The rise in popularity of everything related to comic books has of course extended to comic book conventions. These have grown from one-day small gatherings of fans, creators, publishers and retailers to large-scale full weekend events. The internet and increase in social media sites have also played a great role in spreading the word. There was a time when there were only a few conventions each year. Now there are many in all parts of the country, spreading throughout the entire year making for a good ďconvention seasonĒ as many attendees call it.
There are still many smaller, one-day shows, but the bigger weekend long conventions tend to get the most publicity. Some of the more well-known ones are the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), New York Comic Con (NYCC) and San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).
Each year, these, and other shows, receive more and more attention. That attention does come with a price, however. Issues of overcrowding and sellouts are occurring with more frequency. Attending a convention these days requires some serious planning months in advance. You really should make a checklist of what you need to complete. The first item you need to secure as you plan to go to a convention is the ticket to actually get in. Thereís no point in bothering with travel accommodations such as a hotel room and flight tickets (if necessary) if you canít actually walk in the door.
Few conventions are run by the same company and as such, registering for each follows a different process. There are a few similarities across the board though: registration opens up months in advance and the bigger conventions tend to sell out. With the sellouts, the first tickets to do so are the full weekend and Saturday tickets. Itís an understatement to say how Saturdays are the busiest days of any convention. To help you out, I will give you some tips to keep in mind should you want to make the journey to one of these wonderful events.
Once youíve decided what convention youíd like to be a part of, you have to find out when registration opens. Long gone are the days when fans could walk up the day of a convention and register at the door. Using San Diego Comic Con as an example, registration was closed for a while in 2006 due to overcrowding. In 2008, the event was sold out ahead of time and there was no registration at the door. The latter has remained in practice as you must register months before the convention if you hope to attend. Most, if not all, of the bigger shows no longer allow attendees to purchase tickets at the door.
If you wish to attend SDCC, you must create a member ID which allows you to register yourself and others. Once you have that member ID, you will receive an e-mail 24-48 hours ahead of time detailing information about registration and the link to the site. From there, the process isnít so much difficult as it is frustrating. You enter an online waiting room with thousands of other hopeful fans. It is a highly flawed process and leaves many without tickets. The only advice I have for those who have yet to go through that process is be prepared before the link goes live and have patience. In 2012 and 2013, SDCC sold out in less than two hours.
NYCC, run by ReedPOP along with C2E2, is the second largest convention in the nation and sells out as well. While NYCC has not been around as long as SDCC, itís better to secure your ticket as early as possible. You can take comfort in knowing itís an easier process. C2E2 follows the same process of simply going to the website and purchasing a ticket.
The registration time-frame for ECCC, which is held in Seattle, will last several months before selling out shortly before the convention takes place. Similar to the previous two, purchasing a ticket to this show is rather simple.
Many local comic shops operating in the respective cities of conventions will have tickets on hand as well. If you are unable to purchase directly from the organizerís website due to a sellout, you still may be able to do so from one of those shops. A convention website will usually have a list of retailers in the area who have tickets on-hand. This goes for many shows except SDCC.
One more item of note is to have any necessary information available, such as the names of anyone joining you. Some tickets and badges will be tied to specific individuals and may not be transferable. I hope this information is helpful to you in your quest to join in the fun of comic conventions, or in expanding the shows to attend. Join us in the forums to discuss more helpful registration tips.