When the Friends of Hobbits were Friends of Comic-Con

May 27, 2010

Alan Scrivener has recently posted online a history of the early days of San Diego Tolkien fandom, particularly the San Diego branch of the Mythopoeic Society known as the Society of the Friends of Hobbits. Alan’s article is titled “Ron Cearns and the Society of Friends of Hobbits (S.O.F.O.H.) OR On the Prehistory of Comic-Con in the Grossmont High School Tolkien Club and Some Other Related Notes.” You can read it at http://www.well.com/user/abs/SOFOH/sofoh.html.

Under the leadership of Ron Cearns, SOFOH was an early supporter of San Diego’s Comic-Con. In fact, from the San Diego Mythopoeic group came Comic-Con’s first female committee members and officers, Pam May and Donna McGary. Pam and Donna joined in 1970, the year of the first San Diego Comic-Con, and in 1972, for the first El Cortez convention, they were, respectively, Secretary and Treasurer.

BTW, if anyone knows the whereabouts of Pam and Donna, we would enjoy hearing from them.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael D Hamersky November 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Just came across this article while doing some research. And recognized all of the names that have commented before me, including my high school buddy, Scott Norton. (Hi, Scott!)

The 1972 San Diego Comic Con was the first one I set up as a comic books dealer. I bought out another dealer who couldn’t stay for the last day. It was so much fun that I purchased by own table for the 1973 con, which was held at the Sheraton Hotel at Harbor Island.

I share memories of the early SDCCs as well as my ongoing attendance at the SDCC as well as other cons in the Southland, (including sci-fi & anime cons even!) at my own Facebook Fan Page, at Hamersky.com, where I will post a link to this page for others to read!

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William R. Lund June 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Prior to joining the Navy and ending up in San Diego, I had lived in my hometown of Spokane, where I frequented several stores for my purchases of comic books and sf/fantasy books. While stationed at N.A.S. Miramar, following a stint in Viet Nam, I became involved (after contacting Richard Alf) with the group of fans who co-founded Comic-Con…although, I believe, many of us will always look to Shel Dorf , primarily, and Ken Krueger and John Hull as our mentors in organizing what has become Comic-Con International, San Diego.

Through Comic-Con, I was fortunate enough to have met Ron Cearns, and since I was a fan of various authors, including Tolkein, I joined his group, where I met other local fans, including Pam May, Donna McGary, and Jeannie Peacock, among others.

When we organized the 1973 convention, S.T.A.R. San Diego was a big part of the con; they even had a seperate room where Star Trek fans could meet. Some earlier photos posted here on this site depicted their displays. Among new members joining our con-com that year were Richard Butner and Chuck Graham. Chuck and Jeannie eventually married one another.

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Scott Norton May 28, 2010 at 9:32 pm

The first San Diego Branch of the Mythopoeic Society, later known as Caer Paravel, continued meeting on a monthly basis into the 80s, when it was dissolved; a second branch was formed independently, based in Mira Mesa, and held a Mythcon at the old Lafayette Hotel during the late 90s.

Pam and Donna were two of the founding members of S.T.A.R. San Diego, which was the major driving force in San Diego fandom for many years, ultimately being eclipsed by the Comic-Con committee. I’ve lost touch with Donna McGary Pearson but I just visited Pam May Castillo at her home in Oceanside earlier this month; she and her husband have a grown son and are doing very well. I will make sure to mention this to Pam.

For those who read the article, I, too, first learned of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien through the Scholastic Book Club, but before I could order the books I found them on sale at Frank’s Liquor Store on Palm Avenue in Imperial Beach and promptly bought them on the spot. Frank’s was the place to go for comic books in IB back in the mid-sixties, and it’s also where I first heard about the upcoming initial Comic-Con, which was then called the Mini-Con — I was there, too, in the basement of the El Cortez.

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Robert Beerbohm May 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

To those purists who think Comicon was once upon a time “just” comics are sadly mistaken. Comicon could easily have been called Multicon, still could, except there are folks who came to Oklahoma beginning the same year Multicon was born, just a couple months earlier. That said, most all of us attending early comicons were into most all the fandoms which grew out of that first World SF Convention in NYC back in 1939. The festival in Sn Diego we fondly call Comicon these days has many incarnations which helped fuel its success. BTW, just decided earlier this week to watch all three movies over 36 hours. I left enough time elapse much of it was “new” again. See ya’ll at my booth 1500 across from old friend Bud Plant this year.

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