Below is my article for my double page spread, with the planning that I did previously I found this article fairly easy to write.
Cons, They are a Changing.
As Comic Con embraces the mainstream, is it leaving behind its Comic Book roots?
Possibly the most anticipated event on any committed geek’s calender, Comic Con has become one of the most exciting pop-culture functions in the world. Catering to entertainment sectors such as television, film , music and games whilst also promoting exclusive in-development projects in order to gauge the reaction of fans who are most likely to invest in them once released. It is obvious that with this extravaganza of geekdom, any fan would be spoilt for choice with its content getting bigger and largely recognised by the vast majority of media coverage as a symbol of pop-culture. However, as the years go by, there has been much speculation that the absence in the content of comics has become more evident; especially with the introduction of advertisement for both film and television with the pricey celebrity appearances. Many die-hard attendees from previous Comic Cons have said the brand is becoming more about spectacle and embracing mainstream pop-culture and less about its original reason for existing, comics; which is understandable due to there being a complete absence of any comic publishers apart from giants such as DC and Marvel appearing on the main floor. As the Con is becoming less relevant to the comic community the following question has become more clear: Is Comic Con abandoning its comic book roots altogether and simply embracing its new-found symbolisation of Pop-Culture?
Starting in 1970 with a capacity of a mere 145 people, Comic-con was a one day event for obscure comic book readers in a time when the Silver age of comics and the popularity of cheesy super-hero fun was alive and well. With the idea of this annual event “giving the chance for amateur (readers) and amateur artists to meet the professionals and see how its done” said co-creator Shel Dorf; over the next few years the Con welcomed a steady gradual gathering of followers curious of what the convention included. To long-time attendees, the 70’s is fondly remembered as the golden-age of the convention, as it catered to the simple yet impressionable world of all things comics. With the budding success of science fiction films dominating the box office and television shows such as Star Trek and Doctor Who dominating the TV ratings more specific conventions began springing up all over America and it is safe to say that a lot of people who attended Star Trek conventions also attended the annual Comic Con conventions also, which is why in 1976 LucasFilm brought their first Star Wars film to the convention to promote right to their core audience. Since that time the con has seen a gradual move from a comic book specific convention to what now is seen as an entertainment wide all encompassing net of anything and everything wishing to make money. During the 1980’s Comic Con didn’t really grow much in terms of attendance but as the 90’s hit and comic books and superheroes became a mainstream fixation due to the release of big budget comic book adaptations such as the Tim Burton Batman films and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films, Comic Con saw it’s attendance sky rocket into the tens of thousands for the first time in its history. This trend continued throughout the 90’s with each year seeing an increase of at least a couple of thousand people until 2005 when it finally reached the mark of 100,000 attendees.
Not only has Comic Con changed a lot in terms of what it has to offer people but it also has changed in terms of why people go there. During the 70’s and 80’s most people would go simply for the comic books and the occasional panel from comic book artists but as Hollywood became more involved in promoting their merchandise at Comic Con it has evolved to cater to many different but specific attendees. In the Comic Con of today a large portion of attendees go simply to see the attractions that the convention has to offer which includes panels which are now numerous and range from new and upcoming films to TV shows to question and answer sessions with such known directors as Kevin Smith all bring in a large majority of attendees. Hall H, which seats over 6000 people, has become notorious for world wide exclusive clips and news of films. Hall H was the first place to bring together and announce the formation of Marvel’s The Avengers back in 2010 and is known as the place which will consistently surprise its audience, making it the place to be during the convention.
Another big aspect of the convention, which has grown purely from the fans love of the characters which they either read about in comic books, play in games or watch in films or TV shows, is cosplay. Cosplay is short for “costume play” and the convention has seen a huge increase in the amount of fans who will attend in full costume and are even known to embody their chosen character throughout the event. Many people take cosplay very seriously and even perform small scenes in the Cosplay Masquerade which is a competition for all costumed attendees to show off their costumes and also show off their love for their chosen character.
The future of Comic Con looks to be one of continued success and growth due to the huge involvement of comic book and sci-fi characters in mainstream film and TV shows. The interesting downside to this though is that the actual comic books that these characters originate from are likely to be pushed out of the convention and the decrease in comic book sellers at the convention is evidence of this. With the continued money making success of comic book and sci-fi characters in popular culture it is only a matter of time before actual comic books disappear from Comic Con.