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Richard Alf Papers, 1955-2011 | Special Collections & University Archives

By Kim Schwenk and Dianna Serrano

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Collection Overview

Title: Richard Alf Papers, 1955-2011Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1968-1977

Primary Creator: Alf, Richard

Extent: 11.11 Linear Feet


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

Date Acquired: 01/01/2012. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Alf, Richard--Archives, Comic books, strips, etc., Comic books, strips, etc.--Collectors and collecting, San Diego (Calif.)--History, Underground comic books, strips, etc.

Forms of Material: Personal Papers

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Materials in the Richard Alf Papers document Alf's various businesses, including his comic book mail order business and store, as well as his involvement 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.

Biographical Note

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.

Subject/Index Terms

Alf, Richard--Archives
Comic books, strips, etc.
Comic books, strips, etc.--Collectors and collecting
San Diego (Calif.)--History
Underground comic books, strips, etc.

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & University Archives

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

Access Restrictions: 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

Use Restrictions: 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.

Acquisition Source: Martha Alf and Ed Cormier

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)

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.

Finding Aid Revision History: Initial processing begun by Rose Smith. Finished by Kim Schwenk and Dianna Serrano in 2015. Reprocessed in 2016 by Amanda Lanthorne with additions to the collection.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Files],
[Series 2: Professional Files],
[Series 3: Convention Files],
[Series 4: Audio and Visual Recordings],

Series 1: Personal FilesAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Alf, Martha, 1965-1998Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Blumling, Kath and Tom Thetford, 1993-2000Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Dorf, Shel, 1970-2005Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Kocsis, Steve, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 5: MacDonald, Holly, 1997Add to your cart.
Folder 6: McKinney, Phyllis, 1997-2004Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Moore, Clayton and Therese, 1997-2000Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Valentino, Jim, 2009Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Holiday cards, 1968-1998Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Invitations, notices, and solicitations, 1996-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 11: General correspondence, 1974-2009Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Subject FilesAdd to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Ackerman, Forrest "Famous Monsters of Filmland" calendar, 1992Add to your cart.
signed "Have a great year - Forrest Ackerman"
Folder 13: Alf-Dorf collaborations, 1969-1989Add to your cart.
Folder 14: AlfMagAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Alf personal notesAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Biographical informationAdd to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: City of La Mesa Annual Report, c. 1955Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Comic and fanzine advertisement flyersAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Comic art sketchesAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Dorf, Shel - Fan Club and Entourage, 1984-2011Add to your cart.
Includes Fortune magazine, inscribed cover and autograph by Gary Hallgren, 1984 - "Shel Dorf - May Cartooning Be Your 'Fortune'."
Folder 5: Dorf, Shel in memorium, 2009-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Dorf, Shel in publications, 1965-2011Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Fine Print Distributors Catalog, 1996-1997Add to your cart.
Folder 8: High Times, March 1985; October 1996Add to your cart.
Folder 9: How Mail Order Fortunes are Made by Alfred Stern, 1984Add to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: How to Make Your Fortune with Books by Owen Bates and Neal Michaels, 1984Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Johnson, George Clayton, 2009-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Kensington Video Film List, c. 1994Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Legal Highs: a Concise Encyclopedia of Legal Herbs and Chemicals with Psychoactive Properties, 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Musical compositionsAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Newsclippings about Alf and comics, 1967-2009Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Photographs, c. 1970-2009Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Photographs: Visit to San Francisco, 1996Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Photographs: San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, 1997Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Planet Earth Directory and ProjectoryAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Pop Smear Magazine, issue 18, November / December 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Publishers Central Bureau CatalogAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Research materials on the military draft, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Schwartz, Julius, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Sleepy Hollow Society fanzine created by AlfAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Things to do and see in San Diego, c. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: "The Universal Life Church (ULC) News", summer and fall 1998Add to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 1: WWF Battlemania, August 1991Add to your cart.
Folder 2: The Wrapper Non-Sports Collectibles, April 1 - May 15, 1993Add to your cart.
Box 18Add to your cart.
Item 1: San Diego State College softballAdd to your cart.
Box 19: Trading cards and ephemera, 1969-2009Add to your cart.
Includes sporting trading cards, comics and superhero cards, pop culture cards, and marijuana trading cards. Also includes, deck of Magic, the Gathering role playing card game and cloth badges from the 200th Anniversary of San Diego.
Box 20 - OVRSZAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Promotional buttonsAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Promotional buttonsAdd to your cart.
Box 21 - OVRSZAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Original artwork and posters (some signed)Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Movie Collector's World, no. 320, July 7, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 3: The Obecian, vol. 2, issue 9, Oct / Nov 1997Add to your cart.
Folder 4: On the Avenue, vol. 4, no. 9, September 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 5: O'Shaughnessy's, Autumn 2005Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Sunrise, issue 18, November 4, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 7: West Coast Leaf, vol. 2, no. 3, Autumn 2009Add to your cart.
Flat File 17:5: OVRSZAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Portrait of Alf by Clayton A. Moore, 2012Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Files],
[Series 2: Professional Files],
[Series 3: Convention Files],
[Series 4: Audio and Visual Recordings],

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