50th Comic-Con International underway in San Diego

Global Business

Comic-Con, one of the world’s largest pop culture conventions, continues in San Diego.

While comics are a multi-billion dollar business, it continues to branch out in new directions.

In the 50th year of Comic-Con, heroes and villains from around the world – and other galaxies, too – are out in full force.

It’s an experience Comic-Con wants to have year-round, showing off its work in progress—a 6300 square meter museum that opened for a few days to induct Batman into the Comic-Con Hall of Fame.

At Comic-Con, becoming a hero sometimes means more than just pummeling bad guys.

We witness a photoshoot for at least a 100 Marvel characters. There’s plenty of Captain Americas, Spidermans, Black Widows and even a gigantic Iron Man inside his Hulkbuster suit.

Comic fans and cosplayers pose for a group photo at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.

But it’s not just fun and games for the organizer, Mark Chu-Lin, the Commanding Officer of the Avengers Initiative.

He helps organize volunteer cosplayers to visit children’s hospitals and charitable organizations.

“These kids are going through a very difficult time,” said Chu-Lin. “Seeing something that they read or see in films brought to life during this very physical and emotionally demanding time brings them some comfort.”

At the “Teaching with Comics” panel, educators are creating superheroes that can defeat a villain with certain powers.

Working in teams, problem-solving and creativity — this activity and others involving comics are already being used by teacher Peter Carlson in Los Angeles public schools.

“I’m co-writing a curriculum right now that looks at Ta-Nehisi Coates run on Black Panther with William Shakespeare’s the Tempest,” said Peter Carlson, Literacy Curriculum Specialist at Green Dot Public Schools. “It’s so much fun. So much fun to get into it and it shows the students how an older text has those applicable universal themes and also helps model that if you tell your story in any medium, that story can become part of the larger conversation that shapes the world around us.”

Comics aren’t just for kids, either. Susan Kirtley is the Director of Comic Studies at Portland State University, where students learn skills to help them find jobs in the industry. Kirtley’s program also explores ways to incorporate comics into school curriculum.

“I am by no means saying we are going to get rid of text-based literacy,” said Kirtley. “However, engaging our students with multiple intelligences, engages our students in different ways. But they are also sort of sophisticated image and text. And students have to make sense of how text matches with the image or how do they so they really call on students to do some rigorous intellectual thinking. But they are also really great stories.”

So, while the industry continues to cash in, others are exploring another dimension to comics—their power to educate and inspire.

Dominic Mah talks Comic-Con highlights and growing popularity

CGTN’s Mark Niu spoke with Dominic Mah, writer with Nerds of Color, about diversity in comics.