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Comic-Con Begins!

The Geek Factor Begins With Organizers

Comic-Con Begins!


Miro Copic, Marketing Lecturer, SDSU Business School

Rebecca Hicks, Web Cartoonist, "Little Vampires"

Sarah Gaydos, Editor, IDW Publishing

Asa Enochs, Game Art & Design Instructor at the New School of Design and Architecture

Emer Tanciatco, Member, International Game Developers Association San Diego Chapter


Tonight the 45th San Diego Comic-Con kicks off with preview night. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando reminds us that the geek factor begins with the show’s organizers.


Photo caption: A "Star Wars" cosplayer dressed as a Clone Trooper. But Even a Clone Trooper ...

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

A "Star Wars" cosplayer dressed as a Clone Trooper. But Even a Clone Trooper needs a badge to get in.

Wednesday night the 45th San Diego Comic-Con kicks off with preview night. The geek factor begins with the show’s organizers.

No one involved in Comic-Con ever suspected their intimate geek gathering that began in a hotel basement would eventually take over the entire San Diego Convention Center, sprawl out into the Gaslamp Quarter, attract upwards of 125,000 attendees and pour more than $135 million annually into the San Diego economy.

"I don’t think anybody ever thought that this show would be the size that it is," Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said.

He began attending the show in 1978 and in costume.

"One of the first costumes I ever made was a Tusken Raider from 'Star Wars.' I have to tell you my friend Allison and myself spent months buying material and trying to find pictures in every magazine and we made these Tusken Raider costumes.

"And they were a huge hit — incredibly hot to wear but a huge hit," Glanzer said.

Star Wars,” like comics, was a gateway to Comic-Con for many in the late '70s. At the Comic-Con offices you’ll also find Trekkies and Whovians, and shelves filled with toys. That’s because the staff are pop culture fans. Most began their association with the Con as attendees or volunteers.

"I think we all enjoy the show tremendously," Glanzer said, "but in a very different way than we did before. When I first started coming to the show, we used to have 24-hour film rooms. I loved movies so I’d spend tremendous amount of time in there. I don’t have the luxury of doing that so much any more, but there’s still a lot of stuff I get to see. There’s still a lot of stuff I get to do, I get to watch news segments after the show to see what I missed."

This year there is even more to see and experience as the show develops into a kind of Comic-Con campus. Since Comic-Con has run out of Convention Center space it has had to be creative. The result is what Glanzer calls “activations, ” offsite events such a zipline for Fox’s Gotham, an Xbox Gaming Lounge at the Hyatt, Godzilla behind Hall H, and an Assassin’s Creed parkour obstacle course.

"They are sanctioned events basically, things that are open to people with Comic-Con badges and they I think help to alleviate some of the congestion in and around the convention center, it’s something that helps us out and is an added benefit for attendees," Glanzer explained.

The scale of Comic-Con might distract people from the fact that Comic-Con is a nonprofit organization with a mission statement to create awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms. Another part of its education component are panels that cater to educators and librarians such as "Graphic Novel Programming for Your Library" and "Getting the Most Out of Graphic Novels in Your Classroom."

"We are seeing a lot more librarians use comics as a teaching tool. This medium has a wonderful opportunity to help literacy, to help creativity, to help any number of things and I think these specific educational panels really move forward to trying to achieve that," Glanzer said.

Marvel’s recent announcement that Thor would be female and Captain America would be black is yet another example of how pop culture can influence mainstream discourse. Glanzer says comic book fans know that anything is possible but the announcement generated a lot of discussion in the media.

"I think you’re going to see these things happen in a manner that the general public is starting to say OK, this can happen maybe it’s not such a shock but it’s different," Glanzer stated.

Photo caption: And yes, you can still find comic books at Comic-Con.

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

And yes, you can still find comic books at Comic-Con.

But how long can this geek chic maintain such a high level of influence and popularity? Glanzer says that at some point it is likely to wane.

"I don’t know that you can sustain anything for forever, but I think so long as we produce the type of show that we want to attend, so long as we stay true to that, we’ll have a good show. And I know that there will always be some people who will always enjoy that, and that’s the important thing," Glanzer said.

So prepare for an invasion of zombies, superheroes and perhaps even a Tusken Raider as Comic-Con opens its doors and arms to geeks of all kinds Wednesday night.

You can check out my video about Comic-Con from an insider's point of view. You can follow my exploits at this year's Comic-Con right here on Cinema Junkie as well as on Twitter (@Cinebeth) and FaceBook (Cinema Junkie Page).

Here's a peek at some of the most anticipated presentations:

FILM: Marvel Studios hasn't revealed any specifics about its panel, but a look at "Ant-Man" and the next "Avengers" installment seem likely. Paramount is bringing its live-action take on "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett. Warner Bros. will feature "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" and its reboot of "Mad Max." Fox is introducing a spate of films, including the animated "Book of Life" starring Channing Tatum. A few others: Focus Features' animated "The Boxtrolls"; the sequel to Frank Miller's "Sin City"; Daniel Radcliffe's first Comic-Con appearance for the upcoming "Horns"; and the annual appearance by festival stalwart Kevin Smith.

TV: "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead" will each take over Comic-Con's largest hall for panels with cast members and creators. Joel McHale and other stars of "Community" will discuss the future of the comedy after its move to Yahoo. Guillermo del Toro plans to present his creepy new FX series, "The Strain." SyFy's "Sharknado" roars in with stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid for a peek at the sequel. The creators of BBC America's "Orphan Black" will be on hand with star Tatiana Maslany. Other TV panels tempting fans: Emmy favorites "The Big Bang Theory" and "American Horror Story"; FX's "Sons of Anarchy"; and the CW's "Arrow" and "The Vampire Diaries."

GAMES: Ubisoft is promoting the free-running adventure "Assassin's Creed: Unity" with a French Revolution-themed parkour course that will be open to wannabe assassins. The cast and crew of the cops-and-robbers shooter "Battlefield Hardline" will be on hand for a panel, as will the creative forces behind the latest edition of the toys-meets-game franchise "Skylanders: Trap Team." Meanwhile, Nintendo will showcase "Super Smash Bros." and other titles at its gaming lounge, while Sega will hype the cartoony "Sonic Boom" and the sci-fi horror "Alien: Isolation." Other games on display: multiplayer racer "The Crew" and blocky Dark Knight romp "Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham."

OTHER FUN STUFF: MAC Cosmetics is unveiling its new collection inspired by Marge Simpson and offering "Marge Makeovers" at its downtown San Diego store. Crave Online is throwing a party aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier featuring live performances by MGMT and Grimes. Adult Swim is bringing its Fun House back to Petco Park, and introducing a "Meatwad Full Dome Experience" that includes a free T-shirt at the end. Hello Kitty will also be at Petco Park, celebrating her 40th anniversary with free temporary tattoos.

Source: Associated Press

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