Can you believe it? San Diego Comic-Con 2011 finally got its online badge registration up and running this last Saturday, and sold out within 12 hours of the opening bell. Not only that, but “up and running” was a severely relative term for those trying to get their passes, as apparently there was a lot of F5 refreshes happening due to capacity error screens. Not only that, but some days were being mistakenly reported as sold out that then would be available again on a reload.

The third-party professional registration service Comic-Con contracted (after two failed tries doing things themselves) managed to get everything sold, but not smoothly. Apparently the demand and load on their servers was still “several orders of magnitude higher” than their worst-case estimate… which makes me think their case planners did a rather poor job.

Not to say I would have done better… I figured demand would definitely be higher than last time around, but if you’d bet me on everything selling out in less than a day, I probably still would’ve bet against you. Lots of people were caught by surprise for Comic-Con 2010 when the four day passes were gone in the first few months after registration started, but that was still a few months (and the one day passes were still available a lot longer after that). This year, admittedly, there were so many problems that a registration that was supposed to start by September didn’t happen until now, but still, going from a few months after the opening bell to a few hours? That’s something I’m not sure anyone predicted. It’s a game changer event, and I’m going to be really curious to see what policies CCI is going to try to put in action for 2012. Will they stop allowing people to pre-register for next year while this year’s event is in progress? Because I’m quite certain that’s going to be the plan for every attendee that got in, on the first day they can, and in that case they might have to shut it down before Sunday even comes about or the entire convention could be sold out before online registration even occurs. Hey, after Saturday, I’m willing to see that as not just possible, but inevitable.

Dawn and I were above all the fray due to our returning professional status, but we have friends and associates who weren’t so lucky and can only attend for a few days, or possibly not at all. Then again, Comic-Con is such a big event that there’s plenty to do without setting foot in the exhibit hall, so it’s not a total disaster for those that already have reservations for the whole time. My condolences if any of you reading this missed out. Here we were being disappointed about not getting a Small Press Booth, but now I’m counting myself lucky that we’re able to attend at all!

On a much humbler convention front, we brought Zombie Ranch to the 1st ever Inland Empire Comics Expo this past Sunday, and for a tiny inaugural show with no big name draws I have to say it went very well, especially considering it was up against the Big Game (believe it or not, using the “S” word is restricted by the NFL to the point they sue people over it if they’re not authorized sponsors). Now to be honest, it did seem to get empty of both attendees and exhibitors around the time of kick-off (which I doubt was entirely coincidental), but our time spent there was quite worthwhile. I don’t know how well the Expo did as a whole, but we got to meet several enthusiastic new folks and introduce them to the Ranch, which is the bottom line for Dawn and myself. I still really love being behind the table at these things and getting to blather on about my concepts and answer all the confused, yet intrigued questions like “What do they feed the zombies?” or “What’s the floating robot thing?”

Alas, our scale model Cambot has finally given in to the wear and tear of several other convention visits. We turned him over to his original builder to see if he can be salvaged and returned to working order, so feel free to send your positive thoughts that way, and perhaps his little LED light may yet glow anew.