ℹ️ You’re reading Quartz Essentials: quick, engaging outlines of the most important topics affecting the global economy.
- 1 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 1
If the whole point of going to what could be described as days-long $300 glorified infomercials is seeing celebs, superheroes, and cylons in the flesh, is a comic convention still a comic convention if no one shows up?
That question has been put to the test with the first-ever cancellation of the largest US comic convention, San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), which went fully virtual in July. The Comic-Con@Home event managed to host panels, awards, activities and costume competitions—all live-streamed for free online.
For now, a return to in-person events is still scheduled for SDCC 2021, and a smaller version in Los Angeles known as Wondercon is still being advertised for March. Los Angeles Comic Con, the city’s biggest, is still scheduled to hold in-person events this December.
But with big draws like Star Wars sitting out of most of this year’s online action, Marvel taking over New York Comic Con, and DC Comics breaking away for its own 24-hour online fan event, there’s no guarantee that these events, at least the ones that fans, vendors, and marketers would recognize, are here to stay.
Suit up. We’ve got an industry to save.
- 2 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 2
900,000: People who attempted to purchase tickets to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) in 2019
135,000: Tickets available
17,551: Hotdogs consumed
700: Gallons of nacho cheese sold
72: Minutes to sell out SDCC in 2017
64: …In 2018
$254: Cost of a four-day badge to SDCC
$0: Cost to sneak in
- 3 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 3
From Auckland to Algiers, you’re never too far away from a local comic con. And even though many of the most popular characters represented at a given con may have US origins, these global gatherings of the geeks have always been international affairs. Just one year after the first comic con in New York, the inaugural Salone Internazionale del Comics, now called Europe Comics, was held in Lucca, Italy in 1965. After moving to Rome and back over the years, the event is now Europe’s largest comic con and the second largest comics festival in the world.
To find the world’s largest comics event you’ll also have to look beyond US shores to Japan. Comiket 2019 boasted a record-breaking four-day attendance total of 730,000 in 2019. The historically free event recently added a daily ticket price of just ¥500 ($4.73), with a ¥300 (2.80) surcharge for costumed guests, that seems to have done little to control crowd sizes at the Tokyo Big Sight venue.
Looking beyond the top-tier global events in California, Italy, and Japan there’s now a comic con in practically every major city—and plenty of minor ones—on Earth. In Latin America, comic cons are popping up in capital cities like Buenos Aires and La Paz. They’re also flourishing across Africa—the continent’s largest annual such event is Johannesburg’s Comic Con Africa with growing festivals in Lagos, Nairobi, and Cairo.
But all comic cons are not created equal, and while many global editions decided that the show must go on(line)—many more decided to take 2020 off altogether. Whether the growing demand for physical fandom returns in 2021 is yet to be seen.
- 4 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 4
“It’s all these people you see only a couple of times a year at hotels, you’re all into the same things, people are dressed up, you’ve been flirting online for months—It’s pretty hot.”
—An anonymous, and possibly apocryphal, quote from “Geek Love,” a 2009 Penthouse Magazine article that blew the lid off of the hook-up culture at comic cons
- 5 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 6
1938: Superman first appears in comic book form.
1962: The Academy of Comics Arts and Sciences is formed, a precursor to the first comic con.
1964: The first major comic book convention, New York Comicon, takes place in Greenwich Village.
1965: Europe’s first comic con, Il Salone Internazionale del Comics (“International Congress of Comics”) launches in Lucca, Italy.
1970: The first-ever San Diego Comic-Con debuts.
1975: Comic Market, aka Comiket, debuts in Japan. It is now the world’s largest comic con with an attendance of over 500,000.
1984: The word “cosplay” is coined by a Japanese reporter, who felt the translation of “masquerade” was too dated.
1988: The Eisner Awards, the “Oscars” for comics, are first handed out at SDCC.
1997: Wizard World Chicago becomes the first major event to add non-comic pop culture elements into its programming.
2014: São Paulo’s Comic Con Experience launches, which is now considered to be the largest in the Western Hemisphere with over 225,000 visitors in 2017.
2020: San Diego’s Comic-Con is canceled for the first time in its 50-year history.
- 6 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 7
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is the #1 comic book fan. We mean this quite literally—not only did Martin attend the very first New York Comicon in 1964, but he allegedly received the first attendance badge, labeled with the number one.
- 7 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 8
On July 16, 2011 at the legendary Hall H of the San Diego convention center, the Marvel Avengers assembled on stage for the first time ever to announce the first Avengers film. Fandom, Hollywood, and digital entertainment would never be the same.
- 8 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 9
Whether next year, 2022, or beyond, IRL comic cons will return. And with it, the incredibly frustrating process of scoring a badge that guarantees entry into the festivities. Comic cons usually last three to four days spread over a long weekend with passes ranging from $140 for Atlanta’s Dragon Con to $190 for New York Comic Con, all the way up to around $250 for Comic-Con in San Diego.
That’s just if you get the privilege to pay. For the past few years, tickets to San Diego Comic-Con have sold out in about an hour, with some priority given to attendees of the previous year. And while tickets are refundable, they are not transferable, so snapping up badges on the resale market isn’t an option.
Other comic cons may sell out during high-demand periods, like during a Friday night cosplay rave or a Saturday panel with A-list talent, but still offer single-day tickets for a Thursday or Sunday for those interested in picking up freebies, snapping up exclusive merch, or just general gawking. Most cons also feature some sort of public costume parade that is free to attend.
- 9 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 10
Comic books are a visual medium. Comic cons are feasts for the eyes. But the batsuit still has ears, so we’d like to think that this is what he’d be listening to.
- 10 of 10
Quartz Obsession — Comic cons — Card 12
In many countries across the world, Covid-19 caused a sudden decline in economic activity, followed by a rapid, or sluggish, recovery. As a result, staggering statistics became the norm. For instance, France’s industrial production fell by more than 20.6% in April from the previous month, but then rose by 19.9% in May.
This yo-yo economy has made it more important than ever to understand how to calculate and interpret percent change. As part of our guide to the data deluge, we walk members through a series of basic tools to understanding data, including a comprehensive guide to understanding statistical ups and downs.
- TAKE IT BACKThe most offensive curse word in English has powerful feminist originsQuartz • August 5, 2017
- SUCK IT UPThe world’s first “negative emissions” plant has begun operation—turning carbon dioxide into stoneQuartz • October 12, 2017
- BRAIN PRANKScientists studying psychoactive drugs accidentally proved the self is an illusionQuartz • February 9, 2018
- STEAM STEAM BABYEurope’s heatwave is forcing nuclear power plants to shut downQuartz • August 6, 2018
- LIGHTWEIGHT LIFE HACKWhy every cyclist needs a pool noodleQuartz • May 17, 2019
- WINDOW TO THE BRAINScientists may have found a better way to spot early signs of dementia: our eyesQuartz • July 11, 2019
- JOINTS ON A ROLLMore Americans are smoking marijuana than tobacco cigarettes nowQuartz • August 29, 2022
- Grown up techIt’s time for companies to digitally grow up. Here’s howQuartz at Work • January 31, 2023