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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Shel Dorf, the founder of Comic-Con International in San Diego, one of the biggest comic book conventions in the world, has died at age 76, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
Dorf died Tuesday at a San Diego hospital, where he spent much of this year being treated for diabetes.
The first convention in 1970 was attended by only about 300 people, but this year Comic-Con International attracted more than 125,000 for what has become a gathering of comic lovers, movies and TV fans, and pop culture followers worldwide.
A fan of comic strips, Dorf for a time worked in comics and he was friends with many comic artists, including Jack Kirby. He created the comic convention with the help of friends, said David Glanzer, a spokesman for the convention.
"Shel had notable foresight in not only believing these people needed some public acknowledgment, but that this truly was an American art form that Americans knew very little about," Glanzer said.
Dorf was not directly involved in running the convention for the past couple decades.
He is survived by his brother, Michael Dorf. A funeral service for Shel Dorf was held on Wednesday.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte