I’ve talked before about how Comic Con International: San Diego is the hands-down best convention for panel content. There are 100s of panels again this year and for the people who love Hollywood and pop culture that is tangentially related to the actual comic books, it’s a treasure trove. That’s what many people focus on, and more power to them! If that’s what you enjoy, there is so much to choose from most people will have a hard time picking what to see. And if you want to see the BIG stuff in Hall H or Ballroom 20? Well, I see people online talking about camping out strategies to get into their favorite panels.
On the other hand, San Diego CCI has more comic book content than any other convention also. This means a very strong showing from the super-hero houses of Marvel & DC, and the Marvel/DC panels will no doubt be packed. But what I really appreciate is that since SDCC is a fan oriented not-for-profit convention they still put on panels devoted to indie comics and other fringe topics that won’t draw big crowds, but that I love nonetheless. I have often attended panels that have 100 people or less in the room (sometimes as few as 10 or 20). Those are the kinds of panels that are cut and never run again at most cons. Not so for SDCC. If there are people interested, they try to squeeze them in amongst the 100s of offerings.
So, what does my panel schedule look like this year (this link points to my schedule on the CCI MySched App, it’s actually really cool because it’s also in an App on my phone and imported into my calendar)? I had some tough choices to make! There were a lot of timing conflicts where I had to choose one thing over another because there were multiple things I really want to see in the same time slots. I still have some overlaps on my schedule, I’ll need to make some choices as the con gets closer, and sometimes I make a choice based on what room has a big line and which one I can just walk right into. Since I have some fairly eclectic tastes, I am fortunate in that I rarely have a big line to wait in.
Here’s what’s on my agenda for this year (and I have very few open slots to be wandering around the dealer floor!) My goal is to attend 25 panels. My stretch goal is 30 panels!!
If you’re at the con and attending any of these panels, keep an eye out for me and say “Hi!”
10:00 – 11:00 Rm 29AB
Up, Up and Away: 75th Anniversary of the 1940 Premiere of the Superman Radio Series
Former DC Comics president Paul Levitz (World’s Finest), Len Wein (creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine), Mark Waid (The Flash, Captain America), and moderator Anthony Tollin (Smithsonian Superman on Radio) discuss the legendary radio program that introduced Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Kryptonite, and the Superman-Batman team into the Superman mythos, and its importance in expanding the Man of Steel’s popularity.
11:00 – 12:00 –> FREE!
12:00 – 1:00 Rm 30CDE
CBLDF: Spinner Rack Revolution: The Secret History of Free Speech in Magazine Comics
In the 1960s and ’70s, publishers fled from spinner racks to magazine stands to escape the bounds of the Comics Code Authority. While comic books continued to labor under the stigma of low-value, juvenile speech, the larger-format magazine comics broke out, giving artists a safe haven to openly deal with adult content, provide more horror and suspense, and be frank about sexuality. Magazines like Mad, Creepy, and Eerie paved the way for a generation of titles that included Heavy Metal, Vampirella, Epic Illustrated, 1984, and Savage Sword of Conan to break new ground for a general audience and loosen the reins on some of comics’ top creators. CBLDF deputy director Alex Cox reveals the untold history of magazine comics, reviewing the impact of publications from Warren, Marvel, Heavy Metal, National Lampoon, and more!
1:00 – 2:00 Rm 2
DeConnick & Fraction: Milkfed Criminal Masterminds @ Work
Lauren Sankovitch (Milkfed managing editor, former Marvel editor) pulls back the curtain on life at Milkfed, what a comic book editor does exactly, and which are truly the best donuts in Portland. Expect utter nonsense, a Q&A, and a parade of special guests who may drop in. Or not. Guess you’ll have to be there to find out!
[overlap] 1:30 – 2:30 Rm 4
First Second: What’s in a Page?
Led by First Second editorial director Mark Siegel, four cartoonists take a close look at their own work and each other’s, looking in depth at the text and art in a single page of comics, and what’s hidden under the surface: panel structure, emotional complexity, and creative influences. With Scott McCloud (The Sculptor), Rafael Rosado (Dragons Beware!), Aron Steinke (The Zoo Box), and Gene Luen Yang ( Secret Coders).
2:00 – 3:00 Rm 23ABC
Image Comics: Where Creators Own the Mainstream
The mainstream is whatever you want it to be. Killer robots, ghosts, absurdist comedy, and space adventures aren’t niche, but in comics, they sometimes are treated like they are. In reality, they’re as mainstream as anything else, thanks to their wide-ranging appeal and the astonishing execution from Kody Chamberlain (Punks), Keenan Marshall Keller (The Humans), Chip Zdarsky (Kaptara), Marjorie Liu (Monstress), Alex Grecian (Rasputin), and Michael Moreci (Roche Limit). Come find your new favorite comic.
[overlap] 3:00 – 4:00 Rm 9
ComicBase/Atomic Avenue User’s Group Meeting
It’s the annual meet-up for users of the world’s #1 program for managing comic collection. ComicBase creator Peter Bickford will be on hand to give a sneak preview of upcoming program features, answer questions, and spill the beans on what’s next for both ComicBase and Atomic Avenue. Get an exclusive look at the new version of ComicBase (whether it’s shipping or not!), find out what’s behind the recent explosion of activity at Atomic Avenue. There’ll also be a prize drawing for some very cool stuff.
[overlap] 3:30 – 4:30 Rm 8
Sergio & Mark Show
The men who bring you Groo the Wanderer show their faces and explain just how and why it is they bring you Groo the Wanderer, as well as other silly comics. It’s the award-winning duo of Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier, accompanied by the equally heralded Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo), and coloring whiz Tom Luth (if he can get away); holding court, answering your questions, and doing what they do best, which obviously is not writing little blurbs like this for the Comic-Con Events Guide.
[overlap] 3:30 – 4:30 Rm 4
The One and Only IDW Artist Edition
Join Artist’s Editions editor Scott Dunbier as he leads you on a tour of these big and beautiful books! There will be several announcements, a surprise guest or two, and some good old-fashioned art talk.
4:30 – 5:30 Rm 26AB
The Zone Show: The Jack Kirby Interview
In October of 1984, Ray “3-D” Zone, the “King of 3-D Comic Books,” interviewed comic book legend Jack Kirby on Los Angeles public access TV. Eric Kurland (3-D Space), Randolph Hoppe (The Jack Kirby Museum), and Lawrence Kaufman (National Stereoscopic Association) will be joined by other special guests to discuss the careers of Zone and Kirby and their collaborations, including a rare screening of the entire half-hour 1984 interview; shown publicly for the first time in over 30 years.
5:30 – 6:00 –> FREE
6:00 – 7:00 Rm 5AB
Vertigo: What’s the Story
Vertigo is back in San Diego and ready to blow your mind with trend-setting comics and top-notch talent. From horror, to mythic fiction, to sci-fi, and beyond, see what amazing new ideas are coming your way from the imprint that’s on a mission to defy all your expectations.
10:00 – 11:00 –> FREE
[overlap] 11:00 – 12:00 Rm 32AB
Something Old, Something New! (or, The Revenge of Classic Comic Collections Panel)
President of IDW Publishing Greg Goldstein reunites the stalwarts (or culprits) of the unprecedented boom in archival publishing for a spirited discussion about the future of classic comic book collections. Joining Greg are LOAC founder and editor Dean Mullaney, renowned comic book historian and editor Craig Yoe, VP of book trade sales at Dark Horse Comics Michael Martens, founder of Sunday Press Peter Maresca, associate publisher of Fantagraphics Eric Reynolds, and IDW senior editor of special projects Scott Dunbier. It’s the golden age of archival collections, and if you crave more, or want to beg these guys to stop, this is the panel for you. Free book for every attendee plus other giveaways; and each and every guest has promised to announce a new project so top secret even the other panelists don’t know about it yet.
[overlap] 11:00 – 12:00 Rm 28DE
Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel
A breakthrough in the development of the graphic novel, Will Eisner’s A Contract with God was not the first, was not the bestselling, and came before the days of awards, but it is still in print and affecting the explosive growth of comics’ most vibrant format. Join us and learn why he’s Will Eisner, champion of the graphic novel, at a panel moderated by Eisner Award-winner and New York Times bestselling author, Paul Levitz (Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel), and with panelists Denis Kitchen (The Best of Comix Book, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman), Jeff Smith (RASL, Bone), Sergio Aragonés (Groo, MAD), and Danny Fingeroth (The Stan Lee Universe, Superman on the Couch).
11:30 – 12:30 Rm 8
75th Anniversary of The Shadow and Doc Savage
Michael Uslan (Justice Inc., Batman movie producer) and moderator Anthony Tollin (The Shadow Scrapbook, Sanctum Books publisher) commemorate the 1940 comic book debuts of the legendary pulp heroes that inspired the creation of Batman, Superman, and many more superheroes, as well as the Golden Age talents who brought these pulp greats to four-color life, including Walter B. Gibson, Otto Binder, and Bob Powell.
12:30 – 1:30 Rm 8
Twisted Roots of the Comics Industry
Gerard Jones (Men of Tomorrow), Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent, editor for Marvel Comics), Brad Ricca (Super Boys), and Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson (co-author of a forthcoming bio of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson) reveal the stories of the gangsters, bootleggers, and eccentric geniuses who founded the comic book business. Moderated by Michael Uslan, producer of the Batman movies.
1:00 – 2:00 Rm 4
Hot off the blockbuster launch of the first Archie #1 in over 75 years, this is one panel Archie fans can’t miss. Get exclusive news on the Archie Horror titles, the new Jughead ongoing series, and more. The panel features Jon Goldwater (co-CEO/publisher), Victor Gorelick (co-president/editor-in-chief), Mike Pellerito (president), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (chief creative officer/writer of Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Mark Waid (writer of Archie), Dan Parent (writer/artist, Kevin Keller), your favorite Archie writers and artists, with moderator Alex Segura (SVP, publicity and marketing/editor of Dark Circle Comics). Plus, an exclusive gift bag ticket!
2:00 – 3:00 Rm 4
Dynamite’s Spirit Panel Featuring Eisner Award-Winning New Series Writer Matt Wagner!
Dynamite CEO and publisher Nick Barrucci, new series writer Matt Wagner (Grendel, The Shadow), former DC Comics publisher Paul Levitz, and Michael Uslan (film producer and writer of The Boy Who Loved Batman) discuss the creative legacy of industry legend Will Eisner and his most iconic character, The Spirit.
3:00 – 4:00 Rm 28DE
The Terry Moore Panel
Terry Moore talks with Charles Brownstein (CBLDF executive director) about Terry’s upcoming storylines in his current hit series, Rachel Rising, new projects in the coming year, and what he has in store for fans in the future. In his 22nd year at Comic-Con, Terry is a fan favorite and answers any and all questions from the audience. It’s never a dull moment!
4:00 – 5:00 Rm 4
IDW: The Best Panel in Recorded History
This is the big one! Join IDW chief creative officer/editor-in-chief Chris Ryall and VP of marketing Dirk Wood lay waste to a room of shocked comic fans. Panlists include Gabriel Rodriguez, John Layman, James Tynion IV, Ulises Farinas, and special guests. Shocking announcements, amazing prizes, and a Q&A.
5:00 – 7:00 –> FREE
7:00 – 8:00 Rm 25ABC
What the Big Two Don’t Want You to Know
Bleeding Cool’s editor-in-chief Hannah Means-Shannon hosts Rich Johnston and special guests to pull the Band-Aid off the biggest controversies in comics publishing right now, especially relating to Marvel and DC Comics, and including essential SDCC revelations.
10:00 – 11:00 Rm 23ABC
MARCH with Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
His first visit to Comic-Con made national news; now the legendary civil rights icon, U.S. congressman, and #1 bestselling graphic novel author John Lewis returns. Congressman Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell re-team to share their award-winning March series. You’ll hear about the incredible tour that’s brought the message of March to schools, universities, libraries, and corporate headquarters from coast to coast. You’ll see glimpses of the much-anticipated March: Book Three, covering Mississippi Freedom Summer and the unforgettable Selma-Montgomery March. And of course, you’ll hear Congressman Lewis’s firsthand memories of sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the march on Washington, Selma, and beyond, and the vital power of his message of transformative nonviolence in the world today.
11:00 – 12:00 Rm 2
Interview with Richard Starkings
Richard Starkings discusses his career in comics, from small press, to Marvel UK, to pioneering digital comic book lettering with his studio Comicraft, to creating Elephantmen. Writer Mike Wellman (Gone South, Guns A’Blazin) hosts.
[overlap] 11:45 – 1:00 Rm 6BCF
Once again, three supercharged cartoonists duel to their dooms with Sharpies, each attempting to outdraw all opponents. It’s one of the most popular Comic-Con events, and this year it’s personal. Our returning champion Sergio Aragonés (MAD, Groo the Wanderer) goes mano a mano against Scott Shaw! (The Simpsons, The Flintstones) and Disney legend Floyd Norman. Plus, you can expect a few other cartoonists to get their licks in. Presiding over it all is your Quick Draw! Quizmaster, Mark Evanier. No wagering, please.
[overlap] 12:30 – 1:30 Rm 8
The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide at 45
Writer Mark Waid (Empire, Daredevil), former CBG editor Maggie Thompson, CBCS president Steve Borock, CCS president Matt Nelson, Gemstone Publishing’s Mark Huesman and J. C. Vaughn, and surprise guests present a lively look at comic book history through 45 years of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.
1:00 – 2:00 Rm 9
The Super Type of Ira Schnapp
Would you believe the artist who designed in Roman letters the motto engraved atop New York City’s Penn Station post office, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” is the same man who designed the iconic Superman logo? Both are the works of Ira Schnapp (1892-1969), a descendant of stonecutters and hand letterer who defined the “house style” of DC Comics for over 30 years, starting with the Action Comics logo in 1938 and continuing with scores of famous logos for the company, as well as hundreds of house ads that are among some of the greatest examples of hand lettering in the 20th century. Yet, despite all these ubiquitous works, Schnapp’s name and legacy are unknown and forgotten. But comic book historian Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) aims to change that with this presentation, based on the currently running Schnapp exhibit he curated and designed for the Type Directors Club of New York.
2:00 – 3:00 Rm 28DE
The Seven Comic Shop Archetypes: Who Will Triumph, Thrive, and Survive
In the ever-changing landscape of retail and pop culture, how do the best comic retailers connect with the community and interact with fans? This panel explores the wild world of comic shops, provides analytical (and nostalgic) insights, explores the ever-changing consumer demographic, and asks panelists to forecast the future. They include Joe Field (founder, Free Comic Book Day), Atom! Freeman (Valiant Entertainment), Christina Blanch (Aw Yeah Comics, Ball State), and Glynnes Pruett (Comic Book Hideout). Moderated by Ed Catto (Bonfire Agency).
3:00 – 4:00 Rm 28DE
Spotlight on Jim Steranko
SHIELD’s co-creator penetrates the firewall of stealth around the man with the eyepatch to celebrate Nick Fury’s 50th anniversary–with a salvo of personal, provocative, sometimes bloody, behind-the-scenes stories you won’t want to miss. Q&A session moderated by J. David Spurlock (Vanguard author, publisher).
4:00 – 5:30 Rm 7AB
Oddball Comics Live!
Cartoonist Scott Shaw! (Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew!, Sonic The Hedgehog, Simpsons Comics, Annoying Orange) once again presents his uniquely hilarious slideshow of “the craziest comic books ever published!” Once you’ve seen this mind-roasting presentation-which has played to standing room only crowds in San Diego for the better part of four decades-you’ll never forget such covers as those of the “crotch-centric” issues of Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane, those with someone getting slapped with a “fish-in-the-face”, and those Silver Age issues of Batman and Detective Comics with “Robin-in-the-corner”! Scott promises, “Even if you’ve seen my acclaimed slideshow presentation many times before, when you see their covers blown up to the size of the side of a barn, you’ll be amazed and delighted at the unbelievable imagery that’ are revealed!” See for yourself why Stan Lee calls Scott’s show “the wildest, wackiest exposé of some of the craziest comic books I’ve ever seen!”
4:30 – 6:00 Rm 5AB
That 70s Panel
Once again, this panel talks about what was so special about comic books in the 1970s, starting with all the new talent that entered the field and bonded with the old talent. Discussing those days will be Chris Claremont (X-Men, Wolverine), Bob Layton (Iron Man) Steve Lieber (Superior Foes of Spider-Man), Don McGregor (Black Panther, Sabre), Dean Mullaney (Eclipse Comics), and others. Mark Evanier, who was writing Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo, will officiate.
6:30 – 7:30 Rm 26AB
The Unpublished EC 3D Comic Revealed!
World premiere! The lost 1954 EC sci-fi classic will be shown in 3D for the first time ever. Captured Aural Phantasy Theater, the only group authorized by the Gaines family to perform EC stories, dramatically reads excerpts from the unpublished comic, highlighting a discussion by Ben Dickow (guest lecturer, Otis College of Art) and Eric Kurland (president, LA 3D Club). Special 3D glasses will be provided so you can enjoy the projected artwork!
10:00 – 11:00 Rm 7AB
Spotlight on Jonathan Hickman
Jonathan Hickman discusses the summer’s biggest comic event, Secret Wars, his other Marvel work (Avengers, Fantastic Four), and any of many acclaimed Image comics (East of West, Pax Romana, Manhattan Projects, The Dying and The Dead).
11:00 – 12:00 Rm 32AB
Oni Press: Monster Art Battle
The classic Oni Press Monster Panel is back! Three artists go head to head on the drawing boards for the glory of the “Oni Press Prize Cup” moderated by Robin Herrera (Oni Press editor). Artists include Corin Howell (Bat-Mite, Transformers: Windblade) Gabo (The Life After), and a surprise mystery guest. Kids of all ages are welcome, and every attendee receives free comics.
12:00 – 1:00 Rm 4
Spotlight on Eric Stephenson
Writer, marketer, publisher-after entering the comics industry in 1992, Eric Stephenson has shown that he knows his way around comic books. As the publisher of Image Comics, Stephenson has overseen an incredible surge in quality and potential for the comics industry. In this special Spotlight panel, Stephenson is going to share his knowledge, anecdotes, and jokes.
1:00 – 1:45 Rm 5AB [starts at 12:15]
CBLDF: You Can’t Draw That! Live Art Jam
Join Michael Cho, Denis Kitchen, and special guests celebrate creative freedom by making live art before your eyes. Join the CBLDF and these great creators as they share their perspectives on censorship and make once-in-a-lifetime art to benefit the Fund’s important work. Get a chance to watch live art being created, learn about censorship, and bid to win the pieces made here to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
2:00 – 3:00 Rm 25ABC
Cover Story: The Art of the Cover
Forget about the insides! What makes for a great cover on a comic book? This topic will be discussed and debated by some artists who’ve been responsible for some of the best. With Kevin Wada (She-Hulk, Adventure Time), David Aja (Hawkeye, Immortal Iron Fist), Lora Innes (The Dreamer), Steve Lieber (Quantam & Woody, Road to Perdition), and Chip Kidd (Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, Batman: Death by Design). Your host is Mark Evanier, and that about covers it.
3:00 – 4:00 Rm 7AB
Chip Zdarsky: A Life
Who is Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Kaptara, Howard The Duck), and why does he keep calling you and hanging up? Find out that and more on this special Spotlight panel moderated by Juliette Capra (Fantastic Comics , The Valkyries, Brimpception).
4:00 – 5:00 Rm 4
Pro/Fan Trivia Match
Join this panel for the 20th anniversary trivia showdown between the Purple Pros: Len Wein (creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing), Mark Waid (Daredevil, Thrillbent), and Anthony Tollin (Sanctum Books publisher), and the Black Ink Irregulars: Tom Galloway, David Oakes, Peter S. Svensson (comics journalist), and Derek McCaw (Fanboy Planet podcast, co-writer of The Greatest American Hero comics). Questions will focus on characters having a n5th or n0th anniversary, such as Robin, Shazam!, Catwoman, Joker, JSA, JLA, All-New X-Men, Medusa, Hydra, and many more. Trash talk will focus on being funny!
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