I stole this link from Tom Spurgeon, and I’m just as fascinated by it as he is: it’s a photo of the 1969 Comic Art Convention Luncheon Photo, July 5, 1969 at the Statler Hilton Hotel as annotated and archived by old time fanzine artist John Fantucchio. (Hit the link for a big version — wow negatives are cool!) Here in one place you see Comics 1969 — from legendary Marvel production manager Big John Verpoorten in the back to (gasp) teen Gary Groth in the front row. Fantucchio has been trying to identify everyone in the photo and he’s made a pretty good stab at it.
As always when I look at these old timey wimey photos, the first thing I always notice is that EVERYONE WAS SO SKINNY. Big John is tall for sure, but he’s just a normal sized guy now. The young Bill G. Wilson in the front would probably have been considered a bit chubby at the time and he’s petite for these days. The reason I bring this up (besides more proof of how over fed we are now) is that the stereotype of the “fat fan” didn’t come along until later. It’s true that when I started going to conventions in the 80s there were quite a few people around who would be considered large and in charge—and there were some prominent comics folks who were considerably overweight—but at the protoplasmic stage this wasn’t true.
Also, Gary Groth is still skinny, 45 years later. Someone needs to investigate that.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.