What’s the Big Deal About Comic-Con? Trends and Truth with Mike Nappa

July inaugurates the annual pop culture earthquake known as Comic-Con International. Curious what the fuss is all about? Read on to learn what you need to know.


What is Comic-Con?

Comic-Con began in 1970 as a low-key gathering of 300 San Diego-area comic book fans. The event quietly grew over the next few years until it became nationally-known, and a must-list activity for fanboys, fangirls and their families. Before long, Hollywood discovered the marketing power of the Con and started using it to generate buzz for new projects.

Today, armed with the burgeoning power of the internet, Comic-Con has become a bonafide arbiter of pop culture hits and misses—and grown to enormous size: More than 125,000 people crowd the San Diego Convention Center each year to participate in this four-day event.

What Goes on There?

The centerpiece of Comic-Con is the cavernous exhibition hall where pop culture producers showcase their wares. Marvel Comics and DC Comics, of course, are exhibitors, as well as most major movie studios, some TV shows, and all kinds of hobby-centric companies. Comic book retailers abound, along with sci-fi and art booths, and book and gaming publishers. And, thanks to the annual “Masquerade” contest, people in creative superhero costumes wander joyfully everywhere.

Additionally, celebrities gather upstairs to chat up their fans, sign autographs, and sell pop culture memorabilia. Panels and workshops introduce fans to their favorite stars and pet projects. There’s also “Artists’ Alley” where aspiring illustrators sell their artwork. And there’s a mini-film festival and other side events happening everywhere. In all, it’s basically one big party for pop culture enthusiasts of all ages.

Why Is Comic-Con Such a Big Deal?

The influence of so many pop culture fans gathered in one place makes Comic-Con a phenomenon unto itself. Movie producers and other entertainment media creators know that fan enthusiasm at Comic-Con will light up the blogosphere with anticipation—and translate into cold hard cash. Case in point is the recent blockbuster, The Avengers, a Comic-Con staple for the past two years that just broke all box office records with a $207 million opening weekend.

Should I Take My Kids to the Show?

On the one hand, the Con encourages families to come (children under age 12 are admitted free) and the convention floor is full of families having a good time. All the costumes and pop culture connections are fun for all ages.

At the same time, some exhibiters at Comic-Con sell R-rated products, and some include occult images and ideas. While these are the minority, they are there, so parents should be aware of that.

Generally speaking, if your family is a fan of pop culture and able to walk past occasional unsavory displays, you’ll have a great time. If not, you might want to skip the show.

Where Can I Learn More?

Check out the official Comic-Con website.


Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.

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