Story by Luis Monteagudo Jr.
Photos by Chris Stone
Every year, Comic-Con gets dissected and scrutinized by the thousands of fans, bloggers and working media who attend the convention. But it’s also become the subject of academic study.Nearly a dozen university students who attended Comic-Con for the first time this year presented their observations at “The Culture of Comic-Con: Field Studies of Fans and Marketing,” a panel that’s part of an annual Comic Arts Conference held simultaneously with Comic-Con.
Now in its eighth year, the panel featured the reports of art, marketing and ethnography students from various universities who observed and researched many of the 130,000 fans who attended Comic-Con during the past week.
Some had heard the stereotype of Comic-Con fans as being nerds and geeks.
But that stereotype was dispelled by the wide range of fans they encountered.
“It definitely broke my idea,” said Katherine Deck, a crossfit athlete from Wittenburg University.
One of the observations was the many families who attend the convention.
Families come to the Con for many reasons, including teaching moral lessons to their children based on the superheroes they admire, to monitor the media their children watch and read and to improve communication with their children.
“It also allows parents to relive their own childhood and in doing so more effectively relate to their own children,” said Amy Williams, a State University of New York student. “I see popular culture as s medium of communication among families and across generation.”
Other observations: Thor and Loki were the most popular costumes. Popular culture is becoming more mainstream.
“It’s a lot like going to Disney World because it’s like seeing your favorite characters come to life,” said Alora Slak of Otterbein University.
And for many, most impressive was the camaraderie of the fans.
“There is a lot of love and dedication and passion toward comics and that love, dedication and passion creates a community,” said Judith Gallegos, a Lynchburg College art student.
Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast who has attended Comic-Con for more than 20 years. He was written for the San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.
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