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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

Arrangement:

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 rray@rohan.sdsu.edu.

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],
[All]

Series 2: Professional FilesAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Mail Order Comics BusinessAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Advertising FilesAdd to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Early correspondence record, 1973-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Boy's Life Magazine, 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 5: The Buyer's Guide, Fan publication, 1973-1978Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Caper's Weekly, 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Comic Reader, 1976-1977Add to your cart.
Folder 8: DC Comics, 1974-1978Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Film Collector's World, 1976-1977Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Grit Publishing Company, 1973-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Ironside, 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Marvel Comics Group, 1969-1985Add to your cart.
Folder 13: National Central Bureau, 1973-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Pacific Comics DistributorsAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Scholastic Magazines Group, 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Seanoard Comics Group, 1974-1975Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1974Add to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Stan's Weekly Express, 1969-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Stan's Weekly Express, 1970-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Syndicate, Inc. (The Nostalgia Journal), 1975-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Touchstone, 1970Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Killea, Lucy, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Overstreet, Bob (Comic Book Price Guide), 1974-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Palmer, Carleton, 1969-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Robertson, Mike, 1969-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Soon, Herman, 1969-1971Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Mail order correspondence, 1967Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Mail order correspondence, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Mail order correspondence, 1968Add to your cart.
Box 6Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Mail order correspondence, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Mail order correspondence, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Mail order correspondence, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Mail order correspondence, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Mail order correspondence, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Mail order correspondence, 1969Add to your cart.
Box 7Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Mail order correspondence, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Mail order correspondence, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Mail order correspondence, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Mail order correspondence, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Mail order correspondence, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Mail order correspondence, 1970Add to your cart.
Box 8Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Mail order correspondence, 1973-1975Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Mail order correspondence, 1976-1997Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: Administrative FilesAdd to your cart.
Box 8Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Circulation, mailing record and inventoriesAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Fictitious business name statements and business license, 1972-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Mail order purchasing lists, 1970-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Mail order selling lists, 1968-1975Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Other vendors, 1967-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Packaging and Mailing HintsAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Payments and money owed, 1969 - 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Promotional materials: inserts, flyers, handoutsAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Quarterly Reports, 1969Add to your cart.
Box 9Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Selling listsAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Seuling, Paul mail order selling lists, 1968-1973Add to your cart.
Box 20 - OVRSZAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Rubber stamp: Free ComicsAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Rubber stamp: Richard Alf, Box 20622, San Diego, CA 92120Add to your cart.
Item 3: Rubber stamp: Richard AlfAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Rubber stamp: Richard Alf, 286-9911Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Comic Kingdom StoreAdd to your cart.
Box 9Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Advertising agreements and receipts, 1974-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Better Business Bureau, 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 5: DBA (Doing Business As) filing / Business plan, 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 6: "Elf-size Epic: Alf" comic, 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Incoming merchandise and vendors, 1975-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Inventory listsAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Order formsAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: News clippings, 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Promotional materialsAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Store lease and correspondence with the landlord, 1975-1977Add to your cart.
Box 21 - OVRSZAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Comics Kingdom promotional materials (including original art), 1975Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: Baseball Collectibles BusinessAdd to your cart.
Box 9Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Ad mock-ups, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Baseball America advertising correspondence and invoices, 1989Add to your cart.
Box 10Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Baseball America, April - July 1989Add to your cart.
issues with marked advertisements
Folder 2: Baseball Digest advertising correspondence and invoices, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Baseball Digest, September - October 1989Add to your cart.
issues with marked advertisements
Folder 4: Business plan binder, June 20, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Card price lists, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Customer inquiries, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Form letters to customers, August 10, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Sports History advertising correspondence and invoices, 1989-1990Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Sports History, July and November 1989, January 1990Add to your cart.
issues with marked advertisements
Folder 10: Sport Magzine adavertising correspondence and invoices, 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Sport Magazine, September - October 1989Add to your cart.
Box 11Add to your cart.
Folder 1: The Sporting News advertising correspondence and invoices, 1989Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 4: Other BusinessesAdd to your cart.
Box 11Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Empire Sign CompanyAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Fun-n-Games, 1992Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Real estate, advertising, and sign business cardsAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

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


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