Comic-Con International’s Icon Award is presented to individuals or organizations who have been instrumental in bringing comics and/or the popular arts to a wider audience. To date, ten pop culture legends have been recipients of the Icon Award. From 2006 through 2011, the award was presented as part of the Scream Awards on the SPIKE cable network. Since 2012 it has been presented onsite at Comic-Con International.
Author Ray Bradbury—a frequent special guest at Comic-Con International, including the very first convention in 1970—was one of the world’s best-known authors. With a career spanning over 60 years and more than 500 published works—novels, short stories, poems, and nonfiction pieces—the beloved writer passed away in 2012. He left behind a legacy of fan-favorite fiction on the written page, the big screen, and television.
June Foray is the voice of such pop culture icons as Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his nemesis Natasha Fatale on Rocky & Bullwinkle, Nell Fenwick on Dudley Do-Right, Granny on Tweety & Sylvester, Aunt May on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, and Ursula on George of the Jungle, just to name a few of her thousands of animated cartoon credits. In addition, Ms. Foray has been an important part of Comic-Con International over the past four decades, appearing at the event numerous times since her first appearance in 1973.
Neil Gaiman is a hugely popular author whose works have been adapted for film, television, and radio. Comics fans know him best for his creation of The Sandman for DC Comics (later Vertigo/DC), as well as for Books of Magic, Black Orchid, and Miracleman. His award-winning books include Stardust, Coraline, American Gods, Anansi Boys, and The Graveyard Book. His graphic novels include Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, and Mr. Punch. Neil is also an active supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Matt Groening, known for his beloved creations The Simpsons and his long-running syndicated newspaper strip Life in Hell, has been attending Comic-Con since the 1980s, originally to promote his Life in Hell strip. In 1987, The Simpsons came to life as part of The Tracy Ullman Show, and their own animated series debuted in 1989. It’s been a pop culture phenomenon ever since, crossing over into comics, books, a movie, toys, and much more. Groening co-created Futurama in 1999, which continues today as an animated series. In 1993, Groening co-founded the Bongo Comics Group, featuring comic books based on his popular characters from The Simpsons and Futurama.
Reginald Hudlin is an innovator of the modern black film movement, having created, written, and/or directed such films as House Party, Boomerang, and BeBe’s Kids, which are some of the most profitable and influential films of his generation. He received an Academy Award Best Picture nomination for producing Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. In the world of comics, Hudlin wrote the Black Panther series for Marvel, along with an award-winning run of Spider-Man, plus the the Django Unchained graphic novel for DC/Vertigo. He also was the executive producer and writer of the Black Panther animated series, and executive producer of The Boondocks animated series. Hudlin is also part of the relaunch of Milestone Media in comics, which will debut via DC Comics in the near future.
Comics legend Stan Lee has become a household word. The co-creator of such iconic superheroes as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and teams such as the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the X-Men, Lee and company’s 1960s Marvel creations have gone on to thrill new generations of fans throughout the world in their big screen versions.
George Lucas‘s generation-spanning Star Wars epic has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Crossing over to comics, animation, toys, video games, and much, much more, that galaxy far, far away has become a touchstone for fans the world over. Lucas also co-created Indiana Jones and directed the classic film American Graffiti. In 1976, almost a full year before the rest of the world first saw Star Wars, fans at Comic-Con were treated to an exclusive, first-ever panel about the movie. A fan himself, Lucas recognized early on the power of fans everywhere.
Frank Miller burst onto the comics scene in the early 1980s with his take on Daredevil. From there, he reinvented Batman in The Dark Knight Returns for a whole new audience, forming the basis for the movies that followed from the ’80s through today. He went on to do amazing work on his own creations, Sin City, and 300, both also made into popular motion pictures. Miller continues to be a major force in comics and an outspoken protector of creator rights.
Writer/producer J. Michael Straczynski’s comic book work includes Amazing Spider-Man, The Twelve, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Brave and the Bold, Rising Stars, Midnight Nation, and his latest under his own “Joe’s Comics” imprint at Image, Ten Grand and Sidekick. On television, he was executive producer and creator of Babylon 5, Crusade, and Jeremiah. In films, he has written Changeling, Ninja Assassin, World War Z, and Thor.
Joss Whedon is the creator/executive producer of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. His directing credits include Serenity, Much Ado About Nothing, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Marvel’s The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. In comics, Whedon has continued Buffy, Angel, and Firefly in ongoing series and has written Astonishing X-Men and Runaways for Marvel. His latest comics work is Twist, debuting soon as a 6-issue mini series from Dark Horse Comics.