Red Sonja and The Wizard: lost footage from 1978 Comic Con show

In the seventies, Red Sonja writer Frank Thorne and Wendy Pini used to perform a show, "Red Sonja and the Wizard," at comic conferences. No record of these legendary shows were thought to have survived, however—until this film, shot by an audience member at 1978's San Diego Comic Con, surfaced on YouTube.

"Recovering this is, for us, the equivalent to Robert Ballard's locating the Titanic," says Pini. "The quality is, alas, 1978-era Super-8 film taken under difficult conditions - but it EXISTS!"


  1. Don’t knock super8 film too much. Under ideal conditions it has a vertical resolution equivalent to roughly 900 pixels. Even film taken under conditions like this have a huge quality of information.

    This transfer looks like an old school telecine job, which is a fancy way of saying they projected the film and recorded the projection with a second camera. It was almost certainly done at 480i NTSC as well. So running Super8 film through 240 lines of resolution and one of the worst color spaces to ever exist and you get the above.

    Take the same film and run it through a proper HD film scanner plus some basic color correction and the results would knock you down. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get at least a good DVD quality image out of it.

    1. As I seem to have misplaced my own proper HD film scanner for the moment, do you have any recommendations, perhaps based on experience? A Google search turns up the usual (large) number of services and everyone’s a shining pro on their own site. I thought I had only recovered the video file, but I seem to have the original film as well. (I just need to track down a working Super8 projector to be certain…)

      1. Don’t try and play it on an old projector. Nothing is more likely to damage it. Any reputable place will be willing to do a quick check on properly maintained equipment before transferring it.

        Check your local area for professional film transfer services. Most large cities will have someone. Typically the same equipment is used for HD transfers of 8mm and 16mm film, so you can check with businesses that cater to the local film and TV industries. If they don’t do it they should be able to recommend someone.

        They should advertise high definition transfers and be happy to show you the equipment.

        A professional machine will look more like a reel-to-reel tape machine than like any sort of camera or projector. In fact, they basically are reel-to-reel tape machines except they run the film past a high resolution image head instead of a audio head.

        If there is anything that looks like a recognizable video camera bolted onto the setup anywhere run, don’t walk, somewhere else. That is a telecine setup and even under best conditions will have significant generational loss.

        On the far side you should get a nice beefy video file. See what correction services they offer, or I am sure that you have pleanty of friends who know their way around a color correction suite :)

  2. I’ve been in the process over the past year of re-reading all of the old Savage Swords and Conan the Barbarians and in the especially early issues there are loads of articles featuring Frank Thorne and/or Roy Thomas and Pini in a traveling show that is looks like was put on in malls and cons and venues of every stripe with a number of other ladies each vying to be Red Sonja. And the plot, if I remember correctly, centers around each of these characters/actors representing a facet of Red Sonja’s personality…

    And as if all of that wasn’t enough, in between ads for Vallejo calendars and X-Ray specs, the issues also feature early art showcases of folks like Easley and in a related matter, some phenomenal ads that serve as record to the original D&D playsets called simply “Dungeon!” I’ll attach a scan for anyone that is interested… It’s been a lot of fun read back through them all…

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