Comic Fest, running October 19 through 21, is a new convention organized by several of the original promoters behind the early San Diego Comic-Cons: Mike Towry, Barry Alfonso, and Bob Sourk. “This year is the 40th anniversary of the first Comic-Con we had at the El Cortez Hotel, which I was chairman of back in 1972 at the ripe old age of 17,” says Towry. “We think it’ll be fun to have a relatively smallish Con at which we consciously try to foster the vibe of those early fan gatherings.”
Staged at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in Hotel Circle, the gathering will include Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson hosting music events at Café Frankenstein, a re-creation of the Laguna Beach beatnik lounge he cofounded in the late 1950s. “George was one of the fest’s main inspirations,” says Towry. “His frequent fond reminiscences about the El Cortez Cons encouraged me to think seriously about starting up an old-school-style convention. We’re also spotlighting one of George’s original café partners, artist Burt Shonberg, including a preview of a new documentary being made about him.” The late surrealist’s artwork graced album covers by bands such as Spirit, the Zarkons, the Curtis Brothers, and Arthur Lee and Love.
In addition, local Folk Arts Rare Records owner Lou Curtiss (who performed at the original café) will play a set, as will San Diego singer/songwriter Robin Henkel, fiddle duo Damian and Marion Knowels, ’60s survivor Barry McGuire (“Eve of Destruction”), and local teen James Morris, among others.