|Genre||Comic books, television, movies, pop culture|
|Organized by||Roy Bonario
Ed Blair, Jr.
Houstoncon was an annual multi-genre fan convention which was held between 1967 and 1982 in Houston, Texas. The founders of Houstoncon were Roy Bonario and Mark Schooley; Houston area entrepreneur Ed Blair, Jr. was also a key member of the organizing committee.
Most Houstoncons took place over three days in June, from Friday to Sunday. The convention featured a large range of pop culture elements, primarily comic books but also television serials, science fiction/fantasy (particularly Star Trek), film/television, animation, toys, and horror. Along with panels, seminars, and workshops with comic book professionals, the Houstoncon often featured screenings of old television serials, and such evening events as a costume contest. The convention featured a large floorspace for exhibitors, including comic book dealers and collectibles merchants. The show included an autograph area, as well as an Artists' Alley where comics artists signed autographs and sold or did free sketches. (Despite the name, Artists' Alley could include writers and even glamour models.)
Roy Bonario, Gene Arnold, Marc Schooley and a group of Houston-based comic book fans founded the Houston Comic Collector's Association in 1965; the HCCA, spearheaded by Bonario and fellow enthusiasts Mark Schooley and Jerry Poscovsky, put on the first Houstoncon (officially known as the Houston Comic Convention) at the Ramada Inn on June 16–18, 1967. Originally part of a partnership with Southwesterncon, which had debuted in Dallas in 1966, Houstoncon started out as an every-other-year affair. The first Houstoncon attracted 124 attendees.
Houston area entrepreneur Ed Blair, Jr. was chairman of Houstoncon from 1969–1975.
Houstoncon (still referred to as "Southwesterncon" in some publications) '69 took place June 20-22 at Houston's Ramada Inn.
Houstoncon '71 took place June 17–20 and featured Kirk Alyn at his first fan convention. (Alyn ended up appearing at five Houstoncons in total.)
By 1973, the partnership with Southwesterncon was dissolved and Houstoncon became an annual event, at this point being run by Blair, with the help of legendary fandom publisher G. B. Love.
Houstoncon 1973 was held June 21–24 at the Marriott Motor Hotel in Houston, attracting over 2,000 attendees; guests include Kirk Alyn, Frank Coghlan, Jr., William Benedict, William Witney, Dave Sharpe, Al Williamson, and Don Newton. The convention became notorious for a major van crash involving Robert Beerbohm, Bud Plant, Terry Stroud and Dick Swan as they were leaving the show.
Houstoncon 1974 was held June 20–23 at Houston's Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel, attracting over 2,500 attendees. That year the show merged with the local Star Trek convention and was co-produced by Ed Blair, Jr. with G. B. Love; guests included Walter Koenig, Al Williamson, Dan Adkins, Don Newton, Kenneth Smith, Fred Fredericks, Jock Mahoney, Kirk Alyn, Tom Steele, William Benedict, and stuntman Dave Sharpe.
The 1975 show, which took place June 25–29 at the Royal Coach Inn, was again merged with the Houston Star Trek convention; guests included C. C. Beck, George Takei, Jock Mahoney, John Wooley, and Don "Red" Barry. Beck and Barry served as judges for the costume contest.
For the 1976 and 1977 editions, Schooley and Bonario resumed control with Blair consulting. Guests of the 1977 show included Frank Brunner, Spanky McFarland, Jock Mahoney, George Takei, Forrest J Ackerman, and Roy Rogers.
Houstoncon '80 took place June 20–22; featured guests included George Pérez.
The final Houstoncon, held June 19–20, 1982, at Houston's The Summit Hotel, was also known as "Ultimate Fantasy" (and later "The Con of Wrath"). Organized by local fan Jerry Wilhite, and scheduled for shortly after the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Ultimate Fantasy assembled the entire main cast of the original Star Trek TV series as guests of the show, which was promoted with magazine advertising, laser light shows, billboards, a huge venue, and other promotional gimmicks. Due to poor sales, however, only a few hundred people attended the convention; the resulting debacle is now the subject of a documentary film.
From 1983–1996, Houston was the site of the annual Comix Fair, a smaller-scale convention primarily focused on comic books.
On August 7–8, 1993, the University of Houston hosted the first annual "Houston Comic Book Festival", with official guests Chris Claremont, Matt Wagner, Kelley Jones, Joe St. Pierre, Evan Dorkin, and Mike Leeke.
In 2001 local retailer Bedrock City Comics produced a "Houstoncon" show on September 15–16 (shortly after the September 11 attacks) at the Holiday Inn. An homage to the original Houstoncon, guests include Harry Knowles, John Lucas, and Scott Gilbert.
- Rouner, Jef. "Comicpalooza: How Houston's Comics Convention Came Back from the Dead to Become One of the Best in the Country," Houston Press (June 12, 2014.)
- Thompson, Maggie. Newfangles #2 (May 1967), p. 2.
- Schelly, Bill. Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s And 1960s (McFarland, 2010), pp. 168-169.
- Schelly, p. 60.
- Hanerfeld, Mark. "On the Drawing Board," The Comic Reader #72 (Mar. 1969).
- Duin, Steve, and Richardson, Mike. Comics Between the Panels (Dark Horse Comics, 1998), p. 334.
- "Texas Entertainment: Texas Grinds Nostalgia," Variety vol. 275, #4 (June 5, 1974), p. 27.
- "Minicon VIII Set for Nov. 23," The Rice Thresher vol. 62, #9 (October 10, 1974), p. 2.
- McClelland, Eileen. "Eight-Day Planner September 13–September 20," The Houston Chronicle (September 13, 2001), p. 14.