I’m pleasantly surprised that Comic-Con International and/or Travel Planners has gotten their act together for next year’s convention. Before attendance (and hotel rush) went completely insane, they used to send out hotel info with their fall newsletter or in a postcard around December (or maybe January), but over the last two years it’s been pushed later and later. For 2009, they didn’t even announce a date for hotel reservations until February…a month before they opened. The list of hotels went up even later — the day before, IIRC.

The fall newsletter, now an online magazine, went up today, and along with it not just the date for reservations, but a list of hotels…including distance, prices, and shuttle stops. Hotel reservations go online March 18, 2010.

Additionally, they’ve made some interesting changes that may help combat the craziness:

  • Reservations will now require an immediate deposit of one night’s stay
  • Deposits are fully refundable until May 14.
  • From May 15 to June 17, there’s a $75 cancellation fee.
  • From June 18 onward, deposits are nonrefundable.

With luck that’ll cut down on some of the “just in case…” extra reservations, now that there’s an actual financial commitment to it.

I’m floored.

Absolutely floored that 4-day passes for Comic-Con International 2010 have sold out.

I mean, it’s the first week of November, and the convention isn’t until next July!

Tickets with access to Wednesday’s Preview Night sold out a few weeks ago, but at the time, CCI didn’t provide any information about how many regular 4-day passes were left. This Monday, they posted a progress gauge at 70%. The last time I looked yesterday, it was up to 89%.

Today? Sold out completely.

I can’t help but think it would have taken longer if they hadn’t provided a gauge to let people know just how scarce a resource memberships were going to be. There’s nothing like the fear of a shortage to get people to run out and buy up what’s available (and create a shortage). But I also can’t complain, because without that feedback, we might have kept putting off plunking down the $200 for the two of us, and we might have missed our chance.

Single-day tickets haven’t gone on sale yet, so it’s still possible to go if you haven’t already bought your tickets. You can of course buy more than one, it just means standing in line each morning to pick up the next badge. (Even the more relaxed WonderCon, run by the same organization, doesn’t let you pick up a Sunday badge on Saturday, as we discovered last year.)

If you’re planning on going to San Diego next year, keep an eye on the website. Four-day passes went insanely quickly, and I would expect the one-day passes to do the same.

This should be cool!

Flash Forward

Various sources are reporting that ABC has officially picked up 13 episodes of Flash Forward, based on the Robert J. Sawyer novel of the same name (which I reviewed at Speed Force last December).

The series is about the fallout from an event in which everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and sees a vision of their own future. (In the book it’s 20 years, but in the TV show it’s 6 months…presumably to make it more urgent and so that the show can catch up to it.)

The cast features Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Brian O’Byrne, Courtney B. Vance, Christine Woods, Zachary Knighton and Peyton List.

Where else can you see William Shakespeare, Hikaru Sulu, Penelope Widmore and James Norrington together?

Variety points out that with Lost returning in January, ABC may intend Flash Forward to fill the gap in fall, while Lost fans wait for its final season. (ABC has said from the start that they’re hoping Flash Forward will be the show to keep Lost‘s audience coming back after that show wraps.)

(via Robert J. Sawyer. Cross-posted at Speed Force)

Kindle DXAmazon has announced the Kindle DX, a new version of their e-book reader with a 9.7-inch screen. Unless I’ve got my numbers wrong, that makes it larger than the standard manga page, though not quite as big as the standard American comic book page. And it’s only 1/3 of an inch thick, comparable to a typical trade paperback.

This could be the first e-reader device suitable for simply taking comics formatted for the printed page and transferring them to a tablet. No need to break it down and show one panel at a time like most iPhone or Android comics. No need to zoom and pan. Just transfer the whole page.

Sure, it’s only black and white, but there are plenty of comics produced in B&W, or reformatted for printing in cheap collections like Marvel Essentials or DC’s Showcase Presents series.

Imagine 30 years of Justice League of America or Spider-Man in the space of the latest trade.

The only drawback is the steep price tag: at $489, I’m not picking one up anytime soon.

(Reposted from Speed Force)

Well, I jumped into the fray of the Comic-Con International hotel reservation system and made it across to the other side, getting through by phone after 1 hour and 20 minutes. I never did make it past the “waiting room” page online.

The weird thing about the phone reservation system is that I don’t actually know which hotel we’ve gotten yet. They took my name, contact info and top 3+ choices (I gave them 5), then handed the info to their processing center. They’ll call back (later, I assume, after the rush is over) to let me know which hotel I got. I do have a backup that I reserved directly, but the convention discount is significant, especially when you add up four days.

It was interesting watching commentary streaming by on Twitter (search for “comiccon,” “comic-con” or “comicon”) as people started out commenting, then complaining, and eventually celebrating (after about an hour) when they finally got through. Or really letting loose when the system dropped them.

Update: A reporter interviewed me about the Comic-Con hotel reservation experience. Update (3/20): Here’s the article at the Union-Tribune. I’m not quoted.

Update: I got an email confirming our reservation. It’s farther out than the backup, but it’s ~$100 cheaper (over the course of 4 days – possibly more, depending on how much the other hotel charges for internet access) and there’s a shuttle. Now to weigh ~$100 vs. walking distance and figure out which room to keep and which to free up for someone else who needs one.