A long time ago, in an El Cortez Hotel far, far away…
In 1977, the 7 year old convention was growing but still had no idea what the future had in store for this young community of fans. During this disco hyped slice of history, the pop culture phenomenon of today was nothing but an inconceivable dream. With comic books as the focus, the ’77 Comic-Con was a much different place. In contrast to today’s 130,ooo+ attendees, the modest 2,000 attendees enjoyed the entire convention within the confines of a single hotel- the El Cortez. Some of the note worthy guests included Bob Kane (co-creator of Batman), Joe Kubert (artist), Robert Heinlein (writer), and Roy Thomas (Marvel Editor).
Regardless of the changing times, one thing is certain, fans will be fans- and these were no different. In these early days, Hollywood had to win over these skeptics, which was no easy task then or now. Just a year earlier, an unknown sci-fi movie, generically called Star Wars, was presented to the wide-eyed crowds. Grayscale slides of a villain clad in all black sparked the imaginations and planted seeds that would bear fruit for the decades to follow. After the film’s release, not only would the nerd community never be the same, the convention would be changed forever as well. In 77, the first ‘Making of Star Wars’ panel was programmed. Inspired by Lucas’ vision, stormtroopers began their annual pilgrimage to San Diego to join their fellow spandex super-friends. However, the following year, Superman The Movie’s reception was less than warm with the fans disapproving what was presented to them. Eventually, Hollywood would eventually bounce back with Ridley Scott’s early images of horrific xenomorphs designed by HR Giger. Sounds so familiar and yet so unbelievable.
No Hall H. No Ballroom 20. No mile long showroom floor. Just a crowd of misfits that loved comic books. In many ways, this generation defined the word “fandom”. Times have changed and so has the Con- but I am personally okay with that. Our time has come to share our passion with a curious world. Every year someone a first time attendee is introduced to the world of anime, video games, or cosplay and as a result, a new fan is born. It’s pretty amazing. What Comic-Con has been able to achieve in the 40+ years in it’s existence is truly staggering and has birthed a whole legion of Cons in it’s wake. Now, any genre that has a passionate following can find a home at a Comic-Con- every weekend somewhere around the globe. It’s a driving force in our culture, shaping the trends for the coming year’s comics, books, toys, TV, and movies.
This year will make the 43 year of Comic-Con. If you were one of the elite 100k+ to acquire a badge, I encourage you to view this as not just a mega nerd-a-palooza, but as your contribution to history. Its been an amazing 43 years and I hope to see another 43 years to come. For you history nerds out there, consider ordering the Comic-Con 40 Years Book. It’s a fantastic journey through the ages that chronicles the convention from start to present day.