San Diego Comic-Con celebrated its 50th anniversary in July 2019. This event, which attracts tens of thousands of people to San Diego every single year, can trace its roots back to March 21, 1970. At that time, a small group of teenagers who loved all things comic books, including graphic novels and toys, created a one-day event known as Mini-Con. They held this event at the US Grand Hotel in downtown San Diego.
The event, which attracted over 300 fans, was considered to be successful enough that it merited a bigger version of the original event that was scheduled later on in the summer. Fans arrived to discuss, debate, and review everything related to science fiction, graphic novels, and fantasy. At that second event, two major sci-fi and graphic novel players were invited. These were Ray Bradbury and Jack Kirby. They dubbed the second event the San Diego Golden State Comic-Con. Just a few years later, the name of the event was shortened to the more stylish San Diego Comic-Con.
The festival is still going strong and it has broken the stereotype of catering only to “nerds and geeks”. Every week of this landmark event brings hundreds of thousands of people to San Diego. During the festival, you will walk around the streets and be greeted by individuals dressed as some of the most popular superheroes and a number of lesser-known niche superheroes and fantasy characters. It is not uncommon to see people dressed as their own unique take on their favorite hero or a mix and match between different superheroes and fantasy characters.
The early 2000s took the revolutionary superhero fest related to a new level with the introduction of modern comic book movies. The Spider-Man trilogy and the Batman trilogy, the latter of which was pioneered by Christopher Nolan, led to a resurgence of interest in all things superhero related.
Things jumped to yet another level in the late 2000s when Marvel began its cinematic universe. Starting with Iron Man and continuing on through the conclusion of the Avengers movies, fanaticism with superhero storylines has grown, and this has impacted the interest people have in the annual festival.
This is something that the numbers show. In the early 2000’s, when those first superhero blockbusters came out, attendance at the jamboree went from 45,000 a year to over 135,000 unique attendees. Since the event in San Diego was so successful, fans created similar events around the world. Now, comic book, fantasy, or sci-fi related conventions have a major financial impact on host cities, contributing billions of dollars to the economy every single year.
A San Diego Event That Has Stayed True to Its Roots
With all the spin-off conventions, nothing has reached the stature of the event in San Diego. Since its inception the mission of this convention was to promote comics and the popular arts. Even though this cultural fair is now home to the most popular actors in the world and is based in the media industry hype, it has never deviated from that initial mission.
When you look at the number of attendees over the past few years, you can see that the explosive boom that happened through the 2000s has settled off. Now, there is a predictable level of fans who attend. Still, this joyful event is a place that allows sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book lovers to meet together, trade items, buy and sell new memorabilia, and discuss comics with other same minded individuals. San Diego is scheduled to be the home of Comic-Con all the way through 2024.
With an event this popular, it can be difficult to book lodging. Hotels are usually full to the max. Some visitors who want to make a vacation out of the event stay in San Diego mansions for rent at luxuryretreats.com to get the most out of the experience.
What Has Kept the festival in San Diego so Popular?
Many organizations have striven to attain what this pageant has done over the past half of a century. When you look at the individuals who gather for these events, it’s clear to see why this happy ritual has kept going strong for so long. It is all about the community.
When you talk to individuals who visited the first set of events back in the 70s and when you talk to those who show up for each and every event during the week-long festival, you see a similar thread. You find people who have a love for science fiction and fantasy and who feel like they have found their tribe. This festival brings out the nerd in anyone and it’s worth celebrating. Talking about the details of your favorite science fiction or fantasy story, coming up with fan theories, and communicating with each other using secret phrases or languages that the rest of the world may not know is not considered weird. They consider it a rite of passage. Many people say that when they are at Comic-Con, they feel like they have found their tribe.
Back in the 70s, a person who enjoyed watching cartoons or reading strips from graphic novels over the age of 11 was considered to be weird. Things have changed. A love for comic books, cartoons, and science fiction is just considered normal for adults today. Back then that convention served as a chance for people to get together and just be normal for a few days out of the year.
An Event That Has Garnered the Media’s Attention
It is interesting to see how the mainstream media has changed its opinion of this carnival over the years. It went from being a collection of geeks and nerds to becoming the most-attend event for Blockbuster entertainment producers. Every year different studios go to this gala to show off the movies they are producing and to generate enthusiasm in the fan base. The reactions these studios receive when they present their wares in Hall H give studios a good sign of how their movies will be viewed by the fan base.
With all of its success, it’s understandable that people are interested in learning what is next for this fiesta in San Diego. Will the show continue to make giant leaps forward as it has done in preceding decades by growing in capacity and including more studios and creators in their list of famed guests? This is something only the future can tell. What is sure is that for the foreseeable future San Diego Comic-Con will continue to be an event that draws large crowds, stirs the imagination, and serves as a home for lovers of sci-fi, fantasy, and superheroes the world over.