The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


I have a numberof interesting stories from our first Comicon, but there are two that I just have to tell. The first involvesthe film festival I had organized. In the tradition of pervious big conventions held around the country, I organized a film festival, mostly showing films from my own collection. I went out of my way to get a copy of the Doc Savage film, which had been released that year, but didn't last long at the theaters. I had to rent it direct from Warners San Francisco warehouse, but they told me that they didn't have a "flat" print, that only prints in cinemascope were available. So I had to run around just a week before the show to find a "wide screen" to show the film on and a "scope" for my projector, and then just a day or two before the con I had to take a bus to a special location to pick up the film ( I didn't drive in those days). I spent an hour putting the big screen togerher then set the film up and put the scope on and started running the film, and out steps this squat little Doc Savage from his igloo. They had sent me a flat print after all!

The second story concerns another special guest, Havey Kurtzman. Harvey was coming into Chicago on Saturday by train, and I told him that I would personally meet him at the station, and get him situated at our convention sight. Only, in the heat of the conventions activites, I kinda forgot-- it suddenly dawned on me that I was an hour late in picking him up, and I took a cab to the station, berating myself all the while, and wondering what my excuse I could give a man who was arguably one of the most influential and important men in comic books back in the 1950's. Well as it turns out, his train was late, so i got there in plenty of time, and I didn't have to make any excuses.

The first Chicago Comicon was a success, but not a financial one-- but our game plan from the get-go was to put on the best show we possible could, and damn the expenses. Also we knew that we were limited in the amount of space we had at the Playboy Towers, so we purposely kept out advertising to a minimum because we were afraid of "overselling" the con. As I recall we had 2,600 attendees at this first show, and we couldn't wait to get to a larger hall at the Pick Congress Hotel. And we lost $3,400! Our game plan was to split it three ways, which should have been $1,133 a piece, however Ross Kight couldn't come up with the money. Ross had just opened up his own store called Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow on North Clark Street and understandably money was tight for him. So Larry and I split the expenses between us; $11,700 a piece, which may not seem like much, but back in 1976 that was a lot of money.

Now, while we had hoped to make money the next year, we also realized that it could be another loosing year, and we had to have someone reliable that could cover any loss we might incur. So that meant dropping Ross Kight and bringing in Bob Weinbery. As it turned out we didn't loose that second year. We made enough to cover the losses of the previous year, plus a few bucks.

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Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #90 September 19, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.