Hey friends and followers, Tony B Kim here, Chief Nerd at Hero Within. The biggest pop culture event has finally arrived and I wanted to pause to reflect on the significance of this 50th anniversary. This is not only our 3rd year of operations for Hero Within but this is also our 3rd time to exhibit at "nerd-Mecca". In a short few years, we launched at Comic-Con, grew at Comic-Con and created new milestones at Comic-Con. However, while important to our company, Comic-Con has a much deeper meaning to me.
Even though I had been going to SDCC since moving to California in 2006, I was a big nerd long before then. Growing up in the suburbs of Dallas Texas, my parents had immigrated here from Korea just a year before I rolled onto the scene. While my childhood was filled with fond memories, being the son of immigrants was not an easy journey. My parents worked all the time and I was basically on my own to navigate a world different than me. It didn't take long to realize that I didn't fit into the majority white community that we lived in. In elementary school I was regularly bullied, harassed and was reminded daily that I was different. The lowest for me was the overwhelming feeling that I was 'mistake' in my own skin. Fortunately, comics and sci-fi was my escape. The stories of an orphaned Kyptonian, an alone Vulcan or a daydreaming moisture farmer from Tatooine, all helped me understand that I had a special place in this world. For me, pop culture was more than just about superheroes and spaceships but a way to find belonging and purpose in life.
Fast forward a few years post college, I found that much of my young challenges still followed into my adult life. Working in the various executive roles in several non-profits, I still never quite felt like I belonged. The pressure of conformity and trying 'fit in' had mentally really beat me down as a professional. I remember starring into the mirror wondering if this would be as good as life gets. Enter San Diego Comic-Con in 2006. For the first time as an adult, I had found a place where being different was not just accepted but celebrated. Diversity in all it's forms is what makes Comic-Con such a beautiful experience. In the mid-2000s, there was still a stigma about fan-culture but now, it's amazing to see how that has changed. Properties like Star Wars, Marvel, Game of Thrones and others have all contributed to the general acceptance of being a nerd, geek, fan or whatever you call it. We are all nerds of something and I love that Comic-Con is a place where that can be explored, recognized and embraced. If you ever felt like you never quite belonged, you belong here at Comic-Con.
Having a chance to design the 50th Anniversary Tech Hoodie has been a huge privilege. It wasn't too long ago that being associated as a nerd wasn't a very popular thing- let alone with going to an event like Comic-Con. But thanks to the visionary leadership of Comic-Con International as well as all the comic content creators, being in San Diego during the third week of July has become the 'can't miss' experience of the year. 50 years of celebrating the popular arts is a feat that no one can claim. Its legacy is unique. To honor that, I wanted to create a piece that is both stylish as well as functional. Something that makes you proud of who you are as well as practical for your everyday needs- especially at Comic-Con.
While Hero Within doesn't currently make a lot of hoodies, it did seem like the right form to represent the con. With the bold black, grey and yellow, my inspiration all started with the iconic Comic-Con logo. While subtleties is usually our game, I wanted to emblazon the "eye" across the back and be something you could easily recognize at a distance. In addition, it was important to have the new Comic-Con 50 logo embroidered on the right shoulder to commemorate this year. Hero Within is all about the pockets and this anniversary jacket is no exception. Besides having the standard two pockets on the front, ours boasts a lower right sleeve pocket for tickets, cash or your ID. For the occasion when you meet your favorite celebrity, there is also pen/sharpie left sleeve pocket for quick autographs! Then there are two interior pocks for added security or for other con necessities. Finally, there is a badge holder ring but this is really just a decorative statement- not for functional use. For security purposes, your badge should be kept around your neck and on the lanyard at all times. That's why there is not an official clip to attach your badge. Overall, I hope I struck a balance between both design and function with this anniversary hoodie. I love our Comic-Con community and I hope this jacket reflects that.
As I shared earlier, my journey as a fan has not been easy. However, a place like Comic-Con has helped me discover what I am passionate about and my connection to others like me. This 50th Anniversary Comic-Con Tech Hoodie is the culmination of my life experiences. I hope after the con is over this year, that when you wear this jacket, you are reminded to be proud of what you love and who you are.
Major thanks to the organization of Comic-Con for their continued vision to provide fans with the very best experience and merch as possible. They are all fans and are very dedicated to creating the best event of the year. Whether you preordered one from Comic-Con or you are picking one up at our booth (2047), I hope I get a chance to meet you. Have an incredible time and I hope all your nerd wishes come true!
Tony B Kim
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