Story by Alex Garcia – Photography by Braulio Capi Bello

Cosplay and Comic books have inspired one of the biggest events in the world known as Comic-Con International San Diego.

Comic-Con’s first show was held on March 21, 1970 in San Diego, California by a group of San Diegans who loved comics, movies and science fiction. This group included the late Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger and Richard Alf who decided to put together the first ever comic book convention in Southern California.

Comic-Con originally began as a one day “minicon” which was originally called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon and was held in downtown San Diego in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel. The original goal of the group, which was able to draw about 100 attendees to the show and included two special guests Mike Royer and Forrest J. Ackerman, was to raise more money for a bigger convention.

The success of the first show led to them being able to host the first ever three-day Comic Con from August 1-3,1970 in the U.S. Grant Hotel which became known as San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con.

The founders of Comic-Con not only wanted to include the things they loved, most which was comic books, but they also wanted to expand and include films and science fiction/fantasy literature. In 1995 they officially changed the name to Comic-Con International San Diego and it still holds the name this day. The convention has been held at the San Diego Convention Center for decades since the basement of a hotel became too small.

Now, when the convention first began the amount of people who attended grew substantially every year. In recent years, more than 150,000 people attended the annual event. What began as as a comic and film convention has changed drastically into a convention that is not like any other convention you would go to.

Over the years, many fans have developed a thing called cosplay, in which a fan dresses like their favorite movie, comic book or a video game character, and role plays as the character. When the convention first began you didn’t see people dress up and get into it like people do now. It was donned as being a very “immature” thing to do, so you only saw certain models or paid actors dressing up.

Nowadays, the streets and convention center pile up with fans of all sorts of ages from all over the world dressed up as their favorite character hoping that he or she will be there, so that they can maybe get an autograph and a picture.

Comic books at a comic book store.

The comic book selection at Knowhere Comic Shop on Oct. 24, 2019. (Braulio Capi Bello/Impact)

The word “Cosplay” was coined in Japan in 1984. It was inspired by people dressing up at science fiction conventions. The first ever “Masquerade Ball” was held at comic con in 1974 during the conventions sixth event. June Foray was the master of the ceremonies. Brinke Stevens won first place for wearing a Vampirella costume.

Back then Comic-Con would use dressing up as an incentive, by offering free admission to anyone in costume. There have been conventions specifically made for cosplay including an Anime Expo that is located in Los Angeles.

“Comic-Con has evolved so much over the years, when it first began I never thought it would grow into what it has become for the “nerd” culture all over the world. I remember when it was first starting up there weren’t many people who cared for comics and the science fiction fantasy world, like you see nowadays,” said former employee Ray Garcia.

“Now, we have a lot more people developing a love for the fantasy comic world, that it is beginning to lead to more chaos and excitement. If you decided to attend this event you better make sure and pay attention to when the tickets will be released, because if you don’t, then either you won’t be able to obtain a ticket or your gonna have to pay an arm and a leg for one Tickets have become not only hard to get, but they have become expensive.” said fellow attendee Mike Perez.

A four day pass to the event for an adult will cost you about $1000 and for children it’s about $800 and that’s buying the tickets a year in advance. If you decide to wait, you’re going to end up paying almost $2000.

“This event was a yearly thing for my son and I when we started going in the late nineties, but as the years passed the price for tickets is just ridiculous. Back in the nineties ticket prices for adults were about 75 dollars and tickets for children were about 30-40 dollars. The change in price from then to now is just ridiculous. Not to mention when you arrive at the event, everything inside is also overpriced. To buy just a simple water bottle will cost you eight dollars and throw a 10 dollar hot dog on top of that and your paying just about 20 dollars for two simple things, that’s why my son and I decided to stop going everything is just becoming too expensive,” said long time attendee Blas Garcia.

Comic-Con has also changed the city of San Diego. On that weekend downtown San Diego over packed with people, hotels are all sold out and people fill up the streets. Back in the day the city of San Diego didnt have this problem since there weren’t that many people who went.

Now you have over 150,000 people attending a four day event and not to count the events leading up to Comic-Con. From Wednesday to Sunday the town is now filled with over 150,000 people attending the four day event.

With that amount of people comes major profits not only for the event, but for the town of San Diego. When this annual event presents itself, San Diego is prepared to accommodate the fans with lots of activities not only at the event but around the town.

Famous Comic book authors and celebrities of all kinds fill up the convention center to have a meet and greet with all their fans. When comic-con first started there weren’t as many celebrities that participated in the event, now you have celebrities from all over the world that come to participate.

Comic-Con is an event that has it upsides and downsides, but it definitely is an event that one should attend if they love comic books, science fiction movies and dressing up as their favorite characters. So the next time you hear about Comic-Con tickets going on sale make sure and buy your ticket early and get all the supplies you need to complete your masterpiece of an outfit so that you can win a competition or two.