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.