Comic Con New York

Comic Con New York ()

History of Comic Cons

The first one-day comic convention (Comic Con) in 1964 took place in New York City and drew around 100 attendees. The event was organized by Jerry Bails, the “father of comic fandom” and creator of The Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors (ACBFC).

In Europe, the Italian Lucca Comics & Games held its first gathering in 1965. This classic comic con is now the second largest in the world and a must for die-hard comic book and role-playing game fans.

The U.K. held its first ComicCon in 1968. Many of the first British Comic Art Conventions (as they were officially titled) were organized by Bram Stokes the “godfather of British fandom,” and owner of the iconic “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed” bookshop in London.

However, it wasn’t until July 1, 1970, when the Golden State Comic Book Convention opened its doors that the world of fandom hit the mainstream. In 1973 it became the iconic San Diego Comic-Con.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, comic cons grew into massive pop culture events around the world. With the incorporation of comic book plotlines into mainstream media, film and TV, their popularity has swelled.

What Happens at a Comic Con?

When I walked into my first Comic Con in Dortmund, Germany, I was shocked at how big the event was.

There were hourly discussions and guest panels with famous individuals on the main stage. Plus, there were talks on the smaller stage that ranged in topic from props to the psychology of Star Trek. During panels, an open microphone was available, and I learned to line up early when I had questions for my favorite cast.  

A big part of the convention was given over to personal interactions with the actors and personalities. It cost extra for these brief meet-and-greet sessions with the actors, and prices ranged based on their popularity. I opted for a professional photo with my favorite actor, and it is prominently tacked to my office wall. Autograph sessions and quick selfie time were also on offer.

Later, I wandered a massive marketplace where vendors sold all kinds of items related to comic culture, film and TV, and gaming. There were T-shirts, collectors’ items, comic books, cosplay outfits and even realistic weapon replicas. Link’s Master Sword was calling to me.

An entire section of the convention was dedicated to cosplay with sets created for free picture taking. A few had small additional fees for extras like a photo printout. I was happy to pay one euro for an ice cream cone (a real one: I ate it) to go with my Scoops Ahoy pic.

It took me a while to understand that pictures were welcome from personal cosplayers as well, I just needed to ask. After that, I took selfies with every Jedi, superhero and Genshin Impact character I came across.

Another large part of the convention was dedicated to an artisan’s market where I made a few purchases from very talented individuals. There were jewelers, painters, digital artists and crafters all with their own style and take on film, comic or game art.

Even die-hard fans get hungry, so food trucks were parked throughout the convention center, plus there was a food court with picnic tables and seating.

Living in Europe gives you the chance to visit some unique conventions. Check our monthly Con Together articles for ideas of where to go. You don’t need to dress up, but cosplay looks so fun!

Some of the biggest European Cons:

Lucca Comics & Games. Lucca, Italy. Held around Nov. 1.

Angouleme International Comics Festival. Angouleme, France. Held in January.

Though Bubble Festival. Yorkshire, England. Held in November.

MCM Comic Con. London, England. Held twice yearly in May and November.

GamesCom. Cologne, Germany. Held in August.

German Film & Comic Con. Various locations (largest in Dortmund), Germany. Held throughout the year, the two largest cons are in May and Dec.

Zurich Pop Con & Game Show. Zurich, Switzerland. Held in September or October.

Comic Con Stuttgart. Stuttgart, Germany. Held in November or December.

Comic Con Brussels. Brussels, Belgium. Held twice yearly in spring and fall.

author picture
Kat is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Kaiserslautern, Germany with a special interest in anything outdoorsy or ancient. She has a bachelor’s degree in geography from Penn State University and has been a travel writer for about 10 years. Currently, she is in the depths of dissertation research for an archaeology degree at the University of the Highlands and Islands. 

The best stories from EUROPE, in your inbox

Sign up to receive travel tips, local event details, restaurant reviews, recipes, community news, and more every week from Stripes Europe.

Sign Up Now