by Bruce Watson at Daily Finance
Sheldon Dorf, the founder of Comic-Con, an annual comic book, science fiction and fantasy festival held in San Diego, died of complications related to diabetes Wednesday. Dorf, who was 76, was also a freelance writer and a letterist, but was best known for founding the convention — the largest such event in the Western Hemisphere, bested only by France’s Angoulême International Comics Festival.
At the time that Dorf stepped into the scene, comic books, science fiction and horror were located on the outer edges of popular culture, and were largely perceived as the province of adolescent boys. Still, as Dorf’s first Comic-Con event showed, there was a groundswell for the genre. While the original 300 attendees pale beside this year’s massive 125,000-person turnout, it was impressive for what was, at the time, a regional event.
As Comic-Con’s numbers continued to expand over the years, so did its focus. At the 1970 Comic-Con, the featured speakers included horror film fanatic Forrest J. Ackerman, authors Ray Bradbury and A.E. Van Vogt, and comic book artist Jack Kirby — a group that demonstrated the fairly narrow boundaries of the convention’s world at the time. But, as fantasy, science fiction, and comic books started to embrace a wider universe of perspectives, Comic-Con’s speaker lineup expanded, too.
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I’m sad to hear that he died, but I’m glad that he lived long enough to see what a huge deal Comic-Con became. It has become the place to debut anything new relating to Sci-Fi or Fantasy, because that’s where the die-hard fans go. And I think everyone now has at least heard of it, and for something that starting out for comic book fans, that’s a big deal. He played a big part in making Sci Fi and Fantasy into something mainstream, and I’m grateful for that.
Have you ever been to Comic-Con? What did you think?