Sunday, November 15, 2009

Television Writer David Lloyd and Comic-Con Founder Shel Dorf Pass On

David Lloyd

 David Lloyd, who wrote episodes for many classic sitcoms, passed on November 10 at the age of 75. The cause was prostate cancer. Among the many episodes he wrote was the classic "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which WJM-TV's children host Chuckles the Clown dies under somewhat humorous circumstances.

David Lloyd was born on July 7, 1934 in Bronxville, New York. His father was H. Wilson Lloyd, who worked in advertising but also dabbled in song writing and humour. Lloyd graduated from Yale and afterwards served in the United States Navy. He taught school for a time before breaking into television, writing monologues for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. In 1967 he was one of the writers on a television adaptation of  A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Forum. In 1970 he joined the writing staff of The Dick Cavett Show. It was in 1973 that he began writing for sitcoms, writing episodes for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. In 1974 he served as executive story editor on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which he wrote thirty one episodes.

David Lloyd would go onto write for some of the best sitcoms of the next few decades, including The Bob Newhart Show, Taxi, Cheers, Amen, and Frasier. He served as a producer on the shows Best of the West, At Your Service, Amen, and Frasier. He was a creative consultant or script consultant on Taxi, Cheers, Dear John, and Frasier. He was the creator of the sitcom Brothers, which aired on the pay cable channel Showtime in the Eighties.

It is a testament to the talent of David Lloyd that he not only won an Emmy award for "Chuckles Bites the Dust," but it was named by TV Guide as the third best episode of any show in the history of television. While I am not sure I would rank "Chuckles Bites the Dust" that high, it was certainly a great episode of many written by David Lloyd. He had a gift for the sitcom format that only a few other writers possessed.

Shel Dorf

Shel Dorf, a well known comic book collector who became the founder of Comic-Con, passed on November 3 at the age of 76. The cause was complications related to diabetes.

Shel Dorf was born Sheldon Dorf in Detroit, Michigan on July 5, 1933. As a child he was a huge fan of both comic strips and comic books. He even made friends with cartoonists by sending them Christmas Cards. In 1949 when his family made a trip to Illinois, Dorf made a surprise visit to Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould. He was surprised when the famous cartoonist recognised his name. Dorf studied at the Art Institute in Chicago, then served as a staff artist on The Detroit Free Press. It was in 1965 that Shel Dorf and the legendary Jerry Bails took over the organising of a Detroit comic book convention from Robert Brusch (who had organised it in 1964) and renamed it Detroit Fan Fair.  It was when he drove his parents to San Diego, California where they wished to retire that he decided to move there himself. It was that same year he organised his first convention, a small one day affair at which Forrest J. Ackerman was the guest of honour.

It was later in 1970 that he organised his first three day convention in San Diego, the Golden State Comic-Con, held from August 1 to August 3. Attended by 300 people that year, the annual convention would evolve into the San Diego Comic-Con International, more simply known as Comic-Con. It has since become the biggest comic book convention in the world. Over 125,000 people attended this year's convention. Dorf helped organise the convention for its first fifteen years of existence.

Shel Dorf also served as a letter on the comic strip Steve Canyon beginning in the Seventies, for the last fourteen years of its existence. He served as a consultant on Warren Beatty's 1990 adaptation of Dick Tracy. He also published interviews with both Milton Caniff and Mort Waker, as well as publishing collections of the Dick Tracy comic strips in comic book form.

Sheld Dorf was a dedicated comic book fan who dedicated much of his life to the promotion of comic strips and comic books. He truly loved the form and wanted its creators to get the recognition they deserved. Indeed, when he left Comic-Con it was because he felt that it had been taken over by Hollywood--too much emphasis was being placed on film and video games and not enough on comic books and comic strips. He was definitely devoted to the medium of comic strips and comic books, and one of its most loyal fans.

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