The J!NX Crew at Comic-Con. Photo from company Facebook page

By Luis Monteagudo Jr.

A little-known San Diego company is sharing the Comic-Con spotlight this week with the big names from Hollywood.

For J!NX, this week’s Comic-Con is providing an opportunity to place itself in front of the more than 130,000 pop culture fans who descend on downtown San Diego.

The company makes video-game inspired clothing and accessories and has been around for 18 years. But it used Comic-Con this week to launch a fall catalog that is going to sold around the country in Hot Topic stores.

Comic-Con was the perfect place and time to make the announcement, according to J!NX co-founder Sean Gailey

“Everybody is here,” said Gailey. “They’re in our backyard.”

Gailey and a friend founded the company out of his two-bedroom Ocean Beach apartment and it grew into a large firm that was at first based out of Los Angeles. Today, J!NX has become one of the leading gaming apparel companies with 90 employees in its Poway headquarters and plans to expand.

“I really want to see J!NX continue to grow,” Gailey said.

J!NX makes T-shirts, jackets, hoodies and hats. A lifelong gamer, Gailey started the company because he saw that skaters and surfers had their own brand of clothing but not gamers.

“What I wanted to do is bring a lot of gaming art and passion,” he said.

So, the clothing is inspired by characters, images or designs from video games. The images have the pixel art video game look. The only rule he followed, said Gailey, was no images of video game controllers because that is “overdone, played out.”

The rising popularity of video games helped the company grow. So did its licensing agreements for hugely popular video games “Minecraft” and “World of Warcraft.” Today, the company boasts agreements for other popular games, including “Halo” and “Half-Life.”

The company’s Poway headquarters reflects the gamer lifestyle with offices decorated with toys and collectibles and a game room where people gather at lunch time.

Although J!NX has been a presence at Comic-Con before, the company has a bigger showing at this year’s event because of its announcement that starting Aug. 17, the J!NX brand will be sold at 500 Hot Topic stores across the U.S.

J!NX has had individual products sold at the stores before. But it’s the first time that the J!NX brand line will be sold at Hot Topic. Comic-Con attendees got first crack at the brand this week when the Hot Topic store in Horton Plaza started selling the clothes.

In the future, Gailey hopes to open a J!NX flagship store in San Diego. And the gaming addict hopes to start his own video game company.

For this week, however, he’s getting a rush from seeing his J!NX clothing on Comic-Con fans wandering through downtown.

“I can’t even put it into words,” he said.

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.