At 40, Comic-Con grows into family affair

Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:05pm EDT
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By John Gaudiosi

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - If life truly begins at 40, as the old saying goes, then after four decades the giant Comic-Con pop culture showcase is seeing a rebirth of sorts among a new generation of attendees -- families and children.

Even as Hollywood travels here to hype their newest comic book movies such as "Iron Man 2," aimed mostly at teen boys and young men, this year's 40th anniversary of Comic-Con has seen older couples dressed as "Star Wars" characters looking for fun with their little stormtrooper children by their side.

The movie studios, videogame companies and comic vendors who hawk their goods at the convention attended by some 125,000 people have responded. This year, the Disney studio chose to promote family-friendly films like Robert Zemeckis' "A Christmas Carol," "The Princess and the Frog," "Toy Story 3D," "Beauty and the Beast 3D," and TV series "Phineas and Ferb."

"Those guys that were going (to Comic-Con) 20 years ago have kids now, and their kids are into this stuff," said Philip Lord, director of Sony Pictures Animation's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

"The audience for comics and the sort of general nerdy arts, has definitely grown, and the fans have definitely aged enough to where they're bringing their own kids," he said.

Comic-Con got its start as a convention for comic book lovers who would come together to trade magazines, talk comics, explore science fiction and even dress as their favorite superheroes. With the rise of comic book films in the 1990s, Hollywood began showing up.

A convention official said Comic-Con did not track numbers of families or children in attendance, but one only has to look around the packed convention floor to notice the growing number of pint-sized Batmans and Supermans flexing their superpowers.


<p>Lorie Wheeler (L) and Dillon Oleata, dressed as Marvel Comics' Black Cat and Spider-Man, sit during the 40th annual Comic Con Convention in San Diego July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>