By 1969, Dorf was out of step with society, a square in a culture getting rapidly cooler. He had spent most of his life in Detroit, where he was born, living with his parents on and off. Comics – particularly newspaper comic strips like Terry and the Pirates and Dick Tracy, a particular object of obsession – had been his passion since he was a child. When he was 16, he convinced his father to drive 60 miles to a rural Illinois farmhouse so that he could meet Chester Gould, Tracy’s creator. In 1965, Dorf was on the cover of the Detroit Free Press for his massive collection of Tracy memorabilia, including 162 comic books and all 12,479 strips dating back to 1932. Dorf would cut out the strips a put them in huge binders, something he did with many other comics throughout his life.
“I felt they were too good to throw away,” he told the Free Press.