Concentrate: This Week in Comic-Con & WonderCon News [Special]

It’s a special edition of Concentrate, boiling down the recent news regarding Comic-Con International conventions (San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon Anaheim).

The big news this week: Ace Parking is switching their formerly first-come, first-serve pre-paid parking permit system to a lottery. 2014 saw Ace introduce a new web system for permit sales, and it was not without its flaws: long lags, slow loading, selections showing a spinning circle of doom endlessly… classic Comic-Con pre-sales, really. Not long after the page went public, it was pulled – Ace claimed they were experiencing a DDoS attack, although in all likelihood the sheer number of interested buyers may have simply overwhelmed the newborn site.

ebay1The new lottery system is also deeply flawed, however: sign-ups for the lottery are done via email, with no account registration or verification required for lottery entry. This does nothing to prevent enterprising hopefuls from registering for the lottery under an endless number of email addresses, then picking from the best of what they’re offered (or potentially gaming the process by buying multiples). Some of these will likely end up on eBay like they have in the past, with four days at the Bayfront going for $500 last year. On top of this, attendees no longer have a choice in their parking lot if they want the prime, closest lots: the Convention Center, Hilton Bayfront, Petco Lots (excluding Campus), Padres Parkade, Diamond View Tower, Horton Plaza, and Gaslamp City Square are included in the lottery sale and will be sold in that order. This is disappointing to those who prefer a lot like Horton Plaza, which sells out but not immediately like the underground convention center lot does.

As popular as Comic-Con is, it’s easy to argue that a lottery system is justified for each step in the process. But the consensus from the community regarding the new parking permit system seems to be that aside from a few (assumed solvable) technical glitches, the old system wasn’t broken; why fix it?

  • gunnfbmarvelsdccGuardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn made waves this week when he mentioned in a Facebook Q&A that Marvel Studios would not be attending SDCC this year. Notably, this does not have any bearing on Marvel Comics’ plans, who have already confirmed that they will be present at Comic-Con. Marvel Studios has not issued a formal response, but speculation is now raging: it’s not entirely impossible for the Hall H fixture to bow out for a year, especially considering Marvel’s parent company Disney is hosting their own biennial convention, D23 Expo, just one month after SDCC.
  • WonderCon also introduces a new programming room this year, expanding into the nearby Hilton convention space. The new room will host cosplay and culture panels, effectively kick that programming track out of the convention center proper.
  • The man who drove his car into the crowd following the Zombie Walk at Comic-Con last summer, injuring a pedestrian, has officially been charged with reckless driving, a felony. His arraignment has been postponed to Monday, March 17 due to no sign language interpreter being available. The driver’s defense has long been that he is deaf, and felt threatened by what he considered an unruly crowd. Although the Zombie Walk does not require a permit, the driver’s defense attorney claims the city is at fault for allowing the event to operate without permits that would close city streets. The incident was caught on video. Felony reckless driving carries  a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and/or a $220 fine.
  • The San Diego Symphony has released their summer 2015 schedule, which includes the geek-themed concerts they traditionally host during SDCC. This year’s concert themes will be Pokemon and Star Trek Into Darkness.

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