The strange case of the superheroes, the geeks and the studios

Comic-con is both a Mecca for the people who love (and dress like) superheroes and villains, and, arguably, Hollywood's biggest marketing event of the year. Should it also be a public charity? By Richard Siklos, editor at large

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People walk through the exhibit hall at the San Diego Convention Center on the first day of Comic-Con 2008.
Among things the 125,000-odd attendees to this year's Comic-Con in San Diego might see: a sneak preview of the upcoming stoner comedy "Pineapple Express," a sneak peak at a new NBC network TV series called "Kings" (loosely based on the biblical David story), a discussion about the upcoming live-action version of the toy "GI Joe," and much else whose commonality is the fact that they have little to nil to do with actual comic books. But as Valerie Van Galder, the co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is releasing "Pineapple Express," told me, the mix of media and Internet-savvy fans at the event has become irresistible. "Comic-Con's kind of become a pretty wide-ranging playground," she said.
Last updated July 25 2008: 2:31 PM ET