cci_logoCom­ic-Con Inter­na­tion­al: San Diego began in 1970 when a group of comics, movie, and sci­ence fic­tion fans — includ­ing the late Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, and Richard Alf – band­ed togeth­er to put on the first com­ic book con­ven­tion in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Com­ic-Con start­ed as a one-day “mini­con,” called San Diego’s Gold­en State Com­ic-Mini­con, on March 21, 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in down­town San Diego. The pur­pose of this sin­gle-day event—which includ­ed two spe­cial guests, For­rest J Ack­er­man and Mike Roy­er, and drew about 100 attendees—was to raise funds and gen­er­ate inter­est for a larg­er con­ven­tion. The suc­cess of the mini­con led to the first full-fledged, three-day San Diego Com­ic-Con (called San Diego’s Gold­en State Comc-Con), held August 1–3, 1970, at the U.S. Grant Hotel, with guests Ray Brad­bury, Jack Kir­by, and A. E. van Vogt. Over 300 atten­dees packed into the hotel’s base­ment for that ground­break­ing event, which fea­tured a deal­ers’ room, pro­grams and pan­els, film screen­ings, and more: essen­tial­ly, the mod­el for every com­ic book con­ven­tion to follow.

cci_1970logoFrom the begin­ning, the founders of the show set out to include not only the com­ic books they loved, but also oth­er aspects of the pop­u­lar arts that they enjoyed and felt deserved wider recog­ni­tion, includ­ing films and sci­ence fiction/fantasy lit­er­a­ture. After one more name change (San Diego’s West Coast Com­ic Con­ven­tion, in 1972), the show offi­cial­ly became the San Diego Com­ic-Con (SDCC) in 1973 with the fourth annu­al event. In 1995, the non-prof­it event changed its name to Com­ic-Con Inter­na­tion­al: San Diego (CCI).

The show’s main home in the 1970s was the fond­ly remem­bered El Cortez Hotel in down­town San Diego. In 1979, Com­ic-Con moved to the Con­ven­tion and Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (CPAC), and stayed there until 1991, when the new San Diego Con­ven­tion Cen­ter opened. Com­ic-Con has been at home in that facil­i­ty for over two decades.With atten­dance top­ping 130,000 in recent years—in a con­ven­tion cen­ter facil­i­ty that has maxed out in space—the event has grown to include satel­lite loca­tions, includ­ing local hotels and out­door parks. Pro­gram­ming events, games, ani­me, the Com­ic-Con Inter­na­tion­al Inde­pen­dent Film Fes­ti­val, and the Eis­ner Awards all take place out­side of the Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, cre­at­ing a cam­pus-type feel for the con­ven­tion in down­town San Diego.

Over the years, Com­ic-Con has become the focal point for the world of comics con­ven­tions. The event con­tin­ues to offer the com­plete con­ven­tion expe­ri­ence: a giant Exhib­it Hall (top­ping over 460,000 square feet in its cur­rent incar­na­tion); a mas­sive pro­gram­ming sched­ule (over 600 sep­a­rate events in 2012), fea­tur­ing comics and all aspects of the pop­u­lar arts, includ­ing hands-on work­shops and edu­ca­tion­al and aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram­ming such as the Comics Arts Con­fer­ence; ani­me and film screen­ings (includ­ing a sep­a­rate film fes­ti­val); games; the Will Eis­ner Com­ic Indus­try Awards, the “Oscars” of the comics indus­try; a Mas­quer­ade cos­tume com­pe­ti­tion with prizes and tro­phies; an Auto­graph Area; an Art Show; and Port­fo­lio Reviews, bring­ing togeth­er aspir­ing artists with major companies.

Photo by Kevin Green - © 2012 SDCC

Pho­to by Kevin Green — © 2012 SDCC

Com­ic-Con has pre­sent­ed lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of spe­cial guests at its con­ven­tions over the years, bring­ing comics cre­ators, sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy authors, film and tele­vi­sion direc­tors, pro­duc­ers, and writ­ers, and cre­ators from all aspects of the pop­u­lar arts togeth­er with their fans for a fun and often times can­did dis­cus­sion of var­i­ous art forms. The event has seen an amaz­ing array of comics and book pub­lish­ers in its Exhib­it Hall over the years. Over it’s four-decade-plus his­to­ry, Com­ic-Con Inter­na­tion­al has con­tin­u­al­ly pre­sent­ed com­ic books and com­ic art to a grow­ing audi­ence. That love of the comics medi­um con­tin­ues to be its guid­ing fac­tor as the event moves toward its sec­ond half-cen­tu­ry as the pre­mier com­ic book and pop­u­lar arts style con­ven­tion in the world.