Associated Press

Comic-Con happens each year in San Diego and has become an integral marketing platform for television and film. It attracts stars but still devotes programming to comic books, books, monsters, video games and all manner of the popular arts. Selling out many months in advance, somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 attendees, professionals, panelists, media and volunteers stage a mammoth event that spins into culture everywhere. Covered by national and international media, here are some of the best moments from the 2011 edition.

11 Specialty shopping
Associated Press

While it isn't a moment, it is all the moments not spent other places. With more than 500,000 square feet of retail space, the Con is the place to find rare books, comics, toys, posters, memorabilia, jewelry and much, much more. Here, crowds walk through the exhibit hall on the last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego.

10 Zombies

There were plenty of fans dressed as zombies in and around Comic-Con. In this publicity image released by AMC, they are shown in a scene from "The Walking Dead." The network announced from Comic-Con that the second season of show will premiere on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. "The Walking Dead" is based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and published by Skybound and Image comics. The 13-episodes of season two will continue to tell the story of a group of survivors fighting for their lives after a zombie apocalypse.

9 Shatner & The Captains
Associated Press

William Shatner is an entertainment icon. Seen with Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), Shatner answers a question during a panel for the movie "The Captains" at the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego Friday, July 22, 2011. Shatner says he always loved "Star Trek," but he recently developed a new fondness for his fellow starship commanders.

8 Happy Birthday
Associated Press

In his first Comic-Con appearance, actor Patrick Stewart embraces actress Megan Hilty after she and the entire crowd of 6,000 sang happy birthday to him at a panel for the movie "Dorothy of Oz."

Stewart is famous for his "Star Trek" work and his appearance in the "X-Men" film franchise. The animated feature being promoted is due in 2012 with a budget of around $60 million.

7 'Sunny' in San Diego
Associated Press

Yes, the weather in San Diego is virtually perfect but when the cast from TV show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," dropped into Comic-Con, things got a little better better.

They wore costumes of course. From left, actors Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day walk off the stage after talking about the show.

6 Captain America
Associated Press

Actor Chris Evans, who stars in Paramount Pictures and Marvel's "Captain America: The First Avenger," arrives before a showing of the movie during Comic Con Thursday, July 21, 2011, in San Diego.

Evans and the Paramount team promoted the film at Comic-Con by way of the Marvel booth and panels about the film while holding its premiere as well.

5 Fan costuming
Associated Press

As much a part of the fun as any star or any official event is the creativity of fans replicating what they love from the worlds of television, film, comics, books, mythology, toys and their own imaginations.

Here Michael Hicks towers over other fans as he walks on stilts though the crowd at the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego Friday, July 22, 2011. The annual comic book and popular arts convention attracts around 150,000 attendees, retailers, professionals and media.

4 Legendary director
Associated Press

The list of directors he has influenced includes Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and George Lucas. So when legendary director Francis Ford Coppola made his first Comic-Con appearance, he had instant buzz.

Among his works, Coppola directed two Academy-Award winning "Godfather" films and "Apocalypse Now," and co-wrote "Patton."

Here he is shown with actor Val Kilmer wearing a 3D mask in the image of Edgar Allen Poe during the panel for the movie, "TWIXT," on July 23, 2011.

3 Spielberg, Jackson, fan
Associated Press

If Steven Spielberg making his first Comic-Con appearance to talk about "The Adventures of Tintin," wasn't enough, filmmaker Peter Jackson surprised everybody and showed up as well, straight from London shooting scenes of "The Hobbit." Then actor Andy Serkis ("Tintin," "The Hobbit," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes") got in line to ask a question.

When a fan — wearing a T-shirt that read, "If possible I would love to meet Steven Spielberg just to shake his hand and say thank you very much" — asked a question, he was invited onstage by the director and photographed by Spielberg and Jackson.

The image captures what the convention is all about.

2 Breakfast for Twihards
Associated Press

Seeing handmade signs in San Diego that read "Twlight ruined Comic-Con" is not unusual. The devotees of the films based on Stephanie Meyer's books don't always sit well with other fans.

But hats off to stars and the studio for sending breakfast and signing autographs for the Twihards who camped for a couple of days in advance to get inside the 6,000 seat auditorium to get the latest on the movies. Such gestures make the fan-creator relationship special.

1 Spider-Man
Images from Associated Press, combined by Deseret News.

Actor Andrew Garfield is the leading man for the Spidey reboot and he kicked off the panel, in disguise, with a passionate speech.

“I think this might be the most incredible day of my life,” he said before taking off his mask, revealing him as more than just another fan.

“Stan Lee says that the reason why Spidey is so popular is because all of us can relate to him and I agree," he continued. "I needed Spidey in my life when I was a kid and he gave me hope."

It might be a publicity stunt but it feels pretty real and Garfield sounds sincere. Be sure to watch it on YouTube to get the full effect.