So the sale date for badges to the 2013 Comic-Con International: San Diego has come and gone. As opposed to live blogging it Saturday, we preferred to let others do the dirty work. Also, it just wasn’t what we’d call creative writing. Everyone hits go, complain, spinning wheel, white room, waiting list, unfair, people got in ahead of me, don’t refresh!, crying, spinning wheel, oh god you hit refresh no why oh god no, why isn’t there a lottery, Comic-Con sucks, hooray this is going to be the best week of my life, etc., etc., etc.

The unofficial SDCC blog has an exhaustive narrative of how it went. Badges were sold out within 95 minutes—a swift badge grab but longer than the 1:23 minutes from last year. More opportunity for all!201302191346.jpg
Until a planned expansion of the Convention Center actually takes place (the city is still fighting a lawsuit over the tax hike which will be used to fund the project) this is how it will go—and once the convention lets in more people, there will still be complaining and hang-ups and white screens because more people will STILL want to go than can actually get in. The idea of demand going down is absurd at this point.

So what was new this year?

Well, EPIC registration doesn’t like the Chrome browser. (Maybe Google can help with this badge situation?) And just getting in in a certain order doesn’t seem to have meant you got a badge in that order as this telltale tweet showed:

Where this left us was with people complaining that it was unfair that they didn’t get in in time, and that if it was going to be this unfair, maybe it should be a lottery—without realizing that, in effect, it is already a lottery.

The CCI folks’ language this year (which we didn’t think to copy) definitely encouraged wanna-be attendees to use the “hit the website all at once” method by explaining that everyone should, well, hit the button to the waiting room at exactly 9:00 a.m. on the dot. This led to the lottery of white screens and not refreshing. Comments around the web from that moment on reflected irrational frustration more than anything. There was The Conspiracy Theory:

As someone who works with serious I.T., software and web app experts, I continue to be stunned by how incredibly weak the EPIC registration system is and how easily it could be improved. As I mentioned, my browser received a server failure screen 6 minutes after I clicked and, after refreshing, I instantly received the “waiting room” page you see below (click for larger view):

ASP.NET is Microsoft’s web application framework and, out of the HUNDREDS of serious developers I know—especially those who have created web apps that can scale to MILLIONS of concurrent users—think that ASP.NET is a joke and would NEVER use it for anything but low-level, minimal use corporate web applications.

The Clueless One:

I'm surprised that some enterprising company hasn't tried to come up with their own con. Maybe competition is what SDCC needs.

The screw you guys, I’m going somewhere else

Yup, shut out. I’ll be headed to Phoenix Comic-Con over Memorial Day, instead.

Less lines, less gouging, and less madness. With all of the fun. Last year, I got to meet George Perez for a sketch in my New Teen Titans book and I wouldn’t have been able to get within 100 feet of him in San Diego.

And one rather interesting comment at Deadline:

I don’t understand why they do not use a lottery system. Everyone who is registered by the cut off date would get an equal chance to get tickets. Works for the world cup and they have 5 million plus people trying to get tickets

Dunno if this is true or not as far as demand goes, but as SDCC is one of the world’s more desirable events, finding one more desirable and seeing how they handle demand could be instructive. (Also the World Cup takes place over a month at multiple venues and can seat a lot of people.)

In the end, there are just too many people who want to go and not enough tickets. A lot of little girls want to see One Direction but not all of them are going to. It’s that sad and simple. Kindly old Chuck himself, Zachary Levi, who runs a kind of “Nerdlebrity Slamdance” at his NerdHQ event—which has reserved seating for panels and charges for tickets for each—had words of comfort and wisdom:

For those lucky ones who did get tickets, it’s worth noting that this year’s con just added nine more exciting guests including Brian Michael Bendis. Al Feldstein, Charlotte Fullerton, Adam Hughes, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Mariotte, Scott Shaw!, Christopher Shy, and Jeff Smith. Jesus, that’s a comic-con in itself right there.

And for the intrepid and the lucky: Hotel registration opens next Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. See you there!


  1. Um….”The Conspiracy Theory”? What’s conspiratorial about what I wrote?

    I said nothing about a conspiracy nor alluded to it. If you re-read that portion (and the post itself) you’ll see that it was more about the web application incompetence of EPIC than anything else.

    BTW, two CTOs I talked with about this yesterday (one with a major startup and another with a Fortune 500 insurance company) both agreed: whomever architected the lack of scalability with EPICs system should be fired.

  2. Wasn’t able to get to it till about 25 minutes in, and by that point the waiting room line was closed. Oddly enough, I’m not that bent out of shape about it. I’ve been three out of the past five years, and only registered for an ID for this year because we had to cancel last year’s badges.

    SDCC is fun and exciting, but less so each time I’ve gone because it’s also physically and mentally exhausting and frustrating. This is no dig at CCI: they do an absolutely incredible job under the circumstances. It’s just that that many people in one place at one time will always be an uncomfortable experience. Facility expansion won’t fix that, as even more people will go.

    I still think everyone into media culture should go at least once. But after that, unless you really, really like spending 70% of your con standing and/or sitting in lines or very slowly navigating the human crush of the exhibit hall, the bloom fades pretty quickly.

    And besides, it’s all documented instantaneously online in text, images, sound, and video.

  3. The family and I determined a few years ago (after more than a decade of attendance) that this convention was not fun anymore. We use the money we might use to buy the insanely expensive passes to pay for other great conventions that are still fun and need the support. Last year, we had a great time at Anime Conji and Long Beach Comic Con. We are planning to add Kingdom Con and Phoenix to the line up this year. The past couple of years, we have been able to spend our time meeting a lot of great people and discovering new creators, instead of standing in line or fighting crowds.

  4. The problem is that they’ve managed to stumble onto a system that has all the drawbacks of a lottery system, but none of the benefits. The worst of both worlds.

    With the system they have, tens of thousands of people wasted an hour or more of their time, on a Saturday morning of a holiday weekend no less, and had nothing to show for it in the end. Tens of thousands of others wound up with tickets, but still wasted an hour or more of their time on a transaction which should have taken under five minutes. And shut out of the whole deal are people who don’t have access to a high-speed internet connection whenever they want, or aren’t able to block out a specific hour+ of time to buy a ticket. There are still people who get their internet connections at work or libraries or wi-fi hotspots at coffee shops, and there are people who have to work on Saturday morning.

    A true lottery system would mean people who don’t get tickets only have to spend a minimal amount of time, at their leisure, filling in the initial application. Those who do get tickets only have to spend a few minutes confirming their payment details, again at their leisure (give them say a four-day window to make payment, including at least one weekday and one weekend, before returning the tickets to the lottery pool). And a lot of people who can’t be at their computer at 9 AM on a Saturday (or in some time-zones 2 AM) have the same shot as everyone else.

    Just in terms of saving time and aggravation, it’s a sensible change to make. Just think of what could be done with the hundreds of thousands of wasted fan-hours currently spent on getting tickets and hotel rooms.

  5. Sadly we went thru the same problems with professional registration for this show. I understand it’s a difficult job to manage this show.

    We continue to encounter problems with professional registration, ticket purchase and hotel reservation year after year. The thing that makes these problems so inexcusable is that this show has massively increased in attendance every year for at least 20 years. It’s not like they didn’t know or haven’t had time to address these ongoing issues. Statistically they had all the information needed to get it right.

    Comic-Con International needs to hire a software developer to write the software, then find a a web service provider who can handle the massive number of site hits at once. The solutions are out there. I don’t believe for a second that Comic-Con International can’t afford to do this.

    Please Comic-Con International, get it together.

  6. Have to agree on a lot of these points, I’ve openly been championing other cons around my area for those unable to go to Comic-Con. Long Beach Comic-Con, Comikaze, WonderCon, Anime Expo, etc. With it getting more and more difficult to get into Comic-Con it would seem best to spread the wealth to other cons that could use more wealth for themselves. I’m not to bent out of shape about not getting my badge, though I’m still hoping the resell goes fine. Even though there isn’t anything like Comic-Con, there are other cons to go to

  7. Definitely agree with most of the posters here. I live in metro NY so NYCC SHOULD be my go-to con, but it’s turned into a true shit show. i’m going to make an effort to get to the smaller/better run shows, like Baltimore and the one they hold in Penn Plaza.

  8. Will e-bay, iOffer, StubHub and/or Craigslist offer badges before SDCC does a badge resale thing in May or June 2013?

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