Then, somewhere over the past few decades, the San Diego Comic-Con became the place to be.
In stark contrast to that early figure, next week, roughly 130,000 people are going to crowd the conference halls of the San Diego Convention Center and the surrounding area. Major movie studios will be showing off their latest work, desperately hoping for fan approval. And the estimated economic impact of the four-day fest? $162 million. Not bad for what began as a place to trade back-issues of Spider-Man.
So what can fans expect once the festival starts on Wednesday night? Well, for the most part, a ton of announcements about the latest in movies, television, comics, and more.
Hall H is the biggest conference room at the San Diego Convention Center, and it regularly fans waiting in line for hours to catch glimpses of the huge properties holding panels here. This year, the tradition continues, with the directors and casts of some of the most hyped upcoming films presenting new footage and answering fan questions.
Guillermo del Toro's upcoming giant monster flick Pacific Rim seems to be making the most noise in fan circles, with fan buzz building for the director of Pan's Labyrinth's latest work. Del Toro called his latest work a beautiful poem to giant monsters. Hopefully, fans will get to catch a glimpse at just how fierce the monsters will look. Pacific Rim takes the stage on Friday along with upcoming Warner Bros' productions Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises.
Hot off the heels of The Avengers record-breaking opening, Marvel Studios will be showcasing Iron Man 3 on Saturday night. While filming for the movie has only been in production for a few weeks, Marvel is expected to make a grand spectacle for its Iron Man event. After all, it is the successor to 2012's most popular film.
Since making its debut last year, HBO's fantasy epic Game of Thrones has been one of the most talked-about shows on TV. The adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series will be taking over Hall H, right after another fan-favorite genre show, The Walking Dead, holds its panel. Both shows are expected to leak some production information about their upcoming third seasons.
Fans of Adult Swim's bizarre brand of adult humor can get excited about the network's offering on panels, with hours set aside on Friday for shows like The Venture Bros., Robot Chicken, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Other popular shows making the rounds at the convention include NBC's much-loved but little-viewed Community, supernatural drama True Blood, and even a special 10th-anniversary panel for Joss Whedon's Firefly.
Ah, comics. While the convention has given increased time to movies, TV, and other big-media projects in recent years, SDCC still hasn't forgotten its roots. Marvel and DC, the world's two biggest comic publishers, both have several panels lined up for the long weekend.
Recently, Marvel announced plans to revamp its entire comic line under the name Marvel NOW. More details about the shake-up are scheduled to emerge at the event.
Meanwhile, DC Comics plans on spotlighting its newest line, Before Watchmen, a series of comics that act as a prequel to the groundbreaking 1985 graphic novel that inspired a 2009 blockbuster.
Also planned are tributes to comic greats such as Harvey Pekar, Jack Kirby, and Will Eisner, as well as panels for successful independent comics such as Love and Rockets and Locke & Key.