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Comic-Con Celebrates 47 Years In San Diego

It’s the longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention in the U.S.

A gathering of

Credit: Jose Zuniga

Above: A gathering of "Doctor Who" cosplayers at a past Comic-Con, July 24, 2011.

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Comic-Con International will celebrate 47 years in San Diego next week, making it the longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention in the U.S.

As the event inches closer to its half-century mark, it's fun to recall its humble beginnings in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in 1970, when there were actually two conventions.

In March 1970, a group of comic book, movie and sci-fi fans got together for a one-day event called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon. It was designed to raise funds and generate interest for a larger convention and drew about 100 attendees.

The minicon was successful enough to fund a three-day event in August 1970 called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con. Held in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel, it featured a dealers' room, film screening, panels and guests Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby and A.E. van Vogt. That event attracted more than 300 attendees.

The convention went through a few more name changes before settling on Comic-Con International: San Diego in 1995.

Comic-Con now has almost 500,000 square feet of exhibit space for dealers, draws more than 130,000 attendees and offers hundreds of hours of programming ranging from how to break into comics to the cult of adult coloring books.

Furthering their mission statement to create awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms, Comic-Con is hosting four days of panels geared toward educators and librarians at the San Diego Central Library. A Comic-Con badge is not required to get in if you register for the panels.

New this year are the "RFID" badges that were shipped to many attendees. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, which is a tag attached to your badge.

David Glanzer, Comic-Con's chief communications and strategy officer, said that the new badges help Comic-Con fight counterfeiting and monitor where people are entering the convention to see if there are "hot spots" so attendees can be directed to other entrances.

'Star Trek Beyond' Trailer

Since he is a diehard "Star Trek" fan, Glanzer is excited about the world premiere of the new "Star Trek Beyond" film. The screening will take place on preview night, July 20, outdoors at the Embarcadero Marina Park South.

Lucasfilm set the bar high last year for studio sponsored events with its "Star Wars" concert, but Paramount seems willing to take up the challenge with its "Star Trek Beyond" screening.

The full programming schedule is available online as well as the list of all exhibitors, small press and artists at the show.

You can check out the KPBS YouTube channel for a playlist of our past coverage of Comic-Con.


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