Shel Dorf and Ken Krueger Produce King Kon in 1974

December 18, 2009

Inside Comics #2, August 1974 (published by Galaxy News Service) featured a Mark Evanier article titled “The Mini-Cons That Attacked Southern California!” The article, as one would surmise from its title, focused on Southern-California mini-conventions, in particular Greg Koudoulian’s First Sunday Club and the Super Sunday convention produced by David Alexander and Terry Stroud. One other small convention that was featured was the King Kon put on by Comic-Con International’s own Shel Dorf and Ken Krueger. The following is an excerpt from that article – which comes to us from the Greg Koudoulian archives – reprinted with the author’s permission.

The Mini-Cons That Attacked Southern California! [Excerpt]

by Mark Evanier

Among the montage of mini-con mayhem is Jack Kirby (bottom right), Shel Dorf (behind and to the left of Kirby) and Greg Koudoulian (bottom, second from left).

Among the montage of mini-con mayhem is Jack Kirby (bottom right), Shel Dorf (behind and to the left of Kirby) and Greg Koudoulian (bottom, second from left).

And on the third weekend of [February 1974] there came the King Kon in San Diego—a two-day mini-convention under the auspices of Shel Dorf and Ken Krueger, who are among the directors of the annual San Diego Convention. Admission for the two-day King Kon was $2 in advance or $4 at the door, but table space ran considerably higher: $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Whereas both the First Sunday gatherings and Super Sunday meetings had been considered unqualified successes, King Kon was met with only mixed reactions.

San Diego, being only 126 miles from Los Angeles, has always relied heavily on commuting fans to support their fannish endeavors. Whether because of the gas shortage or the over-saturation of similar conventions, King Kon ended with many dealers disgruntled and audibly disappointed at the sales and general turn-out.

King Kon, two days in length, also seemed to strike an unsatisfactory compromise between the one-day and the full-scale convention. It had the disadvantages of both cons and the advantages of neither. All-night movies were a significant feature of the convention— but that would only force any interested fans and dealers to spend money for hotel rooms. And if that wasn’t bad enough, anyone so inclined had to make his own arrangements—the convention staff had neglected to secure a hotel.

But while most attendees chose not to stay on for the movie showing, Dorf said the program was quite successful—catering to the San Diego audience.

“They really went for the films,” Dorf explained while manning his table at the following First Sunday gathering. “I found myself running the projector at six in the morning for a group of people who were enjoying every minute. An awful lot of them had never been to a con before.”

And Dorf s remarks rang true. Most of the First Sunday Club’s attendees seemed like novices to the world of fandom and conventions, possibly comic books readers who had previously been frightened away by large, imposing conventions.

Nevertheless, Dorf is hoping to continue the King Kon series, possibly in a modified format. In addition, he is planning for the forthcoming six-day San Diego Convention which will run from July 31st through August 5th.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie Estrada February 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

There is no mention of the location of King Kon–wasn’t it in Old Town?

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GREG KOUDOULIAN December 20, 2009 at 12:40 am

Robert Beerbohm, do you know when and where was the second King Kon? Shel’s con that he did at a LAX Hotel, Charles Schulz was guest of honor I believe: was that a King Kong too? Thanks
Koudoulian Archives signing off.

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Robert Beerbohm December 19, 2009 at 3:41 am

If I remember correctly, King Kon up in LA was put on in an effort to raise more money for San Diego Comicon cuz it either had run in the red that year, or some one stole the receipts. I think it twas the former, memory is hazy a bit on this one’s reason for existence, though i was there as well.

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