Born out of loyal and dedicated fan bases for comic books, television series, and fantasy or science fiction books and films, comic book conventions or Comic Cons is a haven for hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts. In addition to social media and the internet, Hollywood blockbusters have launched the Comic-Con industry through the roof.

The San Diego Comic Con

Arguably the most popular, highly anticipated, and profitable Comic-Con in the whole world, the San Diego Comic-Con is an annual event anticipated by over 150,000 people. It started it out in 1970 with a gathering of a mere 300 people but has now grown to such proportions that celebrities, movie studios, and companies attend the multi-day gathering.

John Jackson Miller, the owner of Comichron which tracks the sales of comic books, has been a witness to the San Diego Comic-Con and its “mind-boggling” growth since the 1990s. During that time, the average population attending was still around 40,000 people. However, at present, the thousands of people attending are even clamoring for an expansion of the city’s convention center to accommodate more fans and attendees.

A fan in a huge robot costume towers over sightseers in the Gaslamp District on first day of the 2015 Comic-Con International held at the San Diego Convention Center Thursday, July 9, 2015 in San Diego. The pop-culture event runs July 9-12. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Invision/AP)

Contemplating the Industry

All over the United States, comic books, movies, and book fandoms and their accompanying conventions is a multibillion-dollar industry. In 2015, the gross profit from the industry was estimated at $600 million but could have easily made into the $5 billion mark when considering a world-wide scale. The San Diego Comic-Con, held annually in July, generates around a $140 million profit for the city of San Diego and the surrounding areas. 

Some experts attribute the growth of the San Diego Comic-Con and the industry it represents in the persistence of Hollywood in creating move adaptations that results in a growing international fanbase. The year 2001, was an important year as it ushered in a brighter era for filmmaking in the fantasy, action, and science fiction genres by the existence of better capacity for special effects and more sophisticated and computerized animation technology.

Economists have also weighed in on this social phenomenon and cited of a socio-economic class that has accumulated additional resources that need not be spent on basic resources but for objects of leisure and recreation as well. Sociologists have also mentioned the popular phenomenon of FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out wherein people join the bandwagon of popular or mainstream fandoms to be a part on the in-crowd.

The Rise of other Comic Cons

Not everyone had a positive response to the massive industry growth, following, and “commercialization” of the San Diego Comic-Con. In the beginning, non-profit organizations ran the show but have now been displaced by multi-million-dollar movie studios and companies.

Many participants and other organizations in various cities sought to replicate the fame and popularity of the San Diego Comic-Con. An example is the New York Comic-Con which was founded in 2006 by a London-based company called ReedPOP. It is expected to draw 200,000 people in the event this year. The company also organizes other events globally in other cities such as Mumbai, Sydney, and Shanghai.