When did Shel Dorf Become Known as Comic-Con’s Founder?

October 11, 2009

Some people might wonder, when was it that Shel Dorf was first considered to be Comic-Con’s founder? When was he first known by that title? Is that how he was known from the beginning or is it perhaps a legend that developed in later years?

Comic-Con committee listing from the flyer for the March 21, 1970 San Diegos Golden State Comic-Minicon

Comic-Con committee listing from the flyer for the March 21, 1970 San Diego's Golden State Comic-Minicon

Well, the above image should cast some light on this matter. It is cropped from a scan of the back of the advertising flyer for the original San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon, which was held on March 21, 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. (Our first full convention was held August 1-3, 1970, also at the Grant.) As you can see, Shel Dorf was even then officially listed as Comic-Con’s “Founder and Advisor.” That is how we viewed Shel from the beginning, because that is what he truly was.

You might also note that Bob Sourk is listed as “Chairman” and Richard Alf as “Co-Chairman.” Bob and Richard were two of the original group of kids who started Comic-Con under Shel’s leadership, the others being Barry Alfonso, Dan Stewart, and Mike Towry.

After the Minicon, Bob decided to step down from the chairmanship. At that point, Shel asked Richard – then co-chairman – if he would step up to become chairman. However, Richard felt that he was too inexperienced and said that he would rather wait and become chairman for the second convention in 1971 (which he went on to do). Therefore, to fill the chairman position for the August 1970 convention, we turned to the person with the most convention-going experience of us all, Ken Krueger. Ken had actually been to the first-ever science-fiction convention, the first Worldcon, held in 1939!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Robert Beerbohm October 12, 2009 at 9:59 am

Thanks for posting this bit of historical documentation. I never got to the 1970 mini con, but did make it out to the first week end show later that August. Right from the get-go, those of us who made the trek loved the ambiance the hosts of the show provided, and wasn’t long before a friendly rivalry developed betweenst the July NYC extravaganza and the upstarts in San Diego. Trip was, though, Phil Seuling was coming out for all the early SD Comicons, even hosting in as barker for the auctions held – which he tended to do at most of the comics shows he showed up at – but there has never been in doubt from those of us who were “there” that Shel was the guiding light for San Diego for many years.

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