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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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The Epic Fantasy Movie Legacy of Orlando Bloom

This one goes out to all the ladies out there. Orlando Bloom has been in some pretty epic fantasy and historical fiction movies. Here’s a sampling:

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Black Hawk Down (Blackburn)

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The Hobbit trilogy (Legolas)

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Kingdom of Heaven (Balian de Ibelin)

LOTR

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Legolas)

pirates

Pirates of the Caribbean series (Will Turner)

romeo

Romeo and Juliet (Romeo)

THE THREE MUSKETEERS

The Three Musketeers (Duke of Buckingham) – love the costume and the facial hair

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Troy (Paris)

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Orlando Bloom has two other claims to fame in my book. Here he is in a Gap commercial with Kate Beckingsale.

"Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet" Broadway Opening Night - After Party

And, of course, he was married to Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr. Good news, ladies! They are no longer together.

Click to Tweet: The Epic Fantasy Movie Legacy of Orlando Bloom at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Dx via @Nimpentoad


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Eight Diverse Movie & TV Roles by Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch’s (that’s a mouthful!) career is skyrocketing. And with good reason. Here are some diverse roles he’s played in movies and on TV.

12years

12 Years a Slave (Ford)

FifthEstate

The Fifth Estate (Julian Assange)

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Star Trek Into Darkness (Khan)

sherlock

Sherlock (Sherlock Holmes)

smaug

The Hobbit (voice of Smaug & Necromancer)

SnapeSimpsons

The Simpsons (voice of Alan Rickman –> art imitating life imitating art)

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Peter Guillam)

WarHorse

War Horse (Maj. Jamie Stewart)

Click to Tweet: Eight Diverse Movie & TV Roles by Benedict Cumberbatch at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Dl via @Nimpentoad


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Infographic: Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Movies Related to The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books, and I was thinking about the movie version. It struck me that many of the actors in “The Lord of the Rings” also appear in other speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy & horror) movies. Hugo Weaving plays Elrond, but he’s also Agent Smith in “The Matrix”. Christopher Lee plays Saruman, but also appears in “Star Wars” and billions of other movies. You get the idea.

Then I recalled the Six Degrees of Separation theory. So, starting from the Tolkien fan epicenter that is “The Lord of the Rings”, I plotted out how tightly connected by their actors speculative fiction movie are. Below is an infographic that shows an initial answer. I intentionally limited the scope of my inquiry. One could easily expand the network to be more inclusive.

Instructions:
1. Click on the image below to expand the infographic. If it’s still too small, use the View-Zoom In feature of your web browser.
2. Start in the center at “The Lord of the Rings” & “The Hobbit”. Move either right or left to the actor of your choice. Then keep moving horizontally right (or left) to see how these actors link to other speculative fiction movies, and so on.
For example, Karl Urban played Eomer in “The Lord of the Rings”. He was also in “Star Trek”, as was Zoe Saldana. She was in “Avatar”, as was Sam Worthington.  And Sam was in “Clash of the Titans”.

Caveats:
1. I don’t doubt that there are mistakes or omissions. There is no need to email me and remind me of my fallibility. There is no money-back guarantee. Well, since this is free, I guess I can offer a full refund if you’re not fully satisfied.
2. A single asterisk denotes that I couldn’t help myself, and included a few select TV shows. Whatcha gonna do?
3. A double asterisk denotes that I couldn’t help myself, and included a few non-speculative fiction movies. So sue me.
4. As in any network, there can be more than one path to get from one node (movie) to another. I’ve just shown single paths.
5. This infographic is in NO way represented as exhaustive, although creating it was exhausting.
6. If you enjoy it, kindly Retweet (@Nimpentoad) or otherwise share the link with friends you think would appreciate it (or send it to enemies who would not appreciate it, but who you wish to annoy).

Click on the image below to expand it.

LOTRinfographic


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The Nimpentoad authors at San Diego Comic-Con

My fellow Nimpentoad and Twignibble co-authors and I had a great time wandering the Exhibit Hall at the San Diego Comic-Con. Here are a few pictures.

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Nothing starts your day like meeting a zombie from the Plants vs. Zombies game my boys enjoy playing.

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For us older folks, it was a real treat to meet Peter Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn”.

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Here are my co-authors with comic artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

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Here are my co-authors with Katie Cook, who writes “My Little Pony” for IDW Publishing, and has also done licensed illustration work for DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

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Proving again that timing is everything, we just  happened to wander in front of the Badali Jewelry booth, when our friend Cliff Broadway from TheOneRing.net was conducting a Lord of the Rings trivia quiz. Have I mentioned that I am a Lord of the Rings Rainman? It will then come as no surprise that we won the quiz, and left laden with terrific Tolkien booty, much as Bilbo ended his Hobbit adventure riding a pony burdened with treasure. As a bonus, we got to meet the Rice sisters, who write and star in the weekly Happy Hobbit video that is shown on TheOneRing.net.

SDCC_EvangelineLilly

In the foreground, my co-author Harrison. In the background, the smoking hot Evangeline Lilly, who will be appearing in the upcoming (second) Hobbit movie. We also saw Sir Richard Taylor, who heads up Weta, the company that makes props for Peter Jackson’s movies.

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Here my co-authors pose with the largest Domokun I’ve ever seen.

SDCC_Azog

An enormous Azog the Orc in front of the Weta booth was not nearly as welcoming as Domokun…

SDCC_AndrewHuerta

At the IDW Publishing booth, we spoke with several comic book illustrators. As it turned out, fate smiled upon us again. We have a friend Sohaib Awan, who writes the comic JINNRISE. His illustrator, Andrew Huerta, was there and graciously offered to sketch Nimpentoad !

SDCC_NimpByHuerta

Here is the wonderful end result he knocked out in no time flat.


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Interview with TheOneRing.net senior staffer Larry Curtis

Larry Curtis is a Senior Staff member at TheOneRing.net (TORn). TORn is well known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. Larry specializes in live events, news and social media. He was part of a set visit to ‘The Hobbit’ movie filming in 2012, gathering material primarily for the second film which has yet to be published. Although swamped with San Diego Comic-Con preparations, Larry has graciously agreed to answer some questions.

CurtisLarry

What is TORn all about?

TheOneRing.net is and always has been an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization made by fans, for fans, of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is an online community that serves many needs and kind of fan and bridges the gap between the filmmakers who worked on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and now ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy of films. They are a world wide group of staff and fans that does all it can to bring what it can to fans with the resources of fans. They are best known in the mainstream for their Oscar Parties in Hollywood but they have been reporting book and movie news since 1999. They are passionate people collectively serving a passionate community.

What will be TORn’s presence at SDCC?

We have been a presence at San Diego Comic-Con for well over a decade, presenting panels about either ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit’ for most of those years. This year we have a Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. look at ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (the second of three Hobbit films). We aren’t part of the production or the studio so we speculate and discuss leaks and rumors as well as collect the public knowledge in a lively one-hour format. We are also selling shirts at the Weta Workshop booth and the Badali Jewelry booth to help us stay online. Currently our expenses are bigger than our income so a chance like this to sell shirts and make up some financial group is a great for us. We also relish the chance to meet fellow fans face-to-face and bring our online staff (or a small part of it) together in a physical place. It is self-paid vacation for many of us.

Henry: We’ll be at SDCC on July 21, so we will swing by the TORn booth to say hi.

What is it about Tolkien’s children’s book ‘The Hobbit’ that you find so intriguing?

I enjoy the book because of its introduction to Middle-earth, its deft use of an anti-hero and how grand and epic it all gets at the end. A very personable tale of a single Hobbit eventually involves all the key races in Middle-earth and despite the author’s modest and homey beginnings. He manages to leave such an impression of untold grand stories and weaves wonder with mundane world building in a way that leaves me appreciating the book long after I put it down.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from your involvement with TORn?

Simply that contributing to the greater good, as an unselfish team, brings me more pleasure and deeper satisfaction than almost anything I can do.

Henry: I will point out that you have a very Hobbit-like attitude in that regard. 🙂

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been involved with TORn?

There are many, many such experiences. It is almost impossible to overstate how being part of the TORn family has enriched my life with choice experiences. Most important of all are the life long friends I have made with fellow staffers. Those folks are as dear as the friends I have from the other portions of my life. I don’t know for sure what they think of me but I surely love them. The other big answer is my personal exposure to New Zealand, including many people there, has also enriched my life.

Do you have any favorite Tolkien quotes?

The one I think about most often is, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit” and the bits that come after. It is a sentence and opening of such promise and I am shocked to think how he met that promise and then did so much more. It is very famous of course but not a quote as you mean exactly but it is what I think of first. I feel some need to read LOTR again so I have a better answer to this question.

Henry: For the handful of people who have yet to read ‘The Lord of the Rings’, some other quotes include:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

Reading minds would be a useful skill. Flight would be the most fun power I can imagine but in real life it would be hot and cold and dangerous. I think I would take mind reading as a much more subtle but useful ability. Although, it would bring its own problems to be sure.

Henry: I would’ve bet money you would have chosen invisibility. 🙂

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would have Tolkien to be sure, although I suspect he would be intimidating with his knowledge and difficult for me to engage. George R.R. Martin would be my next choice because he understands what Tolkien contributed and I think I need a modern man. Finally, sifting through all the classic authors, it is tempting to bring Shakespeare or Mark Twain or Charles Dickens but I choose Edgar Allen Poe. He might not be amazing in person but picking that brain would surely be something.

Henry: It would be interesting indeed to see what Tolkien would think of Martin’s practice of killing off his characters with wild abandon.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The dragon. It is so universal and so amazing and frightening. I like it best when used lightly, but they seem to be at the very top of the mythical food chain. If not that that Sharktopus.

Henry: LOL. For those of you who haven’t seen the 2010 film Sharktopus (and that would be almost everyone), IMDB tells us, “A half-shark, half-octopus creature created for the military, creates a whole lot of terror in Mexico while a scientist who helped created it tries to capture/kill it.”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read or experience other stories through film. I like video games too, particularly ones with a story to tell.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

He drank life to the lees.

Henry: Ah, a little Tennyson. He may be drinking so much because you didn’t invite him to dinner.

Where can people find out more about TORn?

TheOneRing.net but also our Facebook page and on Twitter. The best way is to dive into the community! And of course, at San Diego Comic-Con.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner


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SDCC cosplay ideas: suits of armor from children’s books and comics

When we consider children’s books and comics, we typically think in terms of interesting characters and compelling stories. So while the focus of children’s books is not on armor, some of the tales taking place in fantasy setting, have armor that plays an important part of the story. After all, The Lord of the Rings tale would have turned out very differently if Frodo had not been wearing mithril armor when he was stabbed by the troll in Moria.

Compiled below are some famous suits of armor from children’s books, comics, and graphic novels. With San Diego Comic-Con just around the bend, these armor choices could serve as inspiration for SDCC cosplay as well.

The Witch King of Angmar

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“The Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien
This guy is Sauron’s right-hand man, er, wraith. If you had any doubts about his alignment, a spiky helmet is always a tipoff that someone works for the dark side. Although you can’t really see it in this photo, his gauntlets and boots are beautifully crafted. Plus, he one-handedly wields a mace the size of a naval mine!

From wikipedia.org:
“The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths), the chief servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. His name is not revealed in any of Tolkien’s writings, nor are the names of any of the other Nazgûl, except Khamûl.”

Thor

thor
“Thor” by Marvel Comics
Here is actor Chris Hemsworth rockin’ Thor’s combination plate and scale armor. I’m not sure why Thor and Loki wear armor, since they appear to be indestructible (recall the beating The Hulk gave Loki in The Avengers movie). And although Edna Mode is not a fan of capes, the red cape really sets off Thor’s armor nicely.

From wikipedia.org:
“Thor is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.

Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on the god Thor of Norse mythology. He has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and has been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in each volume of that series.

The 2011 film Thor, based on the character and comic, was directed by Kenneth Branagh and starred Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Hemsworth reappears as Thor in The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World is set for release in 2013. Thor placed 14th on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.”

Elrond

elrond
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Elrond is one of the senior elves left in Middle-earth, and bearer of one of the three Elven rings of power. As befits an Elf Lord, he is wearing stunningly beautiful armor. The mauve and gold colors are striking, and the gracefully curving lines convey the armor’s elvish provenance.

From wikipedia.org:
“Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion”.
Elrond was Lord of Rivendell, one of the mighty rulers of old that remained in Middle-earth in its Third Age. He was the son of Eärendil and Elwing, and a great-grandson of Lúthien, born in Beleriand in the First Age, making him well over 6,000 years old by the time of the events described in “The Lord of the Rings”. Elrond’s twin brother was Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first High King of Númenor.”

Batman

batman
“Batman” by DC Comics
Flexible black armor that renders you bulletproof! What’s not to like? Plus a utility belt with all kinds of useful gadgets. And a cape that lets Batman glide. Protective, functional, and stylish!

From wikipedia.org:
“Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder.
The first stories appearing in the Batman comic were written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane, though Finger went uncredited for years thereafter. These early stories depicted a vengeful Batman, not hesitant to kill when he saw it as a necessary sacrifice. Although not canonical, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns introduced a significant evolution of the Batman’s character in his eponymous series; he became uncompromising and relentless in his struggle to revitalize Gotham. The Batman often exhibited behavior that Gotham’s elite labeled as excessively violent as well as antisocial tendencies. Miller portrayed him with an anti-heroic and near villainous characterization.”

Iorek Byrnison

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“The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
Three words: Talking. Polar. Bear. In gold plate armor. OK, seven words. Imagine the power and ferocity of a polar bear, encased in the protective embrace of lovingly crafted sky-iron.

From wikipedia.org:
‘Northern Lights’, known as ‘The Golden Compass’ in North America, is a young-adult fantasy novel by Philip Pullman, published by Scholastic UK in 1995. Set in a universe parallel to ours, it features the journey of Lyra Belacqua to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned “uncle”, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as “Dust”. Northern Lights is the first book of a trilogy, ‘His Dark Materials’.

King Iorek Byrnison is a male armored bear (panserbjørner in Norwegian). Like all Panserbjørner, Iorek follows a very strict code of conduct, and will not, in any situation, betray a promise he has made. He possesses incredible strength, and like many of his kind is an expert smith. He is a great friend and comrade to both Lyra Belacqua and Lee Scoresby.

During the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, Iorek Byrnison is found shaping metal for humans in an Arctic port town. These humans had deceived Iorek by giving him spirits, then stole his sky-iron armor while he was intoxicated: this left him no choice but to work for the humans.”

Prince Nuada

princenuada
“Hellboy” by Dark Horse Comics
Admittedly, it is hard to not think about Prince Nuada’s extendable spear and his incredible fighting prowess. But his beautiful leather armor is light and flexible, and therefore better suited to his lightning fast fighting style than would be clumsy plate mail.

From wikipedia.org:
“Hellboy is a fictional character, a comic book superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (Aug. 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and inter-company crossovers. The character has been adapted into two live-action feature films in 2004 and 2008. Prince Nuada was the villain in the latter film.”

Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, appears in the Hellboy II movie. He is the son of the Elf King Balor, and brother to Princess Nuala, with whom he shares a symbiotic yin-yang relationship. He resents the diminishment of the Elf realms to the point of madness. His lust to restore the Elves’ former glory leads him to ruthlessly kills a room full of humans, as well as his father, to obtain two pieces of the magical crown that controls the unstoppable mechanical Golden Army.”

Minotaur

minotaur
“Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
While he is not a named character in the book or movie, this minotaur is sporting some some ornate and evil-looking armor (that’s as it should be, since he’s a minion of the White Witch). Plate armor, combined with steel-tipped horns, immense strength, and feral ferocity make him an opponent to be feared.

From wikipedia.org:
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in “The Chronicles of Narnia” (1950–1956) and it is the best known; among all the author’s books it is the most widely held in libraries.

Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical beings that the White Witch has ruled for one hundred years of deep winter. In the frame story, four English children live in a big old country house during their World War II evacuation from London. In Narnia the siblings seem to fulfill an old prophecy, so they are soon adventuring both to save their lives and to deliver the country.”

Iron Man

ironman
“Iron Man” by DC Comics
Iron Man’s armor not only provides protection, but also enables him to fly, fire offensive weapons, and to receive tactical artificial intelligence. This high tech outfit is literally and figuratively the gold standard in armor.

From wikipedia.org:
“Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).

An American billionaire playboy, industrialist and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his corporation ― Stark Industries ― Tony has created many military weapons, some of which, along with other technological devices of his making, have been integrated into his suit, helping him fight crime.

Warriors Working With Wicked Witch of the West

OzHalbardiers
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Although formidable in her own right, the Wicked Witch of the West has two sets of minions: those delightfully scary flying monkeys and halberd-wielding and ornately uniformed royal guard. Although the bearskin caps and leather jerkins are impressive looking, their protective value is questionable, given three of them are quickly overpowered by the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. Still, they had to be included in this list for the sake of nostalgia, if nothing else.

From wikipedia.org:
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a 1900 children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone.

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American fantasy adventure film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Judy Garland. Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character makeups and special effects in a film up to that time.”

This article is also published in the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.


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Comic-Con 2013 Badge Resale Drawing #SDCC

This just in from the folks at Comic-Con.

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“Comic-Con International is pleased to announce that because of returned/cancelled badges we will once again be able to offer those badges for resale. This year we have also reduced the allotment of reserved badges for certain departments. Comic-Con has decided to add these badges to the resale for our attendees. We currently have several thousand single day badges available for resale, only 3,100 of which are Saturday badges. 4-Day badges are sold out.

Due to the very limited number of badges available and our vendor EPIC Registration being focused on coordinating onsite registration, the Comic-Con 2013 badge resale will be conducted utilizing a random drawing.

To enter the Comic-Con 2013 Resale Drawing, login to your Member ID account now and click the blue notice that says “Click Here to Enter a Drawing to be Eligible for the Comic-Con 2013 Badge Resale!”

The drawing entry period will remain open for 48 hours only, and will close June 12, 2013 at 10:59:59 AM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Late entries will not be accepted.

You must have a valid and confirmed Comic-Con Member ID to enter the drawing.
Anyone who has already registered for or purchased a 4-Day badge (with or without Preview Night) or a single day Saturday badge will not be eligible to enter the drawing.

Those selected to participate in the Comic-Con 2013 badge resale may purchase their own badges, as well as badges for one additional guest. You may purchase for any guest who has a confirmed Member ID (as of June 7, 2013) and does not have a 4-Day badge (with or without Preview Night) or a single day Saturday badge. Your guest does not need to be selected from the drawing pool to be eligible to purchase.

Comic-Con will notify everyone who is selected to participate by email on or before June 17, 2013.”