Dallas Fantasy Fair

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Dallas Fantasy Fair
GenreComic books, movies, pop culture
VenueSheraton Park Central (1983–1989)
Marriott Park Central (1986–1988)
Market Hall Convention Center (1992–1995)
Harvey Hotel (1995)
Location(s)Dallas, Texas
CountryUnited States
Most recent1995
Attendance9,000 (1995)[1]
Organized byLarry Lankford/Bulldog Conventions

The Dallas Fantasy Fair was an annual multi-genre fan convention which was held between 1982 and 1995 in Dallas, Texas. From 1989 until the show's demise in 1996, it was the home of the Harvey Award ceremonies. During its heyday, the show was one of the largest comics conventions in the country, third in attendance behind the San Diego Comic-Con and the Chicago Comicon.[citation needed]

Most Dallas Fantasy Fairs took place over three days, From Friday to Sunday. The convention featured a large range of pop culture elements, primarily comic books but also science fiction/fantasy, film/television, animation, anime, manga, toys, horror, and collectible card games. Along with panels, seminars, and workshops with comic book professionals, the Dallas Fantasy Fair often featured previews of upcoming films, and such evening events as a costume contest. The convention featured a large floorspace for exhibitors, including comic book dealers and collectibles merchants.

The show included an autograph area, as well as the Artists' Alley where comics artists signed autographs and sold or produced free sketches. (Despite the name, Artists' Alley could include writers and even glamour models.) Organizer Lankford was known for his generosity in regards to Artists' Alley, often giving even marginal creators free tables at the convention.[2]


Antecedents to the Dallas Fantasy Fair included the Southwesterncon, held alternately in Dallas and Houston in the late 1960s and early 1970s;[3] and D-Con, which occurred periodically in the late 1970s. D-Con '79 was produced by Larry Lankford,[citation needed] (born 1960–died Dec. 25, 2013)[2] who went on three years later to found the Dallas Fantasy Fair.

The first Dallas Fantasy Fair was held over four days from June 10–13, 1982, by Lankford's[4] Bulldog Productions the business name, that may have also been called Bulldog Conventions.[5] The Fantasy Fair programming coordinator was Paul McSpadden.[6] (McSpadden later went on to become coordinator of the Harvey Awards.)[7]

In the early years of the show, from 1984–1986, the convention was held over Independence Day weekend. In 1986, an additional show was added to the fall season, over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 1988, Bulldog Productions held three iterations of the Fantasy Fair, in the spring, summer, and fall. Throughout the summer of 1988, in addition to the Dallas-based conventions, Lankford put on two-day conventions in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.[8] The Austin event (also known as the Austin Fanfair) became an annual affair in the late 1980s,[9] typically attracting 500–600 attendees (the Dallas convention, meanwhile, averaged about 2,500 visitors).[10]

Mark Walters, promoter of the later Dallas-area convention the "Dallas Comic & Toy Fest" aka "Dallas Comic Show" (est. 2000), and co-promoter of the "Dallas Comic Con" (est. 2002), attended his first convention at the 1990 Fantasy Fair; he soon went to work for Lankford and eventually rose to be his second-in-command.[4]

In 1989–1993, Bulldog Productions put on monthly one-day "Dallas Minicons" in the area which generally attracted about 500 attendees per show.

The March 1993 presentation of the Harvey Awards at the Fantasy Fair occurred shortly after the death of the award's namesake Harvey Kurtzman; much of the show was in the form of a fund-raiser to help pay for the continuance of the awards.[11] (That year there was also a Dallas Fantasy Fair held from June 18–20.)

The 1994 summer edition of the Dallas Fantasy Fair was held at Dallas Market Hall, and saw record attendance for the show, hitting 9500 attendees. At the time it was the third-largest show in the United States behind San Diego Comic-Con and Chicago Comic Con. Guests at the 1994 event included Jim Lee, Alex Ross, Al Williamson, Gil Kane, Peter David, Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Dave Sim, Mark Schultz, Sergio Aragones, Mark Bagley, Mat Broome, James O'Barr, Richard Corben, James O'Barr, and Jim Valentino... to name a few.

In 1995, Bulldog put on three iterations of the show, in April, August (when the Harvey Awards were presented), and November. The summer show featured guests like Rob Liefeld, Jaime Hernandez, Al Williamson, Alex Ross, James O'Barr and Jim Steranko.


The 1996 show, scheduled for July 27–28 at Market Hall, in Dallas, was cancelled on short notice due to money management issues.[4] (The Harvey Awards which were scheduled to be presented there were never publicly presented, instead being mailed to the winners.)[5][7] The Dallas Collectors Con was put together as a substitute event at the Plano Centre in suburban Plano, Texas, coordinated by Bobby Briggs and Bruce Spiegelman and then joined by John Fairless, J. David Spurlock, and James Mayfield, with official guests Bernie Wrightson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Howard Cruse, Rob Liefeld, and Kurt Busiek.[1]

Locations and dates[edit]

Dates Location Official guests Notes
June 10–13, 1982 Dallas Jan Strnad, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Kerry Gammill, Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, Jaxon, Gary Groth,[6] Ed Andrews, Robert Asprin, Neal Barrett, Jr., Lillian Carl, C. J. Cherryh, Tom De Falco, Stephen R. Donaldson, Roger Elwood, William M. Gaines, Arnold Hendrick, Burne Hogarth, Steve Jackson, Carol Kalish, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Lansdale, Paul McSpadden, George R. R. Martin, Real Musgrave, Edwin Neal, Warren Norwood, Mike Presley, George W. Proctor, Don Punchatz, John Romita, Jr., Lewis Shiner, Doug Smith, J. David Spurlock, Roger A. Sine, Bruce Sterling, Howard Waldrop, Ron Wolfe,[12] Sam De La Rosa, David Martin, John Wooley, Jack Williamson, Philip José Farmer
November 25–27, 1983 Sheraton Park Central, Dallas Roger Zelazny, Alan Dean Foster, George R.R. Martin, and Howard Waldrop Called the "Dallas Fantasy Festival"
July 6–8, 1984 Dallas Mike W. Barr, Kerry Gammill, Fred Saberhagen, Kenneth Smith, Jim Starlin, Roger Zelazny, and Philip José Farmer
July 5–7, 1985 Dallas Gil Kane, Wendy Pini, Kenneth Smith, Gary Groth,[13] Harvey Kurtzman, and R. Crumb
July 4–6, 1986 Dallas Marriott Park Central Dave Stevens, Gary Groth,[14] Pat Broderick, Will Eisner, Mike Gustovich, Burne Hogarth, Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, William Messner-Loebs, Frank Miller, Jean Giraud, Doug Moench, Richard Pini, Dave Sim, Donald Simpson, Alex Toth, Doug Wildey, Neal Barrett, Jr., David A. Cherry, Carole Nelson Douglas, George R.R. Martin, Ardath Mayhar, Warren Norwood, Frederik Pohl, Kay Reynolds, Fred Saberhagen, Lewis Shiner, John Steakley, Howard Waldrop, Jack Williamson, Philip José Farmer, Roger Zelazny
November 14–16, 1986 Marriott Park Central Stan Lee[15] Celebration of the 25th anniversary of Marvel Comics
November 27–29, 1987 Marriott Park Central Harvey Kurtzman,[16] Jaime Hernandez, Denis Kitchen, Gilbert Hernandez, Don Simpson, Steve Rude, Kenneth Smith, Brad W. Foster, and Doug Potter
March 11–13, 1988 Marriott Park Central Brad W. Foster, David Tosh, Kenneth Smith, Dan Piraro, Lea Hernandez, Doug Potter, Scott Bieser, and Craig Miller
July 1–3, 1988 Sheraton Park Central Harvey Kurtzman, Burne Hogarth, Gil Kane,[8] and Gary Groth
November 25–27, 1988 Marriott Park Central
July 14–16, 1989 Sheraton Park Central Doug Hazlewood Presentation of the Harvey Awards[17]
Nov. 24–26, 1989 Dallas c. 2,500 attendees[10]
July 13–15, 1990 Dallas Harvey Kurtzman, Neil Gaiman, Todd Klein, Tom Orzechowski, Sergio Aragonés, Chester Brown, Bob Burden, Kurt Busiek, Will Eisner, Kerry Gammill, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Adam Hughes, Jim Lee, P. Craig Russell, Paul Ryan, Mark Schultz, Julius Schwartz, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jim Starlin, John Totleben, Bill Willingham, Gregory Wright, and Roger Zelazny Presentation of the Harvey Awards
July 19–21, 1991 Dallas Ray Harryhausen[18] Presentation of the Harvey Awards
November 29-December 1, 1991 Dallas Robert Asprin, Stephen R. Bissette, Dave Dorman, Denis Kitchen, Tex Henson, Butch Patrick, Rick Veitch, S. Clay Wilson, Roger Zelazny, Don Ivan Punchatz, Brad W. Foster, Kerry Gammill
August 7–9, 1992 Dallas Market Hall Convention Center R. Crumb, Archie Goodwin, John Byrne,[19] Sergio Aragonés, Peter Bagge, Neal Barrett, Jr., Steve Bissette, Bob Burden, Steven Butler, Dan Clowes, Mike Collins, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Steve Erwin, Mark Finn, Brad W. Foster, Josh Alan Friedman, Kerry Gammill, Dick Giordano, Alan Grant, Gary Groth, Bo Hampton, Ray Harryhausen, Tex Henson, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Walt Holcombe, Jaxon, Shane Johnson, Kelley Jones, Gil Kane, Larry King, Denis Kitchen, Rick Klaw, Harvey Kurtzman, Michael Lark, John Lucas, Dean Mullaney, Martin Nodell, Nina Paley, Butch Patrick, Tom Peyer, Michael Price, Don Ivan Punchatz, Joe Riley, Nina Romberg, Jeff Rovin, Mark Schultz, Julius Schwartz, Gilbert Shelton, Lewis Shiner, Ivan Stang, Kenneth Smith, Chris Sprouse, David Tosh, James Vance, Martin Wagner, Reed Waller, Wayno, Shannon Wheeler, Mack White, Sidney Williams, Al Williamson, John Wooley, Kate Worley, and Catherine Yronwode 5,500 attendees; presentation of the Harvey Awards
March 5–7, 1993 Dallas Adam West, Donald Simpson, Larry Stroman, Tex Henson, Kerry Gammill, and Shannon Wheeler Presentation of the Harvey Awards
June 18–20, 1993 Market Hall Special guest: Clive Barker; Dave Sim
July 29–31, 1994 Market Hall[20] Dave Sim and Martin Wagner Presentation of the Harvey Awards
April 15–16, 1995 Harvey Hotel, Irving Adam Hughes, Susie Owens, and Mark Goddard[21]
Aug. 11–13, 1995 Market Hall[22] Jim Steranko,[7] Sergio Aragonés, Kurt Busiek, Rob Liefeld, Terry Moore, David W. Mack, Martin Nodell, Julius Schwartz, Mark Schultz, Jeff Smith, William Stout, Chris Ware, Al Williamson, and Jim Woodring c. 9,000 attendees;[1] presentation of the Harvey Awards
November 25–26, 1995 Harvey Hotel Julie Newmar[23]


  1. ^ a b c Raphael, Jordan (August 1996). "Dallas Fantasy Fair Cancelled: New Con Takes Its Place". The Comics Journal (189). p. 23.
  2. ^ a b Melrose, Kevin (February 17, 2014). "Dallas Fantasy Fair founder Larry Lankford passes away". Robot 6. Comic Book Resources.
  3. ^ Schelly, Bill (2010). Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s. McFarland. p. 60.
  4. ^ a b c Hopkins, David (September 19, 2012). "Mark Walters: Leader of the Geeks". D Magazine. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "People Watch". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. July 26, 1996. p. 7.
  6. ^ a b Groth, Gary (September 1982). "Editorial". The Comics Journal (75). p. 4.
  7. ^ a b c Dean, Michael (June 2002). "Newswatch: 2002 Harvey Awards: Motivations and Mathematics". The Comics Journal (244). pp. 16–21.
  8. ^ a b "Summer Comic Conventions," The Comics Journal #122 (June 1988), p. 26.
  9. ^ Wright, Scott W. (September 10, 1989). "Funny business: Collecting comic books no longer child's play". Austin American-Statesman. p. B1.
  10. ^ a b Phinney, Kevin (September 9, 1989). "Comic-book convention lures fans of pop culture". Austin American-Statesman. p. D1.
  11. ^ Price, Michael H. (March 6, 1993). "Harvey Kurtzman, Founder of Mad, Remembered as a Comic-industry Giant". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  12. ^ 1982 Dallas Fantasy Fair program.
  13. ^ "Peer Pressure," The Comics Journal #105 (Feb. 1986), pp. 69–74.
  14. ^ Groth, Gary. "Unmasking the Rocketeer" (Dave Stevens interview), The Comics Journal #117 (Sept. 1987), pp. 68.
  15. ^ "Events," Texas Monthly (Nov. 1986), p. 38.
  16. ^ "Harvey Kurtzman Interview: 1987," (interview by Scott Nybakken) The Comics Journal #153 (Oct. 1992), pp. 62-69.
  17. ^ "Victorian Due at Fantasy Fair," The Victorian (July 12, 1989), p. 6.
  18. ^ Price, Michael H. "Special-effects man became industry giant," Minneapolis Star Tribune (06 Aug 1991)
  19. ^ The Comics Journal #75 (Sept. 1982).
  20. ^ "Newswatch: 1994 Major Trade Show Calendar," The Comics Journal #166 (Feb. 1994), p. 46.
  21. ^ Maurstad, Tom. "Dreamland: Think it's all in your mind? - Maybe not at the Fantasy Fair," Dallas Morning News (Apr. 17, 1995).
  22. ^ Fowler, Jimmy. "Events for the week," Dallas Observer (Aug. 10, 1995).
  23. ^ "Inside Plano," The Dallas Morning News (Nov. 25, 1995).

External links[edit]