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A Brief History of San Diego Comic-Con (From a Guy Who’s Been Going Since He Was Ten)

1970: TWO Major events happened in 1970, including the first “mini-con” in San Diego, whose purpose was to generate interest and funds for a larger con. We can thank comic pros Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, and Richard Alf for starting it all. The one-day minicon, called “San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon”, on March 21, was a success! This led to a larger three-day event later on August 1-3. Both of these happened in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel, in beautiful downtown San Diego. The August event, “San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con”, featured guests like Ray Bradbury and Jack Kirby. Over 300 attendees crammed into that basement. Seems pretty manageable when you compare it to the hundreds of thousands of guests that go to Comic-Con these days.

1972: Name change! San Diego’s West Coast Comic Convention! In the seventies, the Con took place at the El Cortez Hotel in Downtown San Diego.

1973: Name change! San Diego Comic-Con! (SDCC)

1974: The first SDCC Masquerade is held. The event is one of the highlights of the Con every year, and the incredibly impressive “costume contest” has even led to some cosplayers being hired by Hollywood to work on costuming for big-budget films!


Source: Lucasfilm/Entertainment Weekly

1976: One of the first times a MOVIE is promoted at Comic-Con. A panel is held, showcasing some slides from a yet-to-be-released sci-fi film. The movie? STAR WARS. EVER HEARD OF IT?

1979: The Con moves to the Convention and Performing Arts Center (CPAC)! Also, Richard Donner’s Superman is released in theaters. Comics are cool to regular people. (Briefly.)

1987: The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the “Oscars” of comics, are held at SDCC for the first time! For the first two decades of the awards ceremony, Eisner himself hands out the awards. They take place every year at the Con on a Friday night. Also, Hector Navarro is born. The world will never be the same again.

1989: Tim Burton’s Batman is released in theaters. Comics are cool to regular people. (Again, briefly.)

1991: SDCC moves to the newly opened San Diego Convention Center!

1992: The Comics Arts Conference is first held at the Con. The CAC is the country’s top academic conference about comics and comic art. Peter M. Coogan, graduate student from Michigan State University, and Randy Duncan, Communication Department chair at Henderson State University, facilitated the creation of the conference.

1995: Name change! Comic-Con International: San Diego (CCI)

1997: Hector Navarro attends Comic-Con for the first time. He does it all in a Sunday afternoon. He’s surprised at the amount of “adult” comics and movies. He takes a picture with a guy dressed as Spider-Man at the Marvel Comics booth. The guy has a hole in his boot-sock. It doesn’t kill the illusion. Hector’s life will never be the same again.

1998: Blade is released in theaters. People don’t even know it’s a comic book movie, but MAN, that movie was rad, right?

x-menSource: 20th Century Fox/IMDB

2000: Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival (CCI-IFF) is created by Comic-Con and is held there for the first time. All genres of film are featured over the four-day event. Also, X-Men is released in theaters. We’re almost to complete acceptance by the outside world. Almost.

2002: Spider-Man is released in theaters. We made it. We’re here. Also, Hector Navarro dresses up as Wrestling Suit Spidey and walks around the con floor for the first time in costume. Kids think he’s really Spider-Man. It’s one of the best days of Hector’s life.

2004: The 6,500-seat Hall H is opened to showcase big projects. Fans rejoiced and immediately got in line.

2007: Marvel Studios holds their first Hall H panel, showcasing The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. Both casts and directors appear. The first trailer for Iron Man is shown, and everyone in Hall H (including Hector Navarro) knows it’s gonna be a hit. Also, Director Jon Favreau makes the ultimate comparison after a fan says that Tony Stark is kind of a bad guy in current Marvel Comics (specifically, Civil War). “Well, I always liked my Han that shoots first, so I say bring it.” Tony Stark will become a fan favorite.

2009: The final LOST panel is held, and questions are answered! Including, yes! Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert) DOES apply eyeliner! That beautiful bastard!

2010: Harrison Ford appears at his first Comic-Con to promote his movie, Cowboys & Aliens. He shows up handcuffed to Hall H, in either a nod to his character from The Fugitive, or to poke fun at the fact that he didn’t want to be there, and that the movie studios and Jon Favreau made him. Either way, Hector is so happy. Also, the cast of the Avengers Assembles for the first time on stage, two years ahead of their film debut. Marvel Studios wins Comic-Con yet again. Hector is STILL so happy.

2011: Tickets sell out in one day. Andrew Garfield appears for his first Amazing Spider-Man movie panel at Hall H in a cheap Halloween Spidey costume. He reads a letter he wrote describing how much the character of Spider-Man meant to him as a child and how the character gives him strength. Hector Navarro was there. He almost cried. (Hector’s wearing a Spider-Man shirt as he writes this.)

2013: Zach Snyder appears in Hall H to announce the plot of his Superman sequel. An excerpt from The Dark Knight Returns is read. The crowd looses their minds. Hector Navarro was there. He lost it.

2015: Comic-Con enters a deal to stay in San Diego through 2018.

3010: Comic-Con Intergalactic includes a panel featuring the head of Matt Groening showcasing his new show, Futurella. The Comic-Con logo now sports three eyes.



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