What started as an industry convention for graphic novelists, artists and fans has grown into one of the three biggest trade show style conventions in the world. Comic-Con San Diego, also called SDCC, set the standard for all other gatherings of this type around the world. Other cities throughout the US now hold their own Comic-Cons throughout the year but the original and the most well attended is still the original in San Diego. Comic-Con is always held in the summer. The last few years tickets for SDCC have sold out in a matter of minutes. The San Diego Visitors Bureau has said that Comic-Con, on average, brings over 160 million dollars to the city in just four days. But Comic-Con wasn’t always such a huge attraction.
Comic-Con was started in 1970 by Shel Derf, a huge comic and graphic novel fan, along with other fans and graphic novel creators, artists and writers. It started as an industry specific convention that gave collectors of comics and memorabilia the chance to meet and to buy and sell their collectibles. It was also a chance for fans to meet the artists who created the works they loved as well a chance for the artists and writers to network, sell their work, and attend panels and seminar that could enhance their work. Over the years Comic-Con grew steadily but still was largely under the radar. Only 300 people attended the first Comic-Con, which was only three days long. The founders of SDCC began to reach out to other genres and include other groups in the convention as the years went by. They began to include science fiction/fantasy authors and the staff and stars of science fiction TV shows and movies. Once they started including other genres and groups the SDCC began to take off as more and more marginalized groups joined in. When video games became more accessible and wildly popular Comic-Con embraced the fans, designers, and creators of video games and launched the convention into mainstream popularity. What really put the SDCC over the top in terms of popularity though is the fans. Fans of popular comics, science fiction movies and TV, video games, animation and many related subgroups compete with each other to create often stunning costumes to wear to Comic-Con every year. Fans roam the convention space in costume and attend workshops and panels where they can interact one on one with the writers, directors and stars who are putting out the content they love. The highlight of the convention is always the Masquerade Ball and costume contest, which people prepare for all year.
When movies and TV based on science fiction and graphic novels became a gold mine for Hollywood major studios started to realize the value of sending stars and other staff to Comic-Con every year which drew even more fans. The studios, gaming companies, and artists who attend Comic-Con get valuable feedback directly from the people who are buying the products, collectibles and art they put out and the fans get the chance to meet their heroes, add to their collections, dress up and party with other fans like themselves and get exclusive looks at new games, movies, books and other art.