In Memory of Comic Con 2020
Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Oh 2020, have you no shame? What more do you want from us? Name your price. The white flag has been raised. We can't take it anymore. In the long list of hopes and dreams that were dashed this year, the year of COVID, one of them was Comic Con.
Comic Con, an annual pilgrimage of nerds, freaks and geeks to geek mecca, always seemed to be a lofty dream as a teen and young adult, longing from the far reaches of Indiana where I grew up. California seemed a world away, let alone this premier event of pop culture, art and entertainment that I desperately wanted to mingle with.
Then I moved to San Diego.
Literally, one of the first things I researched to do once in SD was how to get Comic Con tickets, even before looking for employment (yes, priorities). That is where I learned about the infamous lottery process for the chance to purchase tickets.
First, you have to go to https://secure2.comic-con.org/memberid/ and create a member ID if you have never been. You will need this to get alerts and info about attending, to participate in the lottery and to receive your badge.
Then, in the fall of the year before the event, you have to enter THE LOTTERY. There are two lotteries: one for returning attendees you went the previous year only and one open lottery for everyone else who still doesn't have a badge after the first lottery.
You are emailed a link with a time you have to be on a desktop computer, usually 9am PST, where you enter your member ID and at the stroke of 9:00, you enter a digital waiting room and....wait....and wait.......and wait to be selected by some comic con wizard to bestow the privilege of giving him money to attend his Grand Gala.
It is nerve racking. Each passing minute is needle to the heart because badges always sell out within 40 minutes. In the 3 lotteries I've been in, the lottery never made it to 10am without selling out. There are only 100,000 badges given out, and you are competing in a world lottery. And if you are new, there are less badges to give out because the returners already claimed theirs in their lottery.
Now, the following tip and story about what not to do brings up heated emotions in my family that I would recommend not bringing up at the next family reunion.
The tip is to increase your chances of being picked, have other people WHO ARE NOT GOING to enter the lottery so if they get picked, they can put your name and ID on the badge, then you cashapp/venmo/paypal the money. One person can buy up to 3 badges, but everyone will need their own member ID to get a badge.
Well, on our first go at the lottery, my brother Tommy and cousin Anysha, who lived in Indiana, planned extensively our Comic Con trip. Her brother Adryan never committed and was not involved in planning but was recruited to be a line filler to increase our chances. He was given explicit instructions on what to do in the chance he got picked, which was to put Tommy, Anysha and my name on the badges. (You may know where this is going.)
So picture this. My brother and I sitting in the kitchen, bright and early, computers on and charging, credit cards and IDs ready and our phones on speaker as we talk to Anysha and Adryan, who were living together at the time. Giddy with excited, while knowing our chances are slim, we ran through scenarios, discussed who might be at the Con, what exclusive items we might grab, the places we'll eat......oh, just give us the badges already!
The clock strikes 9.
We enter the waiting room. Is everyone in? What are you seeing? Just a load bar and countdown to next refresh.
There were a few false alarms.
"You got it??!?!?!? Oh, I thought you said you did. You did????? Oh, you didn't?"
The screen refreshes............................
Still in the waiting room. Thirty minutes have passed and the soaring hope begins to recede into a gripping denial headed toward devastation. Fewer and fewer words were spoken. Contingency plans never discussed began formulating. We had to get picked. Why? Because.
Because we had to. We wanted it too much.
Then I hear whispers. My brother typing. "What is it?" I could tell something was going on. "Did Adryan get picked?"
Silence. (He is sitting right next to me.)
"Did Adryan get picked?" No response. I'm now angry. "What are you doing? What is happening?"
Adryan has been selected
Now it's pandemonium. Screams of joy. Everyone shouting over each other. Imaging my cousin running down the stairs to confirm with her brother. Member IDs and credit card numbers being shouted over the phone. "Did you get it right? Do you have it? WHAT IS HAPPENING? What are you seeing? TELL ME EVERYTHING."
And that's when the truth came out.
Adryan had made it to the payment page but Anysha's name was not on the list of badges. Why is Adryan's name on there? He said he wasn't going because he did not have money. But now, with the opportunity at hand, claims he planned to go all along.
Devastation. There was never a scenario where this would happen. That he would get a badge and attend. My mother in the living room laughing at all of this: Comic Con, our excitement, the lottery, our incomprehensible determination and now this betrayal. I thought Anysha would murder him.
He couldn’t go back to change name and ID. Our arguing and disbelief was futile. The timer to pay was close to ending and payment had to continue The badges were purchased for Tommy, me......and Adryan.
I didn’t know what to say. I was just as devastated, by the injustice of it all. He stole her badge. Yes, he got picked but that was not the arrangement. Anysha surprisingly took it well (don't worry though, she would attend the following year. And will again in 2021 when our 2020 badges rollover from this year's cancellation.)
Lesson: Be careful who you recruit to stand in line for you
So Tommy, Adryan and I attended our first Comic Con. We only had badges for Friday and Saturday as the other days were sold out. We had no idea what we were doing and we were ill prepared for the heat and crowds. Luckily, my brother was able to score a night at one of the Gaslamp hotels, which is another, much more competitive lottery.
Besides exploring the actual convention itself, which is basically the world's largest, most exclusive comic book store and geek man cave zapped with gamma rays, we really wanted to get into Hall H, the premier convention hall with the best panels of casts and celebrities of the biggest shows and movies, and hardest to get into. You have to get in line the day before, so early Friday morning around 7am, we got in line for an event that would start Saturday late morning. We thought we were early but the line was already hundreds of people long who got there at 5am.
In line, we took shifts going into the convention and bringing back food and drinks. They did not start passing out the wristbands for Hall H till about 8pm. I was frantically checking Twitter to see if they had run out because even though we had been in line for over 12 hours, that did not mean we would get the wristband to enter Hall H. There are 4 groups of wristbands: A,B,C,D. Once D is gone, you are out of luck. Just wasted your whole day. Try again next year.
So with each tweet of someone's lettered band, I could gage the chances of getting a band. At this point, the sun is down, and everyone is eagerly standing in anticipation, hypothesizing how close the volunteers passing out bands were and calculating the odds of making it to our part of the line.
But then, we see flash lights.
The bands made it to our part of the line. But would they run out before they get to us?
The kept getting closer and closer. They could run out at any moment. Just short of reaching us. If we had only gotten up 30 minutes to get in line.
They creep closer and closer.
We got this. The devastation to get so close and not get in is too unbearable to contemplate.
YES! WE GOT THEM. GROUP D. THE FINAL GROUP.
After my heart rate returned to normal, we had to ask a very important question: What next? Originally, we were going to head home after getting our bands but after waiting all day, we were too afraid of leaving our spot in line and too unsure how it would work leaving and getting back in line in the morning. So, we joined the overnight slumber party in Embarcadero Park behind the convention center to hold our spot in line to get into the infamous Hall H. Again, we were woefully unprepared, not bringing enough snacks, water, seating, shade and something to sleep on outdoors on the incest covered grass of the marina behind the convention center.
Side note: though getting into HALL H on our first Con and getting to see and hear from the cast and crew of Black Panther, Justice League, Stranger Things, Blade Runner, Ready Player One, Westworld, Thor Ragnarok and Atomic Blonde was a stellar achievement and great experience, the mental and physical lengths to get there are not worth repeating. I can say I did all that and now move on with my life.
Year 2 was much better because we applied a lot of lessons from our year one, including getting a hotel room for every night in Mission Valley. We also won another lottery to attend the Conan O'Brien Comic Con taping.
It would have been my third time this year to score tickets (thanks to my brother who has a gift of being selected in the lottery for tickets and hotels). But instead, I am sitting at home looking through pictures reminiscing about what could have been this year.
I guess that's not so bad. Fingers crossed for 2021.
Check out all things Comic Con at the link below: