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by Allen J. Sheinman | February 01, 2011

For those of us who celebrate comic books and graphic novels, the two must-attend conventions are Comic-Con International, which holds its 42nd annual show July 21-24 at the San Diego Convention Center (about 126,000 attendees are anticipated), and WonderCon, celebrating its 25th year April 1-3 at the Moscone Center South in San Francisco (and expected to draw about 40,000 fans).

"Why such a success? To begin with, I think the general public now recognizes that comic books are a pretty great form of entertainment," says David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con (which also puts on WonderCon). "Add to that several hundred hours of programming -- we like to keep things new and exciting -- and you get attendees coming back year after year."

Along with scores of exhibitors, this year's Comic-Con includes an art exhibit, a film festival and high-profile guests such as Patricia Briggs, author of the bestselling Mercy Thompson series, and legendary Marvel Comics artist Jim Steranko. Autograph sessions are among the biggest draws at both shows.