Wednesday, September 4, 2030

hello from the Fantasy Fairs of days past

The Atlanta Fantasy Fair, known at first as the Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair, was a comics and SF convention that took place yearly at various locations in and around Atlanta, Georgia from 1975 until 1995. For several years it was the largest fantasy, comics, SF, and related media gathering in the Southeast, bringing together people from across the region and the nation. As an attendee and a staffer the AFF holds many memories for me, and I'm sure others remember it fondly or (not-so-fondly) as well.

A few years back, I noticed that information on the AFF seemed to be almost nonexistent on the internet. It's the goal of this blog to rectify that situation by posting any and all data available on the AFF, in addition to information and images of other now-defunct Atlanta conventions and fan organizations from the same era, such as Phoenixcon, Dixie-Trek, etc.

If you have any images, information, stories, rumors, tall tales, or legends about these conventions, please don't hesitate to send them to me at or post them here in the comments.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

1978 Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair

Cast your mind back to 1978! America was in the grip of both Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars Mania, shivering with chills - of excitement! Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, Space Invaders began its assault on our supply of quarters, and in August of that year, at the Dunfey's Royal Coach Hotel at I-75 and Howell Mill Road, the Atlanta Comics And Fantasy Fair held its fifth festival of fantasy and fun! 

poster for the 1978 ACFF signed by the guests

With comics guests like Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, Howard Chaykin, and Marshall Rogers, along with a full slate of films, slideshows, a costume contest, an art show, and an auction, the 1978 Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair promised a weekend of fantasy fun for all.

If you were any kind of a SF or F fan in Atlanta your only other local convention option in 1978 was DeepSouthCon, that year's version of the traveling literary SF show which was at the time making regular appearances in Atlanta every few years. 1978's DSC was in June at the Riviera Hyatt House, which used to be on Peachtree where 85 and 75 meet, right by Brookwood Station. Jack Williamson was Guest of Honor and Bob Heinlein was rumored to be attending, but he didn’t show up. Attendance was 731, which is a pretty good size for a DSC.

But we're here to talk about the Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair, and that's just what we're gonna do. Thanks to a friend of a friend we have images of the 1978 ACFF program book, so let's take a look! 

Marshall Rogers provides a program book cover illustration of a rebooted Blackhawk, complete with everyone's favorite handgun, the Mauser C-96, and a nice try at remembering the name of the convention he was doing this piece for. 

A welcoming message from the co-chair gives us a little history of the convention and reassures con-goers that here in the ACFF's hopefully permanent Dunfey's home, they've licked the space problem. Their main events room seats 700, after all.  Just look at all four of those rules, which remind us that the fandom convention of 1978 was way more interested in finding old comic books and getting Steranko sketches than it was in causing trouble.

Interested in what's happening at the ACFF? Here's the schedule. It fits on one page. 

Having everything take place in one room cuts down on expensive video equipment, right? In fact this convention didn't have ANY video equipment, all these movies and TV shows were screened on 16mm film. But hey, it's 1978. Where else are you going to see Marshall Rogers, Mike Vosburg, and Howard Chaykin talk about... I'm gonna say Batman. 

Okay, I get that it's 1978 and this clackety projector clacking away in the ballroom of the Dunfey's might be your only chance to see "Rocketship X-M". But "well done" that movie definitely is not. 

Hey guys we are going to be showing at LEAST fifteen minutes of "Star Wars"!  Can you believe it? Please note that the Atlanta Comics And Fantasy Fair is, in compliance with the Trekkie Flub Law Of 1972, also screening the Star Trek Blooper Reels. 

COSTUMERS: have your FORMS FILLED OUT and your ASS IN COSTUME at 6pm in front of the MOVIE ROOM for your FINAL JUDGEMENT

Later in 1978 interested parties would see the first issue of VISIONS, the semi-pro fan magazine that would later double as the Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair's program book. You could purchase your own copy of VISIONS at the Book Nook, back when they were on Clairmont Rd right where it crossed Buford Highway. There's a KFC there now! Book Nook is still around with several locations, the closest to their old home is 3073 N Druid Hills in Decatur. 

Kenneth Smith provides a pointillist brain creature adding a touch of science fiction otherworldliness to this heretofore manly action-man filled program book. 

And we return to grim pulp action with a Steranko back cover that pretty much aims squarely at the target of 1978's fantasy fair demographic - men in their 20s and 30s who want blood and thunder and lots of it!  Judging from reports it seems the 1978 Atlanta Comics & Fantasy Fair was a success. Soon the show would change its name to merely "Atlanta Fantasy Fair," and later down the road they'd move from the Dunfey's, but in 1978 all these changes were still in the future. 

-Dave Merrill

Thanks to David Nelson for his assistance

Monday, March 22, 2021

atlanta fandom conventions: the video

 Back in December of 2020 I did a "video panel" for the virtual Anime Weekend Atlanta, which was one of those online conventions we were having back when COVID-19 was wrecking convention schedules around the world. In fact it still is. Anyway, this is me hosting a little video walk through Atlanta's fandom conventions from the very first SF conventions in the city until about 1995 or so. There are flyers and images and a little video from conventions ranging from AFF to Dragoncon, from Dixie Trek to Starbase Atlanta, from ASFiCons to Phoenixcons, and me talking through the whole thing. Please enjoy and let it be a small reminder of what it was like back when we had conventions. Hopefully we'll be back at 'em soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

PhenomiCon: Conspiracy or Con?

Most fan conventions come out of existing social groups. Fan clubs, societies, and formal or informal circles of like-minded enthusiasts come together to create events. PhenomiCon was different; it was the convergence of disparate, sometimes diametrically opposed groups, thrown together in an specific time and space for a limited window of opportunity. If there was a common denominator, it was that most of us were participants in the Atlanta SF/comics fandom scene in one way or another, staffing conventions, vending in the dealers room, screening videos in the video rooms, organizing or attending events of all kinds. 

I was one of the organizers, and part of why I started this Atlanta Fantasy Fair blog in the first place was to have somewhere I could talk about PhenomiCon, not only as a seminal Atlanta fantasy/nerd convention, but also as a life-altering event in a way that only a nerd convention can be. Many, many other people made PhenomiCon a reality and my fuzzy memories of thirty years back should not be held responsible if their contributions aren’t given proper respect. Thank you all. 

So. It’s the late 1980s. Some of us had been getting into computers, the early internet, BBSes, hacking, and what was being called “cyberpunk.” Others had been publishing and sharing zines and zine culture. Others had been into the Church Of The SubGenius, the Principia Discordia, RE:Search’s PRANKS book, performance art, hoaxes and culture jamming. Some of us had been struck by Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus trilogy and, as an extension, the paranoid but fascinating world of conspiracies – JFK assassination conspiracies, UFO conspiracies, and the occult, mystical, secret society cycle of Freemasons, Templars, et cetera. This was all swirling around our various social circles at that time, and at some point the decision was made to host a festival that would combine all these interests and see who’d come, and what, if anything, would happen. 

We decided on a name – PhenomiCon. A date – November 1-3, 1991. A location – the Powers Ferry Holiday Inn at I-285 and Powers Ferry Rd. A color for the flyer – goldenrod. We held a promotional room party at DragonCon that crammed a hotel room so fire-code-violatingly full that people were standing on the beds, hollering at the ceiling, for no discernible reason at all. That somehow convinced us that we could put on our own show. Most of the prep for the convention involved getting together at somebody's house, writing copy for flyers, program books, and USEnet posts, and figuring out who we could convince to show up for very little money. Staff and attendees alike were a collection of everyone who felt marginalized by the nerd convention scene and by society at large - computer hackers, gamers, conspiracy theorists, underground cartoonists, hemp freaks, the extreme left and right meeting around the end of the horseshoe to complain about how they'd been mistreated. There was even some guy who really wanted to talk at us about the Amiga and the Video Toaster at length, but was unable to connect that to our event. That’s one thing we learned; an event with a vague mission statement and an air of excitement would draw promoters and hustlers like a magnet, wanting to attach their thing to your thing at your expense. 

PhenomiCon maintained a defiant and abusive attitude towards other fan conventions, which looks great on paper but is absolutely terrible in practice. Convention organizations have to use the same facilities, share the same staffers, vendors and frequently the same guests and panelists. Bad blood makes all this sharing more difficult. We should have been good neighbors and saved our attitude for the stage. However, we didn’t, and as a result other conventions in town either ignored or were actively pissed off at us. Not a great place to be.

Ivan Stang, Robert Anton Wilson, empty space, Robert Sheaffer

As the convention approached I and other organizers found ourselves in states of low-grade panic, occasionally ramping up into panic of the full-blown high-grade type. This was the first time I’d ever been anywhere near this level of event organization, an event that relied on a lot of moving parts, a lot of weird people showing up when they were supposed to and doing what they said they were going to do, and not suing the hell out of us if they happened to lose money or break their leg in the process. Thirty years later, details are fuzzy. I remember offering Rev. Ivan Stang a beer, because I’d forgotten the moving and very public acknowledgement of alcoholism he made in a chapter of his marginal culture guidebook “High Weirdness By Mail.” I remember the bands being a draw completely separate from the convention itself, which is obvious in hindsight but at the time blindsided me. I remember not having any idea of where one would get weed if somebody, say one of our guests, was to want some weed. I made some poor decisions that weekend, one of which involved me totaling my car the Thursday before the convention, which is why I went around that weekend with a big bruise on my face from where my head impacted my windshield as my car impacted the retaining wall of I-75. 

That first PhenomiCon happened, regardless of driving skills or panic. Robert Anton Wilson came and impressed us all with his wisdom while amusing us with his New Jersey accent. The Rev. Ivan Stang of the Church of The SubGenius arrived with a giant Dobbshead, ready to Devival. Local occult rock act King/Kill 33 played their hit song “We Never Went To The Moon.” The panel rooms discussed fanzines, comics, Bigfoot, the Roswell Incident, Area 51, and the Christian Crusade to Stamp Out Science Fiction. The Conspiracy LARP game sent seekers throughout the hotel searching for hidden truths. The cult movie video room was where we learned the difference between "Stranger Than Paradise" and "Strangers IN Paradise". UFO theorists and skeptics organizations mixed uneasily. UFO skeptic Robert Sheaffer of CSICOP debated Robert Anton Wilson. And in the vendors room, the Libertarian Party offered their political orientation test to all comers (turns out we’re all various flavors of Libertarian, surprise!) 

RAW gets the spirit of Eris into his pineal gland

Other 1991 guests included characters like Milton William “Bill” Cooper, a UFO writer who would later go straight down the Illuminati-antisemitic-white supremacist-tax evasion rabbit hole and die in a standoff with police. Don Ware from the Mutual UFO Network spoke on UFOs and their implications on world religions. Robin Quayle talked about mutilating cattle. Mark Jaeger, Charlie Pilcher,and Caryl Dennis delivered a three-part panel covering a UFO History of the World, while marijuana enthusiast and Dr. Hook keyboardist Joe Ionno spoke about, and perhaps on, hemp. 

the Skeptics review PhenomiCon

Apparently there was a costume contest and an amateur film festival, but the SubGenius Devival was the highlight of the convention, filling the main event room. While most anybody who wanted to deliver personal testimony of how “Bob” had changed their lives was allowed to rant, both Robert Anton Wilson and Rev. Stang delivered top notch preaching, and I was shot and killed by Stang myself. 

Rev. Lefty Vacationland preaches the word of "Bob"

Obviously we were going to have to have another PhenomiCon. I forget why we moved from the Powers Ferry, but we moved to a venerable Atlanta hotel and event location which had started as a Dunfey’s Royal Coach and briefly became a Radisson before settling on calling itself the Castlegate Hotel & Conference Center, which is where PhenomiCon 1992 was held November 13-15. In the interim between PhenomiCons, the organization published a short-lived zine titled “Chapel Perilous” that served to promote the upcoming show, sell leftover 1991 merch, and engage the community that had survived the first P-Con.

PhenomiCon’s guest list expanded. Perhaps the star of the 1992 show was local Atlanta figure Kerry Wendell Thornley – author of the Discordian bible “Principia Discordia,” and possible second Lee Harvey Oswald. Thornley had served in the Marines with Oswald, kind of resembled Oswald, used him as the inspiration for a pre-assassination novel, had lived in New Orleans around the same time as Oswald, and sometimes believed he’d also been programmed as an assassin. Thornley’s Oswald novel “Idle Warriors” had just been republished by Atlanta publisher Illuminet Press (RIP, Ron Bonds) and Thornley’s self-published writings were freely available on the telephone poles in Atlanta’s Little Five Points. 

PhenomiCon 1992 t-shirt graphics

Other new guests included author of "Black Helicopters Over America" Jim Keith (who would die as a result of injuries sustained at Burning Man 1999), Gemstone File conspiracy researcher Stephanie Caruana, cyberpunk SF author Bruce Sterling, Apocalypse Culture writer & Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey, “Conspiracies, Cover-Ups And Crimes” author Jonathan Vankin, and “marginal culture” figures like Bob “Abolition Of Work” Black. The Rev. Ivan Stang would return with a crew of SubGeniuses including St. Janor Hypercleats and the SubG band “The Swinging Love Corpses.” 1992’s panels included “Vampires: Myth or Reality,” talks on UFOs and conspiracies and anti-work, an “Introduction to S&M,” “Atlanta’s Position in the New World Order,” and “Conspiracy-a-Go-Go.” One speaker showed a highlight reel of the Masonic imagery contained in Kubrick’s “2001,” and we found out that screening Russ Meyer films might draw an audience that was, shall we say, unironic in its consumption of adult material. 

they played for two solid hours

Looming over the 1992 PhenomiCon was a palpable feeling that the coalition between the hipster conspiracy tourists and the actual conspiracy nuts was collapsing. I mean, getting endless telephone calls from UFO kooks demanding to be read the entire schedule over the phone isn’t behavior that endears the community to convention organizers. Stang and Bob Black were then in a marginal-culture pissing match, which wasn’t helped when Phenomicon put them together on a panel. Were we trolls? (around this time a SubG artist mailed Bob Black a homemade explosive device consisting of a flash cube and some firecrackers, an act which can and will get somebody arrested.) Up and coming space-surf-rock band Man Or AstroMan? came to PhenomiCon for pretty much nothing – thank you, fellas, you’re still the best - to perform on the main stage after the Devival. However, the Swinging Love Corpses kept corpsing and corpsing and corpsing, their long-hair rock-star wigs falling onto the stage, the drone of their tuneless howling driving everyone out of the room, the failure of Phenomicon to grasp stage management as a critical part of live events becoming painfully apparent. So MOAM? set up in the hallway outside, in the downstairs motor lobby of the Castlegate, and they blew the doors off the place with a blistering set. Thanks again, guys. 

Picture late Saturday night in the wreckage of the main events hall at the Castlegate; the big-deal SubGenius clergy have left, the rock bands have packed up, all that’s left is garbage and techno-trash and staffers standing around in the middle of it all, wondering where the fun went. The organizers and staff were exhausted, irritated at each other, or had gone into thousands of dollars of debt trying to make the thing happen. Or all three. Maybe we’d proved our point with two PhenomiCons. Maybe it was time to hang it up and let the conspiracy win.

the breakout star: my vintage industrial lamp, shown here

Most of what PhenomiCon did - the UFOs, the Kennedy conspiracy stuff, the computer hacking, that whole Mondo 2000 smart-drink world, well, all that got mainstreamed pretty quickly. The big PhenomiCon events like the SubGenius devival and the edgy Masonic-imagery rock bands became yearly events at DragonCon. TV every week featured the paranoid rants of every flying saucer-obsessed P-Con guest on The X-Files or an A&E show about ancient aliens. The cutting edge computer stuff became something you could do at home by yourself over AOL. There was no need for us to have a PhenomiCon when PhenomiCon was happening all the time everywhere already. 

There was a half-hearted talk of a third show in 1993, but that didn't get any traction, and we did have one meeting about doing a show in 1999 or 2000, but the whole landscape of hacking, cyberpunk, UFOlogy and conspiratoria had all shifted too dramatically. A few high-profile hacker arrests, paranoid cult standoffs and terrorist bombings will do that to a subculture. Dampening any remaining enthusiasm was the sad truth that there's a big world of alien abduction experts, crystal healer past life channellers and Illuminati insiders all getting rich peddling patent nonsense to gullible suckers, and that's a world I don't want to even be tangentially connected with. One visit from the Men In Black was plenty! We’ve all seen firsthand in recent days what the mindless amplification of conspiracy thinking can do to public life, and PhenomiCon was a part of that, whether it meant to be or not. 

After the fact PhenomiCon became a legend of sorts, this mysterious event that came and went, leaving nothing behind but memories and debt. In its afterlife as a topic of USEnet forum posts, online columns and letters to fanzines P-Con assumed perhaps greater importance than it had in reality. PhenomiCon was referenced in a wide variety of popular and scholarly books, including Kembrew McLeod’s “Pranksters: Making Mischief In The Modern World,” “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy And Power In American Culture” by Mark Fenster, and Kenn Thomas’ “Parapolitics: Conspiracy In Contemporary America.” 

Mcleod's "Pranksters" covers PhenomiCon

The early 1990s might have been the only time a first-time convention could have attracted the guests P-Con did. In a few years most PhenomiCon guests would either command large speaking fees, or be unable to speak entirely, as in, a lot of PhenomiCon guests have since passed away. Maybe the stars really did align perfectly there for an instant, enabling us to conjure a big bubbling melting pot of outsiders all bouncing off each other. Maybe the world needed a space where flying saucer fabulists could spin their yarns while also being challenged by the audience, where the paranoid and the suspicious could get out of their bunkers and their own heads, if just for a weekend.

-Dave Merrill

Thanks to Ed Hill, Jason Finegan, Rod Ramsey, and especially Scott Weikert, for making it all happen

Saturday, September 12, 2020

1992: Atlanta Fantasy Fair Southside

In 1992, the Atlanta Fantasy Fair made the bold decision to leave downtown Atlanta. Actually, that decision was the result of forces far beyond the control of any Fantasy Fair anywhere; the 1988 Democratic National Convention took place in Atlanta in the summer of 1988 and it threw a wrench into the plans of every single trade show, festival, convention, and gathering that wanted to happen anywhere in the metro area.  Scheduling for every kind of show was wrecked for years to come. AFF lost their coveted Omni/WCC space in 1988, managed to get it back in 1990, then lost it again for the 1991 show. Convention space downtown was in demand, prices were rising, competition was fierce, and the Georgia International Convention Center down by the airport was eager for business. The GICC and the accompanying Hyatt - later a Sheraton - were built in 1985, and in 1992 the place still had that new facility gleam. This would be home for the next two Atlanta Fantasy Fairs.

AFF attendees were there for the jogging and tennis, I am so sure

Guests for the 1992 AFF included author Peter David, Flaming Carrot artist/writer Bob Burden, fantasy author Stephen R. Donaldson, Star Trek actor Colm Meaney, Star Trek and future Sex In The City star Kim Cattrall, and Aliens android Lance Henriksen, who cancelled his AFF appearance due to contractual obligations- he was shooting the canine horror movie Man's Best Friend, so I'm told. 

I was on staff this year, having recruited a crew of fellow anime nerds to handle the anime room. When we weren't screening screechy 1970s super robot epics to a bewildered audience, we were roaming the halls using the convention as a location for our goofball SF epic "The Ozone Commandos." Part One of this film is available to watch on YouTube

the Ozone Commandos burst in to blast the nerds (nerds at a different convention)

My recollection of 1992 is it felt really strange not having the AFF in downtown Atlanta. For suburbanites such as ourselves, that Omni-Hilton-Hyatt-Marriott nexus was part of the package, lending an excitement to the convention experience that the GICC, ten miles south of downtown, simply did not have. Sure, the GICC was convenient to the airport. I guess if you lived in College Park or Hapeville it was wonderful. But for the rest of us, it was a bit more of a hike down to Riverdale Rd, where the GICC sat among the pine trees and industrial parks south of the airport. 

AFF 1992 crowd - note the AFF jacket and the Buckaroo Banzai headband

Dining options were limited to the Ruby Tuesday's across the street, if you didn't feel like driving over to Old National Highway and eating a late night breakfast while staring at the giant display of pies and cakes in the diner at Old National & Sullivan that isn't there any more. 

the 1992 AFF industrial vendors warehouse 

The fans grumbled some. I remember seeing the same look of "where the hell are we" on a lot of attendees' faces as they opened their car doors and gazed at this outpost of fandom set among the rolling hills of what, once you get south of Hartsfield, feels less north and more central Georgia. The grumbling intensified as the AFF congoers learned Henriksen wasn't coming. I had particular sympathy for the crew of a minivan that had decorated their windows with Henriksen-themed messages. Who knew he had such devoted fans, and what a bummer for them!

overhead pic of industrial vendors warehouse

I do remember some hallway drama as one of the AFF directors found out another, competing convention was going to host a room party in their room at the Hyatt, and it became a how dare they, this aggression will not stand, man, sort of moment. The AFF was in a transitional phase that year and not just transitioning down I-85. The ballistic arc of the festival's growth had reached its apogee and was now gently bending downwards. Competition between conventions is real, and when fans start having more fun at other shows, your show had better find something fun to give the fans, or start looking at smaller facilities. 

Hardworking AFF events staff

The AFF at the time seemed to be staffed by two different sets of people - a crew of younger fans who'd grown up with the show and wanted to kick it up a notch, expanding into new events and areas, and an older administrative circle that was mostly interested in selling shirts and vendors tables, meeting low-level Hollywood types, and otherwise not rocking the boat. The AFF had lost its contacts with the major comic book companies, didn't have the knowledge base, the budget, or the interest to push the show in new directions, and was seemingly content to deliver guests other conventions didn't want, in venues other conventions didn't want. That's not a strategy for success. 

AFF costume contest crowd

In the meantime there was enough of a crowd at the 1992 AFF to make things seem like business as usual, for a little while anyway. The convention would hold its 1992 and 1993 shows at the GICC. In 1994 the Atlanta Fantasy Fair would move to the exact opposite side of Atlanta, to the Crowne Plaza at Perimeter Mall, subsequently wrapping things up at the Castlegate in 1995, just in time for Anime Weekend Atlanta to have its first show at the Castlegate later that year. 

gamers in 1992, gaming

Coincidentally, our anime convention would continue to follow in AFF's footsteps, holding AWA 3 and 4 at the Century Center site of AFF's 1979 show. And in 2001 and 2002 AWA would find itself down at the Georgia International Convention Center and its attendant Sheraton, formerly the Hyatt. The facility hadn't changed much in ten years, it was more or less the right size for three and a half thousand anime fans to get together, even if that Ruby Tuesday's was still awful. 

hard to read the mood of the crowd at this 1992 AFF event. Sullen? Confused? Belligerent?

AWA might have stuck around there for another year or so. However, the GICC informed AWA that the convention center and the hotel were both about to be demolished to make way for a new runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Not to worry, a new GICC was being constructed a few miles away on the other side of I-285. Would that suit AWA? Well, turns out that new GICC wasn't going to have a hotel attached to it at the present time, and that was a deal-killer for the anime con. Probably a deal-killer for any other fan convention, to be honest, where half the fun of the show are late night room parties and social gatherings, hard to do in a convention center that shuts its doors at 7pm. At any rate, that new GICC wouldn't wind up opening until 2009. 

the ghost town GICC today (okay, 2012)

The new GICC eventually got some hotels nearby, but AWA moved north to the Waverly and the Cobb Galleria Convention Center in 2003 and has been there ever since. In the meantime, what of the former GICC and the Sheraton? Apparently Hartsfield-Jackson didn't really need that runway extension. Both buildings are still standing and have been used for a wide variety of purposes in the past decade - housing Katrina refugees and becoming a movie soundstage for several different film productions, including parts of Avengers: Infinity War. Things have come full circle, I suppose. 

catch the excitement, I guess, if you want to

If you want to experience a little bit of AFF 1992, please check out Christine Klimshuk's video of the convention and her award-winning costume contest presentation!  Thanks to Christine and to Matt Murray for some of the images used in this post.

-Dave Merrill


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Atlanta Fantasy Fair 1987 photos

1987 saw the 13th gathering of the tribes under the banner of the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, meeting in downtown Atlanta at the Omni Hotel and the World Congress Center. Recently my pal Lloyd Carter, himself no stranger to the world of conventions (we started AWA together) unearthed a roll of film he shot at the 1987 AFF,  and he was kind enough to scan 'em in and send them my way. 

Here Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols entertains the AFF crowd with stories and songs from her days on board the Starship Enterprise. Somebody warn her not to do "Star Trek V."

Caroline Munro has faced interstellar villainy in "Starcrash", international intrigue in "The Spy Who Loved Me", the wrath of Dracula in "Dracula AD 1972", the forces of black magic in "Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger", and the lustful gaze of Adam Ant in the video for "Goody Two-Shoes." Here she meets what might be her greatest challenge in what I believe is Herb from the accounting department (No offense, guy - I know everybody looked kind of square at 1980s conventions).

Out of the nightmare realm of horror and special effects rises Tom Savini, here to disgust and repel and amaze in equal doses. At this point he had probably wrapped on "Creepshow 2" and was knee-deep in the "Tales From The Darkside" TV series. Not sure what his little buddy there was featured in, but he's definitely creeping me out. 

From the world of comics, DC editor Julius Schwartz lurks behind a table in the lower meeting rooms of the Omni, opposite the Marietta St. drop-off area where your parents would let you out of the station wagon. Schwartz rose from 1930s science fiction fandom to decades helming characters like The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Batman and Superman. 

Here Julie hams it up for the camera. Unfortunately, Julie's sense of whimsy extended to the occasional unwanted physical contact with female fans and pros, one of the reasons we use the irony quotes around the phrase "good old days."

Marvel editor Tom DeFalco, here shown in maximum 1980s cosplay, is no doubt thinking of how he spearheaded the Archie Digest line when he worked for Archie Comics in the 1970s, thereby ensuring children would continue to read comic books even after the rest of the industry would move to direct distribution for adult collectors. At this point in history DeFalco was in fact Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, all part of his long-term plan to write the "Maximum Carnage" Spider-Man storyline.

I believe this is Louise and Walt Simonson discussing both Walt's groundbreaking work on Thor and Louise's groundbreaking work editing X-Men and X-Factor and writing New Mutants and Red Sonja, and how they both look forward to cameos in the Thor movie that will be made in twenty four years. The man on the right is unidentified at this time. 

Also in a similar World Congress Center exhibit hall is Tom DeFalco, Marvel writer and former EIC Archie Goodwin, and Unidentified Glasses-Wearing Man holding forth on an important topic. Let's say the Iran-Contra scandal. 

Of these two panelists,  I know one of them - superstar artist Bill Sienkiewicz seen on the right - is definitely dressed for the Atlanta summer, which would be great if he was outside. However, he's in a meeting room at a downtown convention facility, which means the AC is cranked and the temperature is probably sixty-five degrees, so he's probably shivering.  I don't know who the other fellow is, but I'm going to assume he worked for Marvel Comics in some capacity.  (Thanks to AFF veteran Scott W. for the Sienkiewicz ID!)

I wanna say the guy on the right is Elfquest publisher Richard Pini. and I have no idea who the guy on the left is. A balding white guy with glasses and a close trimmed beard? That's the face of the comic book industry in the 1980s. 

Looking at these photos 33 years later (!!) it's striking at how.... boring the attendees look. Everybody's in golf shirts or button-down business clothes. I know there were costumers (we didn't call them "cosplayers" back then) but they weren't as prevalent as they'd later become.  The cargo shorts and T-shirts that would be the American Male uniform had yet to take over.  In a few years, we'd see more young people start attending conventions and subsequently more graphic Ts, more skater shorts, crazier hair, and the sort of hall-costume culture we now take for granted would begin to be seen. But in 1987 things were still pretty square. 

I do want to thank Lloyd Carter again for these photos, and ask everyone two questions - 1. if you know who the unidentified people in these photos are, let me know, and 2, if you have any AFF photos or memorabilia yourself, please send those scans or pix my way at, thank you!

Thanks to 7-Tardis-7 (deep in Center Neptune Gallifrey, no doubt) for the 1987 AFF lenticular pinback badge image!