In March 1970, 145 people attended the “Golden State Comic-Con.” Now it’s known as San Diego Comic-Con International and is descended on annually by over 100,000 lovers of horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, zines and fantasy novels.
And it still feels fresh. That’s according to Glen Warren, an LA-based graphic designer and marketing consultant, who bought a four-day pass and headed to San Diego for a timeout from regular life. He sent us these pictures and this valentine to Comic-Con.
Around this time last year an artificial life form born from the mind of Director Ridley Scott uttered this simple, yet profound phrase in the sci-fi thriller “Prometheus” and it could not more succinctly encapsulate the confounding spectacle that is Comic-Con.
The conference has come a long way since its humble beginnings and the experience of the conference today is a challenge to describe. It is a harmonious confluence of polar contradictions: small artists and big studios; shy, nerdy personalities and bombastically confident alter-egos; old and young; bros and hipsters; tanned cheerleaders and pale book worms; bright and happy and dark and brooding (read this New York Times article about the juxtaposition of erotica and child-friendly products). This contradiction continues outside the conference down to the religious groups shouting their faith through microphones to the atheists shouting right back.
At Comic-Con noone is out to judge or ridicule. Rather, it is an unapologetic celebration of art, design, passions, hobbies, and the unifying power of communal, creative storytelling. Through the creative expression of costume, art, entertainment, and new technology we are all sharing stories about what moves us, and who we are. At Comic-Con you can bare a little bit of your soul and be unconditionally loved for it.
Additionally, San Diego’s perfect weather and unique layout serve as a vital backdrop that helps drive this booming oasis of nerdy bliss. The surrounding Gaslamp Quarter is small block after small block of navigable, diverse and bustling commerce. From interactive exhibitor installations, to bars, to restaurants, to art galleries, to shops of all kinds, the city itself becomes a living, breathing character in the story, a forum where perfect strangers of all types can meet, mingle, and get a refreshing break from the conference floor.
In a way, Comic-Con is a kind of micro representation of what we all ideally aspire to become as a world community: a giant, vibrant, mosaic of differing views, interests, talents, and stories all coming together in mutual celebration.
Now, I’m not so grandiose and inflated as to suggest that Comic-Con could change the world but, hey, as David said, big things do have small beginnings. So for the sake of humanity, please continue nerding your passions upon the world.
Glen Warren is an LA-based graphic designer and marketing consultant.
Read more about the growth of Comic-Con, in this review of Tim Leong’s new book, Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe (image from the book, below).