Guide to the Richard Alf Papers

Finding Aid Authors: Kim Schwenk and Dianna Serrano.
© Copyright 2016 Special Collections & University Archives. All rights reserved.
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
Email: askscua@mail.sdsu.edu
Phone: 619-594-6791

Guide to the Richard Alf Papers 1955/2011

Special Collections & University Archives

Overview of the Collection

Collection Title: Richard Alf Papers
Dates: 1955-2011
Bulk Dates: 1968-1977
Dates: 1955-2011
Creator: Alf, Richard
Physical Description: 11.11 linear ft
Language of Materials: English
Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
Email: askscua@mail.sdsu.edu
Phone: 619-594-6791

Biographical Information:

Richard Alf, a co-founder of Comic-Con, was born in San Diego, California on January 26, 1952. He was an avid comics collector and at the age of twelve, began buying and selling comics through Rocket's Blast Comicollector (RBCC). In 1968, he published and distributed his own list of comics for sale. Two years later, he sold his mail-order business in order to attend the University of California, San Diego (1970-1972), and later San Diego State University (1972-1974).
In 1969, Alf met Shel Dorf. Together with a small group of other fans (including Mike Towry and Ken Krueger), they formed an organizing committee for San Diego's Golden State Comic-Minicon. The committee produced, promoted, and ran the minicon in March of 1970 with 100 attendees. It served as a one day test run for the larger three-day San Diego Comic-Con that was held in August of that same year. Alf used income from his comic mail-order business to help finance the venture. Both conventions were held at the U.S. Grant Hotel and emphasized comic books, science fiction, and film.
Alf became chairman of the second Comic-Con, which was held at Muir College on the UCSD campus in 1971. Under his direction, Comic-Con expanded its committee base by networking with other fandoms outside of the original mandate. The third Comic-Con, held at the El Cortez Hotel in 1972, had over 1,000 attendees.
In 1974, Alf created a new collectible comic book mail-order business, and a year later he opened Comic Kingdom, one of San Diego's first comic book retail stores. In 1976, he sold it to the store manager, and in 1978, he sold his mail-order business to Mile High Comics of Colorado.
From 1980 to 1992, Alf worked in advertising for several different companies, specializing in billboards. In 1989, he began a mail order baseball collectibles business, and from 1990 to 2003, he bought and sold pre-owned video games and systems through mail-order and retail sales.
At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Alf and other early Comic-Con founders spoke as part of the "Secret History of the Con" panel, commemorating the 40th anniversary.
On January 4, 2012 Richard Alf passed away.

Access Terms

This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Genre/Form of Material:

Personal Papers

Geographic Name:

San Diego (Calif.)--History

Topical Term:

Alf, Richard--Archives
Comic books, strips, etc.
Comic books, strips, etc.--Collectors and collecting
Underground comic books, strips, etc.

Administrative Information

Accruals:

2012-028 (Alf), 2012-033 (Cormier)

Conditions Governing Use:

The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open for research.  All of the audiovisual materials represented in series IV of the Richard Alf Papers are restricted. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you would like to contribute to the digital transfer of these obsolete formats, please contact Robert Ray, Head of Special Collections and University Archives at rray@rohan.sdsu.edu.

Preferred Citation:

Identification of item, folder title, box number, Richard Alf Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

Related Materials:

Comics and Science Fiction Fandom Collection
Donna Barr Papers
Zines and Minicomics Collection
The Comic-Con Kids: Finding and Defining Fandom (interviews with early Comic-Con organizers and participants, including Richard Alf): http://comiccon.sdsu.edu/

Arrangement of Materials:

I. Personal Files, 1965-2011
    1. Correspondence,1965-2010
    2. Subject Files, 1955-2011
II. Professional Files, 1967-1997
    1. Mail Order Comics Business, 1963-1997
        A. Advertising Files, 1969-1985
        B. Correspondence, 1967-1997
        C. Administrative Files, 1967-1976
    2. Comic Kingdom Store, 1974-1977
    3. Baseball Collectibles Business, 1989-1990
    4. Other Businesses, c. 1990s
III. Convention Files, 1965-2011
    1. San Diego Comic-Con Files, 1965-2011
    2. Comics and Fandom Conventions, 1965-2010
IV. Audiovisual Recordings

Scope and Contents

Materials in the Richard Alf Papers document Alf's various entreprenuerial businesses, including his comic book mail order business and store, as well as his involvment with San Diego Comic-Con, the largest comic and pop culture convention in the world. The collection includes correspondence, original artwork, publications, business files, and San Diego Comic-Con materials. The collection is divided into four series: Personal Files, Professional Files, Convention Files, and Audiovisual Recordings.
The Personal Files date from 1965-2011, and include two subseries: Correspondence and Subject Files. The Correspondence includes personal correspondence with family and friends, holiday cards, invitations, notices, and solicitations. The Subject Files include: notes; original art; photographs; Vietnam draft materials, magazines, marijuana materials, and items relating to Shel Dorf, comic artist and co-founder of San Diego Comic-Con. Also included are drafts and final copies of autobiographical essays about Alf's life and his involvement with San Diego Comic-Con.
The Professional Files (1967-1997) document Alf's various entreprenuerial enterprises and are divided into four sub-series: Mail Order Comics Business, Comic Kingdom, Baseball Collectibles, and Other Businesses. The Mail Order Comic Business (1967-1997) sub-series documents the operation of Alf's mail-order comics businesses, the first of which was started while Alf was still in high school in 1969. The sub-series includes selling lists, mail order advertisements, and correspondence with customers and other mail order businesses. Highlights include correspondence with Carleton Palmer, a young illustrator whom Alf comissioned to illustrate his mailing lists and flyters. His letters contain original sketches as well as information about draft dodging. The majority of materials in this series date from 1969 to 1974. The files are arranged into three sub-series: Advertising Files, Correspondence, and Administrative files. The Comic Kingdom files (1974-1977), arranged alphabeically, include inventory lists, promotional materials, advertisements, news clippings, and general office files. Of particular note is an original illustration for the Comic Kingdom certificate. The Baseball Collectibles Business sub-series dates from 1989-1990 and documents Alf's mail order baseball card collecting and trading business. The series includes baseball card inventories as well as advertisements, invoices, and correspondence. The Other Businesses series contains a small amount of material from Alf's video game mail order business, Fun N Games, as well as a folder of business cards and photos from Alf's other careers as a real estate agent, advertising executive, and sign maker.
The Convention Files (1965-2011) are divided into two sub-series: the San Diego Comic-Con Files and Comics and Fandom Conventions. The San Diego Comic-Con Files date from 1965-2011 and are arranged alphabetically. This series includes letters from some of the earliest conventions in 1970 and 1971 as well as correspondence about the "Secret History of the Con" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. This series also includes convention badges, flyers, forms, posters, and photographs. The Comics and Fandom Conventions series dates from 1965-2010, and includes programs and materials from various comic and fandom conventions outside of San Diego including Comic Book Expo, Worldcon, LA Con, WonderCon and more.
The Audiovisual Recordings series includes sound recordings, film reels, audio cassettes, VHS, CDs, and DVDs, many of which are not labelled. This series is unavailable for research at this time. Analog footage has not yet been transferred due to limited resources. Please contact the head of Special Collections for access or more information.

Detailed List of Contents

 

Personal Files

 

Correspondence

Box 1, Folder 1

Alf, Martha 1965-1998

Box 1, Folder 2

Blumling, Kath and Tom Thetford 1993-2000

Box 1, Folder 3

Dorf, Shel 1970-2005

Box 1, Folder 4

Kocsis, Steve 1998

Box 1, Folder 5

MacDonald, Holly 1997

Box 1, Folder 6

McKinney, Phyllis 1997-2004

Box 1, Folder 7

Moore, Clayton and Therese 1997-2000

Box 1, Folder 8

Valentino, Jim 2009

Box 1, Folder 9

Holiday cards 1968-1998

Box 1, Folder 10

Invitations, notices, and solicitations 1996-2010

Box 1, Folder 11

General correspondence 1974-2009

 

Subject Files

Box 1, Folder 12

Ackerman, Forrest "Famous Monsters of Filmland" calendar 1992

Scope and Contents

signed "Have a great year - Forrest Ackerman"
Box 1, Folder 13

Alf-Dorf collaborations 1969-1989

Box 1, Folder 14

AlfMag

Box 1, Folder 15

Alf personal notes

Box 1, Folder 16

Biographical information

Box 2, Folder 1

City of La Mesa Annual Report c. 1955

Box 2, Folder 2

Comic and fanzine advertisement flyers

Box 2, Folder 3

Comic art sketches

Box 2, Folder 4

Dorf, Shel - Fan Club and Entourage 1984-2011

Scope and Contents

Includes Fortune magazine, inscribed cover and autograph by Gary Hallgren, 1984 - "Shel Dorf - May Cartooning Be Your 'Fortune'."
Box 2, Folder 5

Dorf, Shel in memorium 2009-2010

Box 2, Folder 6

Dorf, Shel in publications 1965-2011

Box 2, Folder 7

Fine Print Distributors Catalog 1996-1997

Box 2, Folder 8

High Times March 1985; October 1996

Box 2, Folder 9

How Mail Order Fortunes are Made by Alfred Stern 1984

Box 3, Folder 1

How to Make Your Fortune with Books by Owen Bates and Neal Michaels 1984

Box 3, Folder 2

Johnson, George Clayton 2009-2010

Box 3, Folder 3

Kensington Video Film List c. 1994

Box 3, Folder 4

Legal Highs: a Concise Encyclopedia of Legal Herbs and Chemicals with Psychoactive Properties 1973

Box 3, Folder 5

Musical compositions

Box 3, Folder 6

Newsclippings about Alf and comics 1967-2009

Box 3, Folder 7

Photographs c. 1970-2009

Box 3, Folder 8

Photographs: Visit to San Francisco 1996

Box 3, Folder 9

Photographs: San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park 1997

Box 3, Folder 10

Planet Earth Directory and Projectory

Box 3, Folder 11

Pop Smear Magazine, issue 18 November / December 1998

Box 3, Folder 12

Publishers Central Bureau Catalog

Box 3, Folder 13

Research materials on the military draft 1968

Box 3, Folder 14

Schwartz, Julius 1989

Box 3, Folder 15

Sleepy Hollow Society fanzine created by Alf

Box 3, Folder 16

Things to do and see in San Diego c. 1950s

Box 3, Folder 17

"The Universal Life Church (ULC) News" summer and fall 1998

Box 4, Folder 1

WWF Battlemania August 1991

Box 4, Folder 2

The Wrapper Non-Sports Collectibles April 1 - May 15, 1993

Box 18

San Diego State College softball

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Promotional buttons

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Promotional buttons

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 1

Original artwork and posters (some signed)

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 2

Movie Collector's World, no. 320 July 7, 1989

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 3

The Obecian, vol. 2, issue 9 Oct / Nov 1997

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 4

On the Avenue, vol. 4, no. 9 September 1998

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 5

O'Shaughnessy's Autumn 2005

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 6

Sunrise, issue 18 November 4, 1970

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 7

West Coast Leaf, vol. 2, no. 3 Autumn 2009

 

Professional Files

 

Mail Order Comics Business

 

Advertising Files

Box 4, Folder 3

Early correspondence record 1973-1974

Box 4, Folder 4

Boy's Life Magazine 1974

Box 4, Folder 5

The Buyer's Guide, Fan publication 1973-1978

Box 4, Folder 6

Caper's Weekly 1974

Box 4, Folder 7

Comic Reader 1976-1977

Box 4, Folder 8

DC Comics 1974-1978

Box 4, Folder 9

Film Collector's World 1976-1977

Box 4, Folder 10

Grit Publishing Company 1973-1974

Box 4, Folder 11

Ironside 1976

Box 4, Folder 12

Marvel Comics Group 1969-1985

Box 4, Folder 13

National Central Bureau 1973-1974

Box 4, Folder 14

Pacific Comics Distributors

Box 4, Folder 15

Scholastic Magazines Group 1974

Box 4, Folder 16

Seanoard Comics Group 1974-1975

Box 4, Folder 17

Sorcerer's Apprentice 1974

Box 5, Folder 1

Stan's Weekly Express 1969-1970

Box 5, Folder 2

Stan's Weekly Express 1970-1974

Box 5, Folder 3

Syndicate, Inc. ( The Nostalgia Journal) 1975-1976

Box 5, Folder 4

Touchstone 1970

 

Correspondence

Box 5, Folder 5

Killea, Lucy 1989

Box 5, Folder 6

Overstreet, Bob ( Comic Book Price Guide) 1974-1976

Box 5, Folder 7

Palmer, Carleton 1969-1970

Box 5, Folder 8

Robertson, Mike 1969-1970

Box 5, Folder 9

Soon, Herman 1969-1971

Box 5, Folder 10

Mail order correspondence 1967

Box 5, Folder 11

Mail order correspondence 1968

Box 5, Folder 12

Mail order correspondence 1968

Box 6, Folder 1

Mail order correspondence 1968

Box 6, Folder 2

Mail order correspondence 1969

Box 6, Folder 3

Mail order correspondence 1969

Box 6, Folder 4

Mail order correspondence 1969

Box 6, Folder 5

Mail order correspondence 1969

Box 6, Folder 6

Mail order correspondence 1969

Box 7, Folder 1

Mail order correspondence 1970

Box 7, Folder 2

Mail order correspondence 1970

Box 7, Folder 3

Mail order correspondence 1970

Box 7, Folder 4

Mail order correspondence 1970

Box 7, Folder 5

Mail order correspondence 1970

Box 7, Folder 6

Mail order correspondence 1970

Box 8, Folder 1

Mail order correspondence 1973-1975

Box 8, Folder 2

Mail order correspondence 1976-1997

 

Administrative Files

Box 8, Folder 3

Circulation, mailing record and inventories

Box 8, Folder 4

Fictitious business name statements and business license 1972-1974

Box 8, Folder 5

Mail order purchasing lists 1970-1976

Box 8, Folder 6

Mail order selling lists 1968-1975

Box 8, Folder 7

Other vendors 1967-1976

Box 8, Folder 8

Packaging and Mailing Hints

Box 8, Folder 9

Payments and money owed 1969 - 1970

Box 8, Folder 10

Promotional materials: inserts, flyers, handouts

Box 8, Folder 11

Quarterly Reports 1969

Box 9, Folder 1

Selling lists

Box 9, Folder 2

Seuling, Paul mail order selling lists 1968-1973

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Rubber stamp: Free Comics

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Rubber stamp: Richard Alf, Box 20622, San Diego, CA 92120

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Rubber stamp: Richard Alf

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Rubber stamp: Richard Alf, 286-9911

 

Comic Kingdom Store

Box 9, Folder 3

Advertising agreements and receipts 1974-1976

Box 9, Folder 4

Better Business Bureau 1975

Box 9, Folder 5

DBA (Doing Business As) filing / Business plan 1975

Box 9, Folder 6

"Elf-size Epic: Alf" comic 1975

Box 9, Folder 7

Incoming merchandise and vendors 1975-1976

Box 9, Folder 8

Inventory lists

Box 9, Folder 9

Order forms

Box 9, Folder 10

News clippings 1975

Box 9, Folder 11

Promotional materials

Box 9, Folder 12

Store lease and correspondence with the landlord 1975-1977

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 8

Comics Kingdom promotional materials (including original art) 1975

 

Baseball Collectibles Business

Box 9, Folder 13

Ad mock-ups 1989

Box 9, Folder 14

Baseball America advertising correspondence and invoices 1989

Box 10, Folder 1

Baseball America April - July 1989

Scope and Contents

issues with marked advertisements
Box 10, Folder 2

Baseball Digest advertising correspondence and invoices 1989

Box 10, Folder 3

Baseball Digest September - October 1989

Scope and Contents

issues with marked advertisements
Box 10, Folder 4

Business plan binder June 20, 1989

Box 10, Folder 5

Card price lists 1989

Box 10, Folder 6

Customer inquiries 1989

Box 10, Folder 7

Form letters to customers August 10, 1989

Box 10, Folder 8

Sports History advertising correspondence and invoices 1989-1990

Box 10, Folder 9

Sports History July and November 1989, January 1990

Scope and Contents

issues with marked advertisements
Box 10, Folder 10

Sport Magzine adavertising correspondence and invoices 1989

Box 10, Folder 11

Sport Magazine September - October 1989

Box 11, Folder 1

The Sporting News advertising correspondence and invoices 1989

 

Other Businesses

Box 11, Folder 2

Empire Sign Company

Box 11, Folder 3

Fun-n-Games 1992

Box 11, Folder 4

Real estate, advertising, and sign business cards

 

Convention Files

 

San Diego Comic-Con Files

Box 11, Folder 5

Badges c. 1975-2009

Box 11, Folder 6

Certificate of Attendance, Fandom Reunion 2011

Box 11, Folder 7

Convention meetings 1989-1991

Box 11, Folder 8

Correspondence: Alfonso, Barry 2009

Box 11, Folder 9

Correspondence: Cawley, John M., Jr. 1970-1971

Box 11, Folder 10

Correspondence: Desmond, D. Fae 2009

Box 11, Folder 11

Correspondence: Estrada, Jackie 2009

Box 11, Folder 12

Correspondence: Friedrich, Mike 1971

Box 11, Folder 13

Correspondence: Goggins, Janet 2009

Box 11, Folder 14

Correspondence: Love, G.B. 1970-1971

Box 11, Folder 15

Correspondence: Rowe, Pete 2009

Box 11, Folder 16

Correspondence: San Diego State University 2010

Box 11, Folder 17

Correspondence: Towry, J.M. (Mike) 2009

Box 11, Folder 18

Correspondence: Trimble, Bjo Comic-Con Report 1971

Box 11, Folder 19

Correspondence: Wheeler, Rod 1971

Box 11, Folder 20

Flyers 1970-2009

Box 12, Folder 1

Forms, Rules, and Regulations 1991-1995

Box 12, Folder 2

History 1989-2009

Box 12, Folder 3

Letterhead and Envelopes 1989-2009

Box 12, Folder 4

News clippings 1965-2012

Box 12, Folder 5

Notes 2009-2010

Box 12, Folder 6

Photographs

Box 12, Folder 7

Programs 1970-1977

Box 12, Folder 8

"San Diego in '74" [San Diego Fandom directory] 1994

Box 12, Folder 9

San Diego's Golden State Comic-Con 1971

Box 12, Folder 10

San Diego's Golden State Comic-Con: UCSD facilities 1971

Box 12, Folder 11

Tickets 1970-2011

Box 20 - OVRSZ

San Diego Comic-Con volunteer t-shirt 1984

Box 20 - OVRSZ

San Diego Comic-Con buttons 20th annual, 1994

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 9

San Diego Comic-Con Photographs (2)

Box 21 - OVRSZ, Folder 10

San Diego Comic-Con promotional posters 1971, 1975, 2011

Folder FF17:5

Promotional materials, includes posters from 1978 and 1981 Comic-Con

 

Comic and Fandom Conventions

Box 12, Folder 12

Blackthrone 1986-1987

Box 13, Folder 1

Cinecon 1999-2009

Box 13, Folder 2

Comic Book Expo 1986-1998

Box 13, Folder 3

Dallascon 1973

Box 13, Folder 4

Equicon 1973

Box 13, Folder 5

Horror Science Fiction and Fantasy World Convention 1993

Box 13, Folder 6

Los Angeles Con 1972-1975

Box 13, Folder 7

Mahalo Con 1996

Box 13, Folder 8

Medieval Con 1973

Box 13, Folder 9

Mythcon 1971-1972

Box 13, Folder 10

New York Comic Art Convention 1974-1977

Box 13, Folder 11

San Diego's Science Fiction Society (S.T.A.R.)

Box 13, Folder 12

Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Convention 1972

Box 13, Folder 13

Triple Fan Fair 1965-1968

Box 13, Folder 14

Viridian Starfire 1971

Box 13, Folder 15

Westercon 1972-1974

Box 13, Folder 16

West Coast Science Fantasy Conference 1973

Box 13, Folder 17

Wonder Con 2010

Box 13, Folder 18

Miscellaneous 1973-1993

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Comic Book Expo buttons / pins 1989, 1991-1993

Box 20 - OVRSZ

LA Con button 1972

Box 20 - OVRSZ

Worldcon button 1974

 

Audio and Visual Recordings

Scope and Contents

Due to lack of funding, we are currently unable to digitize these analog A/V formats. As a result, these materials are unavailable for research at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you would like to contribute to the transfer of these obsolete formats, please contact Robert Ray, Head of Special Collections and University Archives at rray@rohan.sdsu.edu