What’s Happening at Comic-Con and Why It’s Cool
In this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing. Amid the flood of trailers, posters, figurines and murals, it’s worth taking a step back to understand what SDCC is and why it’s so impressive that it even exists.
The SDCC (sometimes simply referred to as Comic-Con ) is a celebration of many different aspects of computer culture. This culture is as diverse as the geeks themselves, but they all share a common thread. There’s a reason you can go to one meeting and see superheroes, wizards, spaceships, and zombies celebrate everyone in one place. Not long ago, fans of any of these didn’t have a place to share those interests. A few decades ago, San Diego Comic-Con helped change that.
Comic-Con started small, bringing different fan groups together
Today, San Diego Comic-Con is a massive convention that attracts the attention of huge companies around the world, but it didn’t start that way. The first Comic-Con of 1970 (then called Minicon ) was attended by only 300 people. It may not have been a mass gathering – especially by today’s standards – but that was enough.
As Comic-Con co-founder Richard Alf noted, the convention grew in its early years through networking with other groups in the computing community. These included the Society for Creative Anachronism , which conducted alternative reconstructions of medieval history, and the Mythopoetic Society , a group dedicated to the study of mythical literary worlds, especially those created by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. While Tolkien, Lewis, and some alternative medieval stories may be household names today, in the 70s they were as niche as they came to be.
The early comics sought to unite these disparate fan groups and allow everyone to advocate for their interests together. Along with similar conventions of the time, such as the Gen Con, focused on board games ( opening 1968 ) and the comic-themed Wizard World Chicago ( opening 1972 ), the SDCC helped show that there is a place for computer culture in the world.
Fan-led and fan-led conventions began to grow at a rapid pace, inspiring countless other fans to create their own events according to their interests. Otakon (launched 1994) is one of the longest running anime conventions in the United States. PAX (launched in 2004) started when the creators of Penny Arcade wanted to host a gamer-only event. Dragon Con (started in 1987) has grown from a science fiction and gaming convention to encompass every corner of computer culture. With each new event, people everywhere had a new home where they could share their interests with like-minded people. Every mega-event today comes from a time when a few nerds got together to have fun with something they loved.
SDCC allows us to come together and share our love for our favorite stories
These days, SDCC bears little resemblance to its humble beginnings. Now, major publishing companies often come to share the latest news on any movie or TV show they are promoting. This year alone, we’ve seen trailers for two new Marvel Netflix shows and some stunning Suicide Squad costume demos. And this is only the first day.
Each year, companies gather in the legendary Hall H to showcase exclusive trailers of their upcoming films. These trailers almost inevitably leak. Last year we did the first previews and footage for Suicide Squad ,X-Men: Apocalypse and Deadpool . Not to mention a new behind-the-scenes trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens , culminating in a stunning free Star Wars concert for 6,000 fans .
These are also just the main points. From insanely crafted action figures, to gorgeous movie sets and costumes , to seeing brand new stories and universes for the first time , Comic-Con is awash with products of amazing and talented people. If you’re an artist who enjoys painting, sculpting, filming videos, creating costumes, creating characters, writing lore, or any other seemingly “niche” craft, it’s hard not to see SDCC as a showcase of where your work could be day.
The release of teasers and trailers also serves a valuable purpose, allowing everyone who can’t come to join the excitement. You may not be able to make an in-person appearance, but everyone can go berserk when the new trailer arrives. There may be over 150,000 people in the SDCC right now, but millions of us can watch together. And if you don’t live near this scam (or want to avoid the hassle of hotels, flights, etc.), you can find other conventions like Dragon Con, New York Comic-Con, or a host of others across the country. Whatever your interests, you can find what suits you.
This convention proves that computer culture is everyone’s culture
SDCC is not the only important agreement. In fact, one might argue that the other fan-centric cons are more fun to attend. I regularly go to the Dragon Con in Atlanta, one of the largest gatherings of computer geeks, and it’s amazing. This means that there are so many people around you who simply understand why you like what you do.
However, there is something very special about SDCC. Other fans are not the only ones joining you here. Businesses do it. Companies come from everywhere to share even the slightest teasing in the hopes of pleasing the fans. Of course they do it for money, but they do it for our money. Not long ago, the culture of botanists was shunned and ridiculed. If you were into comics , figurines, or sci-fi movies , people would laugh at you. Years before Star Wars hit the box office in 1977, the SDCC was already at work convincing people that the nerd culture had something to offer.
It is no longer a “botanical culture”. It’s just pop culture. News sites are rife with coverage of things that used to be niche. Our own partner sites cover all cultural phenomena. Game of Thrones is the largest TV show in history. The Marvel movie universe is the only film franchise ever to make over $ 10 billion. Even indie comics are turning into popular TV shows . These are not things that are kept in tiny groups, and you don’t need to get a special label to like them. Anyone can participate.
That kind of influence matters. Every movie you watch has hundreds of artists. Every superhero you see on screen inspires some young child somewhere ( so representation matters as well ). Every time two people come close because of a story, another wall comes crashing down. In a world where it’s too easy to get angry and fight each other, this is a welcome consolation. It’s easy to cynically dismiss the SDCC as just corporate advertising for films and shows, but that misses the point. The stories, characters and worlds that nerds have loved for years have value, and now everyone can get involved.