MOUNT HOPE, Calif.—Comic fans everywhere are mourning the loss of Sheldon "Shel" Dorf, 76, the founder of San Diego's largest convention Comic Con. Dorf died Tuesday at Sharp Memorial Hospital of complications from diabetes. He was buried Wednesday at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Mount Hope. Dorf's brother Michael said he would miss most his brother's big, generous heart.
"All his life it was whatever he could do for anybody," said Michael Dorf from the cemetery.
Dorf started Comic Con in San Diego in 1970. He was in his thirties at the time but his co-founders were in their teens.
"We didn't quite know what to make of this guy," said co-founder Richard Alf. "It was like the generation gap but we had one thing in common and that was comics."
Fellow co-founders said Dorf empowered them despite their young age and put them in charge.
"Looking back, I think that's really remarkable," said Comic Con co-founder Mike Towry. "Even though he had all the experience and all the contacts, he wanted the kids to be able to do something special."
Friends and family said Dorf created Comic Con as a way for fans to meet the artists. He often said comic writers and cartoonists worked in isolation and rarely had the opportunity to meet those who admired their work.
"He did it so graciously," said friend and former neighbor Mike Rossi. "He would present me as if I was an equal instead of some rabid fan, you now, to these monster giants in the industry."
Friends say Dorf never made any money from Comic Con and quit his involvement in the mid 1980s. They say he never imagined it would grow so large. Co-founders say in 1970 about three hundred patrons showed up. Currently 125,000 people attend each year.
Dorf lived at his home Ocean Beach until he was hospitalized because of diabetes. He never married nor had any children. Michael Dorf said his brother donated much of his prized and autographed cartoons and paintings to Ohio State College last year.
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