Superhero fans, Hollywood execs flock to Comic-Con

Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:35pm EDT
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By Sarah Tippit

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Like wannabe Dark Knights answering the call of the "bat signal," throngs of grown men wearing tights and capes converge this week to revel in all manner of superhero lore and merchandising at the 39th annual Comic-Con Convention.

More than 125,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event, which opens Thursday, to indulge in a veritable feast of the latest in comic-related books, movies, toys, games and memorabilia.

Tickets to the convention, which has grown to encompass large doses of science-fiction, fantasy and comedy fare as well as the more traditional comic book genre, sold out months ago and are being scalped on the Internet for upward of $400 apiece, organizers said.

Many attendees admit they come for the traditional Superman fan club soirees, rare memorabilia exhibits, and panel discussions on topics such as the "Klingon Lifestyle," derived from the famous "Star Trek" TV series.

However "the Con," as it is known among fans, has changed considerably since its inaugural meeting nearly four decades ago, when about 300 geeky fans milled around piles of musty comic books. Long catering mostly to men, many of whom dress as their favorite superheroes, the event has sought in recent years to attract more women and families.

Hollywood studios in particular have turned Comic-Con into a major event for various film and television promotions that now account for about a quarter of the convention's offerings.


With blockbuster films like Batman sequel "The Dark Knight" heating up the summer box office and rocketing the superhero genre to new heights, Comic-Con has become a key marketing platform for studios seeking to tap the media-savvy, word-of-mouth enthusiasm of comic book devotees.   Continued...

<p>Actor Christian Bale as Batman is shown in a scene from director Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters July 18, 2008. REUTERS/Warner Bros. Pictures/Handout</p>