San Diego Comic Fest 2012

San Diego Comic Fest Logo

This year will see the 40th anniversary of the first San Diego Comic-Con to be hosted at the legendary El Cortez Hotel. That con, which was held August 18-21, 1972, set the pattern for a string of memorable Comic-Cons throughout the rest of the ’70s, all of which, with one exception, were at the El Cortez. For many longtime attendees, the El Cortez cons are a fondly-remembered golden age of Comic-Con.

Some of those attendees, when asked to write about their favorite Comic-Cons of yore for the 2009 Comic-Con souvenir book, reminisced about the El Cortez years. For instance, Greg Bear wrote, “The El Cortez conventions were among the most fun, the friendliest, and most manageable.” Dave Clark wrote, “I have a special fondness for all of the early El Cortez Hotel conventions. The close-knit feeling of those smaller events is hard to even imagine today. In the evening after the main events were all shut down, a group of guests and hardcore fans would gather by the poolside for drinks, stories, songs and high-spirited fun going on into the wee hours.” And Jim Valentino wrote, “I’d have to say that my favorite era was at the El Cortez. The Con was so much more intimate; there was a real sense of community and camaraderie. It was the party con in those days and everyone had a great time.”

To coincide with this year’s El Cortez Comic-Con annivesary, some early Comic-Con co-founders and committee members agreed it would be a fine idea to have a new “old-school” San Diego comic convention and thus was born the San Diego Comic Fest. We think it will be a lot of fun to have a relatively-smallish con at which we consciously try to foster the spirit, or “vibe” as we used to say, of those early fan gatherings. The 1972 Comic-Con had between 900 and 1,000 attendees, which is around the number we’re looking at for at this year’s event. The Fest intends to bring creators and fans closer together, to create an environment of creative exchange in a fun, inclusive environment, much as the El Cortez-era Comic-Cons did.

If you’ve been missing the early, intimate con experience or never got to experience it but wished you had, then we hope to see you in San Diego over the October 19-21, 2012 weekend. The El Cortez, unfortunately, has been turned into condos and is therefore no longer a viable con site, but we are pleased to have secured the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center as our venue, which is a terrific, fan-friendly facility.

Also, please note that while some of the folks who are putting together the San Diego Comic Fest were Comic-Con co-founders and committee members in years past, this event is not affiliated with Comic-Con International. (We do hope, though, that the hard-working staff and board of CCI will make it to the Fest and enjoy chilling out at an event they don’t have to work on for a change.)