Ken Krueger

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Ken Krueger by Milton Caniff

Ken Krueger was an integral part of the origins of Comic-Con. He was instrumental in getting the show off the ground and keeping it going in its first few years. He served as chairman of the first Comic-Con in 1970.

Ken was no stranger to fan conventions. As a member of science fiction's "First Fandom," he had been at what is considered the very first science fiction convention, the 1939 WorldCon in New York City. His long career as a publisher began with fanzines as well as professional publications included editing for Grant-Hadnet Enterprises, Buffalo Book Company, SHROUD Publishers, and Dawn Press. He was the first publisher for E. E. Smith's Skylark of Space, H. P. Lovecraft's Dream Quest, and many others.

In the 1960s he moved from Buffalo, NY to San Diego, where he set up shop with a bookstore in Ocean Beach that became a gathering place for fans of science fiction and cult films. He also published underground comix, featuring some of the first published work of local cartoonists such as John Pound, Dave Stevens, and Scott Shaw!

When Shel Dorf and a group of teenage comics fans hooked up with Ken and his group of mostly teenaged sci-fi/movie fans to put on the first Comic-Con, Ken was the go-to guy for dealing with the hotel and handling some of the other business aspects of the show. As Mike Towry, one of the other original committee members points out, "When convention day rolled around and the inevitable problems with people, things, and situations cropped up, unflappable Ken could be counted on to fill in the cracks, smooth over the bumps, and keep things rolling along."

Ken Krueger

Over the years Ken owned (by his own count) dozens of bookstores, in the San Diego area and elsewhere. In the mid-1980s he went to work for the Schanes Brothers managing the Pacific Comics distribution warehouse in Sparta, Illinois, then later ran Capital City Distribution's warehouse in Los Angeles. He retired to upstate New York in the early 1990s, but continued to be an avid collector and occasional publisher.

Ken was a special guest at Comic-Con International in 2009 as part of CCI's 40th anniversary celebration. He appeared on the “Secret Origins of Comic-Con” panel and regaled the audience with stories of the show's early days. That evening he was feted at a special dinner hosted by one of his adoring "sons," Jim Valentino. It was a great opportunity for many of the original committee members to thank him for his great contributions to the show and to their lives.

Ken passed away at the age of 83 on November 21, 2009.

Ken Krueger with Jim Valentino

Photo courtesy Jim Valentino