Mayor Kevin Faulconer applauds as Councilman Todd Gloria (in blue) addresses Comic-Con news conference. Photo by Chris Stone
Mayor Kevin Faulconer applauds as Councilman Todd Gloria (in blue) addresses Comic-Con welcome. Photo by Chris Stone

By Ken and Chris Stone

Wearing a “Star Trek” shirt circa 1966, Kevin Faulconer introduced himself at a Comic-Con press conference Thursday morning as “your mayor and your captain, James Tiberius Kirk Faulconer.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer flashes Vulcan salute from “Star Trek.” Photo by Chris Stone

“Joining me is the crew of the Starship San Diego,” Faulconer said at the San Diego Convention Center. “We’re ready to take this convention where no convention has gone before.”

On the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek” and the 47th year of Comic-Con San Diego, Faulconer and council members Sherri Lightner and Todd Gloria hailed the event as a $130 million boost to the region with $3 million going to the city’s general fund.

Faulconer highlighted the old TV show for promoting “ideals” held by San Diegans.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, young or old, gay or straight, Vulcan or Klingon, Comic-Con fans are free to express themselves,” he said. “That’s one of the most beautiful things about this event.”

Council President Lightner recalled that in high school she was part of an “underground filmmaking club” that even had its own metallic jumpsuits “when we were attempting to do our own ‘Star Trek’ series.”

“We were very excited about it,” she said, “because ‘Star Trek’ was groundbreaking in many ways — there was gender and racial equality, and important social issues were discussed and explored on the program.”

Gloria, whose District 3 includes downtown, wore Spock ears and said: “I didn’t go for 10 years to Vulcan School for nothing.”

But as chair of the City Council budget committee, he called Comic-Con “so important for our neighborhoods. The revenue that we generate from all of those visitors — $3 million to city general fund — that’s our road-paving money. That’s our police money, library money.”

Mindful that the convention is guaranteed to make San Diego home through only 2018, he said to cheers: “This event should always be in San Diego, am I right?”

Wearing a gray business suit, Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer gave little hint about its future beyond 2018. But he noted that San Diego becomes “the crossroads of popular culture each summer.”

Gloria hailed Comic-Con International as “so wonderful to work with. We all benefit from this event. We want them to stay here forever.”

But while noting the future of the Con is a “ongoing discussion,” he later said it “all depends on whether or not we’re able to expand our convention center. The city has it as a top priority. We’re doing everything we can to move that project forward.”

Faulconer, keeping to the “Star Trek” theme, closed his 3-minute welcome with: “Thank you for coming; let’s have a great Comic-Con San Diego. May you all live long and prosper.”

The first day’s highlight is expected to be the Comic-Con debut of controversial filmmaker Oliver Stone, who is scheduled to show clips of his latest film, “Snowden,” and take part in a question-and-answer session with actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley and Zachary Quinto. Gordon-Levitt plays title character Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who divulged U.S. National Security Agency secrets before fleeing to Russia.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stone will also conduct a secret screening of the film for invited guests.

“Snowden” is scheduled to open in theaters Sept. 16.

Other first-day highlights include a world-premiere screening of the USA series “Falling Water,” the 75th anniversary of Captain America, the 19th annual Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza and the Cartoon Network Costume Ball.

Comic-Con International Director of Marketing and Public Relations David Glanzer speaks while Mayor Faulconer and City Council President Sherri Lightner look on. Photo by Chris Stone

Comic-Con puts the cap on a big month for San Diego tourism, in which thousands of visitors were lured to town by the July 4 holiday weekend, baseball’s All-Star Game, the Over-the-Line Tournament and the San Diego Pride Parade and Festival.

Officials are urging the use of public transit because of the huge crowds of attendees and gawkers expected in downtown San Diego over the next few days. The Metropolitan Transit System will run Blue and Green line trolleys every 7 1/2 minutes during peak periods, with the last trains leaving downtown after midnight. The Convention Center and Gaslamp stops provide access to the venue.

The MTS has also printed a limited quantity of commemorative Comic-Con day passes.

North County Transit District officials said they will add a northbound Coaster train that will leave the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego at 9:15 p.m. Amtrak will not accept Rail-to-Rail service with Coaster fares during Comic-Con.

For those who don’t attend, this is the first year for Comic-Con HQ, a video on-demand service in partnership with Lionsgate that will remain free through Monday. During the four days of the event, the service will include airings of select panels, access to the convention floor, the masquerade ball and the Eisner Awards, according to Comic-Con officials.

The ad-free streaming service is available at www.comic-conhq.com/landing
for computers and iOS/Android devices.

— City News Service contributed to this report.