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Credit: Clay Geerdes, Courtesy of Dave Miller
An undated photo shows San Diego Comic-Con founder Shel Dorf and Mad magazine's Harvey Kurtzman at an early Comic-Con.

'See You At San Diego' offers oral history of Comic-Con and triumph of geek culture

A new book explores the origins of San Diego's Comic-Con International and the triumph of geek culture.

Comic-Con has become a huge event not just for San Diego but for pop-culture fans around the globe. During the pandemic Mathew Klickstein created a podcast called "Comic-Con Begins," which presented an oral history about the pop-culture convention. But he had always planned for those interviews to be a book. Tomorrow "See You at San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture" finally goes on sale.

Klickstein has always been immersed in pop culture and fandom, so exploring the roots of Comic-Con and speaking with many of the people who were there from the beginning was a dream project and perfect fit.

"The book is really about the community and the people who built fandom as we know today through the lens of what happens to be the largest pop culture gathering worldwide, according to 'Guinness Book of World Records,' Comic-Con is where it all started," Klickstein said.

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Mathew Klickstein/Fantagraphic Books
An example of the graphic design of the book "See You at San Diego" is shown in this undated image.

The nearly 500-page book not only features wonderful in-depth interviews but is also fabulously illustrated and designed. I wanted to own the book as soon as I saw the photo of Stan Sakai (in which the creator of "Usagi Yojimbo" looks about 16!) and cartoonist Sergio Aragones. That image, like so many in the book, have been rarely seen and just capture the spirit of those early conventions.

"See you at San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture" goes on sale tomorrow.

If you are down for a road trip, I recommend heading to American Cinematheque in Los Angeles on Sept. 8 to catch Klickstein discussing his book at a screening of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" with a panel of guests that he interviewed for the book.

I cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.
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