MIAMICON I

18-21 December 1975

2/28/04 - What we have here is the official MIAMICON I program guide.  MIAMICON was held 18-21 December on Miami Beach at the Americana Hotel (now known as the Sheridan Bal Harbour).  I was fortunate enough to grow up in Miami and the prospects of attending the con for a 10 year old boy who read comic books was as close to being in comic nirvana as I can imagine.  In the area I lived in, the only places to find older comics were book stores or flea markets that pretty much treated comics as an afterthought.  When MIAMICON was announced, me and my comic collecting friends couldn't have been more excited.  And how couldn't you be!  The convention was advertised in Stan Lee's Soapbox in Marvel Comics and the guest list was a virtual who's who of the best in comics at the time.  Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Neal Adams were just some of the headliners.   As a bonus, James Doohan, Scotty on Star Trek, was going to be there as well!

After learning of the upcoming con (just two weeks before), I first had to convince my father, who wasn't very keen on comics to begin with, to let me go.  One of the major hurtles was the admission price.  My family wasn't very well off when I was young and other than my $3.50 a week allowance, getting my Dad to part with additional money wasn't something I looked forward to.  He did give me permission to go though but I was going to have to pay my way.  So essentially my $3.50 allowance went to the admission price ($3.50) and I had about 2 bucks to buy anything else at the con.

My friend Mike's mother drove and dropped us off (times were a lot simpler then) at the Americana.  We paid our admission and entered the main hall.  I and my friend were overwhelmed.  The main room was full to the brim with comic dealers and creators.  I finally saw my first Fantastic Four #1 and Amazing Fantasy #15 at the con.  In fact, it seemed as if I could find any comic ever printed in that room.  Along one aisle, Jack Kirby was signing New Gods portfolios, next to Neal Adams who was doing Batman sketches, next to Stan Lee who never seemed to stop talking, next to CC Beck who was signing a Shazam comic, next to.....you get the idea.  To be honest I can't remember all the guests I got the chance to meet.  What I do remember was both Adams and Kirby being extremely nice to me with Jack even trying to get this shy kid to talk a little about the Fantastic Four (I had told him it was my favorite comic book).

After getting all my autographs, we went to one of two movie rooms.  It was here that I had one of those moments that haunt your childhood.  I had heard of but never seen George Romero's movie Night of the Living Dead.  I got the opportunity that day and it scared the living hell out of me!  I don't know if it was all the guys in the room making fun of the zombies while joking about eating at McDonalds, the room being dark (everything was run by projector then; Beta wouldn't come out for a couple of years), or just the subject matter but the movie deeply disturbed me.  I had nightmares for weeks afterward that finally subsided but then reappeared when the sequel opened in theaters.  I finally saw the movie again when I was around 16 and couldn't help but laugh.  One thing's for sure, you definitely see things differently as a child!

Overall, Mike and I stayed at the con all day and I had a wonderful time.  I'm not sure that the con did that well though.  There wasn't a MIAMICON 2 until 1979 and that was in a Holiday Inn far away from the beach.  It was much smaller in scale and the guest list, other than Stan Lee appearing again, wasn't near as impressive.  

I've never been to the San Diego Con but I have been to some other of the large cons along the East Coast and I still swear that none of these cons were as big nor did I enjoy myself as much as MIAMICON.  At least that's what a certain 10 year old kid would have told you on Christmas Day 1975......