By Guy Hanford
San Diego Comic-Con began its 43rd convention with a preview night on Wednesday, followed by a four-day fan fest through Sunday, July 21.
This pop culture phenomenon began in 1970 as the brainchild of Shel Dorf, with the assistance of Greg Bear, Richard Alf, Mike Towry and Ken Krueger. It was originally called San Diego’s Golden State Comic Con. This wordy title was to acquaint collectors with its whereabouts, and the first venue was the U.S. Grant Hotel followed by UCSD.
I first met Shel at the 1972 Comic-Con, which was held at the historic El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego on Ash Street. His enthusiasm was contagious and his love of comics was obvious.
The El Cortez was a small venue but had amazing charm with its various convention rooms packed with exhibitors and celebrities. This was an event where enthusiasts of comics, sci-fi, horror and other nostalgia could proudly discuss their passion with other collectors. We all understood the importance of caring for a comic, toy or trading card and shared the same excitement when Inspector Henderson of the 1950’s Superman TV series walked into the room followed by Kirk Alyn of the 1948 and 1950 Superman serials.
My hobby carried over to the upstairs ballroom where I projected 16mm movies and shorts on a screen for a few hundred fans from midnight until all eyes were closed. Other memorable experiences of the early cons would include meeting Forrest J. Ackerman, a
devoted enthusiast and participant in the sci-fi and horror genres. We stood in awe as we met Jim Mooney, DC Comics artist, and Jack Kirby, Captain America artist. Ray Bradbury greeted his fans and willingly signed autographs for his followers.
The year 1977 brought us Star Wars fever, and we wanted to be a Jedi Knight and serve Princess Leia as we entered the world of role playing and costuming. Everyone who attended these early days has their favorite memory. After El Cortez, the con moved to the Golden Hall at the Community Concourse and then to its present location at the San Diego Convention Center.
What is the attraction?
For many, it is a first time experience to this culture of collecting, costuming and art. It is an opportunity for many to explore their own talents and meet other artists. It is also a social gathering and fan fest where we can meet icons of the industry, past and present.
You have the opportunity to dress as a superhero, villain or invented character and be the center of attention to fans and photographers. You can see the latest and most futuristic announcements of your genre in every imaginable media. The con is an opportunity to make connections with other fans and professionals.
The environment of the con is one we would dream about for a future society. We are free to express ourselves without ridicule and accept and encourage the diversity of others.
Preview of 2013 San Diego Comic-Con
New TV shows and movies will be previewed. Television highlights include
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
- Trailer www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3T-evQZiQo.
Game of Thrones
fans will still be discussing the ‘Red Wedding’ — www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnxvUuSzbMI. Dexter Morgan fans will guess the fate of
, now in its final season.
devotees will gather to suck out info of upcoming episodes of Season 6, and we can only speculate on how the residents of Chester’s Mill get out from
Under the Dome
, and is anyone safe in
At the movies, sci-fi fans will want the latest on
, the techno-thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgGPTa7-vlE. Terry Gilliam returns with
The Zero Theorem
starring Christoph Waltz. Fans of
Shaun of the Dead
will be awaiting
The World’s End
, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ibQvQUpMTg.
The Lego Movie
enters the sci-fi genre to save the world. Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPnY2NjSjrg. Other movies to watch for include:
The Wolverine, Kick Ass 2, Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Frankenstein’s Army
- Check the schedule to see the line-up of panel presentations for these programs and other fan favorites.
Comic Book Scene
See the latest in comic book releases at www.newsarama.com/. Fans will follow Tony Stark in
Iron Man, Spider-Man
face off, learn the future of
, and collect your favorites. You may start reading
by Bill Willingham and
by Robert Kirkman of
fame. Venture into
The Books of Magic
by Neil Gaiman, and for you animal lovers
Beasts of Burden
by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. Now is the time to check with your grandparents and see if they have a hidden collection of comics. Your student loan could be easily paid off with an issue of Action Comics introducing Superman. The estimated value of a mint issue is over $1.5 million.
Scoring a Ticket to the Comic-Con
If you score the infamous four-day pass with a preview night, consider yourself blessed by the gods. Bring your water bottle, energy bars and plenty of cash. This is the hottest event of the summer in San Diego.
Maybe you didn’t get the golden ticket to the con. You can still volunteer and try to earn a day
pass. There are many activities all around downtown San Diego during the Comic-Con that you can attend or crash. Numerous happenings are taking place throughout the day and night, so get in there and use your creativity. Most of all — have fun.
Guy Hanford, who retired from teaching after 39 years with the Ramona Unified School District, is active in the family business, Kensington Video in San Diego and has been a Comic-Con fan since its start.