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31 Facts About San Diego Comic Con

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Flickr user PACsWorld

Today is the beginning of the four-day comic book and pop culture convention universally known as San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). Every summer since 1970, fans gather in the sunny city to experience the very best in pop culture. Here are 31 facts about Comic-Con International: San Diego.

1. San Diego Comic-Con was founded by comic book artist and letterer Shel Dorf, comic book storeowner Richard Alf, and publisher Ken Krueger. They wanted to give Southern California its first comic book convention—and probably had no idea they'd created what would one day become the biggest comic book and pop culture convention in the world.

2. To raise money for the convention, the founders held a one-day event on March 21, 1970, called the Golden State Comic Mini-Con, in San Diego's U.S. Grant Hotel. About 100 people attended.

3. The first official San Diego Comic-Con was a three-day event held from August 1 to 3, 1970.

Courtesy of Comic-Convention Memories

4. From 1970 to 1972, the convention was called the Golden State Comic Book Convention. The first year, it was held in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel; 300 people attended.

5. Special guests for the very first convention were comic book artist Jack Kirby and science fiction authors Ray Bradbury and A.E. van Vogt.

6. From the very beginning, SDCC's founders wanted to include not only comic books, but also many different aspects of pop culture, including films and science fiction/fantasy literature.

7. The first Masquerade Ball, a fan-made costume and makeup contest, took place in 1974.

Courtesy of Flickr user parlance

8. The first Hollywood panel at SDCC was, appropriately, about Star Wars. Charles Lippencott, the film's marketing director, showed off slides from the film. Reportedly, only a handful of attendees showed up. The capacity for the 6th Annual San Diego Comic Con was approximately 3000.

9. In 1979, $12,000 in receipts was stolen from the Comic-Con International Treasurer’s home. As a result, the organization behind Comic-Con had to ask fans for donations to pay off the debt.

10. In 1984, San Diego Comic-Con was held one month earlier than usual in June because of the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles in July and August.

11. Since 1987, Comic-Con International has also been host of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, which are the Oscars of the comic book industry.  

12. San Diego Comic-Con expanded to two smaller sister conventions called The Wonderful World of Comics Convention (or WonderCon) in San Francisco in 1987 and the Alternative Press Expo (or APE) in San Jose in 1994.

13. In 2012, WonderCon moved to the Anaheim Convention Center and was re-named Comic-Con International Presents WonderCon Anaheim.

14. SDCC moved to its current home at the San Diego Convention Center in 1991.

15. In 1992, the convention hosted comic book icon Jack Kirby’s 75th birthday party.

16. Since 1992, SDCC holds an annual Comics Arts Conference, which is devoted to the study of comics; it was recently expanded to WonderCon as well.

17. In 1995, the convention changed its name again to Comic-Con International: San Diego—its official name.

18. In 1995, graphic designer Richard Bruning developed and created Comic-Con International’s iconic “eye” logo.

19. Since 2000, San Diego Comic-Con has hosted an annual film festival called the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, which highlights the best in genre moviemaking. 

20. Thanks in large part to the popularity and box office success of 2000's X-Men, films and television shows were becoming a bigger part of SDCC by 2001. Franchise movies like Spider-Man and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones were the big highlights of the convention that year.

21. Director Kevin Smith has made guest appearances at San Diego Comic-Con since 1997. In 2007, Comic-Con organizers asked the geek icon to close out Comic-Con Saturday Nights in Hall H with an hour-and-a-half long “Geek State of the Union Address.”


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22. In 2008, San Diego Comic-Con sold out all days and passes for the first time in the long-running convention’s history.

23. San Diego Comic-Con was featured on various TV shows throughout the last decade, including The O.C., Weeds, and Entourage. The comic book convention was also featured on the reality shows Beauty and the Geek and MTV’s Punk’d and The Real World: San Diego (watch the episode here).

24. For his sci-fi film Paul, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, director Greg Mottola set up and filmed in the Albuquerque Convention Center, which was designed to look like the San Diego Convention Center during SDCC 2010. Only exterior shots of the San Diego Convention Center were used in the film.

Paul
Courtesy of Collider

25. In 2011, director Morgan Spurlock made a documentary about the history and fan experience of San Diego Comic-Con titled Comic Con: Episode IV – A Fan’s Hope.

26. SDCC hit its highest capacity in 2012 with more than 130,000 attendees.

27. San Diego Comic-Con isn't just a pop culture fan convention. It’s also made up of smaller events, including the Comic Book Expo, which is the official trade show for the comic book industry; the ProCon, an annual event for comic books industry creative professionals; and the Con/Fusion, which offers the best in science fiction and comic books.

28. The convention also hosts an annual Portfolio Review for aspiring comic book artists. This event places industry leaders with amateur artists and provides the artists with insightful criticism about their work. The event is also a recruiting event for comic book publishers to find new talent for their organizations.

29. The last day of San Diego Comic-Con is Kids Day, which features film festivals, events, and activities solely for children ages 12 and younger (who get into the convention for free with a paid adult admission).

30. Comic-Con International: San Diego generates an estimated $165 million each year in revenue for the city of San Diego.

31. The comic book convention has stayed in the city of San Diego since 1970, but as the convention expands, it might move to another city to accommodate its growing size. Cities like Anaheim, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles are making a bid to host the pop culture convention in the future—but the convention has a lease with the city of San Diego and its convention center until 2015.

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Radio Flyer
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Tiny Star Wars Fans Can Now Cruise Around in Their Very Own Landspeeders
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Radio Flyer

Some kids collect Hot Wheels, while others own model lightsabers and dream of driving Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder through a galaxy far, far away. Soon, Mashable reports, these pint-sized Jedis-in-training can pilot their very own replicas of the fictional anti-gravity craft: an officially licensed, kid-sized Star Wars Landspeeder, coming in September from American toy company Radio Flyer.

The Landspeeder has an interactive dashboard with light-up buttons, and it plays sounds from the original Star Wars film. The two-seater doesn’t hover, exactly, but it can zoom across desert sands (or suburban sidewalks) at forward speeds of up to 5 mph, and go in reverse at 2 mph.

The vehicle's rechargeable battery allows for around five hours of drive time—just enough for tiny Star Wars fans to reenact their way through both the original 1977 movie and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. (Sorry, grown-up sci-fi nerds: The toy ride supports only up to 130 pounds, so you’ll have to settle for pretending your car is the Death Star.)

Radio Flyer’s Landspeeder will be sold at Toys “R” Us stores. It costs $500, and is available for pre-order online now.

Watch it in action below:

[h/t Mashable]

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12 Fast Facts About Magnum, P.I.
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CBS

Magnum, P.I. was appointment television in a world before peak TV made that sort of thing commonplace. Starring Tom Selleck and set against a lush Hawaiian backdrop, the series was a triumph thanks to its tense action, humor, and eclectic cast of characters. Selleck’s Thomas Magnum shed the typical action hero mold for something far more relatable, and for eight seasons, the series was among the most popular on the air. To bring you back to a time when all you needed was a Hawaiian shirt and a Detroit Tigers cap to be a star, here are 12 facts about Magnum, P.I.

1. THERE'S A STRONG HAWAII FIVE-0 CONNECTION.

Magnum, P.I. made its premiere on CBS in 1980, the same year the network’s long-running Hawaii Five-0 was taking its final bow. Magnum’s location was picked because the network didn't want to let its Hawaiian production facilities go to waste, so the Tom Selleck-led show filmed many of its indoor scenes on the old Hawaii Five-0 soundstage.

The two shows are even set in the same universe, as Thomas Magnum would make references to Detective Steve McGarrett, who was famously played by Jack Lord on Hawaii Five-0. Though Lord never did accept the offer to make a cameo, the link between the two shows was never broken.

2. PLAYING MAGNUM COST TOM SELLECK THE ROLE OF INDIANA JONES.

Can you imagine Indiana Jones with a mustache? Or Tom Selleck without one? Well one of those almost became a reality as Selleck was the top choice for the swashbuckling archaeologist when production on Raiders of the Lost Ark began. Unfortunately, the actor’s contractual commitment to Magnum, P.I. prevented him from taking the role.

In a cruel twist of fate, a writers strike subsequently delayed filming on the first season of Magnum, theoretically freeing up Selleck for the role—if he hadn’t already dropped out of consideration. Though the part will forever be linked to Harrison Ford, the ever-excitable George Lucas described Selleck’s screentest as “really, really good.”

3. THE THEME SONG MADE THE BILLBOARD CHARTS.

If you think the Magnum, P.I. theme is a miracle of network television, you’re not alone. The song, composed by Mike Post, reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982—a rare feat for a TV theme. Post is also the man behind hit TV songs like The A-Team, The Rockford Files, Quantum Leap, The Greatest American Hero, and plenty of other ‘80s and ‘90s staples. He’s probably best known as the man behind the ubiquitous “dun, dun” sting from Law & Order. (The Who's Pete Townshend actually wrote a song about Post's theme work, title "Mike Post Theme," which was released on the band's 2006 album, Endless Wire.)

The Magnum, P.I. tune you’re bopping your head to right now wasn’t the original opening song, though. For the first handful of episodes, including the pilot, the series had a much less memorable intro song.

4. THE SHOW FEATURED SOME OF ORSON WELLES’S LAST PERFORMANCES.

Orson Welles’s final years were a blur of voiceover work and jug-o’-wine commercials, and one of his last jobs was acting as the voice of Robin Masters—the mysterious author who lends Magnum his guesthouse in exchange for security services. Masters is only heard, never fully seen, in the show, leading to plenty of conspiracy theories over his actual identity (some fans still think he was Higgins all along).

Occasionally Masters would be seen only briefly and from behind. For those rare moments, actor Bruce Atkinson would provide the necessary body parts for filming. Though his voice was only heard rarely during the series’ first five seasons, Welles was scheduled to play the role for as long as the show was on the air, but the actor’s death in 1985 brought a premature end to his tenure.

5. THERE WAS ALMOST A QUANTUM LEAP CROSSOVER.

Donald Bellisario’s TV empire is one of the industry’s most impressive feats, resulting in multiple top-rated shows and critical favorites. But getting two of his most popular series to cross over proved to be more trouble than anyone would have anticipated.

In order to secure a fifth season for Quantum Leap, Bellisario suggested that Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett character “leap” into the body of Thomas Magnum in the final moments of season four, leading to the following year’s premiere. But there was a snag with securing Selleck; his publicist even claimed he was never formally approached about the subject, saying, "We’re hoping. It’s on hold. We don’t have an answer.” The idea was soon dropped, and a fifth season of Quantum Leap went on without any help from Magnum.

Magnum, P.I. was off the air at this point, so Selleck was already on different projects. Some test footage of Bakula as Thomas Magnum was shot and shown at a Quantum Leap fan convention, but that’s as far as viewers got.

6. CROSSOVERS WITH MURDER, SHE WROTE AND SIMON & SIMON DID HAPPEN.

VINCE BUCCI/AFP/Getty Images

A crossover between Magnum and Murder, She Wrote? That did happen, oddly enough. The event took place in the Magnum, P.I. episode "Novel Connection" during season seven and Murder, She Wrote’s “Magnum on Ice.” In the story, Magnum is arrested for murder, and the only person who can clear his name is Jessica Fletcher, played as always by Dame Angela Lansbury.

During its third season, Magnum also crossed over with his fellow CBS private investigators on the show Simon & Simon. Both series ran simultaneously on CBS for almost the entirety of the ‘80s, and in this episode the trio banded together to secure a Hawaiian artifact that supposedly had a death curse attached to it.

7. THE SMITHSONIAN PRESERVED MAGNUM’S SIGNATURE HAWAIIAN SHIRT.

If you’re not old enough to appreciate what a phenomenon Magnum, P.I. was, consider this: Selleck’s iconic Hawaiian shirt, Detroit Tigers hat, and insignia ring from the show were all donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The objects joined other culturally significant TV relics from over the years, including Archie Bunker’s chair from All in the Family, the Lone Ranger’s mask, and a Kermit the Frog puppet. Perhaps just as big of an honor, Selleck found himself in the Mustache Hall of Fame for the memorable lip fuzz he sported throughout the series. His digital plaque reads:

“Throughout his acting career, Selleck’s charismatic grin, unflinching masculinity and robust, stocky lipholstery have made him the stuff of legend.”

8. IT PRODUCED A FAILED BACKDOOR PILOT.

The first season of Magnum, P.I. was about more than just establishing Tom Selleck as a household name; CBS executives also wanted an episode to act as a backdoor pilot for an action series starring Erin Gray. In the episode “J. ‘Digger’ Doyle,” viewers meet Gray as the titular Doyle, a security expert that Magnum calls on to help thwart a potential assassination attempt against Robin Masters.

Though the episode went off without a hitch, the spinoff never materialized. In fact, Gray never reappeared on the series after that.

9. MAGNUM DIES IN THE PREMATURE SERIES FINALE “LIMBO.”

By the time season seven rolled around, it seemed that Magnum, P.I. had run its course—so much so that the network had planned for that to be the show’s sendoff.

In the season’s final episode, “Limbo,” Magnum winds up in critical condition after taking a bullet during a warehouse shootout. The episode gets Dickensian as Magnum, caught between life and death, drops in on all his closest friends (and supporting cast) as a specter no one can see or hear. He makes peace with everyone around him before he apparently walks off into heaven, punctuated by the John Denver song “Looking For Space.”

To the surprise of the cast, crew, and fans, the series was renewed for a shortened eighth season, meaning Magnum had to come back from the beyond and continue his adventures for another 13 episodes.

10. THE REAL SERIES FINALE IS ONE OF THE MOST-WATCHED OF ALL TIME.

When Magnum, P.I. actually ended, it ended with one of the most-watched finales of all time. It currently sits as the fifth most-watched series finale, not far behind the likes of Cheers, M*A*S*H, Friends, and Seinfeld. The grand total of viewers? 50.7 million.

11. SELLECK AND TOM CLANCY FAILED TO GET A MAGNUM MOVIE OFF THE GROUND IN THE ‘90s.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Rumors of a Magnum, P.I. movie have been rumbling since shortly after the credits rolled on the series' final episode (and likely well before that). It got close in the ‘90s when Selleck teamed with famed novelist Tom Clancy to pitch a Magnum movie to Universal.

Clancy was a big fan of the show and was ready to crack the story with Selleck, but nothing ever came of it. Selleck later recounted:

"We got together, and I went to Universal, and I said ‘It's time we could do a series of feature films.’ They were very interested, and I had Tom, who wanted to do the story, and I had this package put together, but Universal's the only studio that could make it, and they went through three ownership changes in the '90s, and I think that was the real window for Magnum."

12. WE MIGHT SEE A SEQUEL SERIES FOCUSING ON MAGNUM’S DAUGHTER.

The time for a Selleck-led Magnum, P.I. movie may have passed, but there’s still hope for the franchise. In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that ABC had a pilot in the works for a Magnum sequel, which would put an end to the constant reports of a full-fledged reboot or movie adaptation of the show.

According to the site, the show would follow Magnum's daughter, Lily, "who returns to Hawaii to take up the mantle of her father's PI firm.” It remains to be seen whether or not the project will ever come to fruition.

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