Despite what can be an overwhelming movie and TV slate at Comic-Con, many attend the convention due to a lifelong love of comic books.
"I've been a fanboy since I was four or five. Everyone is here in one giant house," said freelance writer Daniel Kohler of Riverside, California, who brought along his young nephew to share in the experience.
"It's easy to talk to people. There are no strangers here."
And what diehard comics fans are talking about as the Con ramps up is Marvel Comics' restructuring. On the heels of DC Comics' (a Time Warner company, like CNN) successful though controversial New 52, Marvel is relaunching many titles - and ending a few as well - in October. The initiative is called "Marvel Now."
As some of the earliest attendees arrived and checked into their hotels, the areas surrounding the San Diego Convention Center were full of workers, tirelessly finishing displays, exhibits, banners and other preparations needed to kick off San Diego Comic-Con.
The annual event, which draws hundreds of thousands to downtown San Diego, has overtaken the area. Local businesses, movie studios, TV networks and video game companies are competing to take their piece of the Comic-Con pie.
CNN Geek Out's cameras were there to capture the scene and the finishing touches, as denizens of the business community did anything they could to welcome many new potential customers.
Are you at San Diego Comic-Con? Share your photos and video of the sights and sounds.
During San Diego Comic-Con - the largest annual gathering of the comic book faithful in North or South America - the convention, with its banners, murals, and shrink-wrapped vehicles, spills out into the streets of the city's Gaslamp district like lava from a brightly-colored volcano.
Promotional art for upcoming films, TV shows and video games is plastered everywhere you look. Even some of the hotel keys and elevators in the city become the equivalent of movie posters.
“It’s overwhelming how big everything is and certainly buildings all over San Diego are ‘wrapped,’” said Jon Barrett, Los Angeles bureau chief for Entertainment Weekly.
“It’s not just the people at the convention, everybody in San Diego is enveloped by this promotion. So much of the circus is on the streets.” FULL POST
Here's a quick look at some of the most important numbers in San Diego Comic-Con's 40-plus year history, according to the Con organizers:
300: The number of people who attended the first Comic-Con in 1970. That first Con took place in the basement of a hotel. Among those who remember some of those early days: "Star Wars'" Mark Hamill (who grew up in San Diego) and former "Walking Dead" executive producer, Frank Darabont.
130,000: A conservative estimate of the number of people (including exhibitors, panelists and others) who attended the convention in 2011.
600: The hours of programming officially offered at Comic-Con (there is no way to see everything unless you've perfected cloning, so don't try). That's not counting events near the convention center like Nerd HQ, w00tstock, the Nerdist podcast and more.
460,000: Square feet used by exhibitors in the San Diego Convention Center during the Con.
6,500: Number of seats in the hallowed Hall H, where many of the highest profile panels take place.
2008: The year that Comic-Con was first invaded by Twi-hards. That particular panel in Hall H was the first clue that this movie franchise was going to be huge. Also screened in Hall H: test footage of a sequel to "Tron," which built buzz around that movie over two years before release and "Iron Man" made its wowed the crowd in 2007.
180,000,000: The estimated economic impact, in dollars, of Comic-Con on the city of San Diego each year.
75,000,000: Direct spending, in dollars, by Comic-Con attendees within the convention center in 2011.
14,663; 10,311; 8,160: Hot dogs, bottled water and sandwiches or salads purchased at Comic-Con from food vendors within the convention center alone.
One: Number of eyes in the official Comic-Con logo.
Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.
If you don't have some reaction to San Diego Comic-Con International you're not participating in popular culture.
What began more than four decades ago as an intimate gathering of comic book creators, fans and legends has become a packed entertainment event. Although it doesn’t have the same ring to it, Comic-Con could more appropriately be called the Transmedia Pop Culture Con where buzz for a year’s worth of projects is created, prolonged or squelched.
Yet, despite the awareness that the con is a giant marketplace where producers sell directly to customers, there has been shockingly little analysis of the business of the event before Rob Salkowitz’s new book, “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture.”
Seated at a conference table at the McGraw-Hill building in Manhattan, Salkowitz delved deep into his nerd-business theories.
A futurist and business writer, Salkowitz approaches "The Con,' as it is known in nerdy circles, as more than just a meeting ground of Hollywood suits and 130,000 fans. Instead, he calls it a “laboratory in which the global future of media is unspooling in real time,” where people participate in their entertainment instead of just consuming it.
Salkowitz writes that Comic-Con can actually teach some important lessons about challenges facing all creative endeavors in our globalized, digital world, but he does so from the perspective of a comics nerd who attended his first con when he was eight.
“In fact, I learned to read and write from comics, and I learned, basically, the fundamentals, of visual communication,” said Salkowitz. He strayed from the church of comics for a time as an adult, but returned to it and attended his first San Diego Comic-Con in ’97. After he ended up in a game of Five Card Nancy (based on the Ernie Bushmiller strip, and created by Scott McCloud) with McCloud, Kurt Busiek and Will Eisner, you could say he was back in the congregation.
Salkowitz’s nerd cred makes him the ideal candidate to examine The Con’s moment of “Peak Geek,” where comics culture is at a maximum saturation level, and to make some educated predictions of what happens next. FULL POST