Comic-Con officially kicks off in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO -- The 45th annual Comic-Con International celebration of the popular arts opened in downtown San Diego Thursday under the "Batman" banner.

"You know, they have the Batman theme so I want to see what's going on with Batman, and they have all the new movies coming out, so I'm really excited about all that," Lamont Allen told 10News.

The crime fighter started out 75 years ago as a dark comic strip, became a children's television show and later spawned series of movies.

DC Comics hosted a panel called "Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight." Comic creators who helped shape the character took part in the discussion.

TV series stars Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar gathered for a panel in Hall H, the San Diego Convention Center's 6,500-seat arena. The three promoted a boxed set of the series' episodes that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is set to release in November.

An area near the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel was transformed into the Gotham Interactive Fan Zone. "Gotham" is a television series that will run on Fox beginning in September that is based on DC Comics' characters, but not necessarily Batman.

The Fan Zone was the site of a 9:30 a.m. news conference where Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria each rode a 200-foot-long zipline to the podium, waving to on-lookers and signaling with their thumbs up.

First-day panels were held on the popular television thriller "24," with actor Kiefer Sutherland, and the legends of TV Land, which featured Betty White, William Shatner and Donald Faison.

"It's just been like meeting people who into the same things you are and making connections with the whole nerd universe," Nate Ritchie told a local TV station.

Organizers also staged events at the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, the Grand Ballroom at the Omni San Diego Hotel and the Horton Grand Theater.

Pre-paid parking at the convention center and Hilton Bayfront is sold out.

Free shuttles will run between the convention center and hotels in downtown, Mission Valley, Shelter Island and Harbor Island. Shuttle service will run 24 hours a day until Sunday at 7 p.m.

Organizers encourage attendees to use the San Diego Trolley and the North County Transit District's Coaster train. The Metropolitan Transit Systems says the Green Line trolley to the convention center and Gaslamp Quarter will run every seven and a half minutes -- twice as often as normal -- during Comic-Con.

The trolley system will also offer paperless tickets on its new MTicket mobile application. A spokesman for the agency said the trolley carries an additional 215,000 passengers during the convention.

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