Comic-Con San Diego currently attracts more than 130,000 attendees every year. The event is also expected to raise more than $82 million in revenue. In this article, we look at Comic-Con, which celebrates its 50th year in San Diego this year.
What is Comic-Con?
Comic-Con has evolved from a simple comic book convention to a celebration of popular culture. The world’s first organized comic book convention took place in New York City in 1964. The low-budget event attracted an audience of just 100 people, but it sparked interest in the comic book industry.
This led to an explosion in growth and popularity decades later. From these small beginnings, convention circuits snowballed over the decades. Today, organizers stage comic conventions in every state and every major city, both within the United States and around the world.
Comic-Con conventions enable fans to walk in the shoes of their favorite superheroes, rubbing shoulders with creators and celebrities alike. They are a safe haven for people who revel in being different. From San Diego’s Golden State Mini-Con in 1970 to the renowned event we see today, Comic-Con unites peoples from all walks of life in their shared interest in comic characters and popular culture.
When and where does Comic-Con San Diego take place?
The four-day, non-profit event takes place at the San Diego Conference Centre, with satellite venues across the city that include local outdoor parks and hotels. A vast Exhibit Hall covering more than 460,000 square feet hosts comic book collections, workshops, film and anime screenings, games, an autograph area, and art shows.
Comic-Con presents thousands of special guests every year, making it the forerunning comic book convention in the world. San Diego Comic-Con attracts more than 130,000 visitors from across America and beyond, in the world’s biggest celebration of popular culture.
The event has grown significantly over the decades. Today it is staged at various satellite locations throughout Downtown San Diego, as well as at the renowned San Diego Convention Center. In 2019, this non-profit event takes place between July 18-21, with a preview night staged at the Convention Center on July 17.
Due to the event’s immense popularity, obtaining a Comic-Con badge can be challenging. The organizers post specific details on the Comic-Con website in the lead-up to the event, detailing program schedules and locations and providing maps, along with an online version Comic-Con International’s Quick Guide publication.
What programming is available at Comic-Con?
In 2014, there were over 700 different events. There is something for every fandom. Guests can attend workshops, academic programming, film screenings, award ceremonies, and masquerade costume competitions known as “cosplay.”
Some people attend to obtain autographs from their favorite celebrities. Others are interested in the opportunity to play the latest video games or desktop role-playing games. Still others are interested in the sprawling vendor area, where artwork and books are on sale, among many other items.
What awards are held at Comic-Con?
The Eisner Awards are considered by many to be the Oscars of the comic book world. Named after Will Eisner, pioneer of graphic novels and creator of The Spirit, the Eisner Awards cover more than 24 categories.
The first Eisner Award Ceremony took place in 1988. It was administrated by Dave Albrich, an employee of Fantagraphics. Comic-Con took over the awards in 1991, with Jackie Estrada appointed the new administrator.
Categories include Best Writer, Best Short Story, Best Continuing Series and Best Publication for Teens. Today, the Eisner Awards are held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
In 2005, San Diego Comic-Con staged its inaugural International Independent Film Festival. This four-day film festival celebrates genre-related short films in a range of categories, including documentaries and humor as well as horror, action, and adventure. The winners are decided by a panel of judges comprised of luminaries from popular arts and film.
Which celebrities have attended past Comic-Cons?
In 2018, celebrity guests from the realm of television included: Seth McFarlane, Alex Sulkin, Alex Borstein and Seth Green representing American Dad and Family Guy; Simpsons creator, Matt Groening; Sean Teale, Emma Dumont and Blair Redford representing The Gifted; and Misha Collins and Jared Padalecki of Supernatural fame.
Guests who are more well-known for their film appearances included: Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, and Jason Momoa representing Aquaman; Chris Pratt, Stephanie Beattriz and Elizabeth Banks representing The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; Karan Soni for Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds representing Deadpool 2; as well as actors Joe Manganiello, Wesley Snipes, Jude Law, Jake Johnson, and Eddie Redmayne, among many others.
The full program schedule and guest list is updated continually before the event, with more information being announced closer to the show. However, a variety of editors, writers, artists, and actors generally attend.