One of the regular popular features to appear at San Diego Comic-Con – and one of the most altruistic – has been announced to return in 2014: the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive.
Named after legendary sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein, Hugo winner and author of Starship Troopers and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the Blood Drive has been running at SDCC since 1977, collecting nearly 14,000 pints of blood from willing nerds, with nearly two thousand pints gathered last year. (Surely that’s going to contaminate the general supply over the decades. Now the explanation for the rise in popular culture has come from! The plot thickens…)
In recent years, the Blood Drive has been supported by HBO’s True Blood, with the show giving branded bandages, t-shirts, water bottles and band-aids in return for attendees time, efforts and, er, blood. There’s also draws for some pretty impressive prize up for grabs which are donated by SDCC exhibitors – so, not only can you feel morally superior to your fellow attendees that you have done something positive and what the hell have they done, the losers, you can also bag some sweet exclusive swag. Nice.
This year, the Blood Drive is moving location, over to the Manchester Grand Hyatt in the Coronado Ballroom AB, just a short walk from the Convention Center so you have no excuse. The Blood Drive is open from 9am to 6pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10am to 3.30pm Sunday – it only takes forty-five minutes so it’s a great opportunity to pay it forward.
You really should read the Brief History of the Blood Drive, from the Comic-Con International website: it’s a great story:
Then in the early 1970s, Heinlein had a life-threatening illness and needed many pints of a rare blood type. He felt he owed his life to the donors, so when asked to be a guest at the 1976 World Con in his hometown of Kansas City, he agreed-but with one specific stipulation: that he would only sign autographs for people who donated blood.
Thus longtime Comic-Con committee member Jackie Estrada approached the author with an offer to hold a blood drive in San Diego if he would consent to being a guest. He agreed, and in 1977 Heinlein came to Comic-Con. He and his wife, Ginny, had a great time and Heinlein even drew a picture for the Sunday morning Art Auction.
“David Scroggy [now a Vice President at Dark Horse Comics] was the first blood drive coordinator,” recalls Estrada. “We also had Theodore Sturgeon there signing his book, Some of Your Blood, which he gave to all of the blood donors. We also had entertainment for the people while they were [donating blood]. I remember that Leslie Cabarga played the piano, C. C. Beck played the guitar. It was a very fun event and Robert was delighted. We’ve had the blood drive every year since.”
(image: Comics Alliance)