Every summer, comic book fans and professionals alike gather in San Diego for Comic-Con International, a four-day comic book and pop culture trade show. One of the largest fan conventions in the world, the San Diego Comic-Con is known internationally as a major event for industry networking.
The first San Diego Comic-Con was held in 1970 in the basement of the U.S. Grant hotel and drew an estimated 300 people. "The Con" later took place at the El Cortez hotel, before eventually moving to the San Diego Convention Center, where it is held today. At the time this article was written, Comic-Con 2006 recently took the cake as the largest San Diego Comic-Con ever, boasting an attendance of over 100,000 people.
In its early years, Comic-Con was merely known as an event for die-hard comic book fans and those in the comics industry. However, over the years, it has branched out to include all kinds of pop-culture phenomena, from independent film to fantasy artwork. Comic-Con now features panels, seminars and workshops with industry professionals, as well as an independent film festival and previews of upcoming studio films.
For fans of comic books and other fringe-culture artwork and literature, Comic-Con is a great place to connect with celebrities. In the "artists' alley" section of the con, fans can meet favorite artists and writers and get autographs or on-the-spot sketches. In addition, fans and professionals can enjoy themselves during the evening at numerous industry parties, awards ceremonies and the world-famous Masquerade Ball.
Fans wishing to attend Comic-Con can purchase either a full four-day pass or a one-day pass. While the badge is good for all daytime events, it is still important to arrive early, as badges do not guarantee attendance should the convention center fill up. In addition, exhibitor and professional badges are available for purchase by retailers and industry members, as well as press badges for members of the media.
Since its meager beginnings in 1970, San Diego Comic-Con International has become increasingly popular, solidifying San Diego's spot on the map as a major hub for cultural and artistic expansion. Although the San Diego Comic-Con is the largest convention of its type in the nation, there are other cons worth checking out for devoted fans. Well-known and successful conventions also take place in Boston, New York, and Baltimore, to name a few.