July 18, 2013

History of the San Diego Comic Con

Today is Day 1 of the 2013 San Diego Comic Convention better known as Comic-Con.

What is Comic-Con?

The convention was founded in 1970 by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, Mike Towry, and Greg Bear. Detroit, Michigan-born comics fan Shel Dorf, had in the mid-1960s mounted the Detroit Triple-Fan Fairs, one of the first commercial comics-fan conventions. When he moved to San Diego, California in 1970, he organized a one-day convention (Golden State Comic-Minicon) on March 21, 1970 "as a kind of 'dry run' for the larger convention he hoped to stage." Dorf went on to be associated with the convention as president or manager, variously, for many years until becoming estranged from the organization. Alf co-chaired the first convention with Krueger and became chairman in 1971.

Following the initial gathering, Dorf's first three-day San Diego comics convention, the Golden State Comic-Con, drew 300 people and was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel from August 1–3, 1970. Other locations in the convention's early years included the El Cortez Hotel, the University of California, San Diego, and Golden Hall, before being moved to the San Diego Convention Center in 1991. Richard Alf, chairman in 1971, has noted an early factor in the Con's growth was an effort "to expand the Comic-Con [organizing] committee base by networking with other fandoms such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Mythopoeic Society, among others. (We found a lot of talent and strength through diversity)." By the late 1970s the show had grown to such an extent that Bob Schreck recalled visiting with his then-boss Gary Berman of Creation Conventions and reflecting, "While [Berman] kept repeating (attempting to convince himself) 'This show's not any bigger than ours!' I was quietly walking the floor stunned and in awe of just how much bigger it really was. I was blown away."

The convention is organized by a panel of 13 board members, 16 to 20 full-time and part-time workers, and 80 volunteers who assist via committees. Comic Con International is a non-profit organization, and proceeds of the event go to funding it, as well as the Alternative Press Expo (APE) and WonderCon. In September 2010, the convention announced that it would stay in San Diego through 2015.

According to the San Diego Convention and Visitor's Bureau the convention has an annual regional economic impact of $162.8 million, with $180 million economic impact in 2011.

For a list of complete 2013 Comic-Con schedule of celebrity appearances, panels and other useful information visit here.

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