The Fox News station in San Diego ran a really nice feature on Shel Dorf, my friend, and founder of the San Diego Comic-Con. It’s here:
In case you haven’t heard, Shel passed away this week. Shel was a big supporter of the Jack Kirby Collector from its early days, and of course a close friend of the Kirby family. My wife Pam and I had the privilege of visiting Shel at his home after a San Diego Con in the mid-1990s, and man, what a treasure trove of comics memorabilia he had there. (Shel lettered for Milton Caniff, and he had a lot of comic STRIP material around; maybe more than comic BOOK material.)
He was a delightful host that day, showing us all around the beautiful beach town he lived in. We got to have some very interesting conversations over the years, and Shel entrusted me with a lot of photos he took at Comic-Con over the years, with the hope that we’d help preserve them and publish them in our books and mags. With his passing, that responsibility hits home even harder.
My sense was that he was really astonished to see what his little “West Coast Comic-Con” morphed into over the years, being somewhat impressed by its current size and scope, but a little dismayed that it’d gotten quite so large. I know he had stopped coming the last few years, because he couldn’t handle all the walking around it required.
Y’know, this is a really weird time of life for me. I’ve been doing this publishing thing for 15 years now, and I’ve been blessed to make so many really nice friends while doing something I absolutely love. It’s just been the best experience, and for so long it seemed like they’d always be around, ready to pick up a conversation the next time we saw them (which, in many cases, would only be at the next year’s comic convention). But now, 15 years into this, each passing year seems to bring the loss of someone else that I didn’t really get to know well enough before they left us. For so long, this stuff was just fun, fun, fun for the most part. But losses like this really do temper it, I’ve gotta say.
I’m really glad I got to know Shel. But now I realize it wasn’t enough time to really *know* him, y’know? I just wish I had a few more Comic-Cons with him there, to get to know him even better. I really do miss him.
Thanks to Terrence Sanford for alerting me to the Fox piece on Shel.