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KPBS Midday Edition

Comic-Con Celebrates 47 Years In San Diego

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

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

Comic-Con Celebrates 47 Years In San Diego
GUESTS: David Glanzer, chief communications and strategy officer, Comic-Con Beth Accomando, arts reporter, KPBS News

This is KPBS Midday Edition. Maureen Cavanaugh. Comic con kicks off its 47th year in one week. Our arts reporter speaks with Comic con's chief communications and strategy officer, David Glanzer, about what is new this year. I think one of the biggest things people are concerned about this year, based on what I've seen and social media is the new badges. This was the first year you could get badges mailed to you. There is a notion of tapping in and tapping out. Tell me what these new badges are and how this will change things at Comic-Con? The badges are new this year. They implemented in RFID technology. This will allow us an ability to prevent hotspots. If everyone is entering through one door, we will know that we need to make sure people go to other doors to get into the facility. We experimented and tried this at our sister show NLA earlier this year. It worked very well. Anything new is always scary. Once people get the hang of it is a simple tap in and tap out. Very quick. That way we have a better idea of how many people are in an area at any given time. This year you using the San Diego library again. I think you use them for some panels before. Talk about some of the programming there. there is a special emphasis on educators and librarians. I think what people don't realize about Comic-Con is we are and educational organization. People see the booths on the floor and people in costumes. It is a great deal of fun but there's also a great deal of education. One thing we're doing this year at the library is specific panels and workshops and programs on education. Librarians utilizing comics as tools for reading. Literacy and things of that nature. Any of those events are open to the general public even if you do not have a badge. If you go to our website you will see more information on that. It is an important aspect of what we do and we are excited to bring that to the library. One thing new this year is the Comic-Con HQ. This will allow people who don't have badges an opportunity to get a peek inside Comic-Con. Tell me about what the goal is for Comic-Con HQ and how this is a partnership with Comic-Con. One of the great things about Comic-Con is we are approached often by a variety of different organizations hoping to do different things. We don't always have the ability to say yes. Sometimes it is not a good fit. A few years ago we were approached by Lionsgate who want to see if they could expand upon the Comic-Con excitement and fun over the course of the entire year. Comic-Con HQ was born. We are hoping to bring highlights of things that happen after or during the show to an audience during and after the show. Hopefully they will have interviews with guests. They will have original programming. They will be running around, shooting different aspects inside the convention center and outside. It is something I am looking forward to. I don't really have the luxury of seeing a lot during the show. I will certainly be tuning in to see the things I missed. It seems like Comic-Con has gotten so big, not just in terms of the convention but everything that goes on outside of the convention. And it seems like this will be an opportunity even if you have a badge and are attending to get glimpses of things you may be can't catch up with on the floor or in panels. Right. Someone did a survey not too long ago that said we have over 2000 hours or at least 2000 events of programming over the course of the days. There really is no way for everyone to see all of it. Comic-Con HQ is a new venture. As we continue to grow we will be able to do more. Our hope is you will be able to see stuff that you did not know was happening or weren't able to get to. Again, there is so much happening over the course of the Comic-Con weekend you are bound to miss something. Hopefully Comic-Con HQ can Kelli Wynn. There are a lot of things going on outside the convention center. Some of these are sanctioned in some of these are not. What are some of the events that Comic-Con is partnering with outside of the convention itself? The truth is there are non-sanctioned events. Those are events that do not work with us or deal with us or they have their own rules. We are happy when people have sanctioned events. Those are typically events that require a badge. The reason being is it helps alleviate crowds inside. They follow certain rules. They know who we are, what we are and who our fans are. It is catered tore them. This something new, entertainment weekly is doing something called con X, a four-day event. That will be a recharge and regenerate area. I think they will have music and areas to sit around. I also think maybe some water and charging stations. Fun stuff for people to hang out and enjoy the outside. This does not relate specifically to the convention itself but recently there was a press release from the Hall of champions regarding a potential Comic-Con Museum. What is the status of that? Is it something that is in discussion? It is. We have long thought about what our legacy will be with Comic-Con. We have been here forever it seems. This is our 47th year. We have discussed different ways to secure the legacy and make sure that we have something for people who come in the future in addition to the convention. An idea was floating around about a museum. The Hall of champions heard about that and said, if we were interested in discussing with them, he will love to chat with us. It is in the very preliminary stages. They are a great group of people. We are excited about chatting with them of course everything is focusing on Comic-Con. There has not been much discussion. There is not much to report right now and that is because we have been so busy. As someone who was a fan of many things, Star Wars, I can look around your office and I can see Star Wars and Star Trek, is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to even if you may be cannot find the time for it? Your rights. I love film. I would love to be able to attend the Comic-Con independent film Festival. At Comic-Con, that is the title sponsor and other sponsors for prizes. I'm excited about that. Comic-Con is such a great venue for creative types. We see that in art. We see that in writing. We see that in costume building. And we see that in film too. That is something very exciting to me. I hope I can pop my head in there. there are so many creative aspects to the show that honestly, popping into any room is -- I know it sounds cheesy but it is a joy. Lucasfilm set the bar high by having that amazing Star Wars event outside the convention center. This film -- this year, Star Trek will hold a preview screening -- what will that be like? We are excited. It will be the world premiere of the Star Trek Beyond. That is something we're very excited about. It will be in association with the San Diego Symphony. It will be fun. An opportunity for Comic-Con attendees to attend a world premiere. And for the Star Trek franchise -- for any fan it is like geek heaven. I do not know if I will be able to attend but I'm very excited about it. I hope you get some time to enjoy the convention. Thank you very much. Me to. -- Too. Comic-Con international on July 21 through the 24th at the scene Dayton Convention Center with a preview night on July 20.

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.

Comic-Con 2016 Preview

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.