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.