Tyler Herrera dressed as Dr. Who at last year’s Grand County Public Library Comic Con event. [Photo by Tom Haraden / Moab Sun News]

In 1970, a group of comic book fans in San Diego founded the first convention to celebrate the contribution of comics to art and culture.

Since then, other comic, anime and fantasy fan groups have evolved, with conventions held in cities like Salt Lake City, Denver and Seattle.

Public libraries nationwide are also celebrating comics, anime and fantasy genres, as well as manga and science fiction, by hosting their own “Comic Cons,” where patrons of all ages come dressed in their favorite characters’ costumes. About 200 people showed up to participate in the Grand County Public Library’s Comic Con event last year.

This year’s local library Comic Con will be held on Saturday, May 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. While the library will remain open for those who wish to check out books or use the computer, services will be limited, library clerk Ann Welshko said. And, don’t expect a quiet library that day, she added.

Libraries get involved because of the importance of graphic novels and comics on literacy, said Welshko, who likes to refer to the genre as “the gateway drug to reading.”

Welshko said some kids get into reading via comics, and then graduate to graphic novels that have more of a storyline, which then leads to other novels.

Members of a group called Star Wars Alpine Garrison will be at the Comic Con dressed in professional Star Wars costumes. Similar groups worldwide dress up as Star Wars characters and entertain at children’s hospitals, nonprofit events and movie openings, Welshko said.

“These guys are incredible,” she said.

Indiana Bones, a professional children’s storyteller from Colorado, will be dressed in costume while telling stories.

Science fiction writer Stant Litore, author of “The Zombie Bible” series, will do a dramatic reading from one of his books. Cartoonist Bryan Wade will also be present to talk about his Blueswade Cartoons and how he got into cartooning.

Authors Dan Raisor of Blanding and Caryl Say of Moab will both be at the event with copies of their respective books, “Castles and Caverns” and “The Heart of Magic,” which they will sign and have for sale.

Comic Con is also a costume contest where people of all ages come dressed as a cartoon or fantasy book character. Participants compete in three age categories: 18 and older, 13-17, and 12 and under. (Overly gory and revealing outfits – or other costumes deemed inappropriate or offensive – will not be welcomed.)

Thirteen-year-old Michael Johnson went last year dressed up as an anime character, and is busy planning his costume for this year’s Comic Con event. He said his costume is sort of a secret, but said it was inspired by someone he saw on the History Channel, who reminded him of an anime character – a genre he enjoys.

“I like watching and reading anime,” he said.

Grand County High School’s Native American Club will sell Navajo Tacos during the event. Comic Con also includes door prizes and music programmed by Rob Magleby, of the BEACON Afterschool Program.

“We have a couple of Kindle Fire (tablets) to give away,” that allow people to read or listen to books, plus search the Internet, Welshko said.

Comic Con returns to library on May 7

Where: Grand County Public Library, 257 E. Center St.

When: Saturday, May 7, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: ann@moablibrary.org; or 435-259-1111

For more information, email ann@moablibrary.org, or call 435-259-1111.