9 questions about Comic-Con everyone asks

An image of Cosplayers at San Diego Comic-ConComic-Con International/Instagram

San Diego Comic-Con 2022 has finally arrived. It’s one of the biggest pop culture events of the year, but some people may still be wondering why. So, here’s all the basics – you’re not the first to ask, and you won’t be the last.

How you respond when you hear “Comic-Con” is entirely down to your hobbies: for entertainment journalists, it’s the guarantee of trailers and news for massive movies; for comic book readers, it’s a place to dress up as your favorite characters, splash the cash on collectibles and watch panels; and for those on the outside, it may seem a bit geeky.

Firstly, it is geeky – that’s kind of the point. Secondly, Comic-Con is more than just a cosplay convention – the San Diego event has hosted some of the biggest film and TV announcements of the past 10 years.

Is that the same for every Comic-Con? Is it Comic-Con or Comic Con? What is Comic-Con? For the people asking these sorts of questions, we’ve provided nine answers to questions some may have been afraid to ask – not because they’re bad, but because they’re simple.

1. What is Comic-Con?

Comic-Con is a convention focusing on comic books and associated movies, TV shows, and games. Over the past 20 years, each convention has widened somewhat, catering to horror, sci-fi, and fans of all sorts of IP.

They are open to the public, often with varying pricing depending on weekend passes and the costs of photo opportunities with attending celebrities.

2. What happens at Comic-Con?

During each Comic-Con, there’ll generally be stalls where attendees can buy and trade comic books, as well as offering other merchandise such as T-shirts, toys, and collectibles. There’ll also be panels, where notable commentators or stars will promote specific movies or shows, or discuss a particular topic.

New York Comic Con and London Film and Comic Con have bagged serious talent in recent years, with the former convention often hosting Walking Dead panels with the majority of the cast.

However, San Diego Comic-Con is the premier event for celebrity appearances and surprises. This year alone, Marvel Studios is hosting a panel with many, many never-before-heard announcements.

3. Is there more than one Comic-Con?

Yes, there are several different conventions around the world. While the first dates back to Comiccon ’64 in New York City, the most notable event is San Diego Comic-Con. In 2005, it even trademarked “Comic-Con”, forcing other events to refer to themselves as Comic Cons to avoid legal action.

Back in 2014, Salt Lake City Comic Con found itself on the end of a lawsuit from SDCC, with allegations it had piggybacked on the “creativity, ingenuity, and hard work” of the flagship convention. SLCCC didn’t back down, citing the countless conventions across the world.

4. What is the difference between San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con?

They’re the two biggest Comic-Cons in the world, but San Diego has the upper hand in movie and TV coverage. While New York Comic Con has The Walking Dead and a smattering of other panels, SDCC has a reputation for hosting almost everything, whether it’s Marvel, DC, Game of Thrones, or even The Walking Dead as well.

If you’re looking for the moment that SDCC transcended the niche “Comic-Con” assumptions, it’s in 2010, when Marvel Studios announced the cast of The Avengers, two years before the film was released.

All you need to do is look at how social media and other outlets prepare and react to SDCC. Over the course of this weekend, July 22-24, it’ll dominate entertainment news in a way that few other events could even dream of.

5. How much does it cost to go to San Diego Comic-Con?

Prices vary depending on whether you’re an adult, junior (aged between 13-17) or eligible for a military discount.

As of 2022, adult badges for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday day passes cost $69 each, while Sunday badges cost $47.

However, that’s if you manage to buy them when they initially go up for sale – if you try to buy from a third-party seller/scalper in the lead-up to the event, expect to hand over hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

6. How many people attend Comic-Con?

Naturally, it depends on the convention. At this year’s SDCC, more than 130,000 people are expected to attend, although other estimates for Saturday are far higher, with some speculating as many as 300,000 will flock to the event.

San Diego Comic-Con has maintained more than 100,000 attendees every year since 2006, with the exclusion of the past two years as a result of global restrictions.

Overcrowding has been a yearly concern for SDCC since 2006, with plans to expand the San Diego Convention Center failing to gain any momentum. Those plans still remain in limbo at the time of writing, and while concerns remain, the center has continually renewed its contract to host the event.

7. Do you need to dress up at Comic-Con?

Frankly, no. There is no requirement for anyone attending any Comic-Con to dress up or wear any sort of costume, be it a full suit or a mask.

When you’re there, you’ll see hundreds of fans dressed up as their favorite heroes, villains, and other characters, but it’s just an added bonus for those who take part, so don’t worry about going up against the pro cosplayers.

8. Why has Comic-Con become so popular?

It’s a fair question. Prior to the 2010s, many would consider Comic-Cons a bit too “geeky”, but something major has changed: geek culture is in the mainstream.

The MCU is the biggest franchise in movie history. Despite some turkeys, DC generates hype for each new movie, whether it’s Joker or Black Adam. Star Wars is more ubiquitous than it’s ever been. While never really gate-kept, lots of people are checking out comic books for the first time.

Have they always been interested in this stuff, and felt too scared to admit it? Have they fallen under the spell of comic books late in life? Who knows, but the widening appeal of Comic-Con is a major highlight of an over-saturated pop culture space.

9. What’s happening at San Diego Comic-Con this year?

The entire Comic-Con schedule is gigantic, as the event stretches over five jam-packed days. We’ve put together a schedule of everything we’ll be covering at this year’s event, which you can find here.

You can also find out about the latest news, trailers, and other announcements here.

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