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A crowd of Comic-Con International San Diego attendees
Pat Loika/Flickr

JULY

Comic-Con International

From its humble origins as a fringe gathering of comic book fans in 1970, when barely 100 participants attended, Comic-Con has grown into one of the world’s biggest pop-culture extravaganzas. These days it draws around 130,000 eclectic attendees every July—gamers, anime devotees, fantasy and sci-fi fans, and of course comic enthusiasts—to the San Diego Convention Center for four days of workshops, screenings, previews of upcoming blockbusters, and, in the organization’s own words, a 'celebration of the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture'.

Old-school comics will always play a big role, but you can also attend panel discussions featuring top stars and directors, who come to promote their work and speak to their most devoted fans. In recent years, industry giants such as Sergio Aragonés (cartoonist, MAD magazine), Kevin Eastman (writer, artist and co-creator, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Bob Layton (writer and artist, Iron Man) have made appearances as special guests.

In addition to rubbing elbows with and gleaning knowledge from writers and artists, another draw is seeing cast members from your favourite sci-fi or fantasy shows—it's possible that they're there to promote their next venture. And apart from what’s being presented on stage, there’s a whole other show happening all over the convention centre, with attendees dressed up in elaborate costumes and imitating their favourite characters. Where else can you hang out with Batman, Predator, a zombie, the entire Incredibles clan and Darth Vader? Didn't get a ticket in time? There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the show. Read our guide on How to Hack Comic-Con.