Comic-Con belongs to everyone. It is a shared experience. And it has a unique history full of heart. There’s a clarity of purpose and pure simplicity about the original Comic-Cons that you can still find at Comic-Con today many times over. Of course, it is not what it used to be. The history is priceless, beginning with a band of kids, ranging in age from 12 to 17, who were integral in putting together the first Comic-Con in 1970. Since 2011, San Diego State University Library has been collecting personal histories through a series of interviews with individuals involved in San Diego’s early Comic-Cons. SDSU Library takes a big step forward with a new website that explores the cultural history of Comic-Con.
Press release follows:
By Pamela Jackson
July 8, 2013
San Diego, CA – San Diego State University Library & Information Access is pleased to announce a new, grant-funded website entitled, “The Comic-Con Kids: Finding and Defining Fandom.”
The project was made possible with support from a Community Stories Grant through Cal Humanities, an independent non-profit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In 1970, five young San Diegans — ranging in age from 12 to 17 — were central to bringing together participants for the first San Diego Comic-Con. “The Comic-Con Kids: Finding and Defining Fandom” project explores the emergence of comics, science fiction, and fantasy in the youth counterculture movements of the 1970s, with a primary focus on Comic-Con.
The website features personal interviews with many of Comic-Con’s founders and early organizers. Among the 16 interviewees are two of the Comic-Con co-founders, Mike Towry and Barry Alfonso, award-winning science fiction author and SDSU alumnus Greg Bear, and comic artist Scott Shaw!.
The personal stories of the interviewees help weave together the cultural history of California, particularly San Diego, and Comic-Con. “There is a palpable, enthusiastic energy surrounding our interviewees,” says Pamela Jackson, project coordinator for “The Comic-Con Kids.” “Their stories draw the early Comic-Cons as an inclusive environment, where young people’s talents were mentored, and a mutual love of comics, popular arts, and reading were nurtured.”
The website’s content will continue to flourish over the next year. Additional interviews are planned for October. “Some of the early founders have started a new convention held in San Diego every October called the San Diego Comic Fest, which strives to recapture the ambiance of the earlier, more intimate Comic-Cons,” says Michael Lapins, co-producer of “The Comic-Con Kids” interviews, “and they generously provide us with space to record interviews, which is wonderful since some of the people we want to interview have left San Diego but return for the Fest.”
For more information, please visit http://comiccon.sdsu.edu
Since 2003, Cal Humanities has supported approximately 400 story projects and granted over $2.6 million to enable communities to voice, record, and share histories—many previously untold or little known. Through video, photography, murals, zines, documentary theater, audio projects, and more, these collected stories have been shared with broad audiences, both live and virtual. Cal Humanities is an independent non-profit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on Cal Humanities, please visit www.calhum.org.