The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


On July 12, 1970 I sponsored a one day comic book convention at the Danish American Hall at 4624 N. Pulaski Avenue with Rick Yager, who had drawn the Buck Roger strip for 28 years, as a Guest of Honor. It was intended as preparation for the very fist Chicago comic convention, but was part of the ongoing Fantasy Collectors of Chicago meetings that were currently being held at Northwest Federal Saving and Loan at 4901 West Irving Park Road. A number of fans had looked to me to put on a major convention but instead I got involved with opening my store in December of 1971, and the convention was put on the back burner. The problem was that I had been involved in two major World Science Fiction Conventions: Chicago in 1962 and Washington, D.C. (where I was stationed compliments of the U.S.Army) in 1963, and I knew the amount of work that went into putting on a major show.

The one day early 1972 I opened up The Comic Book Buyers Guide to find an ad for a convention to be held on July 22nd and 23rd at the Pick Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago. The chairman was listed as Nancy Warner and her mother Alma was listed as the Treasurer. D.C. war comic artist Russ Heath was to be Special Guest. Listed as "Broadcasters" in Nancy's first program booklet were the southside contingent of KenPierce, Bernie McCarty and Frank Craft. The show was a success with an attendance of about 1700 fans, but it was all down hill after hat! The next year the show, which was simply referrd to as "Nostalgia '73", had Walter Koenig (Chekov of Star Trek) as Special Guest and the convention was attened by about 1200 fans. By the way it should be noted that dealers tables for these shows was $30 and included two free memberships, it cost only $2.50 to attend the show. The following year admission went to $4 for 3 days, then $2 per day of $5 for all three days the following two years.

In 1974 the con was moved to the Playbot Towers at 163 East Walton with Buster Crabbe as Special Guest. We were told that the convention was atteded about 1200 fans, but a number of dealers expressed the opinion that less than 1000 ever made it to the dealers room. The next year local Brenda Starr artist Dale Messick was listed as Guest of Honor, and though I didn't attend that year aonly about 700 fans did. Attence had gone down each year and as attendanceshrank so did the number of dealers. Chicago had gotten the reputation that it puton bad comic conventions, and rightfully so. Personally I enjoy the shows I attened, it was better than nothing, and there where a number of smaller shows popping up, mostly notably the Lee Szidick shows in Dolton, Illinois.

Then in early 1976 I got a call form Nancy Warner asking me if I wanted to take over the convention. She was tied in to The Playboy Towers with a contract, and all I had to do was honor the contract, there would be no additional cost for me unless I wanted to buy the convention amiling list which would set me back $500. She wanted an answer soon though, she was also going to ask Lee Szidick, so I had just a day days to make up my mind.

Please E-mail Joe with comments at:

Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 2 #86 August 22, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.