Brooklyn-born Phil Seuling was the first independent national distributor of comic books. If not for Phil’s early work in the field, there would be no Diamond Comic Distributors today. Back in the 1970s, Phil hosted comic cons at the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan. Mostly the tables and booths were taken by dealers, large and small, and some illustrators, writers, and independent souls looking to sell a few copies of their own, home-brewed comix.

It was wonderfully informal, and the dealers looked the other way as collectors dealt with each other in the halls and stairways—you didn’t need a table or a booth, just stuff that other collectors wanted. If was my first introduction to the professionals—and professional fans—of the comics world.  It was, in fact, the venue where in the late ‘70s I sold the first rare comic from my collection: DAREDEVIL #1. I got $200 for it and bought a ten-speed bike with the money.  I know you’re thinking that today it would be worth at least $5,000, but no—there was a last-page coupon that had been clipped, which was why I had been able to purchase the copy for twenty-five cents the year before. And no, I don’t feel sorry for the buyer. He was a dealer, and the fact that he didn’t spot the missing coupon was his fault, not mine. In fact, the $200 price was his quote as well. I just said “Sure.”

In the 1980s, I experienced the San Diego ComicCom, due to my association with Byron Preiss.  I think we did the con at least ten years in a row, the first two as comic geeks, the rest as professionals, with a booth and product to sell. And, honest-to-god, the con was such a community event then that you actually did know who many—if not most—of the attendees were, both pro and fan. Hollywood had yet to figure it out. Electronic gaming was not part of the scene. There was no “Kids’” programming. And it was the only time and place where the major comics publishers ever acknowledged that they were beholdin’ to the exquisite talents of the underpaid professionals and unwashed geeks who kept them alive.