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Shel Dorf architect behind San Diego’s Comic-Con died

Shel Dorf, architect behind pop-culture showcase in San Diego ‘Comic-Con,’ has died at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego from complications related to diabetes, said his brother, Michael. During a 1949 trip to Illinois, he paid a surprise visit to Chester Gould, creator of “Dick Tracy,” then was speechless when cartoonist recognized his name. After studying at Art Institute of Chicago, Dorf became a staff artist at Detroit Free Press and in 1960s chaired Detroit’s Triple Fan Fair, a convention similar to Comic-Con. While employed by a New York ad agency, he drove his parents cross country to San Diego, where they retired. He took one look at city and decided to stay. A longtime resident of Ocean Beach in San Diego, Dorf made his living doing freelance design work and writing. He donated much of his collection of comics and memorabilia to Ohio State University’s pop culture archives. Of the phenomenon that started out as Golden State Comic Book Convention, the modest Dorf wrote in 2001: “Who could’ve guessed it would be so very successful!? Not me!”

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