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Richard Alf Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0523

Scope and Contents

Materials in the Richard Alf Papers document Alf's various businesses, including his comic book mail order business and store, as well as his involvement with San Diego Comic-Con, the largest comic and pop culture convention in the world. The collection includes correspondence, original artwork, publications, business files, and San Diego Comic-Con materials. The collection is divided into four series: Personal Files, Professional Files, Convention Files, and Audiovisual Recordings.

The Personal Files date from 1965-2011, and include two subseries: Correspondence and Subject Files. The Correspondence includes personal correspondence with family and friends, holiday cards, invitations, notices, and solicitations. The Subject Files include: notes; original art; photographs; Vietnam draft materials, magazines, marijuana materials, and items relating to Shel Dorf, comic artist and co-founder of San Diego Comic-Con. Also included are drafts and final copies of autobiographical essays about Alf's life and his involvement with San Diego Comic-Con.

The Professional Files (1967-1997) document Alf's various entreprenuerial enterprises and are divided into four sub-series: Mail Order Comics Business, Comic Kingdom, Baseball Collectibles, and Other Businesses. The Mail Order Comic Business (1967-1997) sub-series documents the operation of Alf's mail-order comics businesses, the first of which was started while Alf was still in high school in 1969. The sub-series includes selling lists, mail order advertisements, and correspondence with customers and other mail order businesses. Highlights include correspondence with Carleton Palmer, a young illustrator whom Alf comissioned to illustrate his mailing lists and flyters. His letters contain original sketches as well as information about draft dodging. The majority of materials in this series date from 1969 to 1974. The files are arranged into three sub-series: Advertising Files, Correspondence, and Administrative files. The Comic Kingdom files (1974-1977), arranged alphabeically, include inventory lists, promotional materials, advertisements, news clippings, and general office files. Of particular note is an original illustration for the Comic Kingdom certificate. The Baseball Collectibles Business sub-series dates from 1989-1990 and documents Alf's mail order baseball card collecting and trading business. The series includes baseball card inventories as well as advertisements, invoices, and correspondence. The Other Businesses series contains a small amount of material from Alf's video game mail order business, Fun N Games, as well as a folder of business cards and photos from Alf's other careers as a real estate agent, advertising executive, and sign maker.

The Convention Files (1965-2011) are divided into two sub-series: the San Diego Comic-Con Files and Comics and Fandom Conventions. The San Diego Comic-Con Files date from 1965-2011 and are arranged alphabetically. This series includes letters from some of the earliest conventions in 1970 and 1971 as well as correspondence about the "Secret History of the Con" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. This series also includes convention badges, flyers, forms, posters, and photographs. The Comics and Fandom Conventions series dates from 1965-2010, and includes programs and materials from various comic and fandom conventions outside of San Diego including Comic Book Expo, Worldcon, LA Con, WonderCon and more.

The Audiovisual Recordings series includes sound recordings, film reels, audio cassettes, VHS, CDs, and DVDs, many of which are not labelled. This series is unavailable for research at this time. Analog footage has not yet been transferred due to limited resources. Please contact the head of Special Collections for access or more information.

Dates

  • 1955-2011
  • Majority of material found in 1968-1977

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.  All of the audiovisual materials represented in series IV of the Richard Alf Papers are restricted. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you would like to contribute to the digital transfer of these obsolete formats, please contact Special Collections and University Archives at askscua@sdsu.edu.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Biographical Note

Richard Alf, a co-founder of Comic-Con, was born in San Diego, California on January 26, 1952. He was an avid comics collector and at the age of twelve, began buying and selling comics through Rocket's Blast Comicollector (RBCC). In 1968, he published and distributed his own list of comics for sale. Two years later, he sold his mail-order business in order to attend the University of California, San Diego (1970-1972), and later San Diego State University (1972-1974).

In 1969, Alf met Shel Dorf. Together with a small group of other fans (including Mike Towry and Ken Krueger), they formed an organizing committee for San Diego's Golden State Comic-Minicon. The committee produced, promoted, and ran the minicon in March of 1970 with 100 attendees. It served as a one day test run for the larger three-day San Diego Comic-Con that was held in August of that same year. Alf used income from his comic mail-order business to help finance the venture. Both conventions were held at the U.S. Grant Hotel and emphasized comic books, science fiction, and film.

Alf became chairman of the second Comic-Con, which was held at Muir College on the UCSD campus in 1971. Under his direction, Comic-Con expanded its committee base by networking with other fandoms outside of the original mandate. The third Comic-Con, held at the El Cortez Hotel in 1972, had over 1,000 attendees.

In 1974, Alf created a new collectible comic book mail-order business, and a year later he opened Comic Kingdom, one of San Diego's first comic book retail stores. In 1976, he sold it to the store manager, and in 1978, he sold his mail-order business to Mile High Comics of Colorado.

From 1980 to 1992, Alf worked in advertising for several different companies, specializing in billboards. In 1989, he began a mail order baseball collectibles business, and from 1990 to 2003, he bought and sold pre-owned video games and systems through mail-order and retail sales.

At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Alf and other early Comic-Con founders spoke as part of the "Secret History of the Con" panel, commemorating the 40th anniversary.

Alf died on January 4, 2012.

Extent

11.11 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement Note

I. Personal Files, 1965-2011

    1. Correspondence,1965-2010

    2. Subject Files, 1955-2011

II. Professional Files, 1967-1997

    1. Mail Order Comics Business, 1963-1997

        A. Advertising Files, 1969-1985

        B. Correspondence, 1967-1997

        C. Administrative Files, 1967-1976

    2. Comic Kingdom Store, 1974-1977

    3. Baseball Collectibles Business, 1989-1990

    4. Other Businesses, c. 1990s

III. Convention Files, 1965-2011

    1. San Diego Comic-Con Files, 1965-2011

    2. Comics and Fandom Conventions, 1965-2010

IV. Audiovisual Recordings

Source of Acquisition

Martha Alf and Ed Cormier

Accruals and Additions

2012-028 (Alf), 2012-033 (Cormier)

Related Materials

Comics and Science Fiction Fandom Collection

Donna Barr Papers

Zines and Minicomics Collection

The Comic-Con Kids: Finding and Defining Fandom (interviews with early

Comic-Con organizers and participants, including Richard Alf)

Creator

Title
Richard Alf Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Kim Schwenk and Dianna Serrano
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
eng

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

Contact:
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US
619-594-6791