It was fast and it was pitiless, like a cheetah taking down a wildebeest. At 8:00 PST, badges for this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego went on sale. In about 30 minutes, all 4-day passes were gone, and within another 10, all of the single-day passes were gone. By 9 am PST, it was all over but the crying….and the tweeting.

By comparison, it took seven hours for the process last year. And that was after three previous attempts crashed every website known to man.

This year’s scramble was not without some problems—the top secret link in the top secret emails actually didn’t work (Comic-Con says it did).You needed to cut and paste it into your browser and then things went fine—if seeing that you were #32567 in line could be called fine. The system brutally punished anyone attempting multiple open windows. We originally got in at #12000 or so via Safari and as we tested the link on other browsers would get this Robocop warning shot:

CCI:SD issued a statement at 1 pm EST:

Comic-Con 2012 badges are sold out. Although our site and EPIC’s registration site was able to handle the load of customers wishing to purchase a badge, the conduit between the link in the email and the registration site was overwhelmed and service was intermittent for a short period of time. However, the link was not incorrect and was not dead, and once the volume of hits decreased it worked as planned. There will be a chance to purchase refunded and returned badges at a later date. Thank you!

Last year’s badge hunt resulted in some 403,000 page requests per minute, so there’s no way of knowing what kind of demand was felt this year, with the new Member ID system leaving some people already out of the lottery.

Pro and Press registration has yet to take place—while a lot of people are anxious about that, we’ve seen no signs that this will be handled much differently than last year.

Meanwhile, Twitter told the story of hopes dashes and dreams fulfilled. If anything, this was like the open audition round of American Idol, with the difference that at the end Randy Jackson yells “”You’re going to Comic-Con!”

Once there, the tough Hollywood week begins, however…you may not get that hotel room or panel that you were dreaming about.

Here’s a smattering of early tweets:

And of course there is always that Peggy Lee “Is that all there is?” moment.

For those who want to follow the fan outcry, it’s going strong on Comic-Con’s Facebook page.


  1. It’s so nice when websites and people who don’t have to deal with the yearly ritual of having to buy their Comic-Con tickets **cough** comped PRO passes **cough, cough**

    … deign concern for those who do!

    Makes for nice copy + writeup, though.


  2. Did exactly as instructed in secret email and link DID NOT WORK. Went to link on Comic-con website at 8:27am but it was TOO LATE. What a let down. What a over-complicated mess.

  3. The link messed me up but i transferred to the comic con website at 8:04…got fiday and saturday badges for my friend and i.months of overstressing really paid off.i just wished that the link actually worked….

  4. Being a Pro or their Guest doesn’t guarantee a Badge.
    They only allow so many, and after that, you’re turned down.

    Shouldn’t Pro Registration happen first? So if we get don’t get in or when the number of guest spots fill up, we’d have the chance to try and buy a pass?

  5. @Kelson: Fantastic blog post!
    Whoever made the decision to include the click tracker screwed up. The apologies should have started already, instead of the BS excuses.

  6. I guess I was lucky, the link worked at 8 and I was in at spot 2249. Within 9 mins I was buying 4 day passes for the hubby & I. This was much better than last year.

  7. Wow, I didn’t realize so many people had trouble with the system. I logged in at 8am sharp and was #755 in line. Everything went smoothly, the link worked fine and I had no trouble at all getting my 4-day pass. Some of the tweets I’ve seen are complaints from people who waited an hour or more to try and log in, only to find 4-day badges were gone. I don’t get why they feel the need to complain when it’s their own fault they couldn’t be bothered to log in at the beginning of the sale.

  8. Im in Australia and lucky enough my linked work, and at 8:01 pst time (approx. 2:31am adelaide, aus time) I was #3357 in line. I personally liked how they conducted tickets sales. It was easy and quick. No crashes :)

  9. Screw comicon and their stupid ticket buy system …. Another year another let down …..bring back on site ticket sales like before …. I was 8 am sharp hitting the link and got a 320000 spot ….. Psssss ridiculious …. I don’t know if its worth it anymore …. Once again I will get in buying someone else’s badge or buying trough a scalper …. I remember the good old days of buying your badge on site….. Now it’s a nightmare

  10. Buffy, I’m happy for you but your experience is only one of the possible ones. I also clicked at 8:00 according to a world clock and got stuck in a loop of receiving an error, closing the window, and reclicking. When I finally got in 25 minutes later with the 4 day tickets sold out and being 4,123 or so in line, I gave up.

    Which isn’t to say I’m angry or frustrated. Disappointed, sure. But when there is a large demand for a limited supply some people are going to walk away with empty hands.

  11. It’s great that the industry’s biggest expo sells out in no time… but it also evidences some missed opportunities. I think it’s safe to say that SDCC is now turning away more potential fans than it’s letting in. Likewise turning away more vendors than it lets in. When bestsellers struggle to sell 100,000 copies, it would be nice if we could make room for the couple hundred thousand potential fans that will now not be going to con. And those that do get to go, how much extra energy, time, and money will be spent on getting the right flight for the weekend and, of course: scoring a hotel, hoping it’s close to the con, and hoping you don’t have to share it with four people. Two more issues that jump to mind:

    1) SDCC is now exclusively preaching to the converted: professionals had to be at past shows to get in; only hardcore fans have the knowledge and conviction to survive the ticket process. There’s no new blood that can plan 4-12 months in advance; when local media gets “regular” people in LA/OC/SD excited, they can’t check the show out.

    2) Despite the vauge (and heavily political)hopes that SD can become a better host, SDCC is now in a position where they are trying to cull the show instead of grow it. Instead of getting MORE fans, you have to register to register. Instead of preparing people for an exciting show, you have a run of press releases preparing fans to be disappointed.

    This is the price of keeping it in San Diego. If it were Anaheim or Las Vegas (or even Los Angeles), I think you’d have attendance cruising past 250,000 already. Any hiccups related to moving would be quickly offset. Staying in SD is simply nostalgia. We always pine for the attendance and positive attention of an Angouleme or Comiket–it looks like the US has the fans, but the industry can’t deliver the show. I wonder if NYCC becomes THE show a lot faster than even its biggest supporters think possible? NYC has it’s own challenges, but at least the Reed promoters had Toy Fair expand out of the Javitz and into the city–and did so effectively.

  12. It’s a mistake to compare SDCC with either Angouleme or Comiket — the latter two are pretty much exclusively about comics — entertainment meant to be read. SDCC is now, for most of the attendees at least, primarily about the latest and up-coming blockbuster “comics-related” video-games, movies, and television shows, and being the first on your block to get associated toys and swag.

    This whole rigmarole is only partly due to the San Diego Convention Center being too small — another factor is that SDCC organizers have kept admission prices (although not exhibitor space fees, as much) too low. And any competent economist will tell you that when prices are not allowed to rise to reflect supply-demand relationships, what results is some form of rationing. In this case, rationing-by-inconvenience. Double the price of attendance tickets, and start charging pros, and there will be screaming, but anyone who really wants to go will be able to.

  13. I have much respect for the SDCC staff and organizers and the show is vital for both the working professional (retailer and creator) and the fan…but, seriously, they need to move this to a city like Las Vegas, which can adjust to the increasing crowd capacity which has become a recent, ongoing problem with the event.

  14. I enjoy going to San Diego each year–I love the weather, and I love the show, despite all the hassles. I’ve been going six years now, and even in that relatively short period I’ve seen it become an overwhelming experience. Which is part of the fun, but it’s also a problem.

    For folks who bemoan that it’s not just about comics anymore (I think this is one of prices of success, with “comics” bleeding into so many media), I heartily recommend Emerald City Comicon. ECCC is in Seattle, and the weather is usually pretty nice (not SAN DIEGO NICE, but nice), and it’s a large but not super-massive con, with a huge guest list.

    I’m a little biased since I live in Seattle, but I go to a half-dozen cons each year, and I think ECCC is the best.

  15. “It’s a mistake to compare SDCC with either Angouleme or Comiket — the latter two are pretty much exclusively about comics…”

    This is true. But another way to look at it: comics has a shrinking audience. I have no problem with film, tv, video games, or exclusive toys that bring in new blood. With “comics” so blatant a part of the Comic-Con brand, the potential for outreach is enormous. SDCC shouldn’t only be where current fans of the BOOKS interact with creators and publishers. It should be also a place where publishers can get non-readers excited. It’s 100,000 + geek-product consumers. A perfect, captive target audience. And again, if you really boil it down I think you’re talking about the non-readers being the most disenfranchised, despite the prevalence of big media. Comics fans missing out isn’t the only problem.

  16. What’s the draw of SDCC other than having bragging rights of “I got tickets”? Standing in line to see creators when you can go to Heroes or Emerald City and have barely a wait? Going to panels to hear the news that will be up on newssites or youtube the same night? I really don’t get it. I’ve been to SDCC twice – and the crowds are just unbearable. It’s just a convention. And there are better, more manageable ones out there.

  17. IF the CCI organization is to be true to its mission and stated goals, and to the long term benefit as an organization, it needs to move. Vegas is the best bet where attendance could outpace 300,000 and the city would hardly notice. Glad to see other rational voices here stating the same thing.

  18. I don’t know about Vegas, but if Wondercon works out well in Anaheim, I’m guessing that would be next on the list of possible expansion cities.

    BTW for all the reasons we went into endlessly back when CCI:SD was looking for a home…IT WILL ENVER MOVE TO VEGAS.

    Vegas in July = HEATDEATH. It’s that simple!

  19. I seriously hope it doesn’t move to Anaheim. I’ve been to that Convention Center for Wizard World and there’s so many reasons why Comic-Con shouldn’t move there.

    Aside from Disneyland, the surrounding area completely lacks anything extracurricular to do. I know most people will spend sunrise to sunset with Con activities, but at night? Angels Stadium is not too far, but would CCI work with the city and not have home games like they do in San Diego?

    Along with the lack of extracurricular activities, if you want to eat just outside the Convention Center, you’ll find about 4 McDonald’s, 3 Denny’s, and a slew of other chain diners. Nothing against diners and fast food (I love ’em), but the selection of eateries seemed to be either those or very high end.

    Getting to the Anaheim Convention Center wouldn’t be nearly as easy for out of towners, too. John Wayne Aiport, which only services nine airlines, is 15 miles away, and LAX is 34 miles away.

    Staying in the area? With Disneyland a block away I doubt CCI would be able to have the same lodging deal with the local hotels that it does in San Diego. So everyone would be competing with Disneyland during their peak season.

    All the above and I haven’t even gotten to the actual Convention Center. The neighboring hotels are butted so close to the front of the Convention Center, and there’s only one narrow street entrance into it. You can see it on a satellite view in Google Maps. When I picture the throngs of con-goers mass exiting the San Diego Convention Center each night, I can not fathom how that would play out in Anaheim with such a small outside space.

    Maybe WonderCon will something of a test for CCI, but WonderCon only seemed to only be slightly larger than Wizard World, so I’m not too sure how much of a test it would be for a much larger crowd.

  20. Anaheim won’t replace San Diego, it will SUPPLEMENT San Diego, just like Wonder Con does. If it is held in the Fall, (WC = Spring, CCI = Summer), then competition with Disney is lessened. IF CCI decides to start another convention (which it has trademarked).

    As for travel, well, lots of people manage to visit Disneyland (the same people who theoretically will take up all of those hotel rooms). 65,000 a day, 10-12 Million a year.

    One major airport, LAX, and two regional airports (SNA, LGB) are better than one major airport in San Diego.

    Harbour Boulevard has lots of restaurants, and the hotels offer fine dining. (The most exclusive? Club 33.)

    Oh, and Anime Expo made that convention center work for 40,000 attendees. Now they’re downtown (which is where CCI should move! Nokia Theater! Staples! LA Live!)

    Vegas? If everyone stays inside during the day for the convention, who cares what the weather is like outside? If you hold it on the south side of the Strip, you can take the monorail to a “string of pearls” hotels, each hosting a specific fandom in their convention centers/ballrooms. Hilton-LVCC-Harrah’s/Sands-Flamingo-Bally’s/Paris-MGM

    Or go the other way: Excalibur-Luxor-Mandalay Bay all connect via a monorail. Open overpasses connect to MGM (and the Las Vegas monorail) as well as New York New York and the Tropicana casinos.

    As for the sell-out:
    1) There are many great regional conventions which are just as enjoyable as CCI. CCI is an event in and of itself, just like Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl, and New Years in Times Square. Yeah, it’s fun to go and experience, but you probably only need to do it once. (I’ve done it three times, the last in 2002, when it was only up to Hall F.)

    2) How soon before companies start sweepstakes for Comic-Con tickets, just like the Super Bowl? Win a four-day+ pass, free hotel room, and $100 a day spending allowance. Maybe add a meet-and-greet with a celebrity.

    3) Aside from subsidizing the exhibitor costs for freight, what else is CCI doing with the money?

    4) What if there were a sliding scale on ticket prices, like a perpetual Dutch Auction? The 4+preview tickets go on sale for $1000. Each day, the price drops until tickets are sold out. (CCI sets a minimum price.) The same happens for other tickets.

    Everyone gets a chance. Demand is spread out. A non-profit makes lots of money which can then fund other programs during the year.

    5) I don’t see the glamour. All those people? Little chance to actually meet and talk to people? Most of the big news reported instantly online? No thanks. But go ahead, have fun. There are many more conventions which offer just as impressive guest lists with smaller crowds and lower costs, some in places I have not yet visited.

  21. My comment about the airports was more about distance in relation to each Convention Center, and the ease in getting there.

    In San Diego the airport is about 2 to 4 miles from any point in downtown. It’s a quick taxi ride, bus or shuttle ride to any downtown hotel or straight to the Convention Center.

    For Anaheim, there’s no real simple public transportation system from any airport to there. Any bus line is going to take about 2 hours, even from SNA. A cab from LAX or LGB would be ridiculously expensive. Would people have to figure in a car rental now into their plans? Would CCI offer airport shuttles to all the area airports?

    Disneyland offers a shuttle from LAX to their hotel (not sure about the other airports but wouldn’t surprise me), but I’m not sure if you need proof of reservations to board that shuttle.

    Yes, about 65,000 people visit Disneyland on an average day. With a capacity of 80,000 there, and 30,000 at California Adventure, you’re looking at a possibility of up to 110,000 during peak season, which the middle of summer is for them. The Anaheim Convention Center has held plenty of mid-sized events there, but have any other events there compared in size to CCI:SD? Their calendar looks like they schedule of a lot of smaller overlapping conventions. (There’s two other events scheduled there during WonderCon as well.) CCI:SD fills to capacity, which is about 125,000, and the purpose of relocating it would be to gain attendance, so you’re looking at an even larger amount of people. Between CCI and Disneyland, we’re talking about the possibility of a quarter of a million people in that same area competing for hotels and eateries. I just don’t see this working out very easily for con-goers.

    I agree that a supplemental fall show would be best… no matter where it’s held. I’m actually surprised CCI hasn’t already jumped on that.

  22. Every thread about Comic Con always descends into where SDCC could move.
    But first, there’s a reality show on one of the travel channels about running the Southpoint Casino on the Vegas Strip. It’s interesting if you like that kind of stuff, but every conflict that comes up involves GETTING PEOPLE TO THE TABLES.
    Hosting a convention for substance-dependent freelance journalists? Get them to the tables. Tony Bennett is doing a concert? Get them to the tables. Sexual orgy gone wrong on the 15th floor that requires officers and forensic technicians from three surrounding counties plus INTERPOL? Make sure they stop by the tables.
    I don’t think this ethic is confined to one casino. That said, if 200,000 people show up in Vegas for a comic convention, what are the casinos going to do? Oh, too bad the air conditioning in the exhibition hall isn’t working, it’s great out by the tables… All those people standing in line for a GAME OF THRONES panel? Make sure they’re next to some slot machines.
    Las Vegas would love to have all the attendees of Comic Con. But if all they want to do is stand in line to see Chris Klein flack for CAPTAIN AMERICA 2, expect the CCI-Vegas relationship to get real cold. Real fast.
    As for Anaheim, Anaheim is a hole. No one wants to go to Anaheim. They want to go to Disneyland. Anaheim is the part they’re willing to suffer through to get there.

  23. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again!: Comic Con needs to be made into two events, one a entertain convention and the other, a true comic book convention. Some people who go to Comic Con have never read a comic book or comic strip in their life, so what’s going to make them want to read one now? Or why not keep WonderCon in Anaheim, and change APE Expo into a true comic book convention for people living in Northern California? These ideas might work, and alot of people might not like these ideas. But would the organizers at Comic Con listen to us? No, that would take some hard work and guts for them to pull off one of our ideas. Oh, and I too am pissed that I didn’t get a ticket and at their ticket buying system online!

  24. By the way, I’ll be going to WonderCon for two days instead of one because I couldn’t get a ticket for WonderCon. If WonderCon doesn’t come back to Anaheim (and it won’t!), hopefully WizardWorld wises up and comes back to Anaheim. Heck, it would be nice if WizardWorld came to San Diego and piss off the Comic Con organizers. WizardWorld could be done in the Spring, while Comic Con could still be done in the Summer.

  25. While we are on the topic comic conventions coming and going, can we get WonderCon, WizardWorld, BotCon, and Power Con/ThunderCon to come and stay in Anaheim and San Diego? Please! Oh, and everybody who didn’t get tickets to Comic Con, attend WonderCon and Long Beach’s Comic Expo and Comic & Horror Con while tickets are still very available!