San Diego Comic-Con is a fantasy come true for aspiring superheroes

San Diego Comic-Con is a fantasy come true for aspiring superheroes
(David Horsey / Los Angeles Times)

The annual Comic-Con International opens today in San Diego, bringing together comic book artists, graphic novelists, movie studios, TV networks, video game makers and a merry horde of folks who like nothing better than dressing up as their favorite fantasy character.

When comic books first began back in the early part of the 20thcentury, they were a decidedly lowbrow art form frowned upon by moralists who thought they would corrupt the nation's youth. Now, as the various comic-cons around the country attest, comic books and the world of superheroes they have spawned are at the heart of a huge piece of the entertainment business. For evidence of that, look no further than the summer season's blockbuster movies, such as "Iron Man 3," "Man of Steel," "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "The Wolverine."

The 130,000 attendees at this year's event in San Diego will occupy the city's Gaslamp Quarter like an invasion of Klingons. In fact, some of them will be dressed like Klingons – as well as Batman, Captain America, Princess Leia, Pokémon, Catwoman, various zombies, vampires and alluring nymphs, plus many, many other characters born in comics, graphic novels, science-fiction movies and the broad world of fantasy.

Any two of these role players may turn out to be just a mom and dad from a cul-de-sac in Orange County, but for the next four days, they will be transformed into magical beings with awesome superpowers – or at least an impressive power of imagination.