By Chris Furguson
According to the Comic-Con International numbers, nearly 130,000 attendees, press, professionals and exhibitors visited the 2012 edition of the San Diego Comic-Con, which was held at the San Diego Convention Center from July 12 through July 15.
The 130,000 is a far cry from the original 300 who attended the first convention in 1970, which was then known as the Golden City Comic Con.
Comic-Con has grown from what was a primarily comic book based convention to a celebration of the “popular arts,” including fantasy and science fiction, Japanese animation (or “animé”), movies, television, video games and much more.
“If anything in this day and age is a true melting pot, this is it,” said Randi, a fan of the BBC series “Doctor Who” about the convention. “It’s like a blending of all these different conventions in one big show. There’s nothing like this anywhere.”
Issues of crowding and long lines were the name of the game at this year’s convention. Crowding issues began in 2006 when the convention had to stop selling tickets on-site due to an unanticipated mass of fans continued this year.
This year, lines stretched around and behind the convention center itself as fans waited hours for the chance to see their favorite movie and television stars inside the 6,500 seat Hall H. Some people even began forming lines on Sunday just for the prime spot.
There are some who feel that the convention has outgrown its current venue. In 2010, the city of Anaheim made the boldest attempt to move Comic-Con to their much larger Convention Center. A similar bid by the city of Las Vegas was made but rejected by the Comic-Con board.
“I’m not sure if the convention should move,” said Dave, who has attended the Convention for nearly 20 years. “San Diego makes such an effort to make the conventioneers feel welcome.”
That effort includes nearby hotels allowing some of their own space to be used for panels and press events. The nearby Hilton Bayfront was the site for several popular panels
The event is also a boon to the city’s economy. Recent estimates suggest that more than $150 million is spent during the convention, much of which flows into the area’s hotels and restaurants.
“It’s a shot in the arm for us,” said one manager at a nearby fast food place. “We make several times more money this week than we normally do, even during tourist season.”
This year’s event had a tragic beginning as a 53-year old woman crossing in front of the convention center was killed two days before the convention’s official start. The woman, a fan of the series “Twilight,” had been waiting since Sunday for the Thursday morning panel.
More stories from the 2012 Comic-Con will be printed in next week’s Weekly-Chronicle.