San Diego Comic-Con
|San Diego Comic-Con International|
San Diego Convention Center (main)|
Downtown San Diego (various)
|Location(s)||San Diego, California|
|Inaugurated||March 21, 1970(as Golden State Comic Book Convention)|
|Attendance||Around 167,000 in 2015 |
|Organized by||Comic-Con International|
San Diego Comic-Con International is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention held annually in San Diego, California, United States. 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 was founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970 by a group of San Diegans that included Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, and Mike Towry; later, it was called the "San Diego Comic Book Convention". It is a four-day event (Thursday–Sunday) held during the summer (in July since 2003) at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego. On the Wednesday evening prior to the official opening, professionals, exhibitors, and pre-registered guests for all four days can attend a pre-event "Preview Night" to give attendees the opportunity to walk the exhibit hall and see what will be available during the convention.
Comic-Con International also produces two other conventions, WonderCon, held in Anaheim, 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 has since included 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. In 2010 and each year subsequently, it filled the San Diego Convention Center to capacity with more than 130,000 attendees. In addition to drawing huge crowds, the event holds several Guinness World Records including the largest annual comic and pop culture festival in the world.
History and organization
The convention was founded in 1970 by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, Mike Towry, Barry Alfonso, Bob Sourk, 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)." In a Rolling Stone article about the origins of Comic-Con, it noted the work of Krueger, who handled early business matters, and worked to get the event to be organized by a non-profit organization. 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."
According to Forbes, the convention is the "largest convention of its kind in the world;" Publishers Weekly wrote "Comic-Con International: San Diego is the largest show in North America;" it is also the largest convention held in San Diego. The convention has an estimated annual regional economic impact of more than $140 million. Yet, in 2009, the estimated economic impact was criticized for allegedly negatively impacting seasonal businesses outside of Comic-Con, low individual spending estimates of attendees, that a large number of attendees live in San Diego, and that the convention was more of a cultural rather than a financial.
In 2011, the estimated economic impact of that year's convention was $180 million. In 2014, the estimated impact of that year's convention was $177.8 million. In 2016, the estimated impact of that year's convention was down to $150 million. By 2018, San Diego Comic-Con saw increasing competition from other comic conventions in places such as New York City, and Washington, D.C., which caused it to compete for attendees and companies time and budget; yet San Diego Comic-Con was described by Publishers Weekly as "a must-do".
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 2015, working with Lionsgate, a video channel was created to host Comic-Con related content. In 2015, through a limited liability company, Comic-Con International purchased three buildings in Barrio Logan. In 2018 Comic-Con International purchased a 29,000-square-foot (2,700 m2) office in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood.
In 2017, the organization acquired a lease to the Federal Building in Balboa Park, originally built for the California Pacific International Exposition and previously occupied by the San Diego Hall of Champions, with the intention of opening a Comic-Con Museum. By October 2017, the organization began to hire staff for the museum. Nearly a year after acquiring the lease, the museum was not yet open. During the 2018 Comic-Con International, one reason stated for why the museum had not yet opened was the need for additional funds. Organizers are hoping to raise $25 million with a target opening date of late 2020 or 2021.
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.
Examples of the wide variety of TV shows recently promoted include Arrowverse shows, Being Human, Bones, Burn Notice, Castle, Chuck, Grimm, MythBusters, Nikita, Once Upon a Time, Psych, Rick and Morty, Supernatural, Teen Wolf, The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Lost Girl, Sanctuary, Torchwood/ Doctor Who, and Warehouse 13.
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, Funko, Gentle Giant LTD, Mattel, NECA, ThinkGeek, Sideshow Collectibles, Entertainment Earth, Bif Bang Pow!, Mezco, Toynami, and Kotobukiya. 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 episode 7 ("The Escape") of 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.
Comic-Con featured at some length in the 2011 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
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 seed of the Comic-Con Magazine was 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 appeared in July 2008; then it went on hiatus. When it came back, it was 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 was a hybrid with Comic-Con's Souvenir Book with cover art by Alex Ross, in full color and exclusive to Comic-Con attendees.
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A large number of exhibitors from art, comics, games, film, TV, and publishing are at Comic-Con.
There are three type of exhibitors at San Diego Comic Con. Inside the convention center, which requires a badge to visit during the convention, includes artists alley and the main exhibitor hall. Artist Alley is for up and coming artists who are new to the pop culture world by selling their new books, comics, toys, and or services. They range from local companies and businesses in Southern California to international ones, but are manly private endeavors. Artist Alley is usually located in Hall G of the convention center. Spaces for these exhibitors are highly sought after and are on a lottery and need based system.
The main exhibit hall, which includes larger well-recognized companies, takes up halls F through A. These companies sell or promote new and up comping movies, television shows, and video games as well as featuring toys and exclusives with many selling for hundreds or even thousands on the secondary markets outside the convention. Some notable recurring companies include Lego, Hasbro, Funko, Hallmark Cards, Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, 21st Century Fox, and Blizzard Entertainment.
The other type of exhibitors include offsite exhibitors, booths and events which are located outside the convention center. These locations are usually within walking distance of the convention center but have been moving into nearby parks in recent years. Some notable examples include Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego, Petco Park, and Children's Park (San Diego). In recent years, these offsite events have no connection to SDCC. In the past, most sites have not required a comic con badge. In 2017, one example was a virtual reality and immersive set based on the move Blade Runner 2049. In 2018, these examples included a Taco Bell Demolition Man themed pop-up restaurant in the Gaslamp; and a Shake Shack Bob's Burgers themed pop-up restaurant in Mission Valley. However, there are some official offsite events that require a badge. In 2018, it was estimated that nearly 200,000 people will be in Downtown San Diego due to Comic-Con related exhibits and events.
Capacity attendance at Comic-Con in 2006 and 2007 has caused crowding issues. Concerns have been raised that the event is possibly too large for the San Diego Convention Center, Comic-Con's home through at least 2021. 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. 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 had 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, that 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 had 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 had 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 would increase the available space within the convention center and had a target completion date of early 2016. The expansion would add approximately 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, an additional 35%; and a brand-new 80,000 square foot ballroom, 20% larger than Hall H. The plan would also add 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. In 2014, convention center expansion was halted due to a lawsuit. As of July 2015, convention center expansion is effectively frozen, partly because the city no longer has financing lined up for it (any financing plan would involve taxpayer money and would have to be approved by a public vote), and partly because the city lost the rights to the only contiguous parcel of land where expansion could occur. Other cities, including Los Angeles, began to seek to have Comic-Con move out of San Diego; In 2015, Comic-Con entered into negotiations with San Diego. As a result of these negotiations, Comic-Con entered into a contract to stay in San Diego through 2018. In 2017 the commitment to San Diego was extended to 2021.
Accidents and incidents
In 2010, a 53-year-old woman crossing at a red light was hit by a car and killed in the days leading up to the convention.
In 2013, a young woman attempted to jump off the balcony of a local high-rise, but nearby stuntmen prevented it.
In 2014, multiple pedestrians marching in Comic-Con's ZombieWalk were struck by a car forcing its way through an intersection. A 64-year-old woman sustained serious injuries to her arm; two others had minor injuries.
The same year, a teenage cosplayer was initially thought to have been sexually assaulted early Sunday morning, and a suspect was arrested on Sunday at the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina. Police later stated that the teenage girl was injured in a fall; the arrested individual was released without any charges.
In 2014, San Diego Comic-Con sent a cease and desist order to the organizers Salt Lake Comic Con, asserting that "Comic-Con" and "Comic-Con International" were registered trademarks of the convention, and that use of the term "comic con" in any form was trademark infringement as it implies an unauthorized association with San Diego Comic Con. A U.S. court ruled in favor of San Diego Comic-Con and awarded $20,000 in damages (albeit not considering the infringement to be willful). Phoenix Comiccon changed its name to Phoenix Comic Fest as a proactive move to avoid possible legal issues in the wake of this ruling. They then filed a motion in an Arizona Federal Court to strike down San Diego Comic Convention's trademark In 2017, the Salt Lake Comic Con changed its name to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention (or just FanX). On January 16, 2018, Salt Lake Comic Con filed a motion for a new trial.
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The Anime rooms move back to the Convention Center for 2015! Now located on the Mezzanine level in rooms 16AB, 17A, and 17B, Comic-Con once again offers 3 big rooms devoted to Anime screenings all weekend long!
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Anime moves out of the Convention Center and gains an additional room!
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[...] 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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[...] produced by the folks who run the San Diego Comic-Con, it's little sister show WonderCon and APE, the Alternative Press Expo. This new publication, Comic-Con Magazine, is the evolved version of Update [...] there is a pretty in-depth preview of this year's San Diego Comic-Con [...] a Comic-Con A to Z Guide and Interviews with actual Comic-Con attendees.
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[...] Alex Ross' cover for our 2008 Souvenir Book [...] The big news this year is that the Souvenir Book is switching to FULL COLOR [...]
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People who want to attend Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday will have to purchase a badge for each day
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"As you know because of limited space at the San Diego Convention Center we have had to cap attendance for the last few years," organizers said in their e-mail.
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Comic-Con reached a self-imposed attendance limit at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) in 2007 and has had to cap attendance at approximately 125,000 people each year since.
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The woman was in a crosswalk and had a red light when she tried to run across Harbor Drive toward the convention center about 9:20 a.m., said police Sgt. Ron Glass.
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- San Diego Comic Convention Souvenir Book 1994 (offline)
- The "Secret Origin" of San Diego's Comic-Con International
- San Diego Comic-Con – Frequently Asked Questions
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