Flickr user PACsWorld
Flickr user PACsWorld

31 Facts About San Diego Comic Con

Flickr user PACsWorld
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.”

Getty Images

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.

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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10 People Who Have Misplaced Their Oscars
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Getty Images

Winning an Oscar is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Unless you’re Walt Disney, who won 22. Nevertheless, owning a little gold guy is such a rarity that you’d think their owners would be a little more careful with them. Now, not all of these losses are the winners' fault—but some of them certainly are, Colin Firth.


After Angelina Jolie planted a kiss on her brother and made the world wrinkle their noses, she went onstage and collected a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted. She later presented the trophy to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. The statuette may have been boxed up and put into storage with the rest of Marcheline’s belongings when she died in 2007, but it hasn’t yet surfaced. “I didn’t actually lose it,” Jolie said, “but nobody knows where it is at the moment.”


In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg sent her Ghost Best Supporting Actress Oscar back to the Academy to have it cleaned and detailed, because apparently you can do that. The Academy then sent the Oscar on to R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that manufactures the trophies. When it arrived in the Windy City, however, the package was empty. It appeared that someone had opened the UPS package, removed the Oscar, then neatly sealed it all back up and sent it on its way. It was later found in a trash can at an airport in Ontario, California. The Oscar was returned to the Academy, who returned it to Whoopi without cleaning it. “Oscar will never leave my house again,” Goldberg said.


When Olympia Dukakis’s Moonstruck Oscar was stolen from her home in 1989, she called the Academy to see if it could be replaced. “For $78,” they said, and she agreed that it seemed like a fair price. It was the only thing taken from the house.


“I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.” He also didn't know what happened to the Oscar that he had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him in 1973. “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”


Jeff Bridges had just won his Oscar in 2010 for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it was already missing by the next year’s ceremony, where he was up for another one. He lost to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. “It’s been in a few places since last year but I haven’t seen it for a while now,” the actor admitted. “I’m hoping it will turn up, especially now that I haven’t won a spare! But Colin deserves it. I just hope he looks after it better.” Which brings us to ...


Perhaps Jeff Bridges secretly cursed the British actor as he said those words, because Firth nearly left his new trophy on a toilet tank the very night he received it. After a night of cocktails at the Oscar after-parties in 2011, Firth allegedly had to be chased down by a bathroom attendant, who had found the eight-pound statuette in the bathroom stall. Notice we said allegedly: Shortly after those reports surfaced, Firth's rep issued a statement saying the "story is completely untrue. Though it did give us a good laugh."


When newbie writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took home Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, it was one of those amazing Academy Award moments. Now, though, Damon isn’t sure where his award went. “I know it ended up at my apartment in New York, but unfortunately, we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town and that was the last I saw of it,” Damon said in 2007.


In 1945, seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien was presented with a Juvenile Academy Award for being the outstanding child actress of the year. About 10 years later, the O’Briens' maid took the award home to polish, as she had done before, but never came back to work. The missing Oscar was forgotten about when O’Brien’s mother died shortly thereafter, and when Margaret finally remembered to call the maid, the number had been disconnected. She ended up receiving a replacement from the Academy.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. In 1995, a couple of guys were picking their way through a flea market when they happened upon the Oscar. They put it up for auction, which is when word got back to the Academy that the missing trophy had resurfaced. The guys who found the Oscar pulled it from auction and presented it, in person, to Margaret O’Brien. “I’ll never give it to anyone to polish again,” she said.


For years, Bing Crosby's Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way had been on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. In 1972, students walked into the school’s library to find that the 13-inch statuette had been replaced with a three-inch Mickey Mouse figurine instead. A week later, the award was found, unharmed, in the university chapel. “I wanted to make people laugh,” the anonymous thief later told the school newspaper.


Hattie McDaniel, famous for her Supporting Actress win as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, donated her Best Actress Oscar to Howard University. It was displayed in the fine arts complex for a time, but went missing sometime in the 1960s. No one seems to know exactly when or how, but there are rumors that the Oscar was unceremoniously dumped into the Potomac by students angered by racial stereotypes such as the one she portrayed in the film.

An earlier version of this post ran in 2013.

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Pop Culture
"Weird Al" Yankovic Is Getting the Funko Treatment
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Though the New York Toy Fair—the largest trade show for playthings in the western hemisphere—won't officially kick off until Saturday, February 17, kids and kids-at-heart are already finding much to get excited about as the world's biggest toy companies ready to unleash their newest wares on the world. One item that has gotten us—and fans of fine parody songs everywhere—excited is "Weird Al" Yankovic's induction into the Funko Pop! family. The accordion-loving songwriter behind hits like "Eat It," "White & Nerdy," "Amish Paradise," and "Smells Like Nirvana" shared the news via Twitter, and included what we can only hope is a final rendering of his miniaturized, blockheaded vinyl likeness:

In late December, Funko announced that a Weird Al toy would be coming in 2018 as part of the beloved brand's Pop Rocks series. Though we know he'll be joined by Alice Cooper, Kurt Cobain, Elton John, and the members of Mötley Crüe, there's no word yet on exactly when you’ll be able to get your hands on Pop! Al. But knowing that he's coming is enough … for now.


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