Richard Alf died January 5th. He was one of the co-founders of Comic-Con and I have to be honest and say I’d never heard of him until I heard that he died and read Peter Rowe’s wonderful article about him.
For those who don’t know, in 1970 Sheldon Dorf brought a small group of volunteers together to start put on the first Comic-Con in San Diego. Richard Alf was a 17-year-old senior at Kearny High School who had two things Sheldon Dorf needed: a car and cash. For the first three years of Comic-Con, Richard Alf put up the money, sometimes a few thousand dollars, to fund the convention and then was paid back after the convention.
Richard Alf also founded a comic store that meant a lot to me: Comic Kingdom.
When I was a kid I used to have to get allergy shots every week. Afterwards my Dad would take me to Comic Kingdom where I’d pick up a few books. For at least a decade before they closed, Comic Kingdom was one of two comic stores I went to (the other being Golden State Comics on Adams Avenue which is now San Diego Comics on El Cajon Blvd).
Richard Alf didn’t just start Comic-Con, something I’ve attended for over 20 years, but also started the comic book store that I spent a lot of time in. I didn’t know who he was but I’m still grateful for the contributions he made to my life.
I’m glad that he lived long enough to see the Comic-Con get as big as it’s gotten – in 2011 it brought in an estimated 162.8 million for San Diego. Here is a picture of him and fellow co-founder Mike Towry outside the San Diego Convention Center in 2009, both clearly enjoying the fruits of their labor.