46 years and geeking strong
Convention season is in full swing, marked by WonderCon opening it's doors this Friday in Anaheim. WonderCon is one of a few conventions that is under the care and supervision of Comic-Con International. Comic-Con International; the parent to San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon, & New York Comic-Con; began as an idea a group of fans had that went on to be one of the largest fan-based organizations in the world. Luckily, Comic-Con International's Chief Communications and Strategy Officer, David Glanzer; was gracious enough to answer a few questions about Comic-Con & it's organization.
As the (multi-genre) Convention community continues to grow, how has Comic-Con International consistently maintained it's position as the premiere fan organization in the world?
If we have a special weapon or secret it's that we produce the type of show we would like to attend. We are a diverse group of employees with diverse interests in comics and the popular arts. We try to make sure our conventions reflect that by having an inclusive exhibit hall and a wide-ranging slate of programming.
With the convention being over 46 years old, what are some adjustments Comic-Con has made to maintain such longevity?
I think it's producing a quality show that takes into account the interests of our attendees. But space is also a consideration. When we first started we were in the basement of a local hotel. 300 people attended the first event, and last year we had well over 135,000 people. The challenges of finding enough space for exhibits and programs is probably high among the unique challenges and adjustments we've had to make over the years.
Comic-Con HQ is a great facet for making the Comic-Con experience more inclusive. Are there any other projects Comic-Con is considering for further outreach?
It's interesting because we’ve always focused on the two shows we produce, Comic-Con, of course, and WonderCon. But recently we've been able to look at being more community-involved by instituting the Comic-Con International Graphic Novel Book Club locally. And, Comic-Con HQ serves as a more universal community outreach. We're open to new ideas and new innovations. The challenge is always trying to find the time and resources.
Does it ever surprise the staff (or administration) the impact Comic-Con (with WonderCon & APE) have on the pop culture community?
Oh yes. It still amazes me when I see a celebrity talk about our conventions. Because we're so focused on producing a great show and it's a lot of work, we sometimes miss the exciting things going on around us. So yes, it's still surprising when a celebrity or elected official cites or mentions us.
What is the proudest accomplishment of Comic-Con International?
Without sounding boastful, I think it's providing a safe and comfortable environment for people to be themselves and appreciate art that, oftentimes, is overlooked by the general public.
When we started, I don't know if comic books, movies and science fiction/fantasy literature were consider true art. Certainly there were awards for excellence; but I think the general public looks upon these areas as somewhat disposable. I am proud that this organization has always treated those forms of art as genuine, worthy expressions of art.
Here's hoping to many more years of packed Halls and prosperity.
You can find out more information about WonderCon & Comic-Con International on their website: