Ken Krueger, co-founder and first chairperson of the event that became Comic-Con International, passed away Nov. 21.
Krueger, who attended the very first science-fiction convention in 1939 in New York City, was owner of Alert Books in Ocean Beach, California, when he met Shelton Dorf in early 1970. The two, with a group of teen-aged fans, organized first Golden State Comic Con, held Aug. 1-3, 1970, at the U.S. Grant Hotel. (Dorf passed away on Nov. 3.)
“Ken Krueger was as much responsible for the creation of the Comic-Con International as anyone else, alive or dead,” Mark Evanier wrote. “… Perhaps his greatest contribution to the early cons in San Diego was that he was the Grown-Up. The majority of those on the original convention committee were kids in need of adult supervision … someone with some experience in handling business matters. Most were too young to even sign the hotel contract so Shel Dorf and Ken did that. At the early cons, he was the go-to guy for any problem, any crisis, any decision. He didn’t get or seek the attention for all he did but believe me: He did a lot.”
Krueger also worked in distribution and publishing, releasing the first professional work of such comics creators as Dave Stevens, Jim Valentino and Scott Shaw, science-fiction author Greg Bear and Garbage Pail Kids painter John Pound.
“I and many of my friends owe him a lot,” Shaw said in an email. “When Pacific Comics was a major comic distributor, Ken oversaw the operation of their warehouse. Ken was a down-to-Earth guy who never sought titles or fame, but added legitimacy to the formation of Comic-Con due to his experience in fandom and as a publisher and retailer.”
Evanier shares a remembrance of Krueger here.