Comic-Con, with a hyphen, is a registered trademark owned by San Diego Comic-Con International.
ComicCon, Comic Con, or ComiCon may in general refer to any of the many different comic book conventions including the following:
Comic Con’s are also held in other countries such as Australia—Oz Comic Con, India—Comic Con India, Romania—East European Comic Con, and Brazil—Comic Con Experience, just to name a few. Though there are many significant comic book conventions around the world each year, in the United States, Comic-Con International: San Diego is by far the biggest in terms of attendance and the number and diversity of exhibitors.
Comic-Con International: San Diego is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture. It began in 1970 when a group of comics, movie, and science fiction fans — including the late Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, and Richard Alf — banded together to put on the first comic book convention in southern California. Comic-Con started as a one-day “minicon,” called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon, on March 21, 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. The purpose of this single-day event—which included two special guests, Forrest J Ackerman and Mike Royer, and drew about 100 attendees—was to raise funds and generate interest for a larger convention. The success of the minicon led to the first full-fledged, three-day San Diego Comic-Con (called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con), held August 1-3, 1970, at the U.S. Grant Hotel, with guests Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby, and A. E. van Vogt. Over 300 attendees packed into the hotel’s basement for that groundbreaking event, which featured a dealers’ room, programs and panels, film screenings, and more: essentially, the model for every comic book convention to follow.
From the beginning, the founders of the show set out to include not only the comic books they loved, but also other aspects of the popular arts that they enjoyed and felt deserved wider recognition, including films and science fiction/fantasy literature. After one more name changes (San Diego’s West Coast Comic Convention, in 1972), the show officially became the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) in 1973 with the fourth annual event. In 1995, the non-profit event changed its name to Comic-Con International: San Diego (CCI). With attendance topping 130,000 in recent years, the event has grown to include satellite locations, including local hotels and outdoor parks. Over it’s four-and-a-half decade-plus history, Comic-Con International has continually presented comic books and comic art to a growing audience. That love of the comics medium continues to be its guiding factor as the event moves toward its second half-century as the premier comic book and popular arts style convention in the world.
San Diego Comic Convention—the corporate name of the non-profit organization behind Comic-Con International: San Diego—also puts on WonderCon. From 1995 until 2014, Comic-Con also was in charge of APE, the Alternative Press Expo, in San Francisco (2002-2014) and San Jose (1995-2001).
WonderCon was started in 1987 in Oakland, California, as “The Wonderful World of Comics Convention.” The show was the brainchild of Bay Area comics retailer John Barrett, who called on a number of friends and associates to help realize his vision, including Bob Borden, Bryan Uhlenbrock, Rory Root, and Mike Friedrich. Comic-Con International took over the show in 2002 and moved it from Oakland to downtown San Francisco in 2003. After 15 years as a Bay Area event, WonderCon was moved to Anaheim in 2012. The even is now called Comic-Con International Presents WonderCon Anaheim. WonderCon is literally the sister show to Comic-Con International, embracing all the main aspects of that show, including comics, movies, TV, animation, the Masquerade, and more.
APE, the Alternative Press Expo, started in San Jose in 1994. Founded by Dan Vado of SLG Publishing, the Alternative Press Expo was one of many shows across the United States that year that focused on independent comics. Vado’s vision was to create an event that would spotlight small publishing companies, self-publishers, and creators working in the alternative and independent side of the comics industry. This show also allowed greater interaction between attendees and creators and added fuel to the DIY comics movement growing around the world.
Other events dedicated to the world of comics include the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Awards, the Comics Arts Conference, and the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival.