San Diego Comic-Con International
|Comic-Con International: San Diego|
|Venue||San Diego Convention Center (Main Venue)
Various locations around Downtown San Diego.
|Location(s)||San Diego, California|
|Attendance||Around 130,000 in 2010|
|Organized by||Comic-Con International|
San Diego Comic-Con International is a multigenre entertainment and comic convention held annually in San Diego, California. It was founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970 by a group of San Diegans, which included Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger and Mike Towry; later, it was called the "San Diego Comic Book Convention". The name, as given on its website, is Comic-Con International: San Diego; but it is commonly known simply as Comic-Con or the San Diego Comic-Con or "SDCC". It is a four-day event (Thursday-Sunday) held during the summer at the San Diego Convention Center in southern California. On the Wednesday evening prior to the official opening of the event, there is a preview for professionals, exhibitors, and select guests pre-registered for all four days.
Comic-Con International also produces two other conventions, WonderCon, held in Anaheim, California, and the Alternative Press Expo (APE), held in San Francisco. Since 1974, Comic-Con has bestowed its annual Inkpot Award on guests and persons of interest in the Popular Arts industries, as well as on members of Comic-Con's Board of Directors and the Convention Committee. It is also the home of the Will Eisner Awards.
Originally showcasing primarily comic books and science fiction/fantasy related film, television, and similar popular arts, the convention now includes a larger range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels. According to Forbes, the convention is the "largest convention of its kind in the world"; it is also the largest convention held in San Diego. In 2010, it filled the San Diego Convention Center to capacity with more than 130,000 attendees.
History and organization
The convention was founded in 1970 by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, Mike Towry, and Greg Bear. Detroit, Michigan-born comics fan Shel Dorf, had in the mid-1960s mounted the Detroit Triple-Fan Fairs, one of the first commercial comics-fan conventions. When he moved to San Diego, California in 1970, he organized a one-day convention (Golden State Comic-Minicon) on March 21, 1970 "as a kind of 'dry run' for the larger convention he hoped to stage." Dorf went on to be associated with the convention as president or manager, variously, for years until becoming estranged from the organization. Alf co-chaired the first convention with Krueger and became chairman in 1971.
Following the initial gathering, Dorf's first three-day San Diego comics convention, the Golden State Comic-Con, drew 300 people and was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel from August 1–3, 1970. Other locations in the convention's early years included the El Cortez Hotel, the University of California, San Diego, and Golden Hall, before being moved to the San Diego Convention Center in 1991. Richard Alf, chairman in 1971, has noted an early factor in the Con's growth was an effort "to expand the Comic-Con [organizing] committee base by networking with other fandoms such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Mythopoeic Society, among others. (We found a lot of talent and strength through diversity)." By the late 1970s the show had grown to such an extent that Bob Schreck recalled visiting with his then-boss Gary Berman of Creation Conventions and reflecting, "While [Berman] kept repeating (attempting to convince himself) 'This show's not any bigger than ours!' I was quietly walking the floor stunned and in awe of just how much bigger it really was. I was blown away."
The convention is organized by a panel of 13 board members, 16 to 20 full-time and part-time workers, and 80 volunteers who assist via committees. Comic Con International is a non-profit organization, and proceeds of the event go to funding it, as well as the Alternative Press Expo (APE) and WonderCon. The convention logo was designed by Richard Bruning and Josh Beatman in 1995. In September 2010, the convention announced that it would stay in San Diego through 2015.
Along with panels, seminars, and workshops with comic book professionals, there are previews of upcoming feature films, and portfolio review sessions with top comic book and video game companies. The evenings include events such as awards ceremonies, the annual Masquerade costume contest, and the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, which showcases shorts and feature length movies that do not have distribution or distribution deals.
Traditional events include an eclectic film program, screening rooms devoted to Japanese animation, gaming, programs such as cartoonist Scott Shaw!'s "Oddball Comics" slide show and animation expert Jerry Beck's program featuring TV's "worst cartoons ever", as well as over 350 hours of other programming on all aspects of comic books and pop culture.
Like most comic-book conventions, Comic-Con features a large floorspace for exhibitors. These include media companies such as movie studios and TV networks, as well as comic-book dealers and collectibles merchants. And like most comics conventions, Comic-Con includes an autograph area, as well as the Artists' Alley where comics artists can sign autographs and sell or do free sketches. Despite the name, artists' alleys can include writers and even models.
Academics and comic industry professionals annually hold the Comics Arts Conference at Comic-Con, presenting scholarly studies on comics as a medium.
In recent years, the number of television shows that are promoted far outnumber films. During the 2011 convention, at least 80 TV shows were represented, compared to about 35 films. The shows not only promote in the exhibit halls, but also use screenings and panels of various actors, writers, producers, and others from their shows.
While many animated shows are represented, a high number of non-animated shows are also promoted by studios and the networks. Examples of the wide variety of TV shows recently promoted include Bones, Burn Notice, Castle, Chuck, Grimm, MythBusters, Nikita, Once Upon a Time, Psych, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, and The Vampire Diaries. Sci-fi TV shows are also there, such as Being Human, EUReKA, Fringe, Lost Girl, Sanctuary, Torchwood, Doctor Who and Warehouse 13, but HBO and Showtime are also big attractions with shows like Dexter, Shameless and True Blood.
In 2013, there were 1075 total panels held during the convention, the plurality of which were anime-focused (29%), followed by comic-focused panels (26%). 1036 vendors participated in the convention in 2013.
There are at least 17 separate rooms in the Convention Center used for panels and screenings, ranging in size from 280 seats to 6,100 seats. The two biggest are Ballroom 20, which seats approximately 4,900; and Hall H, which seats just over 6,100.
The neighboring Hilton Bayfront is also used, with its main ballroom (Indigo) seating up to 2,600. The other neighboring hotel, the Marriott Marquis & Marina, also hosts a lot of Comic-Con activity. Among other things, the hotel serves as the anime headquarters and is where the nighttime films are shown.
In the 21st century, the convention has drawn toy and collectibles designers who sell "Comic-Con Exclusive" products. Such companies have included LEGO, Hasbro, Gentle Giant LTD, Mattel, National Entertainment Collectibles Association, ThinkGeek, and Sideshow Collectibles. Most such exclusives are licensed properties of movie, comic book, and animation characters.
In the media
Comic-Con International has served as the setting for Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie, and for an episode of the HBO television series Entourage, the latter of which, while set at the event, was not filmed there. Comic-Con also served as an excuse for the fictional characters Seth Cohen and Ryan Atwood's trip to Tijuana, Mexico in the first season of TV series The O.C. The convention also featured prominently as a setting for the Numb3rs episode "Graphic". In Season 4 of Beauty and the Geek, an episode was featured where the contestants traveled to Comic-Con 07 and were given a challenge to create their own superheroes. In an episode of Punk'd, Hilary Swank gets Punk'd after an "attack from talking robot". In Season 5, episode six, of the Showtime show Weeds, attendees from Comic-Con 2009 are seen in Silas and Doug's medicinal marijuana club.
It was reported that a mock-up of the external area near Hall D of the Convention Center depicting Comic-Con would be shown in the movie Paul which stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Issue No. 72 of The Invincible Iron Man (1974) was set at the July–August 1974 Comic-Con at the El Cortez Hotel, and featured cameos by a few of the special guests.
Comic-Con is mentioned in the CBS television show The Big Bang Theory in several episodes, and in NBC's Chuck in the episode "Chuck Versus the Sandworm", as an event the characters enjoy attending. On the Futurama episode "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences", the main characters attend the 3010 convention (with it being referred to as "Comic-Con Intergalactic" and the iconic eye logo now sporting multiple eyes), where Fry looks for approval for his own comic while Bender attends a panel from Matt Groening (creator of Futurama as well as The Simpsons) on his new show "Futurella" (a twist on the title of the show and a parody of its cancellation by Fox).
In "It's My Party and I'll Bang If I Want To", an episode of the 2011 season of The Real World: San Diego, the cast attends Comic-Con made up as zombies in order to pass out promotional flyers for the House of Blues, where they worked as part of their season work assignment. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock released a 2011 documentary feature film set at the convention, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. Writer Robert Salkowitz also used the 2011 Comic-Con as a backdrop for his book Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, an analysis of the comics industry's 21st-century dilemmas and what the future may hold.
Locations and dates
|This section is missing information about panelists and exhibitors. (November 2009)|
Comic-Con Magazine, formerly known as Update, is the official magazine of San Diego Comic-Con International, WonderCon, and Alternative Press Expo, published free by San Diego Comic-Con International in the United States. The origins of the Comic-Con Magazine come from a short one-shot issue of The Spirit, based on Comic-Con, and sold exclusively in 1976 at the San Diego Comic-Con International. The Comic-Con Magazine debuted as Update in July 2005 and mainly focused on the winners of the Eisner Awards. The last Update issue was on July 2008 and went on hiatus. Update came back as Comic-Con Magazine, which not only covered San Diego Comic-Con International, but also WonderCon and the Alternative Press Expo, more commonly known as APE. The new Comic-Con Magazine features interviews with Comic-Con attendees and complete coverage of the Comic-Con events. The fourth issue of Comic-Con Magazine will be a hybrid with Comic-Con's Souvenir Book with cover art by Alex Ross, in full color and exclusive to Comic-Con attendees.
Capacity attendance at Comic-Con in 2006 and 2007 has caused crowding issues. Concerns have been raised that the event is possibly too massive for the San Diego Convention Center, Comic-Con's home through at least 2015. In 2006, Comic-Con, for the first time, had to close registration for a few hours on Saturday to accommodate crowds. In response, for 2007, Comic-Con introduced a new three-day membership that did not include Saturday. Nevertheless, the 2007 show went on to sell out Saturday, as well as Friday and Sunday for the first time. Additionally, both the four-day and three-day memberships sold out for the first time. For 2008, the three-day memberships were abandoned and the convention decided to sell memberships only in advance, with no on-site registration. In 2008, all memberships were sold out before the convention for the first time ever. This sellout has given rise to the new phenomenon of Comic-Con memberships being scalped for exorbitant prices on websites such as eBay and Craigslist.
In April 2008, David Glanzer, Comic-Con's director of marketing and public relations, commented on the organization's desire to remain in San Diego:
We've been approached by other cities, [but] I don't think anybody wants to leave San Diego. I certainly don't. It's a perfect fit for us. It's expensive, whether it be paying for the street signs that tell you what streets are closed, or for any police or the hall or any of the myriad things, it's expensive. But it's a great city. There's been some talk of expansion of the center, which we would certainly welcome. Hopefully if everything lines up, we will be here for many more years.
Heidi McDonald reported on her blog The Beat as of October 7, 2009 Preview Night for the 2010 show has already sold out. Glazner explained the early sell-out:
For 2010 the decision was made to offer an option (of whether they wanted to attend Preview Night) to those who pre-registered for four-day badges. We limited the number of badges for Preview Night to the number of those who attended in 2008.
Mark Evanier on his blog News from ME noted as of November 9, 2009 all 4-day passes for the 2010 show had already been sold out. On February 23, 2010, The Orange County Register reported that the larger Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim would be making a bid to become the new home of Comic-Con starting in 2013. On September 30, 2010 Comic Con announced that they have extended their stay up to 2015. The North County Times reported on July 26, 2010 that 4-day passes with access to Preview night for the 2011 Convention sold out two hours before the 2010 convention closed. Comic-Con International announced that 4-day passes for the 2014 convention (July 24–27) would no longer be available and only single days would be sold. Due to overcrowding organizers of the event capped attendance; this cap has been in place since 2007.
As of October 2013, a $520 million proposed expansion to the San Diego Convention Center received approval from the California Coastal Commission. The proposed expansion will increase the available space within the convention center and has a target completion date of early 2016. The expansion will add approximately 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, an additional 35%; and a brand-new 80,000 square foot ballroom, which will be 20% larger than Hall H. The plan also adds a second tower to the Hilton Bayfront hotel, adding 500 rooms adjacent to the Convention Center. Due to the proposed expansion of the convention center, Comic Con extended its contract for San Diego to 2016.
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- "FREE magazine gives you valuable information" (SHTML). San Diego Comic-Con International. Retrieved February 3, 2009. "[...] the new official publication of the San Diego Comic-Con International, WonderCon, and APE, the Alternative Press Expo [...] Comic-Con Magazine will still contain the elements that made the Update the official preview of all the Comic-Con events [...] We will continue showcasing exclusive interviews with special guests from all three of our shows [...]"
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- San Diego Comic-Con – Frequently Asked Questions
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