Comic-Con funeral for the man who started it all - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Comic-Con funeral for the man who started it all

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  • San Diego Comic-Con founder dies at 76

    San Diego Comic-Con founder dies at 76

    Wednesday, November 4 2009 1:45 PM EST2009-11-04 18:45:52 GMT
    Wednesday, November 4 2009 1:49 PM EST2009-11-04 18:49:26 GMT
    The man who founded Comic-Con has died. Shel Dorf died Tuesday at Sharp Hospital after a long illness.  
    The man who founded Comic-Con has died. Shel Dorf died Tuesday at Sharp Hospital after a long illness.  

He's known in our universe as the man who brought Comic book lovers, artists, writers and movie stars together. Tributes are pouring in for Comic-Con founder Shel Dorf.

Decades before Comic-Con became such a success, it was a fairly quiet gathering and brainchild of Detroit native Shel Dorf. Richard Alf was 17 at the time and couldn't believe it when Dorf convinced Ray Bradbury to waive his $5,000 fee to appear at the convention, which was billed to be a benefit for the public.

"He just had this ability to talk to people like that and Ray said, in that case boys, I'll do it for free," Richard said.

The year was 1970 when 300 people attended the first Comic-Con in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel. Phil Yeh was just a boy who went on to become a writer and artist. Yeh says it's unfortunate Dorf missed out on the Comic-Con's big bucks.

"A lot of the times the people who are forefront in this industry don't share in the wealth and it is a tragedy," he said.

Although Dorf spent 15 years organizing Comic-Con, he distanced himself from the show when it grew too big.

"He wasn't in it for the money. He just wanted to perpetuate the comics and the art," a friend said.

At his funeral, friends and family honored the man with an amazing imagination.

"Just a beloved guy, just the nicest person in the world," a friend said.

Mike Rossi says his friend was bedridden for the past year and a half after complications from diabetes stole most of his eyesight and mobility.

"His hearing was almost gone, so we had to shout slowly one word at a time," he said.

Moving on to a better place, friends say there's no question what Dorf's legacy will be.

"Without Shel Dorf, there would not have been a Comic-Con, or certainly it would not have grown into the behemoth that it has," Rossi said.

Shel Dorf lived in Ocean Beach. He died yesterday at Sharp Memorial Hospital at the age of 76.

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