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In its second year, Silicon Valley Comic Con hits a growth spurt

Although only in its second year, Silicon Valley Comic Con is celebrating a 30th anniversary—that of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Cast members are set to reunite at Comic Con to mark the show’s launch three decades ago.

While Patrick Stewart, who played Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, won’t be aboard for Comic Con, the original “Star Trek” captain will be on hand. William Shatner, who was among the celebrities at last year’s inaugural event, returns for a second appearance.

Also returning are Andy Weir, author of “The Martian,” and “MythBusters” co-host Adam Savage, who last year appeared together in a “Let’s Go to Mars!” panel.

Two of Savage’s former “MythBusters” co-hosts, Tory Belleci and Los Gatos native Kari Byron, are also slated to appear at Comic Con, set for April 21-23 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and other downtown venues.

These venues have expanded to include a free outdoor component, partially in anticipation of attendance increasing from last year’s 60,000 cosplayers and sci-fi/fantasy fans. The outdoor festival at Plaza de Cesar Chavez will feature a two-day science fair, with a “Save the Planet” theme on April 22 in honor of Earth Day and a focus on “Technology of the Future” on April 23.

The downtown park will also host a beer and wine garden, food trucks, movie screenings and car cosplay displays during Comic Con. Dog owners can dress their pooches as superheroes or anime characters to take part in a Canine Cosplay Contest.

While “Star Trek: TNG” was set in the year 2364, Silicon Comic Con founder Steve Wozniak and CEO Trip Hunter are sticking to the current century for this year’s programming theme, “The Future of Humanity: Where Will We Be in 2075?” Their vision for humanity includes the continuation of “Sesame Street,” and to that end, the guest list includes several cast members from the venerable children’s show of both the human and Muppet variety.

The “Sesame Street” gang will appear as part of the Kids STEAM Lab—STEAM, of course, stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The lab will feature aeronautics and robotics demos by NASA, as well as interactive displays of vintage technology. The Children’s Discovery Museum is opening up its Imagination Playground for kids who want to create their own kingdoms, and those who want a piece of the Magic Kingdom can get some body art by official Disneyland face painter Parnaz Gharah.

Animation fans of all ages and stripes can avail themselves of photo and signing ops with comic book artists and authors who have worked with everyone from Disney to DC Comics. Artists include Trina Robbins, who produced the very first all-woman comic book, “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” in 1970; “Deadpool” artist Scott Koblish; and Disney animator and illustrator James C. Mulligan.

DC Comics has had success of late with a string of live action television series on the CW network, including “The Flash.” Grant Gustin, who plays the show’s title character, is set to appear at Comic Con, as is Tom Felton, who plays Dr. Alchemy on “The Flash” and played Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movie series.

Other stars of the big and small screen making guest appearances include John Cusack; Steven Yeun, who played Glenn on “The Walking Dead”; Pam Grier of “Foxy Brown” and “Jackie Brown” fame; and Gina Torres, who played Zoe in Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” series and its spin-off movie “Serenity.”

And as a real-life counterpart to “Star Trek” cast members, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin will touch down at Comic Con to talk about what it was like to actually go where no one had gone before.

Silicon Valley Comic Con is April 21-23 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and other downtown San Jose venues. Tickets are $10-$99 at svcomiccon.com.

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