Once again, let’s take that close look at the name of the event that inflames our hearts, stirs our loins and inspires us to launch dedicated bloody websites to the thing:
When I first started attending San Diego Comic-Con, I was hoodwinked, just like many others – we were under the impression that the event was set up as an INTERNATIONAL event, welcoming nerds and geeks visiting from across the globe into the city for a global scale Nerdvana. Oh, what did we know.
In Comic-Con International‘s defence, we at AEISD have put the clarification of the event’s name to the organisation before – via CCI’s own ‘Mouth Of Sauron’, David Glanzer – and, sure, they have always responded in a perfectly logical manner: that the ‘International’ component of their name refers to the many Special Guests on their marquees. Guests from around the world have been invited to San Diego Comic-Con since the convention’s inception… But surely, by extension, that invitation is to the fans of those Special Guests, as well. Right?
And boy, fulfilling that invitation is not an easy thing to do, let me tell you, especially for us from across t’pond.
Flights, accommodation, the high cost of living in one of California’s prestige coastal cities… There are very good reasons why attending San Diego Comic-Con, for many people journeying in from a great distance, is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ deal. Indeed, 2010 – my first year attending – was the centerpiece to my honeymoon with my darling co-nerd, Caroline! When we first set out on our first trip, we never planned on coming back – that was crazy talk, this thing was too big, too expensive, this was a one-trip deal. Ticking off the Bucket List, moving on.
But, as we all know, being enveloped into the hefty bosom of the Comic-Con Community is a heady, even addictive brew – hence the bank-breaking efforts of me and t’Missus to return, year after year. The pair of us, we work all year to attend Comic-Con. This is the focus of our calendar. And we’re not the only ones: we are members of a UK Attendees Group whose numbers are sizeable enough but we’re finding we have a rotating roster making the pilgrimage – coming back, year after year, is simply not an option.
Even those Professionals from abroad struggle to justify the hardships to attend San Diego Comic-Con – and it’s not just the bloody long flight time that puts people off. I’ve spoken to a couple of superstar comic creatives from this side of the Atlantic, including one writer who has repeatedly said that, if he hadn’t been invited as a Special Guest in previous years and that his tab was being picked up by both CCI and his publisher, he simply wouldn’t be able to make the trip. It’s why many European and International creative talents can be lured to feature at New York Comic Con, or other East Coast affairs: they’re cheaper to attend, they’re quicker to reach, they’re simply the more viable option.
Now, I know what you’re going to say: ‘Boo hoo. You can simply not go, y’know. There are other comic cons out there. Go to them.” Fine. This may be true but let’s be completely honest here – there is only ONE San Diego Comic-Con! It really is the benchmark by which all others are set – whenever another event is discussed by sites such as ours or debated in worldwide media coverage, SDCC casts its formidable shadow. (Something that must piss off the lovely boys and girls at ReedPOP and Wizard World off no end!)
For myself and Caroline, we are asked constantly when we will be making the trip to the Big Apple. But we love San Diego Comic-Con and the agreement we make together to return to that event, to put ourselves into a three grand hole to attend SDCC 2016, was ours to take – a foolhardy one at that but it was our choice, our decision.
But there are ways that CCI could make it easier for us. Damn, giving us time to plan stuff, for a start.
One of the benefits of taking part in the Pre-Registration Badge Sales, as they were once called, was the reasonable lead-time to negotiate flights – one of the principle expenditures of the trip, clocking in at anywhere from £800 return, each. The later we have to arrange these flights, the more expensive it proves to be; 2016 was a nightmare because it was left incredibly late by CCI to confirm whether anyone actually had a guaranteed Press Badge.
And it’s not just us foreigners that have to suffer, either – whether by design or by accident, the final Hotel Sale was held incredibly late this year, leaving people unsure if they would even had a bed to sleep in at the end of a long, hard convention day. Getting a room in that Hotel Sale: that can be the make-or-break moment of simply attending SDCC in the first place. Thanks, onPeak.
And now, this news reaches us that the Returning Registration will be taking part in ‘Early 2017’, with the Open Registration taking place after that, further closing the window for us to arrange the essentials – flights, accommodation and the like. Hell, it’s going to be a nightmare this year as I will be re-applying as Press and everyone knows how late they leave THAT decision to make.
I appreciate that six months (or just a little less, whatever ‘early 2017’ may mean) might seem a fair wodge of time to plan a trip of this nature, to put all our ducks in a row, but the more lead time we all get, the more International attendees will be able to make the decision to make the exodus. And, as plenty of press conferences this week have highlighted, ‘tourism is a principal element to the economy of San Diego’. It’s just a shame that us tourists are increasingly left in the lurch.
Thanks to Mark Searby for giving this piece the once-over, for coorecting mi spelling were reqquierd and for reining me back on one or two pieces. Yes, he was the Voice Of Reason on this one.