Originally published at GoodToBeAGeek.com, by Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado, on January 13, 2K12.
Ain’t no place nobby like San Diego, babies! I knew it when I transplanted from Boston during Prohibition, Lucky Lindy knew it when he test flew the Spirit of St. Louis here before making tracks for Paris and a geeky teen named Richard Alf knew it when he convinced fellow geek Sheldon Dorf from Michigan, not to mention Ray Bradbury, that America’s Finest City could also be America’s Comic City.
I did a brief fly-by the year Alf took advantage of his matriculation as a U.C.S.D. music student and moved the Con to campus, even renting dorm rooms to attendees for “discounted rates”. Murder! What a keen kid! No wonder he ended up in advertising and stocks. Tell me Campus Con wasn’t bonkers! Comic dorks, college scrubs and, unfortunately for their study needs, a meek Montessori group found themselves housed alongside each other in cramped quarters one week back in the early ’70s. Since then, if it’s a biotech dork dressed like The Flash or a college kitten dressed like a hot preschooler, it must be summertime in San Diego.
Even though Alf and his fellow founders delved into other passions throughout the years, Comic-Con would remain cognizant of its nexus. Savvy? At the 2009 show, Richard Alf, Mike Towry, Sheldon Dorf and Ken Kreuger were saluted and honoured by Comic-Con International. Eerily, all but Towry have now since passed away; the honours came too late and none too soon. San Diego State University had even been in the midst of researching the phenomenon that is SDCC and talking with Alf and Towry about their early days for S.D.S.U.’s Comic-Con Tales when Alf took ill.
Now, while I'd never met Richard Alf personally, I’d certainly seen him about town on occasion. Heck, I’ve been here since the 1930s; I’ve seen everyone on occasion. Plus, no one could miss those Central Casting, nerd glasses and beaming smile of the 6’6″ Alf! Last year, just prior to the commencement of the 2011 Con, while checking out all the pre-show jitters around town, I buzzed a dedication ceremony at the airport for San Diego’s newest tribute to the visionary mind. Running gleefully along San Diego International Airport’s pedestrian walkway hangs a mural titled The Sky’s the Limit, dedicated to the city’s aviation and cartooning history. Sweet kazoo, a city that appreciates animation! Snoopy, as the Red Baron, and Shel Dorf himself grace the mural’s colourful, historical tale. Who was there to help commemorate this embrace of flight and funny? Richard Alf and Mike Towry themselves.
By the way, babies, I wish I’d had the ability to shutterbug as easily over the decades as you do today. Luckily for all of us, there were folks who did have such abilities and I refer you to the Richard Alf memorial website brought to you by the pips at The Museum of Modern Mythology and Pop Culture. You'll find loads of snazzy snaps of the first Comic-Con Souvenir Book, the legendary Alf V-dub Bug and keen snaps of young Richard, Mike, Shel and more.