Detroit Triple Fan Fair

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Detroit Triple Fan Fair
Shel Dorf's design for the DTFF logo.
Status Defunct
Genre Comics, fantasy books, and science fiction movies
Venue Howard Johnson's New Center Motor Lodge (1969–1970)
Detroit Hilton (1972–1973)
Location(s) Detroit, Michigan
Country United States
Inaugurated 1965
Most recent 1978
Organized by Detroit Triple Fan Fair Productions

The Detroit Triple Fan Fair (DTFF) was a multigenre convention generally held annually in Detroit, Michigan, from 1965 to 1978. It is credited as being the first regularly held convention featuring comic books as a major component.[1] The Triple Fan Fair also gave balanced coverage to historic film showings (often running all night long for the convention's duration) and science-fiction literature, in a manner that provided a template for many future convention organizers — most of which have yet to attain the same level of equal service to this sort of linked fan base. From 1967 to at least 1969, the show presented the Nova Award to that year's guest of honor.


On May 24, 1964, at the Hotel Tuller,[2] teenagers Robert Brosch and Dave Szurek[3] organized a Detroit-based convention for fans of the comic book medium. Jerry Bails, the "father of comics fandom," was on the organizing committee,[4] along with members of the Michigan Science Fiction Society (the so-called "Misfits.")[5] The next year Bails and local comics enthusiast Shel Dorf took over the event, christening it the "Detroit Triple Fan Fair" (referring to fantasy literature, fantasy films, and comic art)[6] and organizing it as an annual event. The first official DTFF took place July 24–25th, 1965, at the Embassy Hotel in Detroit. Admission charge was $2.00 for both days.

In what soon became a trend, aspiring local comic book creators flocked to the early events, and often became involved with organizing the annual show. For instance, the then-18-year-old Carl Lundgren was co-chairman of the 1965 DTFF, and Rich Buckler also attended the initial shows as a teenager, eventually "running things"[5] along with originator Robert Brosch in 1969–1970.[7]

Letterer Ken Bruzenak attended the 1969 convention, where he met his hero Jim Steranko, and also crossed paths with future collaborator Howard Chaykin for the first time.[8] Arvell Jones recalls many members of the so-called "Detroit Mob" making appearances at various shows, including Buckler, Theakston, Tom Orzechowski, Keith Pollard, Jim Starlin, Mike Vosburg, Al Milgrom, Terry Austin, and Michael Netzer (Nasser).[9]

Co-founder Dorf left Detroit and the DTFF for Southern California in 1970, where he immediately founded what became the San Diego Comic-Con.[10] Local artist Greg Theakston became a major player in the DTFF from 1970 to 1978, coming to "own" it after working on a dozen shows.[11]

In 1974, DTFF was considered the largest fan convention, in terms of attendance, in the Midwest.[12] The reputation of the convention was such that a number of other industry professionals would appear at the event unbilled: one example includes film special effects creator Ray Harryhausen.

Demise and legacy[edit]

The DTFF would continue sporadically through the 1970s; late in the decade new organizers took over the show. There was a final Triple Fan Fair held in the late 1980s at the now-defunct Troy Hilton in Troy, Michigan.[citation needed] The guest of honor at that event was Jack Kirby.[citation needed]

From 1982–1986, Gary Reed (later publisher of Caliber Press) ran a local convention known as King Kon.[13] Starting in 1989, comics retailer Michael Goldman launched a for-profit endeavor called the Motor City Comic Con; it continues as an annual show to the present day.[5]

The Detroit Fanfare, established in 2010, openly acknowledged its debt to the Detroit Triple Fan Fair:[14]

Detroit has a very strong connection with comic conventions and fandom. Some of the earliest fandom magazines came out of the Detroit area in the late 1960s and the Detroit Triple Fan Fair was the first convention of its kind. ... Detroit Fanfare is both proud and excited to bring back home some of the major participants that helped to grow the comic industry into the behemoth it is today. There will [be] panels and discussions where the people who started so much will have a chance to discuss the early days, and reflect on their memories of the great stars that attended the convention. They will provide rare pictures and original drawings of some of the masters of the medium.[15]

In another nod to the DTFF, the Detroit FanFare also distributed the "Shel Dorf Awards".[16]

Dates and locations[edit]

Dates Venue Organizer Official guests Notes
July 24–25th, 1965 Embassy Hotel Jerry Bails, Shel Dorf, Carl Lundgren None More than a dozen comics dealers; general admission: $2.00
June 17–18, 1967[17] Park Shelton Hotel[18] Shel Dorf[19] and Hal Shapiro Roger Zelazny (Guest of Honor)[18] 2nd official DTFF; presentation of the first Nova Award[18]
June 15–16, 1968 Fort Pick Shelby Hotel[20] Shel Dorf Harlan Ellison (Guest of Honor)[18] c. 175 attendees[21]
June 7–8, 1969 Howard Johnson's Downtown Motor Lodge Robert Brosch & Rich Buckler Featured guests: Edmond Hamilton, Leigh Brackett, Stan Lee, and Al Williamson; other guests: Jim Steranko and Howard Chaykin Attendees include a young Ken Bruzenak[8] and a young Tom Orzechowski
September 5–7, 1970[22] Howard Johnson's New Center Motor Lodge Robert Brosch & Rich Buckler Philip José Farmer (Guest of Honor) Shared event with Dum-Dum '70 (Burroughs' Bibliophiles); that year's DTFF dedicated to Jack Kirby
1971 Greg Theakston and Michael Nasser Jim Steranko; other attendees included Keith Pollard[23]
October 19–22,1972 Detroit Hilton Greg Theakston[11] Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Vaughn Bodé, Jeff Jones, Russ Heath, Bud Plant, Dale Manesis, Jerry Bails, Phil Seuling,[24] Gene Roddenberry, and Majel Barrett 7th edition of the convention; program includes "a history of the Detroit Triple Fan Fair"[24]
May 25–28, 1973 Detroit Hilton Greg Theakston Barry Windsor-Smith, Michael Kaluta, George A. Romero, and Russ Heath[25] Memorial Day weekend
October 10–13, 1974 Greg Theakston Featured guests: Carmine Infantino, Stan Lee, James Warren, Jim Steranko, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith; other guests include Alan Ormsby, Rich Buckler, Keith Pollard, Arvell Jones,[12] and Neal Adams[26] 10th edition of the fair
1976 Greg Theakston Joe Kubert, John G. Fuller, and Mike Nasser 11th edition of the fair
May 28–30, 1977 Troy Hilton Greg Theakston Chuck Jones, Ray Harryhausen Dubbed the "Detroit Triple Fan Fair (in Exile)"[27]
1978 Greg Theakston Gray Morrow[28]

Nova Awards[edit]

The Nova Award was created by Jack Promo and Marvin Giles, and was first presented in 1967.[18]

Program booklets[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Henrickson, Eric. "New comic convention, Detroit Fanfare, coming this fall," Detroit News blog (July 7, 2010).
  2. ^ Duncan, Randy; and Smith, Matthew J. The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009), p. 183.
  3. ^ Skinn, Dez. "Early days of UK comics conventions and marts," Accessed Mar. 3, 2013.
  4. ^ Bill Schelly, "Jerry Bails' Ten Building Blocks of Fandom," Alter Ego Vol. 3, Issue #25 (June 2003), pp. 5-8.
  5. ^ a b c Cooke, Jon B. "Rich Buckler Breaks Out! The Artist on Deathlok, T'Challa, and Other Marvel Tales," Comic Book Artist Collection, Volume 3 (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2005).
  6. ^ Detroit Triple Fan Fair program book (Detroit Triple Fan Fair, 1972).
  7. ^ Buckler entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Accessed Feb. 5, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Cooke, Jon B. Interview with Ken Bruzenak, Comic Book Artist (Feb. 4, 2000).
  9. ^ Moore, Vince. "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants: Arvell Jones," Comic Book Resources (Feb. 22, 2006).
  10. ^ Rowe, Peter. "Obituary: Sheldon Dorf; Comic-Con co-founder," San Diego Union-Tribune (November 4, 2009).
  11. ^ a b Morrow, John. "Greg Theakston Interview," Collected Jack Kirby Collector (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2004), p. 97.
  12. ^ a b "Motor City Con," Monster Times #38 (Jan. 1975).
  13. ^ "Con Reports: King Kon Strikes Again!," (Aug. 22, 2008).
  14. ^ Henrickson, Eric. "A feast for geeks," Detroit News (28 Oct 2010), p. M.14.
  15. ^ "Panels," Detroit Fanfare website. Accessed July 8, 2010.[dead link]
  16. ^ Shel Dorf Awards official site. Accessed Dec. 13, 2011.
  17. ^ Detroit Free Press (June 11, 1967).
  18. ^ a b c d e f Shapiro, Hal (chairman). 1969 DTFF program booklet.
  19. ^ Thompson, Maggie. Newfangles #2 (May 1967), p. 2.
  20. ^ Thompson, Maggie. Newfangles #8 (Mar. 1968).
  21. ^ DeVore, Howard. "DTTF Con Report," Science Fiction Times (August 1968).
  22. ^ Sloane, Leonard. "Nostalgia for Extinct Pop Culture Creates Industry," New York Times (Mar. 22, 1970)
  23. ^ Daudt, Ron E. "Joe Barney Interview (Pt. 2)," The Silver Age Sage: A Tribute to the Silver Age of DC Comics. Accessed May 18, 2013.
  24. ^ a b Ayres, Bruce. "Editorials," The Vault of Mindless Fellowship #2 (Wildwood Press, Ltd., 1972). pp. 30-32.
  25. ^ Rozanski, Chuck. "The Summer of 1973 - Part I: Detroit Triple Fan Fair," Tales From the Database. Accessed July 8, 2010.
  26. ^ Offenberger, Rik (July 2005). "Michael Netzer's New Comic Book of Life". Interview. Silver Bullet Comic Books. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  27. ^ Detroit Free Press (May 26, 1977).
  28. ^ Morrow entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Accessed Feb. 5, 2016.
  29. ^ Ringgenberg, Steve "S.C." 50 Girls 50: And Other Stories: Al Williamson (Fantagraphics Books, 2013), p. 239.
  30. ^ Windsor-Smith entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Accessed Feb. 5, 2016.

External links[edit]