Comic Art Convention

The Comic Art Convention was an American comic book fan convention held annually New York City, New York, over Independence Day weekend from 1968 through 1983, except for 1977, when it was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and 1978 to 1979, when editions of the convention were held in both New York and Philadelphia. The first large-scale comics convention, and one of the largest gatherings of its kind until the Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, it grew into a major trade and fan convention. It was founded by Phil Seuling, a Brooklyn, New York City, teacher, who later developed the concept of comic-book direct marketing, which led to the rise to the modern comic book store.

The New York Comic Art Convention's growth in popularity coincided with the increasing media attention on comics that had been building since the mid-1960s, feeding off the then novel notions of comics being a subject worthy of serious critical study and collectibility.

Comic Art Convention
Location(s)New York City (1968–1976, 1978–1983)
Philadelphia (1977–1979)
CountryUnited States
Most recent1983
Organized byPhil Seuling


Circa 1961, enterprising fans including Jerry Bails, Shel Dorf, Bernie Bubnis, and future Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Roy Thomas began following the pattern of the long-established science fiction fandom by publishing fanzines, corresponding with one another and with comic-book editors (most notably DC Comics' Julius Schwartz), and eventually arranging informal and later professional, commercial conventions.[1] Among the first were the 1964 Tri-State Con (a.k.a. the New York Comicon)[2] and that same year's precursor to the Detroit Triple Fan Fair[3][4] (officially established in 1965).[5]

As Seuling described his convention's genesis, "In 1964, about a hundred people found themselves in a New York City union meeting hall, a large open room with wooden folding chairs, looking around at each other oddly, surprised, not really knowing what they were there for, a bit sheepish, waiting for whatever was going to take place to begin. ... It was the first comics convention ever [and t]hat one-day assembly ... grew step by step into an annual tradition in New York and then elsewhere."[6] In 1965, the Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors hosted a convention at New York's Broadway Central Hotel,[7] continuing that tradition in 1966 and 1967. The so-called "Academy Cons" featured such industry professionals as Otto Binder, Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, Mort Weisinger, James Warren, Roy Thomas, Gil Kane,[5] Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Carmine Infantino, and Julius Schwartz.[8]

As Seuling told it, "In 1968, I became involved in [staging] my first convention. The following year began the current series called the Comic Art Convention".[6] (The 1968 show, officially known as the International Convention of Comic Book Art, was co-produced with SCARP, the short-lived Society for Comic Art Research and Preservation, Inc.)[9] Guests of honor at the 1968 show were Stan Lee[10] and Burne Hogarth[11]

The 1969 convention, the first official Comic Art Convention, was held Independence Day weekend at the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York City, and the guest of honor was Hal Foster.[12] Admittance to the convention cost $3.50 for a three-day ticket, with daily passes at $1.50.[13] Admittance was free with a hotel room rental, which cost $15-and-up per day.[13]

The final three years of the 1961-1969 Alley Awards, sponsored by Alter Ego magazine and the Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors, were presented at the Comic Art Convention.[14] After the demise of the Alley, later years featured the Goethe Awards[15] (later renamed the "Comic Fan Art Awards").[16]

In 1973, Seuling persuaded Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of the industry-changing 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, to attend what would be Wertham's only panel with an audience of comics fans.[17]

The 1974 show featured a panel on the role of women in comics, with Marie Severin, Flo Steinberg, Jean Thomas (sometime-collaborator with then-husband Roy Thomas), Linda Fite (writer of The Claws of the Cat), and fan representative Irene Vartanoff.[18]

By 1984, as his comic-book distribution business occupied more time, and as other comics conventions, most notably in San Diego and Chicago, became larger, more prominent, and more commercial- rather than fan-driven, Seuling segued the Independence Day-centered Comic Art Convention into the smaller Manhattan Con, which took place in mid-June.[19] Seuling died unexpectedly in August 1984, and the Comic Art Convention/Manhattan Con died with him.


Program book featuring Swamp Thing art by Berni Wrightson (as he then spelled his first name).

The Comic Art Conventions provided the primary nexus for fans and the largely New York City-based industry during the Silver Age and the Bronze Age of comic books. As well, many of the Golden Age creators were still alive and in attendance at panels and for interviews, which helped lay the groundwork for the medium's historical scholarship.

The reputation of the Convention spread throughout fandom via an annual write-up published in The Buyer's Guide to Comics Fandom by columnist Murray Bishoff. Besides reporting on convention events, Bishoff also provided fans around the country with a benchmark market report by surveying attending dealers regarding what was selling and whether prices realized were above or below those quoted in the de facto standard, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.

Will Eisner, creator of the Spirit in 1940, credited the 1971 Comic Art Con for his return to comics. In a 1983 interview with Seuling, he said, "I came back into the field because of you. I remember you calling me in New London, [Connecticut], where I was sitting there as chairman of the board of Croft Publishing Co. My secretary said, 'There's a Mr. Seuling on the phone and he's talking about a comics convention. What is that?' She said, 'I didn't know you were a cartoonist, Mr. Eisner.' 'Oh, yes,' I said, 'secretly; I'm a closet cartoonist.' I came down and was stunned at the existence of the whole world. ... That was a world that I had left, and I found it very exciting, very stimulating".[20]

Eisner later elaborated about meeting underground comics creators and publishers, including Denis Kitchen

I went down to the convention, which was being held in one of the hotels in New York, and there was a group of guys with long hair and scraggly beards, who had been turning out what spun as literature, really popular 'gutter' literature if you will, but pure literature. And they were taking on illegal [sic] subject matter that no comics had ever dealt with before. ... I came away from that recognizing that a revolution had occurred then, a turning point in the history of this medium. ... I reasoned that the 13-year-old kids that I'd been writing to back in the 1940s were no longer 13-year-old kids, they were now 30, 40 years old. They would want something more than two heroes, two supermen, crashing against each other. I began working on a book that dealt with a subject that I felt had never been tried by comics before, and that was man's relationship with God. That was the book A Contract with God....[21]

1974ComicArtCon book
1974 program book featuring Joe Simon's original 1940 sketch of Captain America


Following Seuling's death in 1984 and continuing until 1988, Creation Entertainment continued producing large annual conventions in New York City, usually taking place over the weekend following Thanksgiving (Creation had begun hosting New York shows in 1971, and sometimes put on as many as a half-dozen New York City shows per year).[19] From 1993–1995, promoter Fred Greenberg hosted two Great Eastern Conventions annually at venues including the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the New York Coliseum. Other companies, including Dynamic Forces, held New York City conventions but all were on a smaller scale than the Seuling shows. Changes in the industry, popular culture, and the resurgent city itself since the troubled 1960s and '70s made large-scale comic-book conventions difficult to hold profitably. Jonah Weiland of also noted that "...dealing with the various convention unions made it difficult for most groups to get a show off the ground."[22]

In 1996, Greenberg, at a very late point, cancelled what had been advertised as a larger-than-usual Great Eastern Conventions show, which the fan press had suggested[23] might herald a successor to the Comic Art Con. As a substitute event, promoter Michael Carbonaro and others on the spur of the moment mounted the first Big Apple Convention in the basement of Manhattan's Church of St. Paul the Apostle.[24] These small shows nonetheless attracted many comics creators and pop-culture figures, and by 2000 the convention had moved to the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in Manhattan,[25] and by the mid-2000s were taking place at the Penn Plaza Pavilion at the Hotel Pennsylvania — the same location of the original Comic Art Conventions.[26][27][28]

In 2002, the first MoCCA Art Festival, focused on alternative comics and the small press, was held at New York City’s Puck Building; it has been held annually since. In 2006, the first New York Comic Con was held in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center; it also has been held annually since.

Dates and locations

Conventions held in New York City unless otherwise noted.
  • July 4–7, 1968: Statler Hilton Hotel, 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue — as International Convention of Comic Book Art
  • July 4–6, 1969: Statler Hilton Hotel — Penn Top/Sky Top Rooms[29]
  • July 3–5, 1970: Statler Hilton Hotel
  • July 2–4, 1971: Statler Hilton Hotel
  • July 1–5, 1972: Statler Hilton Hotel
  • July 4–8, 1973: Commodore Hotel, 42nd Street and Park Avenue
  • July 4–8, 1974: Commodore Hotel
  • July 3–7, 1975: Commodore Hotel
  • July 2–6, 1976: McAlpin Hotel, 34th Street and Broadway
  • July 1–5, 1977: Hotel Sheraton, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (no New York con this year)
  • 1978:
    • July 2–5: Americana Hotel, New York City
    • July 8–9: Philadelphia
  • 1979:
    • June 30-July 1: Statler Hilton Hotel, New York City
    • July 14–15: Sheraton Hotel, Philadelphia
  • July 4–6, 1980: Statler Hilton Hotel[30]
  • July 3–5, 1981: Statler Hilton Hotel[31]
  • July, 3-5, 1982: Sheraton Hotel, Seventh Ave. and 56th Street, New York City[32][33]
  • July 2–4, 1983: Sheraton Hotel, New York City — as International Science Fiction and Comic Art Convention (presentation of the Saturn Awards)

See also


  1. ^ Schelly, Bill. "Jerry Bails' Ten Building Blocks of Fandom," Alter Ego vol. 3, #25 (June 2003) pp. 5-8.
  2. ^ Schelly, Bill. Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s (McFarland, 2010), p. 131.
  3. ^ Duncan, Randy; and Smith, Matthew J. The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009), p. 183.
  4. ^ Skinn, Dez. "Early days of UK comics conventions and marts," Accessed Mar. 3, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Schelly, Bill. Founders, p. 8.
  6. ^ a b Seuling, Phil. 1977 Comic Art Convention program book (Sea Gate Distributors, 1977), p. 5
  7. ^ Thomas, Roy. "Splitting the Atom: More Than You Could Possibly Want to Know About the Creation of the Silver Age Mighty Mite!" The Alter Ego Collection, Volume 1 (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2006), p. 99.
  8. ^ Schelly, Bill. "The Kaler Con: Two Views: Bigger And Better Than The Benson Con Just Three Weeks Before?? (Part VIII of '1966: The Year Of (Nearly) Three New York Comics Conventions')," Alter-Ego #64 (Jan. 2007).
  9. ^ Thompson, Maggie. Newfangles #6 (Jan. 1968).
  10. ^ Carmody, Deirdre (July 6, 1968). "Comic Books Get Star Billing at Convention Here". The New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2013. (Abstract; full article requires fee or subscription)
  11. ^ Schelly, Bill. Founders, p. 107.
  12. ^ Groth, Gary. "Editorial: Con Games", The Comics Journal #76 (Oct. 1, 1982), pp. 4-6.
  13. ^ a b "The 1969 Comic Art Convention Progress Report". Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Additional, February 20, 2011.
  14. ^ Gabilliet, Jean-Paul (trans. by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen). Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books (University of Mississippi Press, 2010), pp. 250–251.
  15. ^ "The 1971 Goethe Awards" (ballot), Graphic Story World vol. 2, #2 (whole #6) (July 1972), p. 29.
  16. ^ Miller, John Jackson. "Goethe/Comic Fan Art Award winners, 1971-74," CBGXtra (July 19, 2005).
  17. ^ "Biographies: Fredric Wertham, M.D." Comic Art & Graffix Gallery. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  18. ^ Lovece, Frank (1974). "Cons: New York 1974!". The Journal Summer Special. Paul Kowtiuk, Maple Leaf Publications; editorial office then at Box 1286, Essex, Ontario, Canada N0R 1E0.
  19. ^ a b Grant, Steven. "Permanent Damage: Issue #43," Comic Book Resources (July 10, 2002).
  20. ^ Groth, Gary. "Will Eisner: Chairman of the Board", The Comics Journal #267, May 2005.WebCitation archive
  21. ^ "Transcript, Will Eisner's keynote address, Will Eisner Symposium". The 2002 University of Florida Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels.
  22. ^ Weiland, Jonah (June 10, 2005). "Battling Conventions? Talking with the NY Comic Con and Megacon Organizers". Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. (Requires scroll down)
  23. ^ "Newswatch: NYC Comics Convention Cancelled, Fans Irate," The Comics Journal #185 (Mar. 1996), pp. 18-19.
  24. ^ Pate, Brian "Mike Carbonaro Retiring From Convention Promoting with Final 2012 NYCBM Show," Convention Scene (Mar. 30, 2012).
  25. ^ "Big Apple Comic Book, Art & Toy Show". November 10–12, 2000. Archived from the original on September 30, 2000.
  26. ^ "The National Comic Book, Art & Sci-Fi Expo". November 19–21, 2004. Archived from the original on October 13, 2004.
  27. ^ "Big Apple Comic Book, Art, Toy & Sci-Fi Expo". June 7–8, 2008. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008.
  28. ^ "Big Apple Comic Book, Art, Toy & Sci-Fi Epo". November 14–16, 2008. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008.
  29. ^ "Old Comic Book Art is on Display Here," New York Times (July 5, 1969), p. 16.
  30. ^ 1980 Comic Art Convention Official Program Book by Sea Gate Distributors, Phil Seuling, Robbographica Studios & Cat Yronwode
  31. ^ 1981 Comic Art Convention Official Program Book by Phil Seuling and Gwenn Seuling/Sea Gate Distributors
  32. ^ Haberman, Clyde and Laurie Johnston. "New York Day by Day: A Comic-Book Fourth," New York Times (July 5, 1982).
  33. ^ "Happenings: Other Events," New York Magazine (July 5–12, 1982), p. 134.

Further reading

  • Ballmann, J. (2016). 1964 New York Comicon: The True Story Behind the World's First Comic Convention. Totalmojo Productions. ISBN 978-0981534916.
  • 1975, 1976, 1977 Comic Art Convention program books
  • The Comics Journal #46 (May 1979): Convention ad, inside back cover

External links

1969 in comics

Notable events of 1969 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

This is a list of comics-related events in 1969.

1972 in comics

Notable events of 1972 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

1973 in comics

Notable events of 1973 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

1978 in comics

Notable events of 1978 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

This is a list of comics-related events in 1978.

1979 in comics

Notable events of 1979 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

1981 in comics

Notable events of 1981 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

1983 in comics

Notable events of 1983 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

1984 in animation

The year 1984 in animation involved some events.

Alley Award

The Alley Award was an American series of comic book fan awards, first presented in 1962 for comics published in 1961. Officially organized under the aegis of the Academy of Comic Book Arts and Sciences, the award shared close ties with the fanzine Alter Ego magazine. The Alley is the first known comic book fan award.The Alley Awards were tallied yearly for comic books produced during the previous year. The Alley statuette was initially sculpted by Academy member Ron Foss out of redwood, from which "plaster duplications" were made to be handed out to the various winners.

British Comic Art Convention

The British Comic Art Convention (usually known by the moniker Comicon) was an annual British comic book convention which was held between 1968 and 1981, usually in London. The earliest British fan convention devoted entirely to comics, it was also the birthplace of the Eagle Awards.

Most editions of Comicon took place over two days, usually on a Saturday and Sunday. The convention featured floorspace for exhibitors, including comic book dealers and collectibles merchants. Along with panels, seminars, and workshops with comic book professionals, one of the highlights of Comicon was the Saturday all-night film show.

Comic book convention

A comic book convention or comic con is an event with a primary focus on comic books and comic book culture, in which comic book fans gather to meet creators, experts, and each other. Commonly, comic conventions are multi-day events hosted at convention centers, hotels, or college campuses. They feature a wide variety of activities and panels, with a larger number of attendees participating in cosplay than most other types of fan conventions. Comic book conventions are also used as a vehicle for industry, in which publishers, distributors, and retailers represent their comic-related releases. Comic book conventions may be considered derivatives of science-fiction conventions, which began in the late 1930s.

Comic-cons were traditionally organized by fans on a not-for-profit basis, though nowadays most events catering to fans are run by commercial interests for profit. Many conventions have award presentations relating to comics (such as the Eisner Awards, which have been presented at San Diego Comic-Con International since 1988; or the Harvey Awards, which have been presented at a variety of venues also since 1988).

At commercial events, comic book creators often give out autographs to the fans, sometimes in exchange for a flat appearance fee, and sometimes may draw illustrations for a per-item fee. Commercial conventions are usually quite expensive and are hosted in hotels. This represents a change in comic book conventions, which traditionally were more oriented toward comic books as a mode of literature, and maintained a less caste-like differentiation between professional and fan.

The first official comic book convention was held in 1964 in New York City and was called New York Comicon. Early conventions were small affairs, usually organized by local enthusiasts (such as Jerry Bails, later known as the "Father of Comic Fandom", and Dave Kaler of the Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors), and featuring a handful of industry guests. The first recurring conventions were the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, which ran from 1965–1978, and Academy Con, which ran from 1965–1967. Many recurring conventions begin as single-day events in small venues, which as they grow more popular expand to two days, or even three or more every year. Many comic-cons which had their start in church basements or union halls now fill convention centers in major cities.Nowadays, comic conventions are big business, with recurring shows in every major American city. Comic book conventions in name only, the biggest shows include a large range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.

San Diego Comic-Con International, a multigenre entertainment and comic convention held annually in San Diego since 1970, is the standard bearer for U.S. comic-cons. According to Forbes, the convention is the "largest convention of its kind in the world;" and is also the largest convention held in San Diego. According to the San Diego Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the convention has an annual regional economic impact of $162.8 million, with a $180 million economic impact in 2011. However, in 2017, SDCC lost its record of the largest annual multigenre convention to São Paulo's Comic Con Experience (first held in 2014).Internationally, the largest European comic book festivals are Lucca Comics & Games (first held in 1965) and the Angoulême International Comics Festival (first staged in 1974). The world's largest comic book convention, in terms of attendees, is Japan's Comiket (first held in 1975), which boasts annual attendance of over half a million people.

Goethe Awards

The Goethe Award, later known as the Comic Fan Art Award, was an American series of comic book fan awards, first presented in 1971 for comics published in 1970. The award originated with the fanzine Newfangles and then shared close ties with The Buyer's Guide to Comics Fandom.

The Goethe Award was named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Goethe was the person who encouraged Rodolphe Töpffer, "the father of comic strips," to publish his stories.The Comic Art Convention (CAC) twice hosted the presentation of the awards, at the 1972 and 1974 CACs. The format and balloting of the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Awards, presented by the Comics Buyer's Guide from 1982–2008, were in many ways derived from the Goethe Award/Comic Fan Art Award.

Great Eastern Conventions

Great Eastern Conventions, Inc. was an entertainment company which produced comic book conventions, most actively during the years 1987-1996. In New York City, the Great Eastern shows filled the gap between the mid-1980s demise of the annual Comic Art Convention and Creation Conventions, and the establishment of promoter Michael Carbonaro's annual Big Apple Comic Con in 1996. From 1993–1995, Great Eastern hosted two New York City shows annually at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In addition to running shows in the Northeastern United States, Great Eastern also ran shows in Georgia, Florida, California, Oregon, Minnesota, and Texas.

Great Eastern was founded in 1977 by New Jersey-based promoter Frederic Greenberg.

Hal Foster

Harold Rudolf Foster (August 16, 1892 – July 25, 1982), better known as Hal Foster, was a Canadian-American comic strip artist and writer best known as the creator of the comic strip Prince Valiant. His drawing style is noted for its high level of draftsmanship and attention to detail.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Foster rode his bike to the United States in 1919 and began to study in Chicago, eventually living in America. In 1928, he began one of the earliest adventure comic strips, an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan. In 1937, he created his signature strip, the weekly Prince Valiant, a fantasy adventure set in medieval times. The strip featured Foster's dexterous, detailed artwork; Foster eschewed word balloons, preferring to have narration and dialogue in captions.

List of defunct comic book conventions

This is a list of noteworthy defunct comic book conventions (as distinct from anime conventions, furry conventions, gaming conventions, horror conventions, multigenre conventions, and science fiction conventions). This a companion to List of comic book conventions.

List of fan conventions by date of founding

The list of modern fan conventions for various genres of entertainment extends to the first conventions held in the 1930s.

Some fan historians claim that the 1936 Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference, a.k.a. Philcon, was the first science fiction convention ever held. Others, such as Fred Patten and Rob Hansen, make this claim for the January 1937 event in Leeds, England, organized by the Leeds Science Fiction League, which was specifically organised as a conference, with a program and speakers. Out of this came the first incarnation of the British Science Fiction Association.

While a few conventions were created in various parts of the world within the period between 1935-1960, the number of convention establishments increased slightly in the 1960s and then increased dramatically in the 1970s, with many of the largest conventions in the modern era being established during the latter decade. Impeti for further establishment of local fan conventions include:

The return of superhero characters and franchises during the Silver Age of Comic Books (1956-1970)

science fiction adaptations for television serials (e.g., Star Trek) in the 1960s-1970s

the growth of role-playing (in the 1970s and 1980s) as a genre of tabletop, live-action and eventually video/computer gaming, which not only inspired roleplay of favorite characters in full-body costumes but also inspired existing franchises to adapt their themes for said methods of gaming

the growth in home taping (starting with VHS in the late 1970s) of television broadcasts, including popular serials.

the growth of computerized communication, including the Internet and Internet-dependent applications in the 1980s and 1990s.


OrlandoCon, also known as O'Con, was a long-running comic book fan convention which was held annually between 1974 and 1996 in Orlando, Florida. The first comic book convention held in the Orlando area, OrlandoCon billed itself as a "Central Florida comic art convention and early TV/film festival." Captain Marvel-creator C. C. Beck was a regular guest of the show; as were many other Golden Age of Comic Books creators who lived in the Orlando area.

The founders of OrlandoCon were regional chairman of the National Cartoonists Society Jim Ivey, and local enthusiasts Charlie Roberts, Richard Kravitz, Rob Word, and Neil Austin. Most OrlandoCons took place over a September weekend.

Phil Seuling

Philip Nicholas Seuling (January 20, 1934 – August 21, 1984) was a comic book fan convention organizer and comics distributor primarily active in the 1970s. Seuling was the organizer of the annual New York Comic Art Convention, originally held in New York City every July 4 weekend throughout the 1970s. Later, with his Sea Gate Distributors company, Seuling developed the concept of the direct market distribution system for getting comics directly into comic book specialty shops, bypassing the then established newspaper/magazine distributor method, where no choices of title, quantity, or delivery directions were permitted.

United Kingdom Comic Art Convention

The United Kingdom Comic Art Convention (UKCAC) was a British comic book convention which was held between 1985 and 1998.

Most editions of the UKCAC took place in September, over two days, usually on a Saturday and Sunday. The convention featured floorspace for exhibitors, including comic book dealers and collectibles merchants. Along with panels, seminars, and workshops with comic book professionals, one of the highlights of Comicon was the Saturday all-night film show, as well as regular events like quizzes and a fancy dress contest. The show included an autograph area, as well as a so-called "Artists' Alley" where comics artists signed autographs and sold or did free sketches.

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