Here at Stately Beat Manor we’re involved in an ongoing process of transferring some of our valuable collection of memorabilia and artifacts, painstakingly gathered on our world travels, into our secure, temperature-controlled archives, otherwise known as Manhattan MIni Storage. By pure chance, while rummaging through our archived files, we found a manilla folder containing all sorts of little pieces of paper from conventions in the period 1988-1990. There’s a lot that either brought back memories or would be, perhaps, surprising to today’s crowd. For those of you who only know the frantic Media Con, it was a different, pre-internet world. For one thing, it was held at the old venue, The Convention and Performing Arts Center, which held maybe 5-10,000 people. Let’s a take a look at a few items, shall we? (Click on all for larger views.)

First off, here’s the cover of the first SDCC “Progress Report” for the 20th Anniversary show in 1989, sent out in February with dates, hotel info, and so on. It was a simple 16 page newsprint pamphlet, a bit different from the glossy full-color magazines that now go out; great Rick Geary cover though!

And now…hotels!

Here’s how you got a hotel room in 1989, 20 years ago; you filled out this form, faxed it in, and eventually you got a little card in the mail telling you if you got your hotel. (I always got my first choice; don’t know if it was that hard.) The Omni I preferred is not the present-day Omni, but what is now known as the Westin in the Horton Plaza. It was right across the street from Golden Hall where the con was then held so it was very convenient. Though the hotel prices are ultra economical, I think I only made $8 an hour in 1989, so it was still an investment!


Here’s the 1989 Con newsletter for Saturday, reporting on Friday’s activities and previewing Saturday’s. It’s a little different than today’s show, you may note, although it’s very interesting that just about everything included in this report is still included in the con, from the Friday night awards (this was pre-Eisners) to the masquerade, to the “Con Suite” which actually still exists.

I also found a couple of papers from other years that are of some interest:


This is from 1988 — Dori Seda was a well-liked–and very talented–underground cartoonist who had died earlier in the year from ill-health and the kind of tragic self neglect which comes from being a poor underground cartoonist. I’m pretty sure this is the only year the award was given…the only Googleable result I found for this award was at the really great Hahn LIbrary awards site which, sadly hasn’t been updated since 2006. According to the site, Carol Tyler was the winner, which is how I dimly recall it as well. I find this matter interesting because while the Internet is believed to be the repository of all knowledge, sometimes it takes finding a little piece of paper that’s been in storage for years to remind you of something, which may have seemed very important at the time, and that’s what prevents me from throwing out all those little pieces of paper in storage.

Speaking of little pieces of paper, this is also from 1988, I believe, based on the date

I’m not sure, right off the bat, exactly what “New Creators Ownership Policy” Levitz and Giordano were talking about at this point…it’s right around the time Piranha Press was launched, which did include creator ownership, so that might have been something to do with it. Unfortunately, it would take a little more research than I can devote to the matter to find out right now. Hopefully someone reading this has a better grasp of the chronology than I do and can enlighten us.

CAPS is still around and going, BTW.

Also, as a reminder, the San Diego con has published a book chock-a-block full of far more visually arresting memories of 40 years worth of cons! The book will be on sale at the show.

I found lots and lots of other amazing things from the early 90s in storage. I hear 90s nostalgia is in, so maybe I can donate all my old Raygun magazines to some 90’s club night?


  1. This was my second year as well. I remember that it just seemed huge back then and it blew my mind that I would hear pages over the intercom for some of my hero artists. It was also the first place I ever saw really old comics. Those things are still there, but its a much smaller piece of it. As much as I love The Mighty Boosh, I don’t know what they are doing at Comic-Con.

    On a somewhat unrelated topic, the L.A. Times has an article on a girl’s guide to Comic-con, and I don’t think it once mentions comics. I think if you showed my 18 year old self what the future would hold I would be simultaneously amazed and a little saddened.

    I believe this was the summer the first Batman movie came out, so this could be seen as the beginning of the convention beginning to sell it’s soul to Hollywood.

  2. Actually, I should follow that up with an acknowledgment that because Comic-con broadened its focus and made itself more appealing to the general public, it’s given me an opportunity to sell my comics to people who would not otherwise see them. I see this as a good thing until its me that is squeezed out for a video game company.

  3. Don’t get rid of those Raygun magazines so fast. David Carson did some great innovative design in those. Actually, the 90’s was a great period of magazine design. Remember Emigre, Surface, The Face, and Arena? Neville Brody was also on top of his game then. Rolling Stone was even doing great creative work back then. I miss funky, cutting edge design in magazines. What happened?

  4. Blackeye, I’m ashamed to tell you what got tossed…most of it can be found in better libraries, I suppose…if they still have those around in the future.

  5. Does anyone have figures on how many more people were completely high back then for the entire show? Because I feel like more people were probably high.

  6. Jackie: I figured the capacity at the “C&PAC” was upwards of 10K…I do remember that about 5000 people attended my first full SDCC in 1985.

    James: See…NO ONE EVER THROWS ANYTHING AWAY!!! Four pages, two tracks of programming…I’d love to hear a tape of that “25 years of Marvel” panel with Archie Goodwin, Jim Shooter, Chris Claremont and Tom DeFalco, right?

    Hey what IS Mike Catron doing with all those tapes, ANYWAY? His storage space must be majestic.

  7. “Does anyone have figures on how many more people were completely high back then for the entire show? Because I feel like more people were probably high. ”

    Based on the parties that were held in the Hotel San Diego in the late 80’s, I would say a large, large portion. Those were some truly crazy, and wonderful memories.

  8. 1989’s the number, another Comic-Con Summer?

    Wow, thanks for the flashbacks! Those late ’80s SDCCs at Golden Hall
    (back when I started going to them) all just sort of merge together in my memory banks: going to a fire-and-brimstone Harlan Ellison panel— and then finding out that he’s nice and generous and FUNNY to fans when he signed my books at an autograph session… asking Art Spiegelman (who looked a LOT like Paul Simon’s twin to me in his black vest/white shirt) about those CABBAGE PATCH KIDS cards I heard he was involved with— while other people asked him and his French wife (and new baby!) about this magazine called RAW and that “Mouse” story of his… and meeting the guy who drew them “Life in Hell” rabbits from the local READER talking about this new cartoon series based on his work coming to tv soon, and getting a sketch of Bongo from him…

    Man, it sure was a lot of fun— and I decided that maybe I should try to go this Comic-Con thing as MUCH as I could from then on! Being local didn’t hurt… ;)