The information given below comes almost entirely from Ron Kasman’s account of this event which began March 3, 4, 5, 1972 at York University and survived to 1975. For a more complete account read Ron’s memoir.
Ken Ketter a sophomore at York University and a horror film fan applied to York University for a $600 grant to put on a convention covering cartooning, science fiction and horror films. He asked Ron Kasman who was also a student for help. Ron brought in Ron Sutton who has gone on to be an established artist in the graphics field and Mark Segel a publisher. Gloria Agnew was hired as administrator. These four were the co-ordinators for the many volunteers who helped.
They invited Jim Steranko for comics, Gray Morrow for speculative fiction and Alain Resnais for film, paying for their aircraft tickets. The turnout far exceeded the organizers expectations and even overwhelmed them. Fans came from as far away as Québec, Ohio, Michigan and even Germany. It appears that many fans expected to find European especially French graphic stories here. There weren’t any, of course, but it appears that the social aspects of the conference were enough to entice many to return to the following year with friends and materials.
The second year attendees included Jim Warren of Warren Publications, Carmine Infantino, Editor-In Chief at DC, Stan Lee from Marvel, Michele Eury Comic Editor at Playboy and P.J.O’Rourke Editor-In-Chief of National Lampoon.
The popularity of the convention increased. CBC Arts reporter Sol Littman came to visit them in 1974.
As its popularity grew so did opposition to it. Many thought too much money was being spent for the benefit of Americans. They had a point. There is little evidence to suggest it did anything to represent and advance cartooning in Canada. There were other changes. As the budget increased there was a shift in administration from control by fans in the university to control by the students not necessarily interested as fans. Finally, the drive behind it began to dissipate as the students who began Cosmicon because of their intense interest in the genre were beginning to graduate and leave the university.
1975, Cosmicon’s fourth year became its last. Its budget by then was up to $24,000, a significant amount at that time. Its coverage reached a peak. They were front page news in the Toronto Star. They were satirized by Pete ‘n’ Geets (Pete Griffin & David Haydu) a popular comedy duo on CHUM-FM’s morning show. One can only say it left the scene on a high note.
“ Cosmicon 1972-1975: A Tell-All Expose.” An account written by Ron Kasman one of the participants. It can be found under the web site “York University’s Cosmicon: on of Canada’s earliest comic conventions. “ Posted 19 January 2015 by Kevin Boyd. Joe Schuster Awards. Shuster Awards Association. Accessed 4 April 2018.
“On this day in 1974: CBC investigates the fast changing world of comics.” CBC Arts. CBC Archives, Alanna Stuart. 25 January 2016. CBC reporter was Sol Littman.