San Diego Comic Con is Sold Out. Now What?

I had a very busy Saturday morning.  After filming for two hours at a local mall (long story, it's a fun project but sadly no one will ever see it), I was waiting in my friend's living room while the crew was getting prepping the basement for the next shoot. Suddenly, I remembered that tickets for San Diego Comic-Con went on sale about two hours earlier and, just for the hell of it, sauntered over to my friend's iMac to pick up a ticket for my wife Whitney.  As the page loaded, I grabbed my wallet, clicked on the single ticket and then…all hell broke loose.

Suddenly, it was very clear something was up.  I was getting a "server busy" page.  Then it happened again. And again. Then I went from normal guy buying a ticket to "frantic geek trying to get a hotel room for Comic-Con circa 2009," which, as you probably know, is not the state you want to be in, ever. Gone was the fact that I was going to be in front of camera in minutes. Gone was my hope that the Comic-Con people had figured it out. Gone, really, was my humanity, as I become a slave to several different web pages while I re-entered information, hit refresh (and confirmed that I really did want to refresh), for what seemed like hours. Suddenly I wasn't hanging out with my cast; I had now taken over my friend's computer, kicking him off of Twitter so I could log in to find out what the situation was with everyone else.

Thirty minutes later, I was able to get a single 4-day ticket, which is all I had wanted. I went into the basement to do my scenes far more relaxed, but I was worried, too: What about everyone else? What about the people who totally forgot about this? What about the parents of the kids who wanted to go but were too busy this Saturday morning to deal with this madness?  What happens if the unthinkable happens and it actually sells out before Monday?

Of course, as you know–or do now–Comic Con sold out in one day.

That sentence is worth lingering on for a second because if there were any doubts that San Diego Comic-Con was something far more than just a comic book convention before, those doubts have now been swallowed up by Galactus (or just insert your own equivalent consuming entity).  What…like, really, what is going to happen now? My initial thoughts:

– Even if you got a ticket, you are kind of pissed. The ticket buying experience was hellish, and yes, 33 million hits on a web server is a lot of hits, but still…they should have been ready. 

– This alienates the audience that makes Comic-Con the special event that it is.  This is not E3, which is now just for professionals. The halls of Comic-Con are open to everyone, no matter what you do, no matter how old you are. One of the best parts of SDCC, for me, is having so many kids around.  I love that parents can take their kids to SDCC and have a great time. I love that teenagers can hold their own when arguing the details about Spider-Man's worth in the Marvel Universe.  I love that kids can be inspired by the art, music and film all around them.  Thankfully, the site sells youth tickets separately, so there will still be kids, but seriously–there are going to be many, many families who are going to be left out now that the event has sold out. 

– The naysayers are thrilled. Lots of folks have been complaining about SDCC and they stand vindicated today.  SDCC is too big, we know that, but we loved it anyway.  There are problems here, not only in terms of space–which they can address as the convention center gets larger, but I think the show itself needs to figure out what it wants to be.  Maybe they should add another day that is for professionals only? Maybe they make Hall H a separate thing (a terrible idea, I admit)?  I don't have the answer, but the question needs to be addressed, because now that the show can sell out in a day, next year it will sell out in a few hours.

I promised Conor I would make this short, so I will end this here but we want to know: Did you get a ticket? Did you try and give up? What do yo think this means for San Diego? Was the last time you went…the last time?


  1. Obviously, this can mean only one thing: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

  2. Snagged 4 Four Day Passes. Took 2 hours.

  3. Sometimes I wonder if Comic-Con should just be a year-round event. Events and celebrities can come and go on any given weekend, and fans can go when the events most closely align with their particular brand of Fanboyism.

  4. Admittedly i didn’t keep on top of it, so i wasn’t even aware they went on sale. Kinda bummed cause a a few projects i worked on are going to be there on display. Would have loved to see it amidst all the chaos. 

    Have never been to SDCC, and it doesn’t look like i ever will… =( 

  5. The first two apply to me.  This will be my first time attending the convention.  I’ve wanted to go for a long time and I’m at the point where I’m not getting any younger (or wealthier), so I said “what the hell?”  With all the upcoming movies in 2012, there should be some interesting panels.  Plus, I would like to meet some of the creators.

    Having two false starts with ticket purchasing in November/December (and that test run they did in late December) really soured me on the experience.  Constant refreshing of my browser showed me shifting availability for tickets, which was frustrating. 

    I finally had to buy one-day passes for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, for fear of never getting the four day pass.

    I’m excited about going, but this process seemed unnecessarily complicated.

  6. But… but… I missed it? Shit!

  7. When I FINALLY got through, 4 day passes were sold out so I had to buy individual passes for Thur, Fri and Sat. I hate that Im going to have to wait in line every morning, but Im just happy I’m going. As a San Diego native, the future of SDCC is a topic I hear about all the time, and I too have absolutely no idea what the future holds. I mean it looks like they’re going to expand the convention center, but that that is hardly fixing the problem.

  8. I live in San Diego and managed to score tickets for me and my girlfriend. I’ve been going to Comic-Con every year for the past… gosh, must be eight years (although I know for a fact I missed on in there) and I’m gonna be honest. After the nightmare that was four different ticket purchase attempts and the fact that four day passes sold out in less than six hours (and that’s even with all the page refresh errors) I think I’m done. Or, at least, I’m not going next year.

    It’s sad, really. It’s great for the community and the local economy, but… I think you’re right in that it’s just not about what it used to be about. I’ve long been a “I don’t care how big it is” proponent… but…. I dunno. I just think that this is the straw that tells me that Comic-Con just isn’t what it used to be even five years ago. It’s become so commercial and big beyond what big in comics even conceivably is (selling out a show that holds 150,000 people when there’s probably about that many comic readers gives you an indication).

    I remember how into it I was when I first started going (it’s how I first got into comics) and now it’s just… I dunno. I was very down all during last year’s show and… I’m just having a hard time dealing with it. So I guess I’m going to make this year the best it can be. I hope for the best.

  9. Dragon-Con!

  10. I finally got a ticket after 3 hours of contant refreshing and potentially crushed dreams. Following both SDCC and TicketLeap on twitter, the only comfort I could get during the whole ordeal was “If you get the ‘over capacity’ page, just keep hitting refresh!”

    What’s worse, I was trying to coordinate my trip with 4 of my best friends, all of us connected in a Skype call updating each other on if we had made any progress in terms of our tickets, what was selling out, what options were dissapearing because of the technical difficulties, etc.

    I got a 4 day pass and the rest of them just had to buy 3 single day passes a piece. We’re all young 20-somethings with a free Saturday to dedicate to refreshing a ticket page with nerdish fervor, but I just feel terrible for those who were looking to go with their kids, family or even to just find escape from shitty jobs who couldn’t find the time (or get past the techical difficulties) that they needed for securing some tickets. The passes are sold out, sure, but there’s a whole set of fans out there who’ve gotten the short end of the stick.

  11. I missed it. We have WonderCon in SF and it’s better anyways. Wait …. I mean … err … it’s not. Don’t come!!

  12. Well my friend was able to snag 4 four day passes for me and my friends. SUPER EXCITED. I’ve been planning to go to SDCC this year for the past 4 years.(me and my friends decided to go to SDCC rather then some bull shit grad trip to cuba) I should be pissed that it took 2.5 hours of refreshing but im just happy to get tickets.

  13. @DarkKnightDetective  How bad is the daily wait of picking up the single day passes?  I also had to buy singles for thurs, fri, sat.  It’s too bad they won’t give them all at once.

  14. I went to SDCC in 09 and it was huge and busy. I also went more or less on my own so it wasn’t a very social experience. If I return to SDCC it won’t so much be for the convention as it will be for the after parties and the hanging out with friends.

  15. I wasn’t exactly planning on attending. But I had talked to a couple friends about possibly making the trip as a one time kinda thing. I know it’s madness and tiring. But having never gone, I figure it’s something cool to at least see once. The fact that SD is a great town to hang out in makes it all the easier idea.

    So I had it in the back of my mind for a while now. Was all ready to try to get tickets back the first time it was supposed to happen, however many months ago. Forgot about it, and didn’t realize they had gone on sale til a few hours after the fact. When I got to the site, 4 day passes were already sold out. And faster than the time it took me to think buying a couple single day passes, same for Friday and Saturday.

    So that decision was made easy for me. I didn’t even deal with trying to connect to the ticket server. Heard horror stories from people who jumped on the site the minute tix went on sale. The whole ordeal sounded horrifying. I know the whole “SDCC is getting too big and isn’t about comics” argument got old 5 years ago. But like Mike said in his piece, I think it’s beginning to reach a boiling point.

    Oh well. Still got Emerald City next month! And even though it’s slowly getting bigger and bigger (now 3 days). In comparison to SD, it’ll be like a walk in the park. And for the time being, is still an actual comic convention.

  16. I sat at work for 2 hours refreshing the page and finally 10mins before i was due to go home lo and behold i got through and got my friend and i 4 Day Passes.  We had planned on another friend joining us but he hadnt made up his mind yet and was gonna wait a few days. Sure that would have been enough time for him to decide we thought. Wrong. So now the ridiculous question: where do we stay? do any of you have places you have stayed in the past? i know i should already have hotel rooms but my friends friend was going hopefully let us stay at his house but pretty sure that has fallen though. Or better yet. Anyone cool enough to let 2 dudes from Fargo North Dakota give them 200 bucks to crash at their place for 4 days?

  17. Got tickets to 3 of the 4 days. Such a headache. Now I hope it was worth it.

  18. I used to want to go to SDCC, but in the past 3 years I have seen it continue to transform into an untameable beast that I have no desire in attending. I live in the Seattle area so I’m perfectly happy with ECCC (which is actually starting to get to big;they just extended it to 3 days this year) so I no longer feel the need to travel to SDCC and hate my life like everybody seems to after going. 

  19. @srh1son dude the line goes on FOREVER, but in all fairness it does move fast. But still, I’d prefer to have a 4 day pass even though I never go sundays just so that I can show up right when they open and not deal with the lines.

  20. I’ve never gone. Is there such a thing as too big to be fun? I’m going to the ECCC this year instead but I see tickets are up on Ebay already for SDCC.

  21. It’s kind of collapsing in on itself, and it’s clearly no longer about comics.

    But that’s not anything we didn’t already know. 

  22. SDCC: A pain in the ass but still the most fun I’ll have at a comic con this year.

  23. @StormingTheCastle  This is the correct answer.  Hell, it’s the correct answer to almost any question. 

  24. My cousin went last year, turns out there wasn’t much in the way of activities or things that interested him. And since we share virtually every interest I used him as a good proxy. Won’t be surprised if it disappoints me in the upcoming 2012 con.

  25. They should require proof of fandom! An Excel workbook of your comic inventory and pictures of your room/storage unit with your comics!

    It is so mad it really is. I think this will only make the other cons better.

  26. I got lucky during the test phase and snagged a 4-day pass, but i think that the ongoing problems to date are a strong indication that the hassles are just beginning.

    I live in fear what this means for the other aspects left to organise. Seems like the lack of tickets may have everyone tweaked and making rash decisions.

    Personally, I don’t want to commit to organising all my accomodation and flights too early because, like many of us, I have a life and that life may affect when and how I get to San Diego.

    Any tips from seasoned vets ?

    …Also, I feel for all the groups of friends how wanted to go out there. This ticket aquisition was definitely an every F5 nerd for themselves deal.

  27. ….Is The Emerald City Con really worth it? I have the option to go; it’s nice and close, but it could put a serious dent into any comic-con savings.

    Don’t hear much talk about it on other forums

  28. now what? now I sit back with a sigh of relief that this isn’t even close to happening with NYCC.

  29. Just put it in Anaheim already. They have way more space and it’s still in SoCal. Geez.

  30. After going every year for the past 12 years or so, I’ve actually opted to only go to SDCC for Friday and Saturday this year.

    Despite what the naysayers would have you believe, despite the fact that the hotel reservation hassle reached epic levels of fail last years, and despite the fact that the registration process is quickly becoming as bad as the hotel situation — SDCC is still a helluva lot of fun. I’ve just opted for 2 days instead of 4 because I’m at a point where I can hit what I want to hit in just a couple days. Also, I had fun at Wondercon last year, so I know I can certain elements of what I like about SDCC in San Francisco — without the hassle and in one of my favorite cities. I won’t deny the hassle is a little grating. But that doesn’t make SDCC itself any less fun. It’s a zoo for sure, but I still dig it.

  31. I went one year, in 2009 (and made it to the iFanboy party!).  It has to be experienced, but I don’t want to go back again unless it’s as a creator.  As a fan — crowds too big, not chance to talk to creators like at a smaller con.

  32. I really wish it went to Vegas.  I LOVE Sd, but I wish it moved.

    Since its stuck there, maybe a seperate tickets.  A floor only pass, and a pass for the major halls.  Maybe that will keep everyone seperate, and fit more people where they want to be.  

  33. I wasn’t aware tickets were going on sale this past weekend, so I guess I’m out.

  34. Went for the 1st time last year had a great time, was looking forward to going this year but with all of the headaches and re-tryss i just gave up, kinda wish they would have moved the damn thing to LA, oh well i think i will try wonder-con or NY SDCC is getting to big for its own good.

  35. After many years of a friend/co-worker (that has been going to SDCC for over a decade) trying to espouse the virtues of the event, I decided last year that I was never going to a San Diego Comic-Con.

  36. I usually end up working at the Nuclear Comics booth for a few of the days and getting in for free anyways, but this kinda sucks cuz every year it gets crazier and crazier, I’d like to be able to walk on the floor without having to smell people’s backs. But! Like Conor said, it’s one of the most fun events I’ll attend this year. And honestly most of the fun is the stuff that happens downtown and at the gas lamp after the con is closed.

  37. I was planning to go with my friends and not only attend panels but also visit dealer booths and make purchases. But I guess comic-con is now more about attending movie panels and sitting in cramped rooms to learn things that will go up on ifanboy or newsarama or cbr only moments later.

  38. Can’t wait for the con season to start. Ifanboy con episodes are the best. Too bad I’ll probably never get to see the crazyness of SDCC, living all the way in Estonia and all.

    Only con I have ever been to was 26th Barcelona Comic-Con in 2008 – I stumbled across it just by accident when visiting Barcelona.

  39. Not to seem too Alan Moore about this, but SDCC is done in so many ways. I have been going since 1990 when it was at the old convention center space and was 2 small rooms filled with only comics and creatrors and nerdy boys. The Hollywood invasion in those pre internet days at first seemed insidery and cool, but it openned the pandoras box of its own demise.

    SDCC needs to seperate the comics from everything else. 2 different buildings. 1 badge. That way you don’t have to wait all day in line just to get a seat to see a panel once again and wade through throngs of kids who just want photos of celebrities. I realized it got out of hand once Sarah Silverman had a panel…I love her show but how exactly is she comics related? Not to single her out since she was just the first flare in the coming bombardment.

    There is so much good about the comi-con, but my enthusiasm is indirectly proportional to the crowds. Once the crowds grew to the point where it was impossible to ever lift your leg above a shuffle, the joy was gone, replaced by sore knees. Missed last year due to my health and was looking forward to starting fresh again. was all set to give my ol sdcc another try…and it sells out before i can even get a ticket. 19 years of dedication means nothing to the organization. only luring more people in with the bait of celebrity. i always hate people who go on about “the good ol days” but i guess in this instance i’ve turned into one of those a’holes. RIP the con i used to love.

  40. Having only been to NYCC, so opinion = grain of salt, I might agree with @jokingofcourse.  It seems like extracting out the the media side of it in a SXSW type way (In that they have music, film, interactive as different schedules, locations and tickets) might be the only way to make it manageable in the future.

  41. i woke up to buy tickets at 9am.  server busy, all day long.  even when i got to the next page, server was busy.  i tried for two hours literally clicking away the time.  when i was able to get past the second page, it was tickets not available.  then starting all over again.  it was worse than trying to get a loan modification (and that’s pretty bad). 

    didn’t get the ticket… the first SDCC i will be missing in 7 years.  man, that pissess me off!

  42. ECCC is worth it.  Just comics and creators.  No publishers when I went… each creator had their own table. 

    very frustrated with SDCC.  but it was the most fun to be had.  NYCC is becoming just like SDCC.  i guess SDCC was always the most anticipated, and SD is one hell of a city to vacation in.

    So, I am frustrated at what SDCC has turned into…. but I am more pissed that I won’t be able to go.

  43. Something just occurred to me that kind of pisses me off.  With the level that SDCC is at now, dollars to donuts a fair portion of that traffic clogging everything up and screwing people out of tickets was people/businesses planning to resell the tickets at a premium.

  44. @ChrisB  Snagged 4 tickets and one was mine! Now just need to book the awesome hotel room then operation sweet vacation is all set.

  45. For many years, a great desire of mine was to attend SDCC in person having never been before. Now? No thank you. I’ve heard too many horror stories about the ticket buying process, standing in lines, the crowds, the multi-media overload, rude people, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, SDCC’s growth is a sign of it’s enormous popularity and success, but there is no longer any appeal for me to try to attend the zoo. With excellent reporting from sites such as iFanboy, any interesting news is reported as soon as it’s announced. I agree the social aspect is a huge part of the reason many enjoy the Con, but for me, the hassle-to-benefit ratio is just not worth it.  I’ve accepted that I probably will never attend SDCC,  and much to my surprise, I’m cool with that.

  46. @moodydoom  ECCC is very much worth it. I have been going for several years now and it is a blast. It is honestly all about the comics. You actually get to spend time talking with writers, artists, editors, etc. This years line up is fantastic! Sure, there is still the movie/tv people appearances, but I don’t even pay attention to those really. I go for the comics and I have a fantastic time. 

  47. In 2009, I missed the window and started freaking out. Thankfully, late that June SDCC had a lot of refunded passes that they put up on ebay at face value. (I know this sounds totally weird and sketch, but it’s true.) My friend and I were able to get 4-day passes at the last minute, so if you have your heart set on going, keep checking the official website as it gets closer to summer. There may be some legit options available.

    In 2010, we decided to renew and purchase passes for 2011 at the Con. It was a crapload of money to spend all in one weekend, but then again it’s already paid off on my credit card and we avoided the online ticketing nightmare. My concerns are less the tickets and more the lines. One morning, we waited 6 hours for the first panel in Hall H and didn’t get in; another day at 10 am, officials told us not to bother with the line for Ballroom 20 since it was “full for the day.” What? So this year, we’re going to make a hard-core agenda ahead of time with multiple contingency plans. It sounds annoying, but then again, this nerd loves Excel.