No matter how you try to prepare yourself for the scale of the event, Comic-Con overwhelms you with the sheer number of people squeezing into the exhibition halls. The much-hyped San Diego event kicked off this evening, and despite the local news describing first night attendees as "a lucky few", the packed centre was a frenzy of activity. It was difficult to get from one end of the giant convention centre to the other, but we valiantly made the effort to stumble through the throng, despite young women in Heroes cheerleader outfits conspiring to distract us.
Above: crowds begin to gather at the convention centre.
Upstairs in the screening room, Warner Bros Television was the only studio showing material this evening, tantalising attendees with a footage from new shows V and Human Target. But the main action was downstairs, as a chamber huge enough to accommodate several football pitches hosted hundreds of stands, here to promote everything from obscure small press comics to multinational games firms.
Above: movie District 9 takes over one of the many hall entrances.
Comic-Con International this year prepares for its 40th anniversary. Originally showcasing comics, the convention has grown to cover sci-fi and fantasy across multiple media, as well as embracing the popular arts, toys, games and more. There is now a tradition of movie and TV studios making their biggest annual announcements here, and 150,000 people are expected through the doors between now and Sunday.
Above: Iron Man suits on the Marvel stand in the main hall.
After hanging out with bloggers Kell and Narin (Syfy has turned a nearby restaurant into a Eureka-themed Café Diem) SFX used the opportunity this evening to get our bearings and plan tomorrow's activities. The biggest stands belong to Marvel, DC and Lucasfilm, the latter mostly celebrating the return of The Clone Wars to TV this autumn. The Marvel stand boasted a line-up of life-size Iron Man suits. Keen fans were gridlocked between all the tables as they queued for freebies - District 9 tat was much in demand - or to buy the various Comic-Con exclusive merchandise. Our chums on the 2000 AD stand told us that even on this single preview night their stocks of exclusive San Diego Judge Dredd t-shirts were severely depleted.
Above: life-size models of characters from The Clone Wars.
So if tonight was enough to over-stimulate thousands of fans, just think what's going to happen when the action gets properly launched in the morning. There's plenty to look forward to, with presentations from Disney (Alice, Tron), Summit (Twilight: New Moon) and Fox (Avatar) dominating the chat about tomorrow.
Above: a giant exo suit from forthcoming film Avatar.
Later in the week we'll also be following Iron Man 2, District 9, Doctor Who and The Prisoner news. Stay with us and we'll keep you updated with all the gossip from the convention centre. Be seeing you.