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Shel Dorf

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Sheldon "Shel" Dorf July 5, 1933 – November 3, 2009 was an American comic book enthusiast and the founder of the San Diego Comic-Con International Dorf was also a freelance artist and graphic designer, who lettered the Steve Canyon comic strip for the last 12 to 14 years of the strip's run


  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Early life
    • 12 Comic-Con
    • 13 Later endeavors
    • 14 Death
    • 15 Shel Dorf Awards
  • 2 References
  • 3 External links


Early life

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Dorf was a fan of comic books and comic strips, particularly Chester Gould's work on the daily strip Dick Tracy

Dorf studied at Chicago's Art Institute before moving to New York and beginning his career as a freelancer in the field of commercial design In the 1960s, Dorf had made the acquaintance of a number of creators working in the two fields, among them Jack Kirby, upon whom Dorf would occasionally call


In 1964 back in Detroit, teenager Robert Brusch organised a convention for fans of the comics medium, which Dorf and Jerry Bails, the "father of comics fandom," attended The next year Dorf and Bails took over the event, christening it the "Detroit Triple Fan Fair" referring to fantasy literature, fantasy films, and comic art and organizing it as an annual event The Detroit Triple Fan Fair DTFF is credited as being the first regularly held convention featuring comic books as a major component Dorf went on to produce the DTFF in 1967 and 1968 as well

In 1970, Dorf moved to San Diego, California, to take care of his aging parents Almost immediately, he organized a one-day convention "as a kind of 'dry run' for the larger convention he hoped to stage," with Forrest J Ackerman as the star attraction

Dorf's first three-day San Diego comics convention, the Golden State Comic-Con, was held at the U S Grant Hotel from August 1–3, 1970 It would eventually grow into the San Diego Comic-Con International, now considered the standard bearer for US comic conventions The convention moved in subsequent years to the El Cortez Hotel; the University of California, San Diego; and Golden Hall, before settling into the San Diego Convention center in 1991

Later endeavors

As "'Founding Father' of San Diego Comic-Con," Dorf received an Inkpot Award at the 1975 San Diego Comic-Con

In 1984 Dorf began compilation and editing of the Dick Tracy comic strips in comic book format for Blackthorne Publishing, "proudly" publishing ninety-nine issues and collecting the material again in twenty-four collections

Chester Gould's daughter, Jean Gould O'Connell credits Dorf with bringing "Tracy out to another generation" Comics historian Mark Evanier said Caniff "honored Shel by making him into a character It was a well-meaning football player named "Thud Shelley" who appeared a few times in the Canyon strip Jack Kirby also made Shel into a character a father figure named Himon who appeared in Mister Miracle In 1990, Dorf was employed as a consultant on Warren Beatty's big-screen adaptation of Dick Tracy

Dorf would also contribute interviews to the comics press and movie collector magazines including for The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom and Film Collector's World, and his conversations with Milton Caniff and Mort Walker have both been collected in the University Press of Mississippi's Milton Caniff: Conversations and Mort Walker: Conversations respectively His interview with Wally Wood among the few to see print for TBG was reprinted in Comic Book Artist #14 July 2001


Dorf died at age 76 on November 3, 2009, from diabetes-related complications in Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego He was survived by his brother, Michael

Shel Dorf Awards

Since 2010, the Shel Dorf Awards have been presented at conventions in Michigan, including Detroit Fanfare and C4 the Cherry Capital Comic Con


  1. ^ "Founder of San Diego Comic-Con dies at 76", Associated Press, 4 November 2009 Accessed 4 November 2009 Archived 4 November 2009
  2. ^ a b c d Spurgeon, Tom "Shel Dorf, 1933-2009", The Comics Reporter self-published, 4 November 2009 Accessed 4 November 2009 Archived 4 November 2009
  3. ^ a b c d Evanier, Mark, "", POV Online self published, November 3, 2009 Accessed 4 November 2009 Archived 4 November 2009
  4. ^ Although RC Harvey gives it as 12 years in the 2002 Milton Caniff: Conversations, Mark Evanier states 14 in his 2009 tribute to Dorf
  5. ^ Caniff, Milton and Harvey, RC, Milton Caniff: Conversations, University Press of Mississippi, 2002, p88 ISBN 1-57806-438-4
  6. ^ a b "Historian Collects Comics: They Are Works of Art," Detroit News 1965
  7. ^ Morrow, John and Kirby, Jack Collected Jack Kirby Collector: Volume 2 of The Collected Jack Kirby Collector, Morrow, John ed TwoMorrows Publishing, 2004, p 48 ISBN 1-893905-01-2
  8. ^ Detroit Triple Fan Fair program book Detroit Triple Fan Fair, 1972
  9. ^ Henrickson, Eric "New comic convention, Detroit Fanfare, coming this fall," Detroit News blog July 7, 2010
  10. ^ Thompson, Maggie Newfangles #2 May 1967, p 2
  11. ^ a b c "Founder of Comic-Con Dies at 76", City News Service via Fox5SanDiegocom, November 4, 2009
  12. ^ Rowe, Peter "Obituary: Sheldon Dorf; Comic-Con co-founder, The San Diego Union-Tribune / Sign On San Diego, November 4, 2009
  13. ^ Harvey, Robert C The Art of the Comic Book, University Press of Mississippi, 1996, p47 ISBN 0-87805-758-7
  14. ^ Malloy, Elizabeth 2008-04-18 "Charting Comic-Con's Hulk-like growth" The Daily Transcript Retrieved 2008-04-19 
  15. ^ "Comic-Con International's Inkpot Awards", comic-conorg, 2009 Accessed 4 November 2009 Archived 4 November 2009
  16. ^ a b c Gould O'Connell, Jean and Locher, Dick Chester Gould: A Daughter's Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy, McFarland, 2007, p203 ISBN 0-7864-2825-2
  17. ^ John Wilkens 16 July 2006 "Comic-Con's Dorf watches sadly from the sidelines as T-shirts trump talent" San Diego Union Tribune Retrieved 27 May 2013 When Warren Beatty turned Dick Tracy into a movie in 1990, Dorf was a consultant 
  18. ^ "RIP Sheldon Dorf, San Diego Comic-Con Co-Founder" DreadCentral 
  19. ^ "Shel Dorf dies at 76; architect behind San Diego's Comic-Con" Los Angeles Times November 6, 2009 
  20. ^ Shel Dorf Awards official site Accessed Feb 9, 2016
  • Shel Dorf at the Grand Comics Database
  • Shel Dorf at the Comic Book DB

External links

  • Shel Dorf Tributecom
  • Remembering Shel Dorf
  • Russ Maheras list of Shel Dorf interviews for "The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom"

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