comiccon signIs it still possible to go, or is this now a modern day Shangrala?

This morning around 9am, San Diego Comic Con badges went on sale to those who attended last year and qualified for pre-sale this year. Just as in previous sales; there was waiting, anxiety, and of course a sell out. However, new this year was a redesigned waiting room along with a process to weed out tech cheating. This new process seemed to satisfy most. While it isn’t a perfect fix, it was a step in the right direction for San Diego plan to bring all the fun of waiting in their lines to our laptops and other internet devices. What an age we live in. But will there be other opportunities for badges? What are the alternatives? Will any cosplayers actually fit in their costumes?

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Other ticket opportunities?
If you weren’t lucky enough to get a badge in this mornings virtual game of –heads up seven up– don’t go making plans to spend your summer doing noble things like ending world hunger just yet. There will be another opportunity to purchase a badge in the spring. First member ID registration will reopen to let newcomers have a chance as well. This is quite a daunting challenge as now the playing field will be completely open. Usually on this sale, there’s only 15,000 to 25,000 badges available for an estimated 300,000 people who’d like to attend. Should you not be willing to trade your child or make a deal with whatever deity you believe in; your last opportunity for general public will come about a month before the show when refund badges become available. People who –for whatever reason- will not be able to attend, get their badge purchases refunded and the tickets go back up for sale. Check the Comic-con.org website for the refund deadline and add about three weeks after for that on sale date.

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Feeling cheated?

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Well it’s easy to point fingers at Comic Con International for not letting you in, but if you stop to think about how pop culture has ejaculated all over the place… well Comic-Con might just be the new lottery. With the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center still in doubt, the venue can only hold around 150,000 attendees. This number takes into account exhibitors, studios, special guest, vendors, artist, professionals, media, and general public. 150,000 spots when there’s 7 billion people on earth, with at least 1.5 billion of them wanting to go to Comic-Con, your odds were never great.

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I was of the mind years ago that if you were a die hard fan of comics then you had to do San Diego at least once in your life, now that disposition has slightly changed.

The Alternatives
When you look at show objectively, it isn’t a comic book show. It still celebrates the art but doesn’t put it at the forefront such as in years past. The popular arts have come to encompass video games, big hollywood film, television, commercialism, advertising, and I use the word art to a much much lesser extent The Big Bang Theory. Had this happened ten years ago comic fans would have been royally screwed, but now there’s so many shows that are picking up the comic book medium and placing it back on the pedestal it belongs. Shows like Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, or Amazing Arizona, and even Comic Con’s sister show Wondercon are all more than just conventions. They’re a reincarnation of what San Diego Comic Con was before everyone decided it was socially acceptable to go to Comic Con. So comic book fans, why deal with the lines, traffic, exasperated hotel rates, and rising ticket prices on the surface of the sun in July when you can actually enjoy shows all year round now.

So ultimately who takes the blame?

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Comic Con International? San Diego? Pop culture junkies who want to star gaze and take pictures of people in costumes? The answer is; there’s no blame to be placed. Just as everything else in life, things just get too big for what they are. Comic Con International is throwing the largest nerd party on earth in one of the largest convention centers there is. That’s all they really can do. CCI remain a non-profit organization, while most of CCI’s staff at the show don’t get paid, they have to make money to pay their employees who run the day to day operations year round.  There’s no organization cashing billion dollar revenue checks. The rising prices in tickets continue because it cost the organization somewhere between $10-15 million in contracts just to rent the convention center for the week and then after that; CCI pay any 3rd party companies they need to help the facility and security costs.

The city of San Diego itself is already crammed for space as it is. Expansion of the convention center may have to be just like Mega City 1 in Dredd, a giant skyscraper of doom. The new mezzanine and outside areas will accommodate a few thousand more but will still be a far cry from letting everyone inside who wants in. Overcrowding will always be rampant with more and more people who want to attend.

It’s hard to fault the casual fans or the star gazers. Attending other events with such celebrity power cost a ridiculous amount of money. At the Paley Center for example, events cost somewhere from $40-$50 each panel. That’s just to get the same experience of the Comic-Con panel rooms without an exhibit floor or autograph signings. San Diego Comic Con still remains a reasonably priced alternative for the celeb chasers and let’s face it, that is what society has turned into now. Since we live in country that’s suppose to embody the right to the pursuit of happiness, we all have the right try to attend. At least until CCI finally hold outdoor survival races for badges, happy hunger games indeed.

So what are your ideas for Comic-Con? Will you be attending? Will you be sleeping in the Hall H line instead of paying for a hotel?

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