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How Comic-Con become one of the world’s greatest phenomenons

The first-ever Comic-Con took place in San Diego 49 years ago. The brainchild of Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, and Mike Towry has gone on to become a world phenomenon.

With the San Diego Comic-Con recently celebrating its 50th anniversary, let’s take a look back at some of the pivotal moments in the history of the convention.

May 24th, 1964: 80 people attend a science fiction comic book convention at the Hotel Tuller in Michigan. The event was organized by Shel Dorf, an avid comic book fan who titled his one-day convention “The Detroit Triple Fan Fair”.

March 21st, 1970: In what he would later call a ‘dry run for future conventions’, Shel Dorf – now a San Diegan – runs a one-day event called, “Golden State Comic Minicon”. 145 people attend the one day convention, which convinced Dorf that the convention had a long-term future.

August 1st -3rd , 1970: Flush with confidence, Dorf organizes his first three-day event, this time calling it “Golden State Comic-Con” and sees 300 guests at the convention.

August 16th-19th, 1973: Shelf Dorf takes a backstage role in managing Comic-Con, leaving much of the organizational duties to Ken Krueger. For the first time since its inception, over 1,000 guests attend the event at the Sheraton Hotel, thanks largely to the celebrity brunch organized by Krueger.

August 1st-5th, 1979: After spending most of its early years at El Cortez Hotel, Comic Con moves to the San Diego Convention Center for the first time. Over 6,000 people attend the new venue, where Comic-Con would remain until this day.

August 4th-7th, 1983: The first whiff of commercialization is seen at the convention with the sale of themed souvenir programs. Over the years commercialization would go on to become a key component of the event, with themed costumes, casino games and collectibles on sale.

August 1st-4th, 1985: Rick Geary’s Toucan mascot for the event is first displayed, a character that would go on to be synonymous with Comic-Con.

August 3rd-6th, 1989: Comic-Con breaches 10,000 attendees for the first time as fans clamor to meet Paul Chadwick, Mark Hamill, and other famous stars.

August 13th-16th, 1992: Acclaimed comic book artist, writer, and editor Jack Kirby celebrate his 75th birthday at the event along with 22,000 fans. The co-creator of cult character Captain America, unfortunately, passed away 18 months after the event.

July 27th-30th, 1995: 34,000 people attend the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con, which changes its name to Comic-Con International, opening the door for globally licensed events.

July 14th-17th, 2005: 103,000 descend upon the Comic-Con festival marking a monumental moment in the history of the event.

November 10th, 2018: Comic-Con President, COO and CFO John Rogers passes away. Rogers was often hailed as the man behind the curtain for whom Comic-Con as an event owes much of its modern-day success.

July 18th-July 21st, 2019: Exclusive footage emerges of a private expo in which D&D wholeheartedly apologize for butchering the final season of Game of Thrones. We can but hope…


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