FOUNDER OF NITTANY CON
Born: September 30, 1951
Died: September 17, 2015
2015 We had all listened to Ken planning Nittanycon for years before it happened. It was in his head, this grand local show, ever since he had moved to Pennsylvania. Ken had been promoting comic conventions along the east coast, but he had his eye on a local "home base" con. Bringing a regular convention to an area that hadn't had them in decades. He'd tell us over and over, how he wanted his NittanyCon. He mapped out the routes and turnpikes that comic dealers could take, contacted guest artists, meticulously scouted locations, it was planning that made the Normandy Invasion seem haphazard in comparison. And we were so proud that his vision wasn't just possible, it was a resounding success. Starting in 2013, NittanyCon was the most successful convention Ken had ever held.
Ken was, and you saw this if you talked to him for even a few minutes, a fan. Growing up in the 50's and 60's he spent all of his dimes on comics and monster magazines. ...a habit that never quite waned with age. He told me a story that once, with less than a buck in his pocket, he chose a Conan paperback ("With a Frazetta cover!" he pointed out, as if to explain) over eating that day. He starved, but you could tell that he never once regretted that choice.
Ken was a lifelong fan whose passion led him to be a student at the very first class of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art in 1976. He would go on to work in the Marvel Bullpen in the early 80s, where he Lettered the Spider-Man newspaper strip, colored The Avengers, Captain America, Daredevil, Doctor Who and countless others. He self-published what many consider to be the last great fanzine, THIRD RAIL- Equal parts interview, sketchbook history lesson, comic book, and archive of lost art. It was an incredible achievement. From there he worked freelance at Archie Comics, First1, Comico and MORE. As some of these publishers went out of business, and work was getting scarce, Ken found a second life as a comic dealer and convention promoter.
We lost Ken to a heart attack in September 2015. When he went into the hospital, he was still adamant that he would be running his next local convention (which was less than two months away). It took the doctor explaining (well, repeatedly begging/arguing, to be honest) that it wasn't a good idea since Quadruple Bypass Surgery is something that requires recovery. This is the dedication Ken had for his shows. He'd just suffered one heart attack, was awaiting surgery and still mentally planning table arrangement and the ratio of Golden Age to Modern comic dealers. This was Ken. He loved it. He was one of us. He was a fan.
Ken leaves behind his partner, Barbara, who was a fixture with him at conventions.
Comic Book Artist