Bill Blackbeard died March 10 at the age of 84, reports The Comics Journal. He was a well-known figure in Bay Area fandom – I first heard about his work at a 1970s Westercon. His San Francisco Academy of Comic Art (SFACA), in the garage and basement of the house at 2850 Ulloa Street, was a Library of Alexandria for comics fans.
Blackbeard and his wife Barbara and a haphazard cadre of comic strip enthusiasts who volunteered at the Academy, spent years meticulously clipping comic strips from the old newspapers, arranging them in chronological runs of each strip title, and storing them in filing cabinets (which were often fruit crates turned sideways to make shelving). By the 1990s, Blackbeard estimated that they had clipped and organized 350,000 Sunday strips and 2.5 million dailies.
One of the collection’s cornerstones was the discards of the Library of Congress. When Blackbeard learned the LoC was microfilming and then getting rid of bound volumes of big city newspapers going back into the nineteenth century, he saved all he could get.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]