If there’s one thing San Diego Comic-Con generates, it’s plenty of questions, especially from first-timers. Totally understandable – lots of websites, blogs and commentators churn out so much coverage about the thing, a newbie can get easily lost in the noise.
Back in 2011, SDCC fan Carlo Duya posted on the now-defunct Discussion Board of the San Diego Comic-Con Facebook Wall, in the hope that it could come in handy and help answer all the oft-answered questions repeatedly posted on there. Later, when that Board got scrapped, I copied it, edited it and added a couple of extra questions, along with with a bit of British sarcasm! Safe to say, four years later, a lot of things have changed – but the need to have questions answered still stay the same…
~ SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON – a (Not-So-Serious) List of FAQ’s ~
1. Where and when is San Diego Comic-Con, then?
– In 2015, San Diego Comic-Con takes place at – and, nowadays, around – San Diego Convention Centre, Convention Way, CA., Thursday 9th – Sunday 12th July. Preview Night happens on the Wednesday 8th.
2. Yay! How can I buy tickets for it? Quickly, tell me!!
– Easy, tiger. We’ll get there, first things first: information is power. (For a start, and just to be clear, it’s ‘badges’, not ‘tickets’, like it’s a concert or something. Your badge is what you collect on first entering the Con and you have to display them at all times, else you won’t get let back in. Important, that.)
3. Okay, okay. What’s the best way to keep up to date with information, then?
– The official Toucan Blog pages are a good start, it’s recommended to keep checking on there regularly. Comic-Con International also link to all their posts on their Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/comiccon), if that’s your bag, and if you’re a Tweeter, it’s recommended to subscribe to the CCI Twitter feed, (http://www.twitter.com/Comic_Con/), they’ll link there, too, as well as providing random helpful tweets which will ramp up during the Con itself.
4. C’mon, it’s 2015. We’ve got colour TV, self-driving cars and ‘pooters in our pockets now! The official website – is that it?!
– There are tools at your disposal, especially on the move if you have a smartphone or tablet. For example, CCI have a brilliant mobile app available for both iOS and Android, which got a major overhaul last year: there’s a whole bunch of maps, the schedules are kept up-to-date during the event, announcements are rolled out on its News Page, it’s wonderful. An essential download.
On the various corners of t’interwebs, there’s plenty of resources. You can check out the excellent Friends Of CCI Forum which is open for all sorts of discussion with a lot of helpful people wired in to current info and do post when important stuff gets announced, pretty much tearing apart any element of the Con at a moment’s notice (http://www.friendsofcci.com/forum/). There’s also places to visit that keep up with SDCC news updates, such as the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog; Outside Comic-Con, which covers all the excitement surrounding the Con; and, of course, you’ve got us, too. An Englishman In San Diego has a Twitter which you can follow: www.twitter.com/EnglishmanSDCC We’d love it if you’d follow along.
The one thing to remember, though, unless it’s come directly from the horse’s mouth, all info is conjecture and guesswork – for the Official word, you need to see it on the Official website (http://www.comic-con.org/cci/).
5. Hang on. Just to clear things up, what’s with all the acronyms?
– SDCC: San Diego Comic-Con. That’s the event.
– CCI: Comic-Con International. That’s the name of the organisation behind it.
– CCDCO: Canadian Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. Bugger all to do with Comic-Con.
6. So far, so good. C’mon then, when and where can I buy these tickets?
– Badges, dude. [sigh] Fair enough, let’s get into it. All badge sales for San Diego Comic-Con nowadays take place online. CCI took to its website and social media to announce the date of the Open Online Badge Registration – the Badge General Sale – taking place on Saturday 21st February 2015 (9am PT/Midday ET/5pm GMT).
Now, to take part in any Badge Sale, you need to have signed up for a Member ID.
7. “Member ID”… what the?!
– In 2011, in an attempt to combat scalpers and block buying, CCI introduced the Member ID system; any attendee requires one to purchase a badge. It only takes an email address, you choose your own ID name and password. Easy, really. (NOTE: there’s a box which allows you to opt out of email alerts – on any other online form, you’d probably untick that to avoid all sorts of junk to come through to your inbox. DO NOT OPT OUT ON THIS ONE! Emails are the preferred method for CCI to reach you and let you know when sales are going to happen.)
8. Actually, I heard that the whole event is “sold out” already – surely, this can’t be true…?
– Ahh, you might be thinking of the Pre-Registration Badge Sale that took place back in November 2014, open to attendees of last years convention – yes, all the badges that were allocated for that sale did sell out, and pretty quickly, too. But don’t panic, only a number of pre-registration badges were released in that sale: there will be a majority more available in the General Sale.
9. What, can’t I just roll up to the front door in July and buy tickets??
– (Once again, it’s ‘badges’, ya muppet. Sheesh!) No, all sales are online only. As of 2014, Badges are available as Individual Day badges; if you land all four, they are consolidated into a Four Day Badge (and, if’you’re really lucky and still available, get a Preview Night badge attached, too.) . Prices can be found on the website: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/purchase-badges
10. But Comic-Con’s moving, right? That’s what I keep hearing. Is Comic-Con coming to [insert city]?
– There’s a lot of money, history and prestige involved so San Diego is a city that continually shifts and adapts to this ever-growing event, from hosting off-site activities in satellite hotels, to filling every available square foot of grass and carparking space, in an attempt to accommodate SDCC. But, one day, the Con might just find itself unable to continue in its current form – CCI themselves have said themselves that they have to keep all options open. This might include heading off to another city – but, for the moment, Comic-Con is staying where it is. San Diego is its home, things are going to have to get really desperate for it to move.
11. But, fingers crossed, Comic-Con could eventually come to my town, y’think?
– You never know. Have you started a Kickstarter? It’s what all the cool kids are doing. (Seriously, though, I wouldn’t hold your breath.)
12. Gee, I hope it comes to the UK!
– That isn’t even a question, is it? The good news for you is, like everywhere else on the planet, the UK has a burgeoning comics convention scene which is growing and growing, and it has some pretty large events in the calendar – the London Super Comic Con is a wonderful home-grown substitute for SDCC, especially as it has a strong comics presence. And while they do have a bigger focus on the pop culture side of things, the MCM Expo shows around the country – especially the London one in May – are an excellent start if you want to dip your toe in the big con experience. Just be aware, though, none of them compare to the sheer scale of San Diego. Trust me: it’s a whole other ballgame.
13. Fair enough. Let’s talk about San Diego Comic-Con itself. What is this Preview Night of which you speak?
– The day before the Con officially opens on the Thursday, the Convention Center floor opens for a couple of hours – this is ONLY for those that HAVE a Preview Night badge, bought on a limited basis with a number of consolidated day badges. Preview Night traditionally was an opportunity to have a ‘soft open’ for vendors, to let them iron out any kinks on their booths, and also the opportunity to sell Con exclusives to the hardcore. It’s now evolved to include an evening when a number of show pilots get screened in Ballroom 20; great for those hardcore TV fans, wanting to see their first glimpse of forthcoming shows. Don’t panic too much if you do miss out on Preview Night: pilots usually have dedicated panels throughout the con itself with cast attending, and there’s no panels that take place on P.N. to further attract your attention. hey, it’s more con, though, and a good way to ramp into the Main Event, the next day.
14. Speaking of which, what’s this Hall H I’ve heard so much about? And what on Earth is a B20? Are they giving out vitamins at this thing?!
– Hall H is one of three things to you: a) a magical theatre of dreams, b) the one thing about Comic-Con which will cause you nightmares for years to come, or c) a 6,100 capacity arena, taking up a big wodge of the east end of the Convention Center, in which the larger panels are held. It’s not the only big room at Comic-Con, mind: you’ve also got Ballroom 20 (4,900 approx. capacity) and Room 6BCF, and a bunch of others. There are dozens of panel rooms dotted around the entire con – there’s plenty of choice when it comes to content at SDCC.
15. Look, I’m in it for the comics, man. What’s with all this TV and movie stuff at a comic book convention?
– SDCC may have started, forty-five years ago, as a celebration of comic books and and comic artists. However, even back then, there was a crossover with all the satellite pop culture and, over the decades, SDCC has become officially a ‘blanket’ convention for the ‘popular arts’, meaning alongside comic book artists, writers and publishers, SDCC embraces other ‘geek’ interests. The nerds have inherited the Earth – embrace that fact!
16. I’ve heard about the monster lines to get into some of the more popular panels… Why don’t they clear the room after the panels?
– It’s down to space, more than anything. CCI could organise separate lines for each of the panels but, simply, there’s nowhere to line up that many people, effectively, with the current layout of the Convention. Also, with all the pop culture networks and studios (such as Universal, Warner Bros. and Syfy) scheduling popular panels back to back, all with a loyal fan base, there’s isn’t really much point as attendees will want to see them all.
17. But I heard you to have wait [insert really big number] hours to get into panels at Comic-Con, maybe even days – is that for real?!
– This is one of the universal truths of Comic-Con… as pop culture becomes the mainstream, the popularity of this event means eventually you will find yourself in a queue – you have to plan out when to fall in line to a panel. Depending on a subjects popularity, this could range from 30 minutes to many, many hours. Some people spend their whole day in one room waiting for a panel in the evening.
18. Okay, practicals: if I do manage to get badges for this thing, where on Earth am I supposed to sleep during all of this?
– Sleep, really? Sleep is for the weak! Only kidding – seriously though, there is a Hotel Sale, facilitated by a company called Travel Planners, in which a large chunk of hotel space has been arranged to be available for attendees at a discounted rate. If you don’t bag a room in this, look at alternatives further afield. There are other hotels in the city but they know they have a captive audience descending on the city and they charge accordingly so be warned.
One other option is to condo share with your Con buddies, sharing a room to which store your swag and occasionally lay your head. Check out the Condo Sharing boards on the Friends Of CCI Forum, there’s always people looking to pool resources.
19. But getting around the city must be a bind, right?
– Not at all. Thankfully, San Diego has a cracking public transport infrastructure in place, with a train (or ‘trolley’ as our colonial brethren will insist on calling it) and bus system, supplying across the whole area, quickly and efficiently. Think Arriva but, y’know: Californian. Cash is taken on the buses (typically $2.25/$2.50, so a couple of quid, one-way) but not on the trolleys: there’s a pre-paid card system for all the public transport in the city called Compass, which you can buy and top up at most of the bigger transport hubs and trolley stops – it’s recommended to get yourself a card if you’re thinking of exploring San Diego.
More relevantly to us Comic-Con attendees, there’s possibly the most useful and beneficial thing that CCI arrange for their attendees: a free, twenty-four hour bus service that runs between the Convention Center and loads of the hotels in the city. It’s brilliantly handy and runs from the start of the convention, through to Sunday. Useful if you land a hotel a little further afield, it’ll keep you connected with all the hubbub kicking off downtown.
20. Any way of finding out when [insert name of favourite actor/actress/writer/movie/show] is gonna be there?
– Panel and autograph signing schedules aren’t usually posted until about two weeks before the Con, what with the various companies and exhibitors wanting to keep things under wraps and as a surprise for the event – there’s also the small matter of arranging schedules which can end up being shuffled around late in the day. You can keep your eyes open on the various websites and Twitter feeds of your favourite comic artist or writer / show / film, they may let some info slip before the event.
21. Am I really going to do some working out to be prepared for this thing?
– It’s advised, for sure. I’d certainly get some cardio and walking into your preparation; with Comic-Con now becoming what the organisers are calling a ‘campus’ setup, with events, panels and pop-ups taking place all over the city, you’re going to be trekking around a lot. A LOT! Make sure your shoes are comfortable and broken in. Your feet will thank you.
22. Last but not least: why does the food in the Convention Centre suck fifty shades of arse?
– Good news. That might have been the case a few years back but the Convention Center has done its very best to improve the range and quality on the concession stands. Still, what is on offer is pretty overpriced and sugary/salty as hell – there are hundreds of healthier and tastier options outside, ranging from those on a budget (food trucks and Subway) to some of the finest restaurants in the US. Explore and you’re bound to find something for your tastes. Or, you can be a martyr and go for a coated pretzel inside and risk losing a day to a sugar coma. Enjoy!
23.. Seriously, dude: how can I get my hands on those tickets / where is it / when will it come to [insert city]…?
– …ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh *head explodes*