Comic Cons, namely, festivals about comics and videogames, are growing more and more popular in recent years. This kind of event involves both niche markets, like independent manga authors or K-Pop music, as well as renowned superhero movies and famous videogames; that’s why they are likely to attract large crowds of visitors.
Next week Ancona will host its first Comic Con at the Palaindoor. While you are getting ready, maybe even sewing your handmade costume for the cosplay contest, let us tell you a bit more about comic cons all over the world, and why they are worth a visit even if you are not into this kind of entertainment.
The first comic con was held in New York in 1964. In those early days, these kinds of events were actually conventions about comics, organised by enthusiasts for other enthusiasts, for no commercial purpose. As time went by, comic cons started to include a variety of activities – not only panels with comic artists, but also cosplay contests, previews of films, concerts, sales of gadgets and toys – becoming in fact a festival of pop culture. They also started to become a business: it is estimated that the comic con of San Diego – more on that later – has an annual regional economic impact of $162.8 million (source: Wikipedia). Today, at a large comic con, you can get a sketch by your favourite manga artist, meet the actors and voice actors, discover emergent artists and, more importantly, meet people who share your interests/obsessions 😉
These festivals are all over the world, below you can see a list of the most famous:
SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL
It is by far the most famous convention of this type, the Mecca for every fan of comics and pop culture. It is held every summer in the San Diego Convention Center and attracts every year more than 130,000 people, often with overcrowding issues. It is famous for its large number of panels and guests, and because it hosts previews of famous fantasy or fiction movies. Some celebrities will also happen to be at the comic con as visitors, but in most cases they are so buried in their costumes and mask that you’re not very likely to spot them!
KOMIKET in Tokyo
Shoujo, Shonen, doujinshii are everyday words to you? You come home and say tadaima? You call your boss senpai (don’t do this!)? Then the Komiket is where you need to be, at least once in your life. Comiket is short for “comic market”, as it is a festival mostly about about doujinshii, that is, fanmade comics. Doujinshiis are often based on characters of existing mangas, therefore authors of doujinshiis traditionally keep away from the spotlight to avoid litigation about copyright. However, this kind of non-official art has become wildly popular in Japan since the early 2000s, with shops entirely dedicated to them. Because of this, anime enterprises now tend to turn a blind eye about this phenomenon – as the number of doujinshiis related to an anime/manga is a thermometre of its popularity, not to mention free publicity. So, at the Comiket, you can get to meet emergent manga artists and buy their work, or simply experience the atmosphere of being right in the cradle of Japanese pop culture.
LUCCA COMICS AND GAMES
It is actually one of the oldest comic cons, the first edition taking place in 1965, and the biggest comic con in Italy. It takes place every autumn – this year it starts on the 31st October – and attracts about 500,000 visitors. During this time of the year, the streets of the relatively small town become populated by people in costumes from all over Italy. At this event you can meet famous mangakas, play videogames and take part in role-playing games. A few days after the end of the festival there is an exposition involving international artists. A particularity of this comic-con is the so-called “caccia al Macaluso”: this activity, available only to the staff, consists in “hunting down” Alberto Macaluso, a member of the staff, tying him down and having artists draw on him. Who said nerds were weird?
In conclusion, in most big cities in the world there is, or there will be, a comic con.
If it’s your first time there, remember to wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared for long queues. If the convention is very big, you may want to plan your route, as visiting everything will be impossible. You will come home utterly exhausted, and probably promising yourself not to do anything of that sort ever again, but maybe the following year you will come back in a full-gear costume.
Whatever the case, we hope you’ll have fun!
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