Five or six years ago, Comic-Con San Diego was almost totally off the Star Trek radar, as was its New York cousin. Even a couple years ago, the "mid-year" WonderCon in the Bay Area by the same folks was much the same: whaaaat?
All that is changed now. The drip-drip-drip news of details and the packed audiences for JJ Abrams' movie advance vanguard at WonderCon last weekend is merely the crest of the overall Hollywood tidal wave that now crashes into these multi-genre conventions and threatens to send their attendance numbers to flood stage. Especially at Comic-Con, where both hotel rooms and panel seating is as scarce as an albino Orion.
What of the traditional fan cons, especially the Star Trek variety, fan and pro? It's obvious that JJ's team comes from the current TV-movie crop of producers who have risen to the heights knowing chiefly the last decade's bi-coastal Comic-Cons— and now WonderCon—as a great way to reach the hard-core faithful and make a big media splash at the same time. The genre, online and geek press, plus the "fringe" of mainstream media, have grown well-equipped to be familiar with those venues and their across-the-board star power moreso than traditional fan cons. (And yes, I know full well that the Comic-Cons and WonderCon sprang full-bore as fan cons and technically still are ... and Atlanta's Dragon*Con is not far behind. It's the obvious beacon to reach the Southern audience. with skyrocketing and crammed attendance numbers of its own.)
For a lot of people, this is not your father's fandom, much less franchise. And the ripple effects are still shaking out, for good and bad. Are we in a transition time for fandom —online geeks versus their elders, a potential two-track population—as much as for the Twitterati versus those still just happy to be emailing in our overall culture?
Stay tuned in any case—and more here on that ripple effect, later ...