About 2400 Comic-Con attendees crowded into a ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel every morning of the world’s largest comic convention July 21–24, some arriving as early as 1:00 a.m. They were there to secure tickets for next year’s convention.
San Diego International Comic-Con — besides raising the price of a four-day pass by $50 and charging $25 for the formerly free “Preview Night” — instituted new rules for pre-registration this year, limiting daily sales to 2400 current badge-holders and limiting Preview Night to less than a thousand each day. Because pre-registration was moved offsite, the 8:00–11:00 a.m. operating hours forced attendees to miss some of this year’s events to guarantee themselves admission for next year’s convention.
In a conversation with Mark Yturralde, a 32-year member of Comic-Con’s board of directors, he explained, “We needed to move some of our activities out of the convention center, and moving pre-registration was the least painful system.” When asked the reason for capping daily sales, he explained, “We want everyone to have a fair chance of obtaining tickets and to have them available for online sales.”
Beverly, from Lomita, who said she’s been attending Comic-Con for more then 20 years, said, “Comic-Con is pissing off the core audience who come every year, and what’s with the price hike of $70? Didn’t the convention center just give them a good deal to keep them here? I don’t think I’m coming next year.”
Maria and her family from Escondido got into line for pre-registration at 1:00 a.m. Saturday. “The floor was too hard and too cold, but we got our tickets.”
Joyce from San Diego summed up her feeling after her early-morning wait: “It’s just shameful and disrespectful.”
Dennis, from Vista, a Comic-Con attendee for 20 years, said, “I got into line at 5:45 a.m. and was number 741 in line. It took me four hours to go through to get my ticket for next year, and as I was leaving there was a handful of people getting in line for tomorrow.”
Early Sunday morning, Lyndon, from San Diego, was in line with his wife and two young children. “I’m doing this for my kids. Getting them into comics like I did as a kid. I can’t imagine doing this online again. It was a trial last year to get tickets.”
Yturralde says Comic-Con has a solution for 2013: “There will be no pre-registration.... All sales for the 2013 convention will be done online.”
Pictured: 2012 Comic-Con ticket-buyers in a Grand Hyatt ballroom