Comic-Con creator, Shel Dorf, died on Tuesday at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego from complications related to diabetes according to this Los Angeles Times article.
Dorf, an avid comic book collector, started the convention in 1970. Only 300 people attended the first Comic-Con, but now the convention has grown to over 125,000 and is the leading comic book and pop culture event in the world. Now Comic-Con not only hosts comic-book geeks and creators, but major Hollywood studios, TV shows, celebrities and authors from every nook and cranny of popular culture.
While I wasn’t terribly familiar with Shel Dorf and his achievements before his death and I’ve only been able to attend Comic-Con once, I feel eternally grateful for what he created. Not only did he create a place for geeks like me to converge upon once a year to glut ourselves on our nerdy hobbies, but a culture of geeks getting together and appreciating what they love.
Comic-Con basically started a culture of interest-related conventions, especially within the sci-fi and fantasy communities, that eventually led to modern anime and manga geeks like me to have anime conventions. Like I said earlier, I’ve only been to one Comic-Con, in 2008, but I HAVE been to many many anime conventions.
Before Comic-Con, there weren’t too many pop-culture-related conventions. Now, San Diego Comic-Con International hosts two other conventions, Alternative Press Expo and Wonder-Con, and there are dozens of spin off Comic-Cons around the country. Then there are the anime conventions, which, while I can’t prove it, I am sure came of someone’s idea to create a Comic-Con for anime fans.
Conventions like these are some of the high points in my life. Not only do I get to unabashedly display my geeky interests with pride, but I get to meet tons of people who have similar interests, buy tons of cool stuff and meet the people who create the comic books and cartoons I love. I’ve got so many memories of conventions that I could go on for hours. I won’t because I’m sure no one’s really that interested. The point is, the conventions are really fun for so many people.
I know when I went to Comic-Con International 2008, I went with one singular purpose: to do everything I could that was even remotely related to my favorite show: Avatar the Last Airbender. I dressed up as one of the characters, met the creators and numerous people who worked on the show, I met fans whom I still speak to today and I got to meet a lot of other comic book creators I would have never dreamed of ever meeting before. The autographs, pictures and memories I have from that convention will stay with me forever.
So, Shel Dorf, I thank you for creating something that makes so many people happy each year. I love you for it and have since I was 15 and attending my first anime convention. Rest in peace, man. And thanks again.