Tag Archives: SDCC

Convention Inflation

Next year’s WonderCon tickets are available now, and SDCC goes on sale next week. I noticed something interesting about the WonderCon price, because ten years ago, I compared a lot of convention prices.

How do they stack up a decade later?

  • WonderCon 2018 costs the same as Comic-Con 2008 did: $75. (WonderCon in 2008 was $30 in advance, or $40 onsite.)
  • Comic-Con International has gone waaaay up. They don’t sell full-weekend badges anymore, but if you’re super-lucky you could theoretically buy one-day badges for all 4 1/2 days in 2018 (if you’re really lucky), in which case you’d be spending $45+$63×3+$42 = $276!
  • Wizard World shows in general have gone from $45 in 2008 to $80 for 2018.
  • Flagship Wizard World Chicago has gone from $50 in 2008 to $95 in 2018.

There are some other conventions that need to be on this list today, but weren’t on the 2008 list. Some of them are new, like C2E2. Emerald City and New York Comic Con were around, but hadn’t gotten big enough for me to include on a list that was mostly California conventions plus the big names – which at the time were SDCC and Chicago.

  • C2E2 2018 costs $76.
  • I can’t find the prices for New York Comic Con.
  • Emerald City Comicon 2018 costs $120 for the full event.
  • Long Beach Comic Con started out around the same price as a Wizard World show in 2009, and is currently $60, so a little cheaper than a Wizard World show.
  • Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con launched with super-cheap tickets at something like $11/day to get people to show up (before Stan Lee’s name was attached to it), but by 2016 it was in line with other shows at $35/day. (I can’t find any prices on their website anymore, so I don’t know the full weekend price.)

So over all: comic convention prices have roughly doubled over the last 10 years, except for SDCC, which shows what happens when the demand for tickets goes up and the supply stays static. They can’t add more badges, so raising the prices encourages people to buy tickets for fewer days, freeing up space for other people on those other days. It sucks for those of us who want to buy tickets, but it’s textbook Adam Smith.

But wait! I looked at other fan conventions at the time as well!

  1. GenCon 2017 cost $90 for pre-reg/$120 standard, up from $60/$75 in 2008
  2. DragonCon 2018 cost $105, up from $90 in 2008
  3. WorldCon 2018 (San Jose) has only gone up to $210, compared to $200 for Denver in 2008
  4. WesterCon 2018 (Denver) is $60, same as in 2008!
  5. Loscon 2018 is $35, again, same as in 2008

These have climbed a lot less. GenCon jumped 1.5x instead of 2x, and the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy cons have only increased a little bit, if at all.

It reminds me of a discussion at Chicon 7, the last WorldCon I attended in 2012, about the changing face of fandom. Fan culture has exploded in my lifetime, but traditional sci-fi/fantasy con attendance has stayed static. Fans are interacting online, or going to anime/comic conventions instead. And that lines up very neatly with the prices of the comic conventions vs. the more traditional cons.

In any case, it’s worth noting: WorldCon is now cheaper than SDCC. And you get to vote for the Hugos!

Not Going to Comic-Con This Year (But I Feel Fine)

Convention Center End-On

It’s been getting more and more difficult each year to get tickets (not to mention hotel rooms) for Comic-Con International, and each of the last few years I’ve been wondering if this one might be the year I’d be shut out. The current system is a lottery: Everyone who wants tickets signs into a “waiting room” website before the sale starts, and the system randomly selects batches of people to let into the ticketing system, slowly enough that it won’t crash under the load, until all the tickets are sold out.

It took about an hour to sell out on Saturday.

Despite teaming up — you can buy tickets for yourself and up to two other people, so you can make arrangements among a group of three that whoever gets in first will buy tickets for the others — we watched as first Preview Night, then Saturday, then Friday, then Thursday, and finally Sunday each sold out. The official SDCC Twitter account was more timely with that information than the waiting room, which refreshed its message every 2 minutes, but insisted that Thursday was “very low” for at least one refresh after they reported the sellout on Twitter.

It’s going to be the first year since 1990 that I haven’t been to San Diego for Comic-Con.

Oddly, I’m only mildly disappointed.

  1. I was half-expecting it.
  2. WonderCon and Long Beach Comic-Con are both great conventions in the area (WonderCon 2014 & LBCC 2014 writeups) that are a lot easier to get into (and less crazy to attend). The kiddo might enjoy Comikaze — he’ll be almost five by then. (Wow!)
  3. I’ve been lucky the last few years, so I guess now it’s someone else’s turn.
  4. If we really want that SDCC experience, there’s the possibility of taking the train down to San Diego on Saturday to look at the stuff outside that doesn’t require a ticket. The kiddo will like the train ride too, I suspect.

Then again, the last two times I’ve gone to San Diego, I’ve gotten a first-hand look at the inside of an emergency room. Maybe it’s just as well that I don’t try for three in a row.

This Fan Used To Post Tons Of Comic-Con Coverage, Then Stopped. Can You Guess Why?

SDCC Crowd with TVs

Social media has drastically changed the online aspect of Comic-Con. So much is up instantly that you can follow the event live without setting foot in San Diego. But for those of us who are on-site, there’s a trade-off between being part of the conversation and part of the convention.

Because we can post in real time, people want to follow in real time too, and lose interest quickly afterward. No matter how interesting I think my follow-up articles might be, none of them are read anywhere near as much as the half-assed pieces that go up during or right after the con. Even interest in photos drops off steeply as soon as the event is done:

Flickr SDCC traffic graph

But it takes time to write and edit, to curate, crop and adjust, and (dare I say it) to promote — and if it’s not your job, it comes at the expense of other things you could do at the con.

There’s Far Too Much To Take In Here

I’ve been posting my con experiences and photos for over a decade now. At first I’d just post when I had time. Once I had a smartphone, Twitter, and a second blog at Speed Force, I was live-tweeting and live-blogging everything.

Then in 2011, my wife and I left our then-infant son with relatives and spent a single day immersed in the pop culture madness. It gave us a new perspective:

  • Comic-Con is gigantic.
  • Your time at Comic-Con is limited.
  • Make the most of it!

I changed the way I approached the convention. No more liveblogging; other people are doing that for their job. No presentations that will just be online by the end of the day anyway. No three-hour lines. I wanted the experience I could only get by being there.

I also cut my social media activity to a minimum:

  • Instagram when I had a minute or two of downtime, set to auto-share pictures out to Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
  • Twitter rarely, again when I had a little downtime. No more stopping in the hall to post a comment. This year I didn’t even check for conversations (which, it turns out, I should have).

Sure, I’m a little disappointed that my SDCC 2014 writeup hasn’t been read by very many people, but it’s partly to help me remember this year’s con when I look back at it later. Our photo album at least got some attention. But you know what? If I’d taken the time to write about it during the con, whether live or nightly, I wouldn’t have had as much to write about, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I think that’s a good trade-off.

P.S. Apologies for the clickbait headline. It seemed appropriate for the subject matter.

Comic-Con 2014 – Now That’s Better! (Writeup, Photos and Cosplay)

Mecha-BatmanThis year’s trip to Comic-Con International in San Diego went a bit better than last year, when we ended up losing an entire afternoon to an ER visit. That didn’t happen this year. (Well, not quite…) Even better: we managed to catch some fascinating panels, meet some artists and writers, find some cool stuff, see people in awesome costumes, and even learn some useful information.

(For the TL;DR folks, you can jump straight to the full photo album on Flickr.)

Alice (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland style)

The Paper!It’s been a while since either of us attended in costume, but this year Katie put together an Alice costume from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Some parts were collected across weeks of shopping trips, but we made the vest, and she made the necklace and beaded the belts together. It was the most elaborate costume we’d done since my Jay Garrick Flash costume in 2009. I think it came out great, but she was disappointed that so few people seemed to recognize it. For Friday she bought back her Yomiko Readman costume from a few years ago.

As far as other cosplay went, I noticed an unusual number of costumes from Princess Mononoke and Battlestar Galactica (both versions). Katie spotted several women as Quicksilver (X-Men: Days of Future Past–style. By our count there were at least five. There were a lot of Frozen costumes (and before you object, Elsa has super-powers and a character arc that reads like an X-Men storyline — wish I could take credit for this, but I saw someone make the point on Twitter & can’t remember who). One of my favorite costumes that I didn’t manage to catch a photo of was Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-it-Ralph, complete with her race car.

Also: Every Cersei Lannister we saw was carrying around a wine goblet. Every. Single. One. Continue reading

Five Ways to Use a Smart Watch at Comic-Con

Pebble Smart WatchI was reading up on wearable computing today, and with the SDCC badge presale looming, I found myself wondering whether a smart watch would be useful for Comic-Con.  (No plans to actually buy one, I’m just thinking.) I don’t normally wear a watch these days, but it does get annoying to have to reach into my pocket when I want to check the time. For this reason, I make a point to wear a watch at conventions so that I can see the time at a glance and avoid missing events or meetup times.

So, keeping in mind that the current generation of smart watches (Pebble, Galaxy Gear, etc.) mostly pair up with a phone to do the heavy lifting…what might a smartwatch do better for a con than a phone (or a regular watch)?

1. Messages. Between the noise and the walking, it’s already too easy to miss calls or even texts when you’re out on the floor of the convention. It’s easier to notice a buzz on your wrist than a buzz in your pocket, and less intrusive to glance at your wrist to see if it’s something urgent when you’re interacting with people in the real world. You can also tell instantly when you’re crowd-weaving to meet someone whether that text they just sent is “I’m here,” “Running late,” or “Change of plans, meet me at Hall G lobby.”

2. Schedule reminders. Put the event, time, and room number on the screen. How to make it more awesome: pull down the floorplan and use your location to calculate how long it’ll take to get there, and notify you far enough ahead of time that you can make it, Google Now-style. This is more useful for smaller conventions or at least smaller panels at SDCC, since the big ones require you to line up way ahead of time anyway.

3. Wi-Fi hotspot detector. Even if the watch doesn’t support wi-fi, your phone does, and it can ping the watch to let you know.

4. Breaking news alerts. Ironically, I feel like I miss more news when I’m at Comic-Con than when I’m following along from home. This would have to be very well filtered in order to be useful without pulling you out of actually experiencing the convention.

A step counter would be interesting, but I can probably find an app for my phone.

I doubt I’d use a wrist-mounted camera like the one on Samsung’s Galaxy Gear much. Google Glass would be more practical for the blink-and-you’ll miss-it moments, and if you have time to compose a shot, you have time to pull out a phone or dedicated camera. OTOH, a wrist camera is probably a little less creepy than Glass. (On the gripping hand, maybe not.)

Of course the absolute best use of a smartphone at Comic-Con:

5. Get one that can actually handle calls, and wear it with a Dick Tracy costume.

What uses can you think of?

Photo: Pebble watch by Chris Keene, used under terms of the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.