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Comic-Con International 2011: The Fandom and the Fury

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Those who run San Diego Comic-Con have become victims of their own success. Back in 2007, although Friday and Saturday sold out before it began, a person could still walk up and buy a single-day ticket for Thursday or Sunday. The following year all four days sold out ahead of time, and each successive year it sold out earlier on the calendar. Last year, before the Convention closed on Sunday, 2011 Four-Day with Preview Night tickets were sold out.

When word got out, people were understandably concerned. How were they going to be able to go to Comic-Con if they couldn’t get into Comic-Con? This drove demand up, and the powers that be didn’t account for it because when online tickets went on sale, the system was so overwhelmed it crashed. People took to Twitter and Facebook venting their anger and frustration. A second date was announced with the time pushed back three hours. Not sure why the change in time other than someone must have thought there would be less traffic at 6 a.m. Pacific, but what’s an early morning rise to people who attend movie screenings and game releases at midnight or spend days waiting for the next installment in their favorite film franchise? With demand ramped up even higher, the system crashed again. A third attempt was made with a limited number of tickets released, and then there was the fourth and final release of tickets. My purchase required multiple refreshes of the browser to make it through each step, leaving surprised my F5 button still functions. Those shut out were still not happy and many made their disappointment known.

On Wednesday July 20th, those who bought Four-Day tickets without Preview Night or Single-Day tickets for Thursday had to pick them up at the Town and Country Resort, which was about five miles away from the Convention Center. The resort was next to a freeway, and cars were backed up a bit on it at about 3 p.m. Getting to the door looked like it would take a while along the two-lane road to the entrance, so my wife volunteered to walk at a faster pace than cars were traveling. At that time, it took her roughly three hours to get the pass. Thankfully, the shuttle service was running to bring her back to the Convention Center.

The convention began early for some who got in line on Tuesday for the Thursday morning presentation for Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1. Another line formed Wednesday night by those looking to purchase tickets for Comic-Con 2012 Thursday morning. This year the sales were occurring offsite at the Manchester Grand Hyatt between the hours of 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Like the online sale, things didn’t run smoothly yet again because of poor planning. I stumbled over at 7:30 a.m. and the line was massive. It ran so long along the bay it was in back of the Convention Center. Turns out the process to buy tickets was so laborious that shortly after 8, they decided to cut the line off, but no one bothered to tell the majority of those waiting in it they wouldn’t be able to get tickets. A tweet went out to those with access, but people didn’t know what to make of it. Rumblings and grumblings began to flow down the line. Then, those who had missed the cut walked by in disgust and made it clear, but there was no representative from the Con. Unbeknownst to everyone in line, the powers that be decided to set a limit on the number of tickets they would sell each day but didn’t make it known until after disappointing hundreds of people. Every morning it was a mess as more people became eligible to buy the set number of tickets.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS