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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.”

“Comic Fest is intended as a recreation of that 1972 El Cortez Con, for those who miss the early, intimate Con experience or who never got to enjoy it,” says Towry.

Two of the six ’72 Comic-Con operators have passed away (Shel Dorf and Richard Alf), and Dan Stewart is currently MIA (“Hopefully he’ll Google Comic-Con someday and contact someone”), leaving Towry, Barry Alfonso, and Bob Sourk to head up their retro revival.

“The San Diego Five String Mob, which appeared in a couple of Kirby's Fourth World comics for DC [New Gods, the Demon, Mr. Miracle, Forever People, etc.], was based on the Comic-Con committee members whose photos were on the facing page in the program book,” says Towry. “There will be at least four members of the Five String Mob at the Comic Fest: me, Scott Shaw!, Roger Freedman, and Barry Alfonso, who as Barri Boy was the secret sixth-member of the Five String Mob. It's possible that Bill Lund might be able to make it down to the Fest as well.”

In addition, “Mark Stadler, our programming coordinator, was on the Comic-Con committee and then their board for fifteen years and is still friends with [CCI President] John Rogers.”

The attempt to recreate 1972 includes an attendance limit of 1,000. “That includes staff, volunteers, guests, dealers, and attendees,” says Towry. Unlike 1972, three-day ticket prices are $50 for adults, $25 for ages 11 to 15, and free tix for anyone under 11 (with paid adult admission), with single day tickets available for $25 (or $15 for Sunday-only). Says Towry, “We expect to be sold out before the Fest.” By comparison, Comic-Con admission runs $75 to $175 for four-day passes, and $12 to $42 for single-day tickets.

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Staged at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center on Hotel Circle, classic Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson is hosting music events at Café Frankenstein, a recreation of the Laguna Beach beatnik lounge he co-founded in the late 1950s.

Local Folk Arts Rare Records owner Lou Curtiss (who performed at the original Café) will play a set at the Café, as will San Diegan singer/songwriter Robin Henkel, fiddle duo Damian and Marion Bowles, ‘60s survivor Barry McGuire (“Eve of Destruction”), and others.

PHOTO REPORT, DAY ONE:

Photos courtesy of Jamie Ralph Gardner (http://www.facebook.com/jamie.gardner.3348?fref=ts) and Michael D. Hamersky (http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Diego-Comic-Fest/139148722856535)

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George Clayton Johnson -- wearing his trademark wicker hat, long hair, and beard -- entertains at Café Frankenstein. The Frankenstein monster poster in the background was designed by one of Clayton’s original Café partners, artist Burt Shonberg. The late surrealist’s artwork graced album covers by bands like Spirit, the Zarkons, the Curtis Brothers, and Arthur Lee and Love, and Comic Fest will be screening a preview of a new documentary being made about him.”

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Damian and Marion Bowles bash out some beats for beatniks.

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86 year-old artist Murphy Anderson (revered for his 1960s work on the Flash, the Atom, Batman, and Superman) signs a copy of the old DC Universe 'zine for a fan.

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Anderson and his wife at Café Frankenstein.

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Café entrance.

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"I came to shoot my gun and sell marital aids...and I'm all outta bullets..."

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"The skull? Oh, that was my date. Before I ATE her."

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How about a little cheesecake with that cheesecake?

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Carrie on Fisher, on a t-shirt, and on an autographed poster.

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"Abra Kadabra, Kalamazoo, take us back to 1972..."

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The future's so bright for creator Michael Aushenker, he's gotta wear shades...

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Locally bred sci-fi author Greg Bear brought some reading material.

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Monkees Scrapbook co-author Duane Dimock hosting the Zen and the Art of Cereal Boxes panel.

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Famous former neighbor Scott Shaw! presenting his Oddball Comics slideshow, spotlighting the weirdest comics ever made, a presentation that has been a mainstay at the OTHER San Diego comic convention for over two decades.

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SRO Oddball crowd.

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Local teen singer/songwriter and author James Morris shows off his book Skybound.

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Panel on the History of Comic Book Coloring.

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Comic creator Tone Rodriguez in Artist Alley.

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Local award winning colorist and creator Jeromy Cox, creator of the comic series Zombie Love.

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Jay Potts with his World of Hurt web comic.

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Classic movie posters on display.

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Even the cherubs at the Cafe are beatniks.

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"Maybe she's not into guys with hairy chests?"

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Attendee representing for the Black head shop in OB!

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"Hey lady, you in the mood for a little head?"

Photos courtesy of Jamie Ralph Gardner (http://www.facebook.com/jamie.gardner.3348?fref=ts) and Michael D. Hamersky (http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Diego-Comic-Fest/139148722856535)

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Panel discussions will include Sunday's look back at San Diego publisher Pacific Comics, which in the 1980s launched such comics as the Rocketeer, Groo the Wanderer, Starslayer, and two titles created by Jack Kirby: Captain Victory and Silver Star (see link to separate article below, "This Rise and Fall of Pacific Comics").

The Comic Fest guests of honor are:

Jackie Estrada, guest of honor, a writer and editor who has attended every San Diego Comic-Con and has been a Comic-Con committee member since 1975. She has been the administrator of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, comics’ most prestigious awards program, since 1990.

Mark Evanier, fan guest of honor, a comics fan since the 1950s, a comics writer since the 1960s and a television writer since the 1970s. He probably is best known in comics for writing Groo the Wanderer, an award-winning humor title created by Evanier’s friend, Sergio Aragonés, in 1982.

Murphy Anderson, comics guest of honor, one of the premier artists of the comic book silver age who helped to define the look of such super-heroes as Adam Strange, Flash, Atom, Batman, and Superman.

Ron Turner, comix guest of honor, who began publishing underground comics (known as comix) under the Last Gasp imprint in 1970, the same year as the first San Diego Comic-Con. Last Gasp continues to publish “unusual and extraordinary high quality books” to this day.

Tim Powers, science fiction guest of honor, the author of 13 novels, including The Anubis Gates, one of the core steampunk novels; On Stranger Tides, the basis for the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; and Hide Me Among the Graves, his most recent novel.

For more information, see http://www.sdcomicfest.org/

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RELATED STORIES ON THE READER WEBSITE:

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THE ROCKETEER AND OTHER FAMOUS '80S COMICS BEGAN RIGHT HERE IN SAN DIEGO - Here's a detailed history of local Pacific Comics, who recruited comic superstars like Jack Kirby to create one of the first successful indie comic book lines. Pioneers in the fight for comic creators' rights and royalties, former employees and operators reveal how they did it, and what went so terribly wrong... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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ROCK 'N' ROLL COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY - In 1989, local Revolutionary Comics ("Unauthorized And Proud Of It") launched Rock 'N' Roll Comics, featuring unlicensed biographies of rock stars, most of which I wrote. Some performers, like Frank Zappa and Kiss, were supportive, while others like New Kids On The Block considered our comics akin to bootlegs and sued. In June 1992, publisher Todd Loren was found dead in his San Diego condo, brutally murdered... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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OVER A MILLION CARNAL COMICS ARE IN PRINT - Here's how and why we made some of the top-selling erotic comics of all time, right here in San Diego, including what Gene Simmons has to do with it all, backstage tales of porn stars, and more confessions of a comic pornographer... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/08/carnal-comics-the-inside-story-jay-allen-sanfor

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THE KOMPLETE KISS KOMIX KRONICLES - Comprehensive collection of stuff I’ve done about working with Kiss on a comic book series, along with a bunch of never-before-seen artifacts from the Kiss Komix archives AND an article by Kiss comic author Spike Steffenhagen, offering his own very-different take, ala Rashomon, on the same events I describe in my essay... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/12/komplete-kiss-komix-kronicles

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NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK VS REVOLUTIONARY COMICS - The inside story of how a hugely successful boy band tried to sue local-based Rock 'N' Roll Comics over an unauthorized biography of the group, sparking a court case that established, for the very first time, first amendment rights for comic books. Illustrated by comic superstar Stuart Immonen (Superman, etc.)... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/13/new-kids-on-the-block-versus-revolutionary-comics

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TWILIGHT ZONE AND STAR TREK WRITER GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON PRESENTS - The inside story of a local horror comic book series featuring Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, plus sci-fi king Larry Niven, Zap Comix co-founder Spain Rodriguez, Matthew Alice artist Rick Geary, Vampire Lestat painter Daerick Gross, yours truly JAS, and many more... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/05/deepest-dimension-terror-anthology-twilight-zone

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COMICS AND CENSORSHIP - DON'T BE AFRAID, IT'S ONLY A COMIC BOOK - A local-centric history of comic book censorship, and the fight for the rights of comic creators... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/06/comics-and-censorship-a-local-centric-illustrated

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THE BIRTH OF IMAGE COMICS: INSIDE STORY OF A LOCAL PUBLISHING POWERHOUSE - Illustrated tale revealing how Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and local comic artist Jim Lee (the Punisher, etc.) conspired to create the ultimate creator-owned comic books... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/03/the-birth-of-image-comics-an-illustrated-history

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Comments

Jay Allen Sanford Oct. 20, 2012 @ 10:28 a.m.

The Reader's preview of live music events scheduled for Comic Fest can be found on the Jam Session blog at http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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Dave Rice Oct. 20, 2012 @ 6:21 p.m.

Cool beans - pics from the show yours, or ...?

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