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How Comic-Con has evolved in almost 50 years




Colby Bingham of San Diego, wears a costume he designed himself on day one of Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 20, 2017, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Colby Bingham of San Diego, wears a costume he designed himself on day one of Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 20, 2017, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

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It's hard to believe, but Comic-Con is turning 47 this year.

Since 1970, nerds like A Martinez have descended upon San Diego during the late summer months. At first, the convention focused mainly on seminars and workshops for people trying to get into the comic book industry. Only 300 people showed up the first convention in August 1970.

But over the years, the emphasis shifted away from comic books, and more toward movie and TV show previews, along with panels featuring big-name stars.

The crowds grew larger ... MUCH larger. In recent years, attendance has averaged at about 130,000. This year's convention kicked off Thursday and KPCC's resident Comic-Con expert Mike Roe spoke to A Martinez about this year's trends and how the event has evolved.

2017 trends

Netflix

"Netflix has really increased their presence. They did a big movie premiere for their new anime series 'Death Note' and they also are doing a lot of panels for shows like Marvel's 'The Defenders,' The 'Stranger Things' panel is expected to be the most popular panel of Comic-Con ... they've got a big off-site too where you can actually go inside the world of 'Stranger Things.'"

An example of an off-site attraction at 2017 comic con.
An example of an off-site attraction at 2017 comic con.
KPCC/Mike Roe

Rise of the 'off-sites'

"Speaking of off-sites, they're really blowing up as well. It used to be that everything at Comic-Con was AT Comic-Con. Now, they sort of take over the whole city in sort of these immersive experiences they put off-site so that people can go and really be part of those worlds.

Those are some of the craziest lines this year. In past years, off-sites have been interesting but they weren't as big of a deal. I feel like this year, the hot lines at Comic-Con aren't at Comic-Con...they're off-site all over the city. 

I saw someone on Twitter the other day mention they were in line for eight hours to get into the 'Game of Thrones' off-site."

Comic-Con's evolution

A copy of Action Comics #1 I spotted on the floor for $150,000.
A copy of Action Comics #1 I spotted on the floor for $150,000.
KPCC/Mike Roe

"Comic-Con ... the existence of it is somewhat because of fans but ever since any company came there to present something, it's always been a little bit corporate hijacking.

They presented footage from Star Wars there back in the '70s so, there's always been a little bit of corporate stuff to it as well. But I think that it's because there are problems in the comic book industry. A lot of comic book fans aren't hyped about what's happening in comics, which makes it easier to get into these movies and TV shows. 

It'll be interesting to see if the comic book industry manages to capture fan's imaginations again. Will comic books be a bigger deal again?"

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.