This Thursday begins the four-day comics, movie and TV announcement frenzy that is Comic-Con International: San Diego.

 

Trailers will be dropped, TV shows, movies, video games or comic series will be unveiled, and major TV networks and movie studios will hold their interactive exhibits celebrating its fan-favorite franchises.

However, Mile High Comics, a comic-con regular for 44 years, won’t be there. President Chuck Rozanski made the announcement two weeks before the convention, citing a combination of rising booth costs (over $18,000 for a 70-foot booth), dwindling foot traffic in the comics area of the convention’s exhibitor hall and problems with convention organizers over its booth set up convinced him to not return.

The announcement marks a change that nerds of all fandoms have lamented in recent years: comic and anime conventions going “mainstream.” And who can blame them?

Conventions that started as a fan-gathering 10, 20, 30 years ago now fill convention centers with tens of thousands of people. With it is an experience of waiting in an hours-long line to look at merchandise or a chance to glimpse a famous actor or writer. It’s often at the cost of $100 or more and leaves many fans feeling like a herd of cattle.

It’s easy to look at conventions like Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con and Anime Expo as a promotional money-grab. And, in some ways, they are. For companies that produce or distribute content that brings fans to a convention in the first place, it’s an opportunity to market to those fans. As attendance rose, third-party companies that organize autographs, collectible ­merchandise and other aspects found a way to make a profit.

And as much as fans complain, it’s also a sign of the times.

Marvel and DC are dominating both the big and small screens, Star Wars is back, and video games are becoming a common past-time in the U.S. That brings more fans. Plus, the fan-centric conventions aren’t dead. The popularity of conventions like Comic-Con International: San Diego have inspired the growth of smaller, local comic and anime conventions all over the U.S. There might even be one a two-hour drive away from you.