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San Diego Comic Fest

An Old School Comic-Con

One of Mary Fleener's political cartoons for The Coast News.

Credit: Mary Fleener

Above: One of Mary Fleener's political cartoons for The Coast News.

Mike Towry, San Diego Comic Fest Organizer

Mary Fleener, Artist


Some people complain that San Diego Comic Con has grown too big and no longer has comics as its main focus. To address those complaints, San Diego Comic Fest is a newly created convention geared to be small and focused on comic books.

San Diego Comic Fest wants to create a convention that harkens back to Comic Con's earlier roots. Some of those involved in the early years of Comic-Con are behind the launch of this new convention that runs October 19-21 at the San Diego Town and Country Convention Center.

According to the SDCF website: "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... To coincide with this year’s El Cortez Comic-Con anniversary, 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."

Among the guests will be Comic-Con's Jackie Estrada, DC Silver Age comic artist Murphy Anderson, author Mark Evanier, and special effects wiz Phil Tippett.

Mary Fleener is a comics artist who now does political cartoons for The Coast News. She attended Comic-Con in the early years as a fan and then in more recent years as an artist with a booth. But even in the early days she felt a bit of an outsider as one of the few women comics artists and as an indie comics artists who didn't create superheroes.

One of the attractions at SDCF is a re-creation of Café Frankenstein, a Beatnik-era "European Coffee House" co-owned in the late '50s by author/screenwriter George Clayton Johnson, who will be the Storyteller in Residence at the inaugural SDCF.

Please note that SDCF is not in any way connected to San Diego Comic-Con International.

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