The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


The second Chicago Comicon was held at the Pick Congress Hotel on North Michigan Avenue in 1977. I looked forward to holding the convention there becuase it had been the sight of the 1962 Chicago World Science Fiction Convention, and I was very Familiar with the type operation that they had and knew that it could handle a large comic book convention very well. We asked Stan Lee to be our Guest og Honor for the second year in a row, and also asked Jenette Khan to return. The show was very successful, and though I've not been able to find the numbers, I'm relatively certain that there were over 3600 fans in attendance. It was, to say the least an exciting show, as we continue to pull all the stops to have the best comic shows held in Chicago area.

But one strange thing did happen that year. There was a young man by the name of Tom who had been coming to my store frequently to buy Silver Age Marvel comics. He was a real nice kid, and he looked forward to coming to the conventionwhen I first started telling him about it. Well Tomw was there, and very excited to find all these wonderful books in one spot. He started dropping money like crazy and showed me his purchases on a couple of occasions that Saturday. The we got word several dealers that books had benn stolen from them and that they could identify the thief. We started checking around the hall, and finally Tom had been pointed out as the perpetrator. We had cornered him, and found some of the stolen books on him, and I was dumbfounded to say the least! We got a kind of starge story from him, and as near as I can tell, after several hours of looking through all the wonderful trasures he hoped to own some day, and after making a couple of deals that were really not in his best interest, his mind suddenly snapped. He started trading aeway comics that he bought for other comics he wanted more, sometimes sustaining a loss. The he ran out of money, and started stealing books.

One other interesting thing happened that year; we met a security guard by the name of Dennis Franz. Yep. the same Dennis Franz who is currently starring in N.Y.P.D. BLUE on ABC television. That year he was a sercurity guard for the hotel, while appearing in plays around the city including, I believe, Steppenwolf.

The 1978 Chicago Comicon included Chester Gould as Guest of Honor and was also suppose to have Will Eisner coming to our show as an extra Special Guest, but Will took ill, and couldn't make it at the last minute. As it turned out that was my last year as co-sponsor of the show. I'll get into an explaination in my next column, but I continued as Special Advisor for number of years afterwards. As it turned out Mike Gold was returning to Chicago after working for D.C. for a couple of years as the head of P.R. He was coming back to help start up Chicago's first truly bonafile comic book publisher and he was interested in becoming a co-sponsor of Chicago Comicon.

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Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #91 September 26, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.