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When Stan Lee met Chuck Norris, & more to be revealed in stunning new San Diego Comic-Con documentary

SDCC co-founder Scott Shaw! talks about the upcoming documentary.

San Diego radio personality Gabriel Wisdom in his customary Thor outfit hosting an early costuming contest / Masquerade
Image credit: San Diego radio personality Gabriel Wisdom in his customary Thor outfit at the 1976 San Diego Comic Con Masquerade Ball (The Jack Kusler Archive)

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Most times when history happens, you don't realize it until years later. When the founders of San Diego Comic-Con first hosted their local comics show in 1970, they never realized what it would become. And like many events, not enough photos or video was taken to look back on what, in the case of Comic-Con, became the definition of comic conventions for generations.

But in recent years as the size and importance of San Diego Comic-Con has become known, a "treasure trove" of never-before-seen footage from SDCCs from the '70s and '80s has been discovered - and with it, the chance to finally be able to share what the con was for those of us who didn't make it until decades later.

This footage is being compiled for an as yet untitled documentary spin out of Mathew Klickstein's 2022 oral history of the convention See You At San Diego. Klickstein is working on the documentary, alongside filmmaker David Permut (Face/Off, Rustin) and Oscar Boyson. Several of San Diego Comic-Con's early co-founders and contributors have signed on as consultants, including cartoonist Scott Shaw!.

"They've got over 15 hours of footage from early days of Comic Con this the '70s and '80s," Shaw! tells Popverse of one of the sources for the documentary. "Scott Smith had this stuff in storage for decades and decades. It's like a treasure trove. When we found out about it, we all wondered 'Is this for real?'"

Shaw! says he has seen a majority of the Smith footage, as well as an additional Super 8 film from another private archive through Jack Kusler, and said the eventual documentary could be just the beginning of the story.

"We can make 10 documentaries with the amount of footage," says Shaw! "Maybe some would be a little boring, but it's really, really a lot of great stuff though."

One such moment is Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee casually bumping into celebrity Chuck Norris by chance durign the 1975 Comic-Con. Here's an image of that with Lee, Norris, and Comic-Con co-founder Shel-Dorf, with the full video to be included in the documentary:

Stan Lee meets Chuck Norris at SDCC 1975
Image credit: The Jack Kusler Archive

And here is another Comic-Con co-founder Roger Freedman (now a physics professor and textbook writer), doing a presentation where he breaks a concrete block over the chest of Shaw!.

Comic-Con co-founder Roger Freedman (now a physics professor and textbook writer), doing a presentation where he breaks a concrete block over the chest of Scott Shaw!
Image credit: The Jack Kusler Archive

Klickstein calls this documentary "the first but truly extensive cinematic deep-dive into the until-now-untold-onscreen history of the Con from those who made it all happen."

The producers are aiming for a 2025 release, to coincide with the 55th anniversary of San Diego Comic-Con.


If you made it this far, you have a hankering for a comic con - so why not see when the next once close to you is with Popverse's upcoming comic con guide.