My one and (so far) only visit inside the Comic-Con, which opens tonight, was back in, I think, 1974 during the summer before I went into 11th grade.

At the time, it was much smaller and was held at the old El Cortez Hotel at 7th and Ash in downtown San Diego. My highlights were interviewing animator Chuck Jones, one of our group had a video-tape recorder and camera, big stuff in 1974. I’d give anything for a copy of that tape. The interview was conducted by the pool of the El Cortez, which was once San Diego’s top four hotels.

I also stepped on Walter Koenig’s foot in the crowded lobby; if he’d had one, Ensign Chekov would have probably vaporized me with his phaser.

Gone are the El Cortez convention hall, the big white roof you see in this photo, and the second hotel tower, which surrounded the pool. The original 1927 building and new structures on the block are now condos. Look out the port side windows of your jet when you’re landing at Lindbergh Field and you’ll see it.

The Comic-Con is about 200 times bigger and now overflows the San Diego Convention Center.

And as for me visiting the Comic-Con today? I live in downtown San Diego a couple of blocks from the Convention Center. I will be living in the Comic-Con for the next few days. And it’s a lot of fun!

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