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.
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.