Widow of Dr. Jerry Bails, the "Father of Comic Book Fandom"
Jean Bails comes to Comic-Con to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of comics fandom. She is the widow of Dr. Jerry Bails, commonly known as the "Father of Comic Book Fandom." At a time when comic books were being discredited as dangerous for children, Jerry's credentials as a professor with an advanced degree helped restore respectability to comic books. He, along with others, could identify artists (and sometimes writers) from their work in comics, giving them credit before they were known to the general public. The findings were published in a variety of fanzines he created and later turned over to others, such as Alter Ego, The Comicollector, and The Comic Reader. His best-known work is probably The Who's Who of American Comic Books, a lifelong labor of love, done in collaboration with many of the members of the Grand Comics Database and the creators of comic books themselves. Many fans with whom he corresponded had artistic or writing skills that he encouraged through his fanzines and also encouraged to become professionals in the field.
Bails was always a devoted fan of comic books, especially All-Star Comics (plus all the superhero characters that appeared in All-Star), from the time he could first read to the day he died (November 23, 2006). Teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit was overall more of a pleasure and a joy than work, he often said. He was an outspoken progressive and a humanist. Jean met Jerry at a luncheon off campus at the Unitarian Church and they were married in June of 1967. Mrs. Bails brings her memories along to this "monster" of a convention that he helped in some part historically to create.