IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY – The forces of popular media assembled in San Diego the last weekend of July as the city played host to its 45th annual Comic-Con International.
Comic Con, an event beginning in 1970 when a group of comic, movie, and science fiction fans created the first comic book convention in Southern California. It was held in the Grant Hotel’s basement in August of 1970 with over 300 attendees packed in the small space.
Since the first gathering, the convention has exploded into something larger than life that includes more than just comics, movies, and science fiction.
It features film screenings, panels with famous names of the comic and film industry, workshops on how to create comics and other media, video game demonstrations, and all things pop art. It has gotten so large that the convention overflows into the nearby downtown hotels.
Over 130,000 people attended this year’s convention not counting the ones unable to buy a ticket. As soon as the doors open, guests are swept into another world within the huge exhibit hall. Everything from comic books to video games and TV show booths invite you to explore.
It can be overwhelming for a first timer like Willaim Eisner, who came all the way from Alberta, Canada for the Con after three years of failing to get a ticket.
“So far it’s been expensive, tiring, but overall it’s been a good experience,” said Eisner.
Part of that tradition is cosplayers, also known as costume players, attended en mass both inside and outside the convention center dressed as superheroes, video game, and anime characters.
Some cosplayers took months to assemble their outfits, like Kathryn Malaney’s Lady Deadpool, a cosplayer from Imperial, a con goer who has been a regular attendee for 11 years.
“I’ve gotten stopped all con!” said Malaney while posing for pictures, “But that what it”s about, meeting new people randomly and having fun.”
Some people did not need a ticket to experience the frenzy and fun that is Comic Con.
The downtown Gaslamp Quarter is filled with activities for people unable to get tickets for the inside main events which included interactive booths, venues, obstacle courses and a zombie walk.
Petco Park opened as “Nerd Headquarters” with games and more activities for fans, families, and kids.
The Comic-Con International Film Festival and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards took place outside the convention center as well.
The large amount of events creates, according the Comic-Con website, “a campus-type feel for the convention in downtown San Diego.”
Saturday finished off with a big night for cosplayers with the 40th Comic Con Masquerade contest.
Forty characters competed in categories of costume design, recreation, skit acting, and originality, all vying for prestige amongst their fellow atendees as well as cash prizes from industry sponsors. Prizes included cash scholarships from Cinema Makeup School and The Costume Designers Guild.
Jerry Travis from Brawley entered along with friend Edgar Mayoral from Calexico. Both had jitters before getting up on stage.
“I was so nervous going up, but then I remembered my face was covered so the audience couldn’t see and just went from there,” said Travis after his performance on stage wearing armor designed by Mayoral.
The skit, a mix of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” movie and Dark Souls video game series, Mayoral and Travis earned the Honorable Mention for Workmanship.
Four days of fun rapidly came to an end on Sunday, but Con goers and San Diego were satisfied and happy.
“Comic con is what the imagination is about,” said Emmanuel Lopez, a resident of San Diego on his first trip to the Con, “You don’t have to be a geek or nerd, you just have to love good story telling and art, be it comics, movies, or anything else here.”