A storm trooper, a Pokémon trainer, and a gang of anime characters walk into a San-Diego convention centre. It may sound like the start of a joke, but the global impact of Comic-Con is no laughing matter.
Last month saw the return of San Diego Comic-Con. The convention that began with just 100 guests, is now an internationally renowned event attracting thousands of fans. In 2019, the event grew to its biggest yet. In the slow return to largescale events since the COVID-19 pandemic, various brands have tried to host similar events to promote their content, but none have managed to generate the level of fandom as the original Comic-Con.
So, what is the magic formula that has made Comic-Con such a cultural revelation?
- Supporting small businesses and creators…
If there is one thing that young people attending their first con will do, it’s spend too much money on merch for their favourite games or comics. Often, this goes to small artists or creators who have taken their work from Etsy or Redbubble to an Artists’ Alley (an aisle of stalls dedicated to independent creators’ merchandise). Con-goers love visiting them, knowing that they can get good-quality merch relating to their niche interests whilst supporting relatable people. This is also an important place for artists to network with others to grow their businesses. Cons are a great way to see the work of, and support, small creators, particularly after the pandemic where so many struggled.
- …But it also features big, culturally relevant names
The annual San Diego event has been reported as a huge purveyor of pop culture. Starting off with things that were considered ‘nerdy’ 50 years ago, like comic books or videogames, Comic-Con now hosts mainstream brands like Marvel, Funko, and Disney. While some fans disagree with the commercialisation of Comic-Con, this has drawn in audiences of big-brand titles, widening the multi-cultural and inclusive nature of the fanbase, therefore guiding a lot of culturally relevant media. Henry Jenkins, USC Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education, noted that the creators of massive cultural phenomena seeing fans of differing ethnicities and sexualities show their love at Cons is a great way to motivate more representation in the biggest titles.
- Home to a diverse and welcoming community
By bringing people from different walks of life together under a shared interest, Comic-Con has created a welcomed space for a diverse and representative host of people who share each other’s passions. In a time when it is ever more important to tell stories of marginalised groups, this is vital. More than this, cons themselves are using their platform to encourage inclusion. The 2018 San Diego Comic-Con hosted the announcement of the first female winner of the Best Writer Eisner Award, as well as the arrival of the first transgender superhero, ‘Nia Nal’, played by Nicole Maines in ‘Supergirl’.
Interested in creating a more inclusive and diverse gaming experience for gamers? Then check out our upcoming in-person event! More details below.
- Home of valuable self-expression
Having a place where people can simply be themselves in a space free of judgement is important. Comic-Con offers people a space to connect over shows they like, or talk about how their favourite childhood videogames changed their lives. Con-goers are proud to attend panels and events from creators they love or wear the costumes of their favourite characters. In a world where Comic-Con is becoming more mainstream, this platform of self-expression is extended to more around the world.
- It’s just downright fun!
Where else can you see a celebrity walking down Artists’ Alley? Or see eight versions of Spiderman pointing at each other in a food court? It’s a massive clash of media and adoration that makes Comic-Con a fun place to be. You can literally meet anyone there! (As long as they’re vaguely humanoid and don’t have too complex an outfit…) If there’s media you love enough to endure a slightly crowded convention centre for a few hours, or just have a group of friends you want to spend some fun time with, I would definitely recommend giving Comic-Con a visit!
Let’s Change the Game: A conversation about diversity & representation in video games
Want to know what LGBTQ+ gamers think about how LGBTQ+ characters are currently represented, what Black gamers want from a narrative that represents them, or how to land authenticity with non-cis gamers? Well then, we got you covered!
Speakers, how to register and furthers details all to come. As places are limited, to register your pre-interest for our event on Monday 19th September at Google’s London St Giles High Street Office, please enter your details here.