Comic-Con Comes To San Diego (And A City Near You)

As the world of marketing eases its way into the summer doldrums, we can always count on Comic-Cons to provide some action for our coverage. The one with more gimmicks below its cape than the Legion of Super Heroes has had reboots and re-launches -- the San Diego event that kicks off Thursday for about 130,000 attendees -- truly has “marketing executives [asking], ‘what have we got to show the geeks,’” this year, as the Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz puts it.

While it’s usually an opportunity to bring down the movie superstars and trot out “exclusive sneak peeks at coming releases in hopes of generating early buzz and excitement,” Fritz points out “there won't be a lot of big guns from the big screen this week. ‘Batman vs. Superman’? Not ready yet. ‘Fantastic Four’? It just started shooting. ‘Star Wars Episode VII’? Dream on, Comic-Con.”

Indeed, with the exception of Disney’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” this year’s event will be dominated by television shows, Fritz reports, including four series from Warner Bros. making their debut this fall.

That hasn’t stopped Entertainment Weekly from putting the forthcoming-in-10-months Avengers flick on the cover of its special “Comic-Con Preview” issue with an “Exclusive First Look” from the set “at the big, bad robot causing all the grief in next summer’s superhero team-up,” as Anthony Breznican writes on EW’s “PopWatch.”

“The cover story runs through a pivotal early scene in the movie that I witnessed on set, and explains where some of the new characters (Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, The Vision) fall on the good-guy/bad-guy spectrum,” Breznican continues. “It also reveals exactly how Marvel Studios is retooling the origin story for Ultron, who first appeared in the comic books in 1968.”

But while “Comic-Con is rooted in comic books, it grew into a phenomenon because it expanded to include other segments of the entertainment industry,” writes Lynn Lieu in the Desert Sun.

“It is all things to all people,” Jeremy Rutz, editor-in-chief of SDCCBlog.com tells Lieu. “You have movies, television and video games, board games, comics, toys, merchandise, collectible figurines... It's really become whatever your interest is and a lot of those things kind of overlay with mainstream interests. It's not niche things anymore.”

The includes Scion partnering with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett at the “Fear Festevil After Party” on July 25, as Marketing Daily’s Karl Greenberg reports this morning.

The San Diego event had  “humble beginnings as a one-off comic book event in 1970 in the basement of San Diego's U.S. Grant Hotel,” reports NBC Bay Area’s Colin Bertram. But for four days the city “will be awash with outrageous costumes, A-list stars, informative panels, limited-edition merchandise, fan-based art and yes, of course, aisles of rare and hard-to-find comic books.”

Although the San Diego mega event attracts the most stars and attention, but there are dozens of Comic-Cons all across the nation -- you can consult Upcomingcons.coms’ list for one near you here -- that have increasing gotten “corporate,” as NPR’s Kelly McEvers reports.

“This is a vastly growing market," says John Simons, founder and chairman of Comicpalooza, Houston’s leading event in the genre. “And a lot of that is tied to the fact that a lot of the things that were previously considered, you know, geeky or nerdy are now very mainstream; everybody goes to see Spider-Man.”

The lack of tentpole movie promotions in San Diego this year didn’t put a dent in ticket sales -- all 130,000 badges were sold out within 90 minutes of being put on sale, reports Wired's Eric Steuer in a short piece that offers eight other “great’ reasons to visit “America’s Finest City.”

And that’s not to say that this year’s event won’t be filled with star power, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Sean Bean and Jeff Bridges. Besides, “all you can do at Comic-Con is expect the unexpected,” hypes Hypable’s Marama Whyte in an update on the  “biggest news and events” it will be covering.

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