Comic-Con International today announced the death of its longtime president, John Rogers. The announcement was posted on Twitter and on the Comic-con website just hours after badge sales closed for the 2019 event.
The announcement reads:
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of John Rogers, President of Comic-Con. John died on Saturday, November 10, 2018 as a result of complications from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
“As our longest serving president, first elected in 1986 and re-elected every year since, John’s tenure saw Comic-Con grow from a select gathering of fans to the largest and most prestigious convention of its kind in the world.
“John Rogers is survived by his wife Janet Tait, sister Barbara, and his brother David. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to The American Brain Tumor Association or the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Rogers may not have been known to many SDCC attendees, unless they attended the annual end-of-con feedback session. The San Diego Union-Tribune’s coverage of those sessions notes Rogers spent them listening and writing things down, trying to respond to concerns and complaints.
For 2018, the paper reported the usual “gripe session” was instead one of much praise, especially for the decision to close Harbor Drive in front of the Convention Center.
But even with that praise, Rogers was not ready to commit to a repeat for 2019. As the Union-Tribune reported, he told con-goers, “There are months of meetings to come, looking at how well that worked, what were the manpower resources versus. the past, unanticipated problems… For all I know, everyone in the Gaslamp is writing their councilman saying it was the dumbest idea of all.”
These feedback sessions were an important part of the formula that transformed San Diego Comic-Con from a small, local event to a pop culture powerhouse worth $147 million to the San Diego economy this year. Under Rogers’ leadership, Comic-Con International added the Alternative Press Expo to its portfolio in 1995, and Wondercon in 2001.