The San Diego Comic-Con has been around so long that you might think you know everything there is to know about it. And with comic book super heroes, science-fiction, and fantasy being not only mainstream, but massively popular, Comic-Con (and other conventions like it) are as ubiquitous and visible as ever. BUT – there are still a few obscure corners of the massive pop culture monolith that is San Diego Comic-Con. Here are 7 of them.
Contrary to what you might think, Comic-Con wasn’t always the massive, almost-impossible-to-actually-get-into behemoth and media frenzy that it is today. No, when it started in 1970, it was truly a niche operation, attracting only 300 comic book devotees to the U.S. Grant Hotel. What would go on to become San Diego Comic-Con was called “Golden State Comic-Con,” and it’s a safe bet that no one expected it to become such a massive phenomenon.
Casual observers could be forgiven for assuming that Comic-Con is just about comic books. After all, it’s called Comic-Con, not “General Pop Culture Stew-Con.” But that name might actually be more accurate, since Comic-Con has exploded to include pretty much every form of pop culture under the sun. Movies used to be the primary focus, but in recent years this has shifted to TV, but really all aspects of pop culture are included, from anime to TV commercials to obscure science fiction movies.
Ever since 2006, when Comic-Con had to temporarily suspend registration due to crowding, the organizers of the event have had to deal with the problem of too many people trying to get into it at once. In 2008, all the tickets to Comic-Con were sold out before the event even began, for the first time in the event’s history. And it has only continued to grow since then – if this keeps up, they might have to add a “Sort of Comic-Con” for spillover or something.
You know you’re on the map when Hollywood is setting movies around you – and Comic-Con is definitely on the map. It was the primary setting for the aptly-titled Comic Book: The Movie, and in episodes of TV shows like Entourage, Numb3rs, Beauty and the Geek, and Punk’d. Also, it’s been featured in at least one actual comic book: The Invincible Iron Man #72. File under “Is This Ironic?”
Despite the aforementioned issues with crowding and whatnot, it appears that most of the parties involved are happy with the San Diego Convention Center as the home of Comic-Con, as it’s been since 1991. And it’s easy to see why the people of San Diego are willing and eager to accommodate such a giant spectacle: The San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has calculated the convention’s economic impact as $162.8 million a year.
Not much information on this incident is available online, but apparently the Comic-Con organization was robbed of a significant amount of money in 1979. Instead of closing up shop, they had to ask for donations from patrons in order to cover bills like rent and expenses. Nowadays, if something like that happened, they could probably just get a quick loan from George Lucas or something.
It’s a safe assumption that many Comic-Con attendees of today have dreams of making it big. Money, caviar, gorgeous women, etc. And at least one lucky guest from the early years of the convention has made good on those dreams: Matt Groening, creator of the animated sitcom/merchandising bonanza The Simpsons is said to be one of the attendees of the convention in its early years, long before he found yellow animated stardom. See? It can happen!