Comic-Con celebrates its 50th anniversary
Next week more than 135,000 comic-book geeks will take over San Diego for the 50th edition of Comic-Con – the world’s largest celebration of popular culture.
Today, the convention attracts Hollywood A-listers like Robert Downey Jr. and Patrick Stewart, to the cast of Game of Thrones. They come for the panels, where hundreds of fans get to ask questions of the cast and crew of the next billion-dollar franchises.
But it wasn’t always to glitzy.
The original Comic-Con was thought up by a 36-year-old comic collector, and his five teenage friends. The first iteration drew just 100-guests, to a hotel basement in March 1970.
The ‘Golden State Comic-Con’ was supposed to be a place where fans could connect with each other and meet comic book creators at the time.
"We never thought we'd be as big as we are. We never thought we'd be around in 50 years," David Glanzer, Comic-Con's marketing chief, said to AFP. “They were the first people who really viewed comic books as art,” he added.
Comic-Con has steadily grown since that first meeting. Oscar-winning director Frank Capra was the first mainstream star to attend, but 1976 would see the biggest shot in the arm for the exhibition when Lucasfilm’s publicists sent a team to promote its latest film, Star Wars.
It worked, and after the success of Star Wars, more big-shot executives began to attend comic-con for the entire week to help drum up publicist, and secure deals.
By the 1990s, it wasn’t just Hollywood business types who attended Comic-Con. Studios began to send the ‘talent’ as well.
Francis Ford Coppola came to promote Dracula. And Quentin Tarantino – who used to wander the halls as a fan – was now leading panel discussions from centre stage.
The exhibition has been so successful that now there are spin-off across the world, from New York to Saudi Arabia and even here in the UAE.
San Diego Comic-Con officially kicks off on Thursday, July 18 to Sunday, July 21.