Wednesday, February 6, 2013

calling 1987

Here's the Progress Report from the 1987 Atlanta Fantasy Fair!  We are at the very peak of AFF's membership, I believe.  I don't have official records, so who knows?  This progress report went out in January and its arrival in your mailbox was the starting gun for the year's convention planning.

The guest selection might be the most varied in AFF's history: SF writers, science fiction TV legends, Adam West, Caroline Munro (I mean, she was a Bond Girl, kinda), Tom Savini, something for anyone interested in SF or fantasy in the 80s, all sequestered in downtown Atlanta in the absolute hottest time of the year. Get ready for some sweating.

Here's an introductory paragraph from AFF's president.  Note the "grid" elements - this was graphic design in the 80s, kids; drop some grids in there. When you're done reading it you can use it to map out your D&D campaign. Don't forget to pick up your AFF T-shirt, this year it has a girl with a sword on it. 

Comic book guests included a lot of top Marvel talent including Chris Claremont at a time of peak X-Men popularity.  Also appearing was Bob Burden, whom I believe was at every AFF. He always had the best stuff for sale at his table.

But enough of this, on to the costume contest!

What do we have here? A Gumby! Some of the aliens from the Heavy Metal movie! Marvin The Martian! It's Eddie from Rocky Horror! Some kind of tinfoil box head thing, some Elfquest elves, what appears to be Cerebus The Aardvark, what I believe are X-men mutants, Spiderman, Black Cat, and Moustache Rhino, and one of those horse-riding things from Wizards.  You all get candy!

And of course there's Japanese animation represented by production art from Robotech. I cannot recall if I was staffing the anime room at this year's AFF. Certainly I poked my head in a few times. I know I was on staff but lord knows what area. Most of what I did at this AFF was run around with my friends all over the Omni, hook up a VCR to the hotel room TV and show our own anime titles on Saturday night, buy a lot of comic books and toys, and generally misbehave.

AFF was still screening 16mm prints at this time. Remember, these were the days before everything was available on home video. If you wanted to see vintage Chuck Jones cartoons or old Ray Harryhausen epics, you had to come to AFF! Or catch them on television, I guess.

Judge Dredd looms ominously over the Omni Hotel making sure crime is kept strictly to the parts of the Omni Hotel that he cannot see. Seriously, back in '87 this was a bad part of town. It was pretty easy to get mugged if you ventured outside the Omni. We got to see a stolen Ford Explorer peel off down Marietta Street on Thursday night during setup. If you went out in search of food or supplies during the show (good luck, it was a retail dead zone) you were certain to get panhandled. Nowadays,  CNN Center, Philips Arena, and Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and the World Of Coca-Cola have tamed this once wild frontier.

We TOTALLY did not obey this rule, we had VCRs set up like CRAZY in our hotel room. I can remember this being a fairly common "house rule" back in the day, but I knew lots and lots of people who brought VCRs into hotels and nobody ever got in any kind of trouble with anybody. It's not like liquor; wheeling a trolley full of booze past the front desk will get some questions asked.

Here's one of the ads in the progress report:

Yes, this is the convention at which a guest died.  Here's a hint: he played Doctor Who. And no, he didn't regenerate.

I haven't any photos from 1987's AFF-  heck, I didn't even have a camera at that point - but if you do, throw them on the scanner and send them my way at!


A Million Masks said...

Wow. Just wanted to say what a pleasure it is to see this blog. I'm also an AFF veteran, my first one being 1990 or 91 (whichever year Kirby was there). I even won the Jr. division Draw-Off when I was 15. It was my first con and I still have great memories of it.

I am from Columbus, GA..where the infamous Magnum Opus Con was held in 1987. I didn't attend that show, but the guy who organized it was Pat Robinson, owner of Columbus Book Exchange which is the only comic shop left in that town. He's had the CBE since the late 70s/early 80s. At one point in the 90's, there were 7 comic stores in Columbus and Pat's the only one still going. He's also a kind and genuinely good man.

Anyhow, Pat told me about Patrick Troughton's death at the show that year. Apparently, he woke up, ordered his breakfast and talked to Pat about an episode of Dr. Who he personally selected for a screening at the show that day. When it came time for him to go down to the show floor, he was found dead apparently still sitting in front of his meal. Pat's still sad about that day. For one, nobody wants anyone to die on them and secondly (and certainly of lesser importance), it ended Pat's foray into organizing conventions forever.

In any case, thanks for posting these great memories!

Got Slack said...

I was not only at that con, I was in the audience waiting for Mr Troughton to come out and speak when they announced instead that he had passed that morning. I will never forget the communal shock & disbelief in the room at that announcement.