Archive for the 'Conventions (Cons)/Trade Shows' Category

Greg Irons Art: Berkeley Con Button, 1973

Berkeley Con Irons 1973

Berkeley Con was the first underground comix convention. It ran from April 20 through April 22, 1973 at the UC Berkeley campus and featured Jaxon, S. Clay Wilson, Trina Robbins, Greg Irons, and Larry Todd, among several other now-legends. (Bob Foster posted several photos from the con here.) The Irons button—punk before punk—was actually the three-day pass to the event.

Greg Irons, you might remember, illustrated the hell out of The Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Album (1979) for Troubador Press, one of TSR’s first licensed products. I like to imagine an alternate universe where TSR hires Irons, who collaborates with Erol Otus on a series of trippy modules centering on raucous, transdimensional pirates and the sentient treasure they’re chasing. The duo eventually take over the company by sheer force of guts and talent. TSR is bankrupt by 1983, but Christ, who cares?

Irons left behind a huge body of work—he’s revered as a tattoo artist as well, so ‘body of work’ carries a significant double meaning—for someone who died so young (37).

(Image via Hake’s)

Photos of the 7th West Coast Computer Faire, 1982

CF 1982-1

CF 1982-2

CF 1982-3

CF 1982-4

CF 1982-5

CF 1982-6

The photos were taken by Jim Willing and are hosted at Jason Scott’s Flickr. The first West Coast Computer Faire was held on April 16 and 17, 1977 in San Francisco (Jobs and Wozniak introduced the Apple II there). The 7th Faire ran from March 19-21, 1982, also in San Francisco.

The last photo above shows the Adventure International booth and Scott Adams (powder blue suit). I also found a two-page spread from Computer Gaming World #4 (June, 1982) featuring more photos, including another shot of Adams and the AI booth, as well as Atari’s Chris Crawford, who’s playing Scram, a game he designed, on an Atari 800.

CF 1982-7

CF 1982-8

Marvel Con ’76 Program (1976)

Marvel Con 76-1

Marvel Con 76-7

Marvel Con 76-3

Marvel Con 76-4

Marvel Con 76-5

Marvel Con 76-6

Marvel Con 76-2

Select pages only. The Bruce Cardozo Spider-Man film mentioned in the third photo is not available anywhere, but the earliest known Spidey fan film, produced by Don Glut in 1969, is here. Glut went on to write for the animated Spider-Man (1981-1982), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981-1983), and The Transformers animated series (1984-1986).

Photos from the Inaugural World Fantasy Convention, 1975

WFC Bloch deCamp Munn

From left to right: Robert Bloch, L. Sprague de Camp, and H. Warner Munn

WFC Lin Carter 1975

Lin Carter

WFC Epic Fantasy 1975

The `Epic Fantasy’ panel. From left to right: Fritz Lieber, Lester del Rey, L. Sprague de Camp, Andrew J. Offutt, and Lin Carter

WFC Ramsey Campbell 1975

Ramsey Campbell

WFC Ackerman 1975

Forrest J. Ackerman

WFC Wellman 1975

Manly Wade Wellman holding his World Fantasy Award, a bust of Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson

WFC Williamson 1975

Chet Williamson at Lovecraft’s grave

All of the photos come from Hunding’s Flickr set, with the following note:

I attended the First World Fantasy Convention in 1975 in Providence, Rhode Island, where I took the following pictures. They were starting to fade badly, so I decided to scan them, tweak them a bit, and post them here, where they may be of historical interest.

The theme of the convention was “The Lovecraft Circle.” Quite a few noteworthy speakers attended, including Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp, two of heroic fantasy’s greatest popularizers. Robert Bloch, who started corresponding with Lovecraft when he was in his teens, is famous for the novel Psycho. Like many of Lovecraft’s friends and Weird Tales contributors, Bloch extended and expanded the Cthulhu Mythos in his own works.

According to this 1975 Hour article, the three-day convention began on Halloween, and 400 people were expected to attend. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has the figure at 500.

The World Fantasy Convention was modeled after the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), first established in 1939. Both conventions are still going, with focus on intelligent conversation at the expense of dressing up like comic book characters.

More pictures—including a young Jeff Jones—at the first link. You can hear audio of some of the panels at

Milwaukee Sentinel Article (August 22, 1980): ‘It’s All a Game at Gen Con’

Gen Con 8-22-80-1

Gen Con 8-22-80-2

Here’s the 36-year-old Tom Wham, who designed the canonical Snit’s Revenge and The Awful Green Things from Outer Space:

I’ve been making up games since my dad game me a Monopoly set…

It’s a chance to create an alternate world where people can be things they can’t be in the real world. You can create a place in which you can have power over something.

Compare this to an H.P. Lovecraft quote I shared on Facebook yesterday: “There is no field other than the weird in which I have any aptitude or inclination for fictional composition. Life has never interested me so much as the escape from life.”

The article goes on to describe RPGs as “power-to-the-people” games, which I thought was a keen observation for the time.

There were 5000 attendees at Gen Con in 1980. In 2013, there were 50,000.

(Images via Google News)

Photos from the San Diego Comic-Con, 1973

CC 1973-1

CC 1973-2

CC 1973-3

CC 1973-4

CC 1973-5

CC 1973-6

CC 1973-7

I went to the San Diego Comic-Con once, in 2008 or 2009. Never again. It no longer caters to the intelligent, discerning patrons you see above.

I’m intrigued by the Orange County Nostalgic Society seen in the second photo. That’s Neal Adams in the last photo.

The pictures are from Comic-Convention Memories, an amazing love letter to the early cons and the people who got them started. It’s run by Mike Towry, one of the founding members of the SDCC.

Richard Alf at the Opening of Comic Kingdom, 1975

Richard Alf 1975

Photo: Mike Towry

Richard Alf, at age 17, co-founded (with Shel Dorf, Mike Towry, and Ken Kreuger), chaired, financed and organized the first San Diego Comic-Con in 1970.

Above: Alf at the opening of his comic book store, Comic Kingdom, in 1975—a great year for comics. Those are Frazetta posters on the wall. One of Alf’s notable achievements was expanding Comic-Con to include the fantasy and sci-fi genres (Ray Bradbury appeared and spoke in 1970).

Below: Alf (in glasses) with Jack Kirby and fans in 1969. Shel Dorf is second from right.

I’ll post some early Comic-Con photos later today.

Kirby and Fans 1969

Photo: Mike Towry

(Photos via and

Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Con Program (1978)

Sci-Fi Con Program 1978

Sorry, nerds: “HOTEL SECURITY requests that NO ONE bring a weapon that looks real. This includes all METAL swords and daggers (wood ones with rounded tips are acceptable)…” Don’t cry into your tankard of cider, though, because “Futuristic weapons are acceptable.”

Note the prominent D&D placement: “Dungeons and Dragons Games are the latest addiction for fans…we warn you the games can become habit forming!!! Sign up to play or learn.”

Program art is by Mike Royer, who inked a large volume of Jack Kirby’s DC output in the ’70s before embarking on a long career with Disney in 1979.

Margaret Sheridan (The Thing from Another World), Roy Thomas (impeccable Marvel comics scribe), Ray Bradbury (duh), Constance Moore (1939 Buck Rogers serial), Jean Rogers (1936/1938 Flash Gordon serials), George Pal (duh), and Jack Arnold (possibly the greatest sci-fi B movie director of all time) all made appearances at the event. I won’t list all the films shown, because it will break your heart.

I guess cons weren’t always bullshit corporate endorsements of a contemporary “geek” subculture that’s defined more by fashion and performance than intellectual and imaginative pursuits framed by at least a rudimentary historical perspective. Maybe I’m wrong.

(Image via a.b. productions/eBay)

Gen Con XI Ringer T-Shirt (1978)

Gen Con T-1

Gen Con T-2

TSR and the Parkside Association of Wargamers (PAW) co-hosted Gen Con XI at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. See an ad for the convention at Zenopus Archives. Can someone tell me what the symbol in the top grid stands for?

The shirt sold for $41 on eBay.

Neal Adams and Mike Grell, 1977

Adams Grell 1977

A couple of good-looking, talented fellows at the Chicago Comic Con. Look out for those collars!

What the hell, here’s Adams’ run of House of Mystery covers from ’77. (#252 is my favorite.)

HOM #251 1977

HOM #252 1977

HOM #253 1977

HOM #254 1977


And here are a few splash pages from Grell’s Warlord from late ’77 and early ’78.

Warlord #8

Warlord #9

Warlord #10

Warlord #10-2

Warlord #10-3

(Images via Sword and Planet Books and Comics, eBay, and Diversions of the Groovy Kind)




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