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At Comic-Con, attendees can learn the business side of superheroes

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In addition to sneak previews of movies, and question and answer sessions with the likes of the original Lois Lane, attendees at this year’s Comic-Con also can learn a little something about intellectual property and the relevance of retail stores, if they’re interested.

Known more for attendees dressing up as their favorite superheroes than for scholarly or tactical business discussions, Comic-Con has more to offer than some people might realize.

Sandwiched between seminars celebrating the 30th anniversary of "Battlestar Galactica" and a first look at the new "Knight Rider" series are discussions on copyright law, how to behave if you’re working as an intern at a movie studio, and how comic books can be used to teach law.

The latter seminar, called “Comics and the Law,” features local law school professor James Cooper, of California Western School of Law.

He’ll be joined by professors from California State University, Long Beach, who will discuss how legal scholarship can be presented in a comic format, as well as intellectual property issues.

IP comes up a few times at Comic-Con, with several seminars teaching aspiring comic book writers how to protect their art.

Also for aspiring writers, there’s a seminar on Thursday somewhat cheekily titled “How Not to Break into Comics.” Here, industry insiders discuss common, and “often hilarious” mistakes that people make when trying to get work in the comic book industry.

Comic-Con organizers had held strong to the ethos that they don’t want to price out their best customers, namely teenagers and college students.

So even though the show is nearly completely sold out every year, the nonprofit organization doesn’t like to raise the price of admission.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re against the attendees learning how to make more money themselves. One seminar scheduled for Saturday is called, “Comic Book Law School 303: Let’s Make Lots of Money!”

That discussion covers everything from marketing to merchandising to distribution agreements; from the moment an artist has an idea to getting it published, and beyond.

Comic-Con offers investor-friendly seminars on new technologies such as the iPod-style click wheel that could revolutionize the way people read comic books, as well as discussions on how new media like the Web is effecting movie making.

Friday morning features a seminar called “Retail Relevance.” Panelists include publishers and retail store owners who talk about ways to keep old-fashioned retail stores on the forefront of the pop culture industry even with so many other competitors.

There are also lessons on using public relations to a comic book company’s advantage, and a discussion on “intern etiquette,” for those fanboys lucky enough to get a job at their favorite movie production house.

The panelists at that seminar are “prepared to discuss all aspect of interning for a major animation studio, how to secure an internship, the dos and don'ts, and ultimately how to turn them into work,” according to Comic-Con’s Web site.

In addition to business-oriented issues, Comic-Con also has numerous socio-political discussions scheduled. One Saturday event is called “Spirituality in Comics,” there are several seminars on gay and lesbian voices in the comic book industry, and race will come up as well.

And with this being an election year, there’s a seminar on political cartoons in newspapers.

Send your comments to Elizabeth.Malloy@sddt.com

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