When people think of comic book conventions, they tend to envision throngs of superhero enthusiasts, cosplayers, and collectors swarming the halls of convention centers. By and large, that's pretty accurate, but according to professors at New York's Pratt Institute, New York Comic Con is also inspiring more and more young students to seriously consider studying visual art.
In the last seven years, the number of undergrads pursuing degrees in graphic design, illustration, and animation at Pratt has swelled by about 18% from 546 students to 642. A large portion of that spike, Pratt associate professor Floyd Hughes explained to AM New York, can be attributed to New York Comic Con's cultural influence.
"A few years of ago, I had a handful of students who just attended Comic Con; now everyone has," Hughes, an associate professor in the Pratt Institute's communications design department, told the paper. "They understand that is part of the arena of art."
When NYCC first began back in 2006, the superhero genre of film was just beginning to become the pop cultural juggernaut that it is today. As time has gone on, though, major publishers like Marvel and DC have used the Con to showcase their books' transformation into multi-million dollar movie franchises.
Seeing that shift, Hughes said, has changed the way that aspiring artists and their tuition-paying parents think about comics as a career path.
"Parents are willing to send their kids to art school because of comics," he said. "It's not just socially acceptable, it's financially feasible."