The fact that I’ve been to San Diego Comic-Con International (twice now) isn’t something I necessarily volunteer when meeting new people. Unlike visiting a comic book store, though, having been an attendee of Comic-Con has never made me feel at all uncomfortable or ashamed.
The biggest misconception about Comic-Con these days is that it’s still just about super heroes. That is an interest of mine, of course, but there are a lot of other things that draw me to the convention as well. Actually, my favorite souvenirs this year are some beautiful art prints, including the lovely piece by artist Heather Theurer shown to the right, work that can be implicated in the comics industry in only the absolutely vaguest sense.
The truth is that most people could find something at the convention to interest them, at least for a day or two. There are booths promoting the latest and upcoming movies, television shows, video games, toys, books, or, yes, even comic books. There are hundreds of artists showing and selling their work. There are panels of creators from popular television shows (like Chuck or Glee or Leverage) and comic book publishers. There are celebrities signing autographs or making appearances on the exhibition floor, if you’re into that sort of thing (Michael Cera, Sylvester Stallone, Chris Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Will Ferrell, Angelina, etcetera, etcetera). There are presentations and discussions on writing, on drawing, on breaking into the television or comics industry, on doing voice work for animation, on folklore, on how popular heroes in modern fiction offer a critique of society . . . all sorts of things.
In recent years Comic-Con has become so broad, it really encompasses what could be highlighted at any number of smaller conventions. While it doesn’t always make sense for all of these things to be promoted at the same event, it must be a great marketing opportunity for everyone involved. As a participant, it’s enjoyable not only to find booths and events that cater to your interests, but also to be exposed to new creators, characters, stories, and genres.
If you still don’t believe that the convention has broad appeal, just take a second to look at the couple of photos I’ve included in this post. The usual pictures you’ll see of Comic-Con feature costumed super-fans—the Stormtroopers, the Supergirls, the Sailor Moons. Seeing my samples of the crowd, though, I think you’ll have to admit that most of the people, minus the over-sized goodie bags and registration badges, would look perfectly normal at the mall or at a soccer game. And are those women in the crowd? Absolutely. You actually see a lot of families at Comic-Con, too, especially on the weekend: dad, mom, and the kids out for a fun Saturday excursion.
So, in summary, the question is not why I was at Comic-Con this last week. The question, my aloof, misfit reader, is why you weren’t there with me.