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We all know what Comic-Con International is today: a mega pop culture event that serves as a dizzying gathering and show place for TV series producers, cosplayers, gamers, anime fans, graphic novelists, artists, movie industry wannabes, and, oh, yes…comic book dealers and readers. For it was a love for comic books that inspired the original Comic-Con, created and held together with hope and enthusiasm by a group of San Diego teenagers in 1970.

Comic-Con Kids WebsiteLest the modest origins of this four-day extravaganza become lost beneath the layers of glitz and time, the SDSU Library began an oral history project several years ago to collect the stories of Comic-Con’s remaining founders and early participants. The “Comic-Con Kids” project was funded through the Community Stories Grant Program from the California council for the Humanities. Funds from the grant made possible the new interactive Website that features the videos of the founders’ oral histories. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and block off a couple hours of time…you’ll want to explore and enjoy this site fully. In addition to the fascinating tales of early Comic-Cons told by Mike Towry, Greg Bear, and Scott Shaw!, additional resources are featured, including a page on “Comic Convention Memories.” Check it out!

To learn more about our “Comic-Con Kids” project, I’ve included links to recent news videos and articles at the end of this post. To get a quick taste of the interviews features on the Website, watch the video embedded below.

Fox 5 San Diego Report on the Comic-Con Kids Project

Daily Aztec

San Diego State NewsCenter

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Terl
Let me introduce you to Terl. He’s around 9 ft. tall and comes from a planet far away. For anyone who has seen “Battlefield Earth,” you’ll remember Terl as the alien portrayed by John Travolta.

Terl will be visiting us for a while, as he is on loan from Edward Marsh, the gentleman who donated our newest science fiction collection. Drop by the 2nd floor Love Library display case (just outside of the SCC) and make his acquaintance!

While you’re here, visit the extraordinary science fiction exhibit on display right now in the Donor Hall (1st floor of Love Library). Be here today at 2 p.m. and meet writer Greg Bear, an SDSU alumnus who happens to be a superstar in the world of science fiction! Greg will give a talk about sci fi and sign copies of his latest book, Halo: Silentium.

Here’s Terl, in all his glory:

In conjunction with our science fiction exhibit, “Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities,” the library is sponsoring a lecture series featuring three speakers who are well known to science fiction readers…and who also happen to have either studied or taught at San Diego State University!

Greg Bear
Friday, March 22, 2:00 p.m.
SDSU alumnus Greg Bear sold his first short story to Famous Science Fiction at age 15 and, along with high-school friends, helped found San Diego Comic-Con. At SDSU, he was a teaching assistant for Professor Elizabeth Chater’s science fiction course and went on to be a very successful writer of hard science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Bear is the recipient of two Hugo Awards and five Nebula Awards and has had more than 60 works published. His newest book, Halo: Silentium (Tor Books, 2013), will be available for signing at this wonderful kick-off event.
 Greg Bear
Larry McCaffery
Thursday, April 18, 2:00 p.m.
Growing up in the 1950s, Larry McCaffery was first exposed to science fiction via the work of Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, and Alfred Bester—and by the stream of “B movies” that were appearing. By the 1980s, he was teaching sci fi classes and discovering the many interactions occurring then between science fiction, film, rock music, and postmodern culture in general. During the next 20 years, he published a collection of interviews with innovative American sci fi authors (Across the Wounded Galaxies, 1991) and several fiction anthologies that featured sci fi authors, including Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern SF (1992).
 Larry McCaffery
Vernor Vinge
Thursday, May 16, 7:00 p.m.
From 1972 to 2000, Vernor Vinge taught math and computer science at San Diego State University. In 1982, at a panel for AAAI-82, he proposed that in the near future, technology would accelerate the evolution of intelligence itself, leading to a kind of “singularity” beyond which merely human extrapolation was essentially impossible. Vinge sold his first science fiction story in 1964. His novella True Names (1981) is one of the earliest stories about cyberspace. Rainbows End (2006) looks at the implications of wearable computing and smart environments. Vinge has won five Hugos, including three for Best Novel. His latest novel is The Children of the Sky (2011).
 Vernor Vinge

All lectures will take place in Love Library Room 108, directly adjacent to the Donor Hall. For more information on the lecture series or the exhibit, please contact Special Collections at 619-594-6791. For information on visitor parking, please visit the parking information Web page. A map for disabled access is also available.

Urban HipsterWere you one of the many who didn’t get badges to Comic-Con? No worries. If you want to see some excellent comics, science fiction, graphic novels, drawn books, and zines by A-list authors and artists, we have them in our Special Collections and University Archives Department.

In the quiet of Special Collections, you can enjoy works by Alan Grant, Roberta Gregory, Bob Layton, and many more without waiting in long lines, jostled by stormtroopers and zombies. We have 1st edition books by science fiction writer extraordinaire Greg Bear and boxes of fantastic original works by drawn book writer/artist Donna Barr.

And if you do have Comic-Con tickets, great! Get your photo taken with Vampire Bill. Check out the latest steampunk fashions. Then take the trolley to SDSU. Special Collections is located on the 4th floor of the Library Addition. If you want a glance of what’s in store for you here, visit the Comics Collection Finding Aid. To use our collections, you don’t need a badge. Dressing as your favorite anime character is optional.

The Desert Peach, by Donna Barr

This illustration of “The Desert Peach” is one of the many extraordinary works Donna Barr has donated to the library.

So you’re attending Comic-Con. You were wowed by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; you checked out the engine in the Green Hornet’s car; you could swear you saw Bruce Willis hanging out with some stormtroopers; and you’ve bought enough new comic books to paper the walls of Hogwarts…four times over. Closing night is Sunday, and you feel like you’re just getting started, like you need…more. Well, my friend…there’s still a lot to see, and it’s not all at Comic-Con.

The SDSU Library has a fantastic collection of comic books, graphic novels, zines, and science fiction. Housed in Special Collections, many of these works are first editions or original artwork by such notable authors and artists as Donna Barr, Dave Bort, Greg Bear, and Roberta Gregory. Special Collections doesn’t have Jedi Knights, but they do have knowledgeable, enthusiastic librarians who can introduce you to some phenomenal works. Catch the next starship (trolley) to the SDSU campus and prepare to be amazed all over again!

SDSU Library booth at Comic-Con, 2006

Did you know that, several years ago, the SDSU Library had a booth at Comic-Con? In this photo, library assistant Jossie Chavez and author/artist Donna Barr discuss our collections with Comic-Con participants.

More information:

Donna Barr’s blog: The Midnight Library

Here’s a nice article Donna penned about the SDSU Library and Comic-Con (thanks, Donna!): Casting Off And Out To Sea

SDSU Library at Comic-Con in 2006

Donna Barr Collection 1963-2006 in Special Collections

Elizabeth Chater Collection of Science Fiction

West Coast Zines

Comics Collection