by Tt Shinkan
With Comic-Con International this weekend, many people from around the world will be tuning in to see all the news regarding their favorite franchise or purchasing exclusive merchandise from the event. This event has given way to huge announcements such as the announcement for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, previews for Justice League, and the cast for The Avengers finally being announced. But has anyone ever stopped to wonder: “How exactly did Comic-Con come to be”? Well you’re in luck! This article will explore the history and backstory of the massive pop culture event and how such a small gathering turned into one of the most anticipated conventions of the year.
Like every great event, it has to have founders. Comic-Con International was founded by Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, and Richard Alf in 1970 as the Golden State Comic-Con. Fan conventions were just starting to gain more popularity in the late 60s and early 70s, so the idea to start a new convention just seemed reasonable at the time. This event was considered a “minicon”, a convention lasting only one day, and was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego on March 21, 1970 and featured two special guests: Forrest J. Ackerman (magazine editor and founder of the science fiction fandom) and Mike Royer (comic book artist). The founders wanted to not only include comic books, but other varieties in popular culture arts such as film and literature. The single-day con brought in nearly 100 attendees. The reason as to why these three held a one day only con was so that they could raise money and generate interest for a much larger convention.
This minicon proved to be a success and a few months later on August 1st through the 3rd, the three-day San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con was held at the same location. This slightly larger convention boasted nearly 300 attendees and included a dealers’ room, panels, and films screenings to name a few of the attractions. This was the model future comic conventions would look at and follow. Comic-Con moved to the Convention and Performing Arts Center in 1979 and stayed there until 1991 when the San Diego Convention Center opened and the convention moved and has stayed there ever since.
In 1972, the convention was renamed to San Diego’s West Coast Comic Convention and renamed a year later to San Diego Comic-Con. The name we know today, Comic-Con International: San Diego, was established in 1995, only 22 years ago.
Since the start, Comic-Con has grown to nearly 130,000 attendees and has branched out to include neighboring hotels and parks. Almost creating a college-campus-like feel with numerous events being held in different parts of downtown San Diego.
Unfortunately, on November 3, 2009, one of the convention’s founders, Shel Dorf, passed away due to complications regarding diabetes. In his memory, the Shel Dorf Awards were created as a way for fans to give a voice on what they believe is the best of the best in the media world.
With Comic-Con International 2017 upon us, it’s important for people to learn about the history and importance of this massive pop culture event. To be honest, without the major success of this convention, geek culture would probably be still lurking in the shadows, scared to show its face, but thanks to Dorf, Krueger, and Alf, geek culture hasn’t just come out of the shadows, it has become a normal part of our everyday lives.