At Comic-Con '08, Hollywood's Watching

Weiland called Comic-Con the "Cannes of the West."

"Pop culture, in general, is being driven by comic books -- we have seven comic book movies out this summer," he said. "If comics continue to drive popular culture and continue to drive the Hollywood engine, Comic-Con is going to grow as a result."

Last-Minute Rush

During the week leading up to the convention, Johnson said his office will field calls from Hollywood insiders who are scrambling for last-minute tickets.

"They're in a cocktail party, and half of Hollywood is there, and somebody realizes they don't have a ticket, and then their intern is calling to see how they can get in," Johnson said. "It's pretty funny how you are able to sense the buzz by the number of phone calls and e-mails."

"Obviously, when you have Hollywood putting it into its agenda, then it's really a pretty significant milestone," Johnson said.

At any given time during the event there are 60,000 people in the building, including 45,000 on the exhibition hall floor, Johnson added. "It's an amazing sight to see tens of thousands of people inching their way around, and amongst the crowd are hundreds of people dressed in full-on costumes."

Attendees' comics-inspired garb can be a challenge for organizers who must adapt safety measures to their costumed clientele, Johnson said.

"If somebody brings a sword with them, we have to make sure it stays in their sheath."

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