The first day of San Diego Comic-Con is now John Rogers Day in the city of San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulconer proclaimed Thursday as he kicked off the four-day festivities for one of the largest pop-culture conventions in the world.
Rogers, the long-time president of San Diego Comic-Con International died in 2018 of complications from cancer but he is recognized throughout the city for his efforts to turn what was once a small gathering of comic book fans into a massive fandom event.
"John was incredibly instrumental in leading this organization and convention to what it has become today. The loss of John was felt by so many of us whom he touched," Faulconer said in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter on Thursday, steps away from where convention-goers were eagerly awaiting SDCC's opening.
The mayor presented Janet Tait, Rogers widow, with a framed proclamation as he spoke about her husband's impact on not just comic culture but the San Diego community.
Rogers had been battling glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer before his death. He left behind his wife, sister and brother.
Comic-Con 2019 will mark the first year without Rogers at the helm of the organization. News of Rogers death came a few hours after badges became available for this year's event.
According to Comic-Con International, Roger was first elected as president of Comic-Con in 1986 and was re-elected every year since, making him the longest-serving president of the pop culture convention.
Over the decades, Rogers saw Comic-Con evolve in ways that no one thought were possible.
“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,” Comic-Con said.
Comic-Con was born in 1970 in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in the heart of San Diego, California. Over the decades, the “little event that could” has grown into a behemoth, taking over the Convention Center, neighboring hotels and downtown San Diego for a long summer weekend every year.
This year's convention runs through Sunday, July 21. For NBC 7's full coverage of all things Comic-Con, including where to eat, what panels to visit and what to do without a badge, visit here.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misspelled Janet Tait's name. NBC 7 regrets the error.