Saturday, August 13, 2011

Looking Ahead: Comic-Con 2012

Photo Courtesy of Erik Engman
Yes. We know. We're a little late in recapping Comic-Con 2011. If you don't live under a rock, you already know that Cowboys & Aliens had its world premiere there, and that Steven Spielberg announced the return of the Jurassic Park franchise at this year's convention. Since you already know this, we're going to prep you for 2012.

Approaching its 43rd year, San Diego Comic-Con is produced by CCI (Comic-Con International), the non-profit organization also responsible for WonderCon and Alternative Press Expo (APE) both held in San Francisco.

Despite Hollywood's increasing presence, the biggest misnomer is that Comic-Con is only for the socially inept, awkward super fans of science fiction. Wrong! Sure, you'll find people from all over the globe wearing Stormtrooper costumes, or dressed up as Dr. Who, but you'll also find families, bucket list checklister's, collectors, thrill-seekers, and pop-culture hounds. Somewhere in this mix, you will fit in.

First, save the dates: July 12-15, 2012. Preview date, for badge holders only, July 11.

Next, decide now whether you want to attend for 1 day or the full 4, or somewhere in between. This is critical. Trust us. Trying to find a hotel in San Diego a month before the convention is near impossible. And, if you do find a room that late, it'll average $300+ a night. We once paid $400/night for a hotel, so listen to us when we tell you to book now for 2012. FYI, the hotel you want to be at is the Marriott Marquis Hotel and Marina.

"Like" Comic-Con on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, so you know when 2012 tickets go on sale. Pre-registration for 2012 took place during the 2011 convention, and festival badges and single tickets will go on sale around February 2012. Queue up at your computer the day they become available because they sell out in a matter of hours. Once the first batch of inventory is sold out, Comic-Con will not release more tickets until just days prior to the convention, which may thwart your plans. If you are applying for Professional Accreditation, we suggest you purchase a day pass anyway, as security. If you do get the professional badge, Comic-Con will allow you to return your ticket for a refund within a certain time frame.

OK. You've saved the dates, booked your hotel, and have purchased your ticket. Now what? You wait. You wait until the schedule of panels, screenings, autograph signings, etc. get published, which can be as late as 3-4 weeks prior to the convention. If you're a super fan, you know exactly what you want to do, see, touch, and create. But if you're just a regular Joe or Jane trying to get the most out of this experience, listen up:

Comic-Con is overwhelming even when planned out properly. There will be lines for everything. From the smallest of seminars to the largest of studio unveilings, to the coffee kiosk and bathroom, there will be long, long lines. Get used to it. You're going to have to choose between spending 1/4 of the day waiting for Frank Miller's autograph or waiting 45-minutes for the panel, Trends in Young Adult Fiction. If the autograph isn't a must have, explore the various panels and choose to attend one on a topic you know very little about. Take advantage of the MySched feature to help you plan, and just know that you will not be able to do everything, so don't even try.

If panels aren't your thing, Comic-Con also has a film festival component. From ANIME, to documentaries, to narrative shorts and features, we can guarantee you'll find peace, quiet, and plenty of seats at a screening. The Comic-Con International Film Festival is held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and typically the filmmakers, cast and crew are in attendance. VFF09's Enigma screened at CCIFF in 2010. Additionally, previously released studio features and kid-friendly films can be found.

Photo Courtesy of Erik Engman
Looking for retail therapy? You need not look further than the convention floor where you'll find collectibles, clothing, original artwork, music, DVD's, and more from the likes of indie artists and large corporations like Hasbro and LEGO. Bring cash. Cash will allow you to keep track of what you're spending and may give you some price negotiating leverage. The best time to buy is Sunday at 5pm, an hour before the convention ends. Retailers don't want to pack up the merchandise they brought, they want to get rid of it and, in most cases, they slash their prices ridiculously low, and have been known to give stuff away for free.

Speaking of free, swag is plentiful...but you're going to have to go outside of the convention center to find it. Roam the historic Gaslamp Quarter and you'll be able to collect goodies galore. From t-shirts, to posters, to buttons and other promotional items, it's all out there if you look. One of the coveted pieces of swag this year was a Pan Am Airways replica tote to promote ABC's Pan Am. Sadly we were not able to get our hands on one.

If the crowds and convention become too much for you, don't forget that you're in San Diego! Steps away from the Pacific Ocean, world class dining, a world-renowned zoo, and Tijuana, Mexico! Explore and have fun.

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