SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - This year Comic-Con celebrates its 50th anniversary. Only five people have attended the convention every single year. One of them is noted author and television writer Mark Evanier.
Evanier began writing comic books when he was a teenager in the 1960's, including the comics featuring characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. His mentor was comic book legend Jack Kirby, who created or co-created many of the genre's most famous characters, such as Captain America, the X-Men, and the Incredible Hulk. It was Kirby who first told Evanier that a group of fans in San Diego were planning a comic convention at the El Cortez Hotel.
"I thought it was a great idea," Evanier told 10News in an interview from his office in Los Angeles. "I had no idea it would get as large as it did. I thought maybe we'll have 400, 500 people there."
While Evanier thought it would be a niche convention, even in its early days Kirby saw the potential. "He said this a long time ago when this was a nutty idea to say. He said Comic-Con is going to take over the city of San Diego each year," Evanier recalled.
Early supporters of the convention included Marvel creator Stan Lee and science fiction author Ray Bradbury. Comic-Con moved into the San Diego Convention Center in 1991, soon expanding to take over the ballrooms at the surrounding hotels.
Evanier has had a big role at the convention over the 50 years. He is a frequent moderator of panels and a guest of honor at many events. He believes the convention will remain in San Diego for the long term (Comic-Con International recently signed an extention through 2024). This is despite the fact that Comic-Con is facing growing competition for the biggest stars and events. Other conventions have launched in cities across the country, and some companies, including Disney, have created their own events. "Yes, there are conventions that are trying to be bigger or wish they could be Comic-Con," Evanier said. "Those are all commercially run. The Comic-Con we go to in San Diego is a non-profit organization."
Evanier is scheduled to moderate more than a dozen panels during this year's anniversary convention.