Richard Alf, one of the co-founders of San Diego’s Comic-Con, died last Wednesday of pancreatic cancer at age 59. Alf joined up with a band of volunteers in 1970 to start what is now the convention that defines the comic book industry. He fronted friend and fellow Comic-Con co-founder Mike Towry a few thousand dollars to pay for the convention for the first three years and played a pivotal role in the success and growth of annual convention.
The three-day annual gathering has become a phenomenon, drawing a heavy Hollywood presence in recent years as the movie business has put an increasing emphasis on comic book heroes; and is the venue of choice for building buzz around new creative projects targeted at the comic book and science fiction communities. In the 70’s and 80’s it was largely a fan-run celebration, but has become a trade show in most important details. Alf, however, had long since left the volunteer position before Comic-Con became a signature events for geeks across the globe.
The first Comic-Con was relatively modest in scale compared to the convention that now draws more than 125,000 people to San Diego every summer. Alf was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in December. He is survived by his mother.
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