Some may dismiss Comic-Con International as a geekfest, but the true fans know that it’s four days of fun when they can meet industry stars and play in a fantasy land, all in downtown San Diego. Packed with events from autograph signings to film screenings to costume competitions, this celebration of popular arts is a behemoth convention.
Despite the event’s recent surge in popularity, Comic-Con International has roots that go back longer than you may think. The convention began in 1970 as a “minicon” of one day, when a group of comics, movie and science fiction fans—plus about 100 attendees—formed the first comic book convention in Southern California. Back in those days, the show’s home was the El Cortez Hotel, but it later moved to accommodate the growing crowds. It’s been held at the San Diego Convention Center since 1991.
Over the years, Comic-Con has become the main event for comics conventions, including: comics creators; science fiction and fantasy authors and actors; film and TV directors, producers and writers; and fans of all these popular arts genres. Many fans show their love by dressing in costume to heighten the experience, but all are welcome at Comic-Con.
The convention’s massive programming schedule tops 600 separate events, featuring hands-on workshops, educational and academic programming, anime and film screenings, video games, an Autograph Arena, Portfolio Reviews, an Art Show, a Masquerade costume competition, and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.
Most events are free with your badge, but some (like dinners and launch parties) cost extra. There will be far more than you can do in the allotted time, and yet it will all feel like Disneyland for adults—when you get to suspend disbelief and let fantasy take over, even if only a little bit.