Richard Alf

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Richard Alf
BornJanuary 26, 1952
United States
DiedJanuary 4, 2012(2012-01-04) (aged 59)
United States
OccupationComic Book Retailer
EducationSan Diego State University
Alma materUniversity of California, San Diego
Notable awardsInkpot Award (1989)[1]

Richard Alf (January 26, 1952 – January 4, 2012) was an American businessman and former comic book store owner who co-founded the San Diego Comic-Con International[2] and served as its chairman beginning in 1970.[3][4]


Personal life[edit]

Alf was born to artist Martha Alf and Edward F. Alf Jr., a psychology professor at San Diego State University from 1963 until 1988.[4] Alf was known for his height, as he stood 6-foot-6.[4] He attended Kearny High School in San Diego. Alf studied music at the University of California, San Diego.[4]

San Diego Comic-Con[edit]

In 1970, Alf teamed with a group of other comic enthusiasts, including Shel Dorf, Mike Towry, and Ken Krueger, to establish the first Comic-Con annual convention, then known as the San Diego's Golden State Comic-Con.[4][5]

Shel Dorf, who was 35 years old at the time, had conceived the idea for a comic convention, but lacked money and transportation to create the event.[4] Alf, a then 17-year-old senior at Kearny High School, provided Dorf with both the money and transport, in the form of Alf's 1954 Volkswagen Beetle.[4] Alf donated several thousand dollars to fund the convention for its first three years.[3] He would be paid back after the convention.[4]

The first convention, known San Diego's Golden State Comic-Con, which was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego in 1970, was co-chaired by Alf.[4] Alf became the chairman of the convention in 1971, while he was a music student at the University of California, San Diego.[4] He used his ties to the university to move the convention to campus in 1971, offering discounted dorm rooms as housing for attendees.[4] The dorm idea proved less than successful, as the university placed attendees on the same floors as quiet study groups, such as the Montessori.[4] In 1972, Alf and Mike Towry co-chaired the third annual Comic-Con at the El Cortez in San Diego.[4]

The convention, now known as San Diego Comic-Con International, is now an internationally known, four-day annual event held at the San Diego Convention Center.[3] From its small beginnings, Comic-Con now attracts more than 125,000 attendees, with contributions from major celebrities and film studios.

Alf largely gave up his unpaid, volunteer positions at Comic-Con later in the 1970s.[4] During the mid-1970s, he opened his own comic book store, called Comic Kingdom, in the University Heights (now Hillcrest) community of San Diego.[3][4] He sold the comic business in the late 1970s and pursued careers in commodity trading and outdoor advertising.[4]

In 2009, Comic-Con honored Alf, Dorf, Krueger, Towry and other co-founders of the convention.[4] In November 2009, Dorf died in San Diego and Krueger died in upstate New York in the same month.[4] Alf contributed to a special project by San Diego State University's library to document the early years and founders of Comic-Con with primary sources. According to Lynn Hawkes, a special projects officer at SDSU, "As a very young individual, Richard was not afraid to pursue his passions...He led a very interesting life and created something for the entire community that has been really wonderful."[4]

Alf was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2011 after collapsing at his home in Serra Mesa, San Diego.[3][4] He spent a short time at La Jolla Nursing and Rehabilitation Center before being transferred to the home of his friend, Earl Bookhammer, in Ramona, California.[4] He died at Bookhammer's home in Ramona on January 5, 2012, at the age of 59.[3][4]


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ "Richard Alf Papers, 1960–2011". Richard Alf Papers, 1960–2011. San Diego State University Special Collections and University Archives. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Richard Alf, a Comic-Con founder, dies of cancer". CBS News. January 6, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Rowe, Peter (January 5, 2012). "Richard Alf, 59, one of Comic-Con's founders". U-T San Diego. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  5. ^ "Comic-Con co-creator Ken Krueger dies". BBC News. November 25, 2009. Retrieved January 7, 2012.