Greg Koudoulian organized another gathering of the Shel Dorf Fan Club and George Clayton Johnson Entourage in remembrance of Shel Dorf and the early years of Comic-Con. This latest event was on February 13, 2010 and was attended by Wendy All and Greg Koudoulian from the Los Angeles area, Clayton Moore from Victorville, and Richard Alf, Anthony Keith, Alan Scrivener, Mike Rossi, and Mike Towry from San Diego.
The first stop was for a late breakfast at Brians’ American Eatery. Brians’ was formerly a 24-hour cafe-diner named Topsy’s that was frequented by some members of the Comic-Con committee back in the early seventies. This was the only event that Alan Scrivener was able to share with the group, but he made good use of the time by recounting his long-ago association with Ron Cearns. Ron was a founder/leader of the San Diego branch of the Mythopoeic Society and an early supporter of Comic-Con. Alan told us how Ron and associates had produced what Alan and others believe is likely the first Tolkein-fan convention in the United States. (Alan promises an article about that convention for this web site in the future.) We were also joined at the restaurant by Anthony Keith who’d spent several years in the 1970’s and 1980’s working in Comic-Con security. Anthony would not be able to join us again that day until after five, when we were invited to his house.
After finishing breakfast, the next stop was the apartment building in San Diego’s Clairemont community where Comic-Con was born. This was the apartment that Shel Dorf’s parents, Ben and Sarah Dorf, had retired to in 1969, where they were soon joined by Shel who’d become smitten by San Diego while helping them move from Detroit. It was in this apartment that the first Comic-Con committee formed in the early fall of 1969. (See http://www.comicconmemories.com/2010/02/15/the-birthplace-of-comic-con-international/ for more on how that all came about.) The visiting group now consisted of Wendy All (who joined the Comic-Con committee in 1973), Richard Alf (a member of the original 1969 Comic-Con committee and Chairman of Comic-Con #2 in 1971), Greg Koudoulian (who has attended Comic-Con since the early 70’s and started Los Angeles’ first monthly mini-con, The Fabulous First Sunday Club), Clayton Moore (who joined the Comic-Con committee in 1974), Mike Rossi (who’d been a friend of Shel’s), and Mike Towry (a member of the original 1969 Comic-Con committee and Chairman of Comic-Con #3 in 1972). By odd coincidence, there was a very nice guy named Dave standing outside the apartment building when the group arrived whom conversation revealed to be the nephew of current Comic-Con International Director at Large Frank Alison.
From Clairemont, the group moved on to the El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego. The El Cortez was the site of much-loved Comic-Cons in 1972, 1974-1978, and 1981. The hotel rooms have in recent times been converted to condos and the legendary glass elevator has been removed (an architectural tragedy, that) but its Don Room is still used for banquets and other special events. Unfortunately, there were no events scheduled for that day and the event facilities were all closed.
The next stop on the group’s itinerary was Shel’s resting place in San Diego’s Home of Peace Cemetery. Shel’s grave is next to those of his parents, but, by Jewish custom, will not have a stone memorial headstone placed on it until a year has passed since his burial. The group did, however, place at the grave site small stones from the Clairemont apartments and the El Cortez Hotel, which is also according to Jewish tradition.
Clayton Moore had to leave at this time, but the balance of the group headed over to Anthony Keith’s house where they discovered Anthony to be a truly warm and generous host who made everyone feel at home. One highlight of that visit was watching Greg Koudoulian’s video from October 2009 of Clayton Moore, William Clausen, and George Clayton Johnson talking about Shel while standing in front of Shel’s long-time residence in San Diego’s Ocean Beach community. Finally, the group established its nerd cred by finishing the day’s and evening’s events with a viewing of the original Star Trek episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” in Blu-ray on Anthony’s impressive home-media center.
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Wendy All’s pictures from the February 13, 2010 Shel Dorf Remembrance Day:
Mike Towry’s pictures from the February 13, 2010 Shel Dorf Remembrance Day: