The Birthplace of Comic-Con International

February 15, 2010

At Comic-Con's birthplace on February 13, 2010. Mike Towry (member of original 1969 Comic-Con committee), Greg  Koudoulian (has attended Comic-Con since early 70's and started Los Angeles' first monthly mini-con, The Fabulous First Sunday Club), Wendy All (joined Comic-Con committee in 1973), Clayton Moore (joined Comic-Con committee in 1974), and Richard Alf (member of original 1969 Comic-Con committee).

At Comic-Con's birthplace on February 13, 2010. In back, from left to right: Greg Koudoulian (has attended Comic-Con since early 70's and started Los Angeles' first monthly mini-con, The Fabulous First Sunday Club), and Clayton Moore (joined Comic-Con committee in 1974). In front, from left to right: Mike Towry (member of original 1969 Comic-Con committee), Wendy All (joined Comic-Con committee in 1973), and Richard Alf (member of original 1969 Comic-Con committee).

The door to Comic-Con's birthplace.

The door to Comic-Con's birthplace. Five young comic fans first passed through this door in the early fall of 1969.

In 1969, Ben and Sarah Dorf sold their Detroit candy business and retired to San Diego. Their son Shel helped them make the long-distance move to their new apartment in the San Diego community of Clairemont. Once there, Shel fell in love with the city and decided that he too had to experience the Southern-California lifestyle. That same year, Shel moved to San Diego where he would remain for the rest of his life.

During his first few years in San Diego, Shel lived at his parents’ Clairemont apartment. Not long after moving in, in the early fall of 1969, one of Shel’s parents showed him a “comics wanted” advertisement in a local classified-ads magazine, the Penny Saver. Shel had some spares from his collection to sell and could use the cash since he hadn’t yet found employment in his new city, so he called the number in the ad.

The ad had been placed by a young comic fan named Barry Alfonso (age 12). Since Barry didn’t have the financial resources to buy all that Shel had to sell, he suggested that Shel call Richard Alf (age 17) whose ad for buying and selling comics had just recently begun to appear in Marvel comics.

Shel followed Barry’s advice and gave Richard a call. In the course of their comics dealing, they began to talk about comics fandom and Shel’s former involvement with the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, an early multi-media convention for the fans of comics, films, and science fiction. The suggestion was made that Richard bring fans of his acquaintance over to Shel’s place to continue the discussion as a group.

Richard contacted Bob Sourk (age 16) and Mike Towry (age 14), who lived in the same part of San Diego as Richard and also were comic dealers, and Dan Stewart (age 16) who was a customer of Richard’s from Escondido, which is around thirty miles north of San Diego.

Shortly thereafter, Richard, Bob, Mike, Dan, and Barry met with Shel at the Clairemont apartment and San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, as Comic-Con International was first known, was born.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bette Nahabedian Kazar November 9, 2010 at 8:12 pm

For Greg Koudoulian: Boy are you a lay on of your father!

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David Lemmo March 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Hello friends of the late Shel Dorf, and members of the Shel Dorf Fan Club and Entourage. My Shel Dorf Memorial Page is now up on my Museum of Modern Mythology and Pop Culture website (http://www.modernmythmuseum.com/). The link is on the homepage, at the top below the site title.

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GREG KOUDOULIAN February 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm

WOW AND HOLY COW, what a great page and story. Being there, then looking at it now. What a pleasure.

THANKS MIKE

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Robert Beerbohm February 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for posting this. Cleared for me a couple minor detail aspects to this origin story. I was 13 when i placed my first comics mail order ad back Oct 1966. Those early shows contained a wealth of hardy pioneers willing to stand up to say this was an OK hobby to be involved with. The social implications for being a comics fan back in the day were intense.

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