Some may dismiss Comic-Con International as a geekfest, but the true fans know that it’s four days of fun when they can meet industry stars and play in a fantasy land, all in downtown San Diego. Packed with events from autograph signings to film screenings to costume competitions, this celebration of popular arts is a behemoth convention.
Despite the convention’s current popularity boom, Comic-Con International has a much deeper history than you might think. When a group of comics, cinema, and science fiction fans—plus roughly 100 attendees—formed the first comic book convention in Southern California in 1970, it was a “minicon” lasting only one day. The El Cortez Hotel served as the show’s original home back then, but it eventually moved to make room for the growing crowds. Since 1991, it has been held in the San Diego Convention Center.
In the realm of comics conventions, Comic-Con has grown to be the center of attention. The event continues to provide the full convention experience: a huge Exhibit Hall (topping over 460,000 square feet in its current incarnation); a colossal programming schedule (close to 700 separate events in 2014), featuring comics and all aspects of the popular arts, including interactive workshops and educational and academic programming like the Comics Arts Conference; anime and film screenings (including a separate film festival); games; the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the “Oscars” of the comics industry; a Masquerade costume competition with prizes and trophies; an Autograph Area; an Art Show; and Portfolio Reviews, bringing together aspiring artists with major companies.
Over the years, Comic-Con has hosted literally thousands of special guests, bringing together comics creators, science fiction and fantasy authors, film and television directors, producers, and writers, and creators from all aspects of the popular arts with their fans for a fun and sometimes candid discussion of various art forms. Over the years, the Exhibit Hall has hosted a diverse range of comics and book publishers. Comic-Con International has been presenting comic books and comic art to a growing audience for over four and a half decades. That love of the comics medium remains its guiding factor as the event enters its second half-century as the world’s premier comic book and popular arts style convention.