudulent funeral salesman.
They'll tell you usually that they'll give the badge to you at SDCC or they'll tell you what kind of fake ID to prepare (what name and address and birthdate) to match the Member ID that goes with the badge. Or they'll tell you they work for a studio, comic book retailer or other organization with guest badges to spare, and they can sell you one to be picked up at a special desk.
While a small percentage of these people are legit - legit in the sense that the overpriced badge will get you inside - most are straight up liars. This is the Nigerian prince's SDCC cousin. Don't let your Comic-Con emotions trump your good sense here; in most cases you will be flushing your money down the drain and making a disappointing situation much worse.
Of course, many of you don't give a rat's ass what kind of devil you have to deal with to get into SDCC - so here's what you need to know:
- You have to show your barcode confirmation and photo ID to get a badge. So if someone says they'll forward the email to you, or just gives you a name to use, they're preying on your first-timer's naivete.
- People offering badges on the street have mostly transferred their game online, but they do exist. This used to be more common when people got sick of Comic-Con midway through, or on Sunday, and were willing to sell their badges to strangers. Last year CCI required hanging onto your badge for Pre-reg (though some wily souls just photographed it) which presumably cut down on this.
- There's a certain amount of standing in line usually (not always) to get a badge. So if someone suggests they'll go to the convention center, wait around to get the badge then hand it over, they're either going to expect a nice profit margin for that or they're lying. Mostly likely they'll just doctor up a fake badge to give you.
- Security guards look at your badge to make sure you have access for the day and the name matches your gender presentation. Sometimes they'll pull you aside and ask for ID. Obviously this doesn't happen terribly often but it's happened to people I know.
- If you are desperate to get into San Diego Comic-Con, it's far better to strike up a deal with someone to share their badge. They'll go out to lunch or back to their hotel, and you'll use their badge to take a spin through the Exhibit Hall. Obviously this requires faith and trust, so either find someone you know or start building relationships now. If you work this out with a stranger, be prepared to make yourself vulnerable and accountable by sharing personal information.
- CCI despises badge deceit and considers it a ban-worthy offense if you're caught.
In the end, all I can say is please, please, please use your common sense and don't jeopardize your wallet or future ability to go to SDCC. It really isn't worth it. If you try a backdoor route into Comic-Con, you need to make very sure you're dealing with someone on the up and up. And for those of you who are about to send me nasty comments telling me how trustworthy and noble scalpers are - your very defensiveness is indicting.