‘More than anything, it’s a nerd convention’

For four days in July, self-proclaimed geeks, nerds, fangirls, celebrities and several Harvard Westlake students gathered in San Diego for the 44th annual Comic Con International: a mass of TV and film promotion, comic book fandom, guest panels and endless souvenirs.

Comic Con International began as a small comic book convention with around 100 people in the ballroom of the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego. The massive convention that sprung from this original

“Minicon” has, 44 years later, garnered over 130,000 attendees: a Comic Con record.

The new Comic Con maintains the fandom of those old comic books that were at the center of the first convention. Hundreds of artists come to Comic Con every year to sign autographs and participate on guest panels about their work, but the larger draw now comes from new media on television, film and video games.

“It’s different, it’s not really better or worse, because before, Comic Con was literally Comic Con, and people were obsessed with comic books and would go to panels for them,” Benny Weisman ’15, a third year Comic Con attendee, said. “A lot of what modern day media is, is what Comic Con has been incorporating into their repertoire recently, and that’s the smartest way to keep it going, while still maintaining the opportunity for those fans of old comics.”

The shift to more media promotion for new movies and shows like “The Amazing Spiderman 2” or the final season of “Breaking Bad” is not necessarily bad. It has added to the convention and drawn a more diverse crowd, Sean Kiley ’14 said.

“I think now it is what it should be,” Kiley said. “Because I get that it is a comic convention, but I think more than anything it’s a nerd convention.  If you’re not into comic books, but you’re into video games or you’re into cosplay, there are so many different things that if you’re not into comic books you can still have fun at Comic Con. I think it’s developed into a much more fun atmosphere.”

The self-proclaimed nerds and geeks who attend in extravagant costumes known as cosplayers bolster the fun atmosphere. Costumes this year featured a full sized centaur costume as well as the more classic Chewbacca from “Star Wars.” Their passion is evident and sets the tone for the convention, Ethan Weinstein’ 15 said.

“There’s this atmosphere of ethos there, that being passionate about something, being nerdy about something, is cool,” Weinstein said. “It’s great to be around people who think that. One guy was in [‘Star Wars’] Sith robes, with yellow eyebrows and slit eyeball contacts, who was just sitting there eating crackers.”

Some people  at Comic Con sleep out every night in tents or chairs to be in line for the more in-demand panels or events the following day. Weisman attended 22 panels over three days.

“That first day we woke up at 4:30 a.m and didn’t leave until 7:30 p.m,” Weisman said. “Getting up at 4:30, the people there care about it as much as you do, and I made some good friends from that.”

The people at Comic Con may show near-insane dedication, but that’s what makes the panels so effective, Kiley said.

“Comic Con is definitely run by a lot of smart people, and I think the people who have all the panels there are brilliant,” Kiley said. “The superhero stuff, the anime stuff; all the storylines are amazing; all the character development is awesome; even the fight scenes are cool. It takes really smart people to do that.”

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