San Diego Comic Con: The True Story | NowThis Nerd

Hi everyone, I’m Moose, Hey guys, I'm Kya, Hey everyone, I'm Andrew and we’re here at our very first San Diego Comic Con! We’ve finally made our way to the west coast for the biggest event in nerd culture, and we’ve picked a pretty special year to do it, because this is the Con’s 50th anniversary So to celebrate, we wanted to look back at the history of this hallmark event

What comic legend is directly responsible for the Con’s existence? How did it explode from a small group of friends to a massive powerhouse? And what were some of the most mind-blowing moments throughout its five decades of dominance? We’re NowThis Nerd, and this is The True Story of San Diego Comic Con Let’s start with The Origins San Diego Comic Con was far from the first pop culture convention, as far back as the ‘30s, fans gathered to meet and discuss their favorite golden-age sci-fi authors At first, these were more like meetings or bull sessions, that didn’t draw more people than your average ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ tournament but some, like WorldCon, which began in 1939, are still going strong today Now, most of these early cons revolved around the written word, novels and pulp fiction starring characters like Conan the Barbarian and the Lensmen Comic books weren’t much of a draw, especially after the moral panic of the ‘50s nearly led to the artform’s extinction, but once the Silver Age revitalized the industry, its most iconic artist helped give birth to the biggest event in comics

In 1969, a man named Sheldon Dorf invited a group of teenage nerds to his parents’ house in San Diego, and proposed the idea of a convention to the motley crew of comic fans and traders They were justifiably skeptical that this guy they barely knew could deliver the goods, at least, until he picked up a phone and got Jack Freakin’ Kirby on the line The kids were awestruck that the King of Comics would answer Dorf’s calls, they thought he must be the ultimate comics insider, but in reality, Dorf kinda just showed up to Kirby’s door one day, and since he and his wife Roz were such nice people, they let him in out of the kindness of their hearts Later, the whole gang went to the King’s house, where he agreed to attend their convention, and gave them an important piece of advice: Kirby knew the world of nerdery was much bigger than comics, so he encouraged them to broaden the scope to incorporate all aspects of fandom, a tradition that helped SDCC become the all-encompassing goliath it is today Now that they had the King’s blessing, the group got to work on The First Con Words simply can’t describe the scope and scale of modern Comic Con

We’re packed, shoulder to shoulder, alongside celebrities, creators, and over 140,000 fans, so it’s kind of hard to believe that this massive event that can barely be contained by a convention center, started out in a run-down hotel basement in the seediest part of San Diego The First ‘Golden State Comic Con’ was actually two separate events, a one-day mini-con that raised funds for the real deal, a three-day convention held a few months later, on August 1st through the 3rd, 1970 The guests of honor were Kirby, of course, and author Ray Bradbury, who was also responsible for the Con’s current non-profit status Basically, there was no way the organizers could afford his $5,000 speaking fee, about 30 grand in today’s dollars, so on-the-spot, they told him "uh, no, Ray, this is actuall a non-profit!" "We're just doing this to spread awareness of science fiction, and fandom, and your great books," "so could you do it for free?" To their surprise, he agreed, he did it for absolutely free! I never said thank you And you'll never have to The first con drew 300 fans, exceeding all expectations, and as the years progressed, it just kept growing

They broke the four digit mark in 1973, which is when the event officially changed its name to ‘San Diego Comic Con’ The next year, the attendance more than doubled to 2,500 fans, who witnessed the debut of the legendary Comic Con Masquerade the iconic costume celebration laid the groundwork for the entire cosplay community, and a tradition that continues to this day By this point, SDCC had become a crucial stop for any up-and-coming sci-fi franchise, in the pre-Internet age, it was one of the few ways available to create buzz for your new property, which is why, in 1976, fans were given their first glimpse for a little movie called ‘The Star Wars’ Look! It's Mark Hamill! MARK HAMILL! The poorly-attended panel was a far cry from today’s Hall H hysteria, but it was even more proof that if you want to be legit, you have to come to Comic Con

By 1979, the con had outgrown the El Cortez hotel, and moved to a nearby performing arts center, but it still wasn’t enough In 1991, the Con set up shop at the brand-new San Diego Convention Center, the place it’s called home for the last 28 years Comic Con isn’t the biggest nerd convention in the world, that honor goes to Japan’s Comiket, which draws over half a million otaku every year, but SDCC is no slouch, either It’s big business, bringing in over $150 million to the city every year, along with thousands and thousands of the most passionate fans from all walks of life Everyone is welcome at SDCC, no matter your color, gender, or level of fandom, we’re all the same under this roof, we’re all here to celebrate the pop culture we love, And to experience the Massive Moments When you’re here at Comic Con, you’ll probably spend most of your time weaving through the massive crowd, gawking at cool stuff from the vendors, and more than anything else, waiting in line

Today, it’s commonplace for fans to camp out in front of Hall H, queueing up for agonizing hours in the hopes of gaining access to a primo panel, but believe it or not, it wasn’t the Avengers, or Batman, or Star Wars that made Hall H such hallowed ground, It was Brace yourselves Hold on to your butts ‘Twilight

’ Beautiful, isn't it? In 2008, a torrent of Twihards descended upon Comic Con, and camped out overnight in front of Hall H to get their first glimpse of ‘New Moon’ It was a controversial move at the time, a lot of hardcore comic fans weren’t happy with the sparkley vampire saga invading their turf, but it actually helped establish Hall H as the place to be, and opened the doors of SDCC to even more genres and fandoms Over the last decade, as nerd culture became mainstream culture, some of the most iconic films and TV shows ever, made their debut right here in San Diego, it’s practically the birthplace of the entire MCU In 2006, at a tiny Marvel presentation promoting a movie about their fairly obscure hero Iron Man, fans asked Kevin Feige if there was any chance he could cross over with their other characters in the future If you listened to the characters named that we're working on currently, and you put them all together, there's no coincidence that someday might equal the Avengers

A year later, they debuted the first trailer, one of the greatest ever, at a Paramount panel where Marvel wasn’t even the main event, they were playing second banana to ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ 'Iron Man' was, of course, a massive hit, and in 2010, things came full circle when Marvel revealed the full cast of their ‘Avengers’ crossover at, where else, San Diego Comic Con It’s a place where almost anything can happen, where celebrities can show up incognito, supervillains can literally steal the show, and fans are treated to swag, surprise concerts, and sneak peeks

Honestly, the Hollywood hype machine can be a bit overwhelming, after all, we’re just camping out for days to watch what are essentially commercials, but you don’t need to participate in panels or stand in line to experience San Diego Comic Con, you just need to be here, to walk the floor, take in the sights and sounds and smells, and just enjoy being surrounded by 140,000 like-minded maniacs having the time of their lives There’s nothing on Earth quite like it, and it’s all thanks to a tiny group of teenage nerds who changed the face of fandom forever, fifty years ago

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