November 2009

David Scroggy writes, “If you read my Guest Book entry, you’ll see I make reference to a watercolor portrait my father, Hal Scroggy, did of Shel. My dad is a prominent watercolorist – he is a member of the prestigious American Watercolor Society, for example, and has won many awards. A number of people have written me expressing curiosity to see the piece.”

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Ken Krueger passed away on Saturday, November 21, 2009. He will be sorely missed by family and friends. As a teenager, Ken Krueger attended the first-ever science fiction convention, the 1939 Worldcon. As an adult, thirty years later, he helped create what has become the premier comics and pop-culture convention, Comic-Con International, for which he served as chairman of the first full convention in August, 1970. In the intervening and subsequent years, Ken was active as a mail-order book seller, book store owner, small-press publisher, periodical distributor and distributor’s rep, and all-around friend to fans and fandom, serving as mentor and life coach to many young fans and aspiring professionals.

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I came to know Shel through his attendance at Cinecon, the annual classic film convention/festival that takes place Labor Day weekend in Hollywood. Shel was an enthusiastic movie fan and came every year to sit in the dark and watch rare films from the silent and early sound era.

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Artist Matt Lorentz remembers Shel Dorf as the great connector, bringing together artists and fostering careers. Matt accompanied Shel on many of his legendary field trips, including visits with Chuck Jones, Mel Lazarus, and Forry Ackerman. At Comic-Con 2009, Matt Lorentz took a poster-sized greeting card around for many artists to draw on for Shel.

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Artist Brent Anderson remembers Shel Dorf’s unwavering devotion to promoting the comic arts. He recounts a very funny anecdote about an art show by way of example. Thanks to Shel, Brent was able to meet Milton Caniff, Charles Schulz and Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Will Eisner and Burne Hogarth, Daws Butler, June Foray, Bob Clampett and Sergio Aragones, Forry Ackerman (and his incredible Acker Mansion), Ray Bradbury and Joe Shuster, Chuck Norris, Kirk Alyn, Walter Koenig, Harlan Ellison and George Clayton Johnson.

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Links to video and text media coverage of Shel Dorf’s passing and his legacy as Comic-Con’s founder. The links were good as of November 14, 2009. They may, however, not be “permanent” links and may be in effect for only a relatively-short period of time.

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Picture of Shel Dorf and his brother, Michael Dorf, with Chester Gould in 1949 taken outside the Gould family farmhouse. The picture is accompanied by an audio clip of Michael Dorf telling the story of the Dorf-family visit to see Chester Gould in Woodstock, Illinois. (A transcript of the recording is included.)

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On Sunday, November 9, 1969, Shel Dorf led a group of San Diego comic fans on their first pilgrimage to the home of Jack Kirby, who had recently moved from New York to Irvine in Orange County, California. Travelling with Shel were the rest of the first Comic-Con committee – Richard Alf, Barry Alfonso, Dan Stewart, Bob Sourk, and Mike Towry – a young friend of Barry’s named Wayne Kincaid, and Barry’s mother, Sylvia Alfonso. We all piled into a rented station wagon and Shel drove us to our rendezvous with destiny.

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Japanese collectible-toy company Kotobukiya honors and remembers Shel Dorf. It was a source of deep regret for us to learn that Shel Dorf founder of San Diego Comic Convention has passed away on November 3, 2009. For more than 15 years, Kotobukiya has had the honor to attend the world’s most renowned and celebrated comic event. Without his devoted passion for comics, effort and leadership, the remarkable event would have not become what it is today.

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Shel Dorf passed away today, November 3, 2009, in Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. His brother, Michael Dorf, was at his side. His friends and colleagues around the world will miss him dearly. The world is a better place for his having been among us. His example will continue to make it a better place to be.

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