We know Comic-Con is a crowded, tumultuous place, with a noise level akin to being sucked through a jet engine and a similar toll on the body. But perhaps there are a few peaceful eddies and tranquil pools where you may find a moment to relax…and learn something. We’re not saying the following panels are bad—in fact among them are the best—but for various reasons they may be less frantic or stress inducing. BUT see the end of the list for the surprise twist that will bring a tear to your eye!
1:00pm – 2:00pm
A Mercs Life For Me: What It Takes to Be a Mandalorian Room 29A
James Sebree (San Diego chapter leader), Sal Attinello (Manda’galaar), Todd Mullin (Haran’galaar Clan), and Quinn Pendleton (member approval rep.) discuss the ins and outs of the Mandalorian Mercs Costuming Club. Topics include introduction to costume construction, overview of member requirements, and getting your costume approved. Also, Loren Toy (Manda’galaar) on 3D printing for costuming, and Kristina Schlosser (Haran’galaar clan) and Erica Heinrich (Manda’galaar) on building a custom female Mandalorian.
What is a Mandaloran you could be asking yourself? And are they taking our jobs? Confession: I had to Google this. And I was right! See end of the column to see if you were too! One of many panels that still appeals to a limited specialist audience.
1:45pm – 3:15pm
Comic-Con How-To: Gray Scale Copic Markers Room 2
Adam Hughes will use the warm and cool gray Copic markers to render the tones on a drawing. Fellow artist Allison Sohn will narrate the process while Adam draws. Hughes has been working in comics for over 25 years. Some of his work from the past year includes a story in Batman Black and White as well as the covers to the Vertigo series Fairest and the Dark Horse series Rebel Heist.
Coptic markers you say? ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz…oh wait it’s Adam Hughes? Never mind.
3:00pm – 4:00pm
ComicBase User Group Meeting Room 29A
Attention all comic collectors! ComicBase, the world’s premiere software program for managing comic collections, will be holding their annual user group meeting with creator Pete Bickford. This once-a-year presentation will discuss the latest features and news about ComicBase and Atomic Avenue.
I’m temped to go to this just to find out what people who use advanced software to manage their vast comics collections talk about when they talk about advanced software to manage their vast comics collections.
4:30pm – 5:30pm
Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries Hall H
A discussion between a couple of blockbuster directors on the art of filmmaking and a wide-ranging discussion about the future of film.
Can never live up to the hype.
4:30pm – 5:30pm
Thunderbirds at 50 Room 8
As Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s iconic Thunderbirds series turns 50 next year, Jamie Anderson (Anderson Entertainment) executive producers of the new Thunderbirds Are Go series Richard Taylor (Jane and the Dragon, The Wot Wots, LOTR), and Giles Ridge (Harry Potter: Behind the Magic, The Illustrated Mum) talk about heritage programs, and the importance of remaining true to the ethos that made the show so successful first time around. Join the Thunderbirds team for this Q&A, moderated by head writer of the new series Rob Hoegee (Slugterra, Generator Rex, Teen Titans).
Many years ago I wondered if Thunderbirds fandom was doomed to die out, as there was no new product and the materials seemed to be caught in a quaint but downward nostalgic spiral. Well, this is where the lone survivors will gather to discuss continuing on in a hostile environment.
6:00pm – 7:00pm
Batman ’66 Hall H
Holy Bat Panels! Get all the details on the most anticipated home entertainment release in fanboy history when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment reunites pop icons Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar on the Hall H stage for a Bat-tastic look at Batman: The Complete TV Series. The actors behind Batman, Robin. and Catwoman, along with moderator Ralph Garman, will give you an inside sneak peek at all the exclusive content within this blockbuster home entertainment release, as well as exhibiting dazzling HD remastered footage from the landmark series. Batman: The Complete TV Series will be released in November 2014.
AGAIN? Seriously haven’t there been about 12 zillion panels with the Batman cast at every rickety dinky con since time began? Old.
11:00am – 12:00pm
The Official Aspen Comics 2014 Panel Room 9
Frank Mastromauro (co-owner), Peter Steigerwald (co-owner), Vince Hernandez (VP, editor-in-chief), Mark Roslan (VP, director of design and production), David Wohl (Executive Assistant: Iris), J. T. Krul (Jirni), Siya Oum (Lola XOXO), Scott Lobdell (Superman), Paolo Pantalena (Jirni),Giuseppe Cafaro (Fathom: Kiani),Jordan Gunderson (EA: Assassins), Lori Hanson (EA Assassins), and Beth Sotelo (Fathom) will reveal upcoming Aspen titles as well as projects on the horizon. They will also hold a Q&A session with fans. All fans in attendance will receive a gift courtesy of the publisher.
See Thunderbirds. Gotta give ’em credit for sticking around in a hostile environment though. I don’t remember the last time I heard someone say they read an Aspen comic.
1:30pm – 2:30pm
Game Your Brain to Superhero Status Room 24ABC
National Geographic Channel’s Eric LeClerc (illusionist, Brain Games), David Rees (Going Deep with David Rees), Tony Gonzalez (The NFL Today analyst, You Can’t Lick Your Elbow), and Dr. Armand Dorian (ER physician, You Can’t Lick Your Elbow) join together for a series of interactive experiments that will mess with your mind and show you that what may seem superhuman is actually within your reach.
What does this even mean?
3:30pm – 4:30pm
Women Below the Line Room 26AB
Sheyne Fleischer (assistant editor, The Bachelor, Hells Kitchen), Tess Folwer (writer/illustrator Game of Thrones Exclusive Animation, Rat Queens), Alicia Minette (prop fabrication: Sushi Girl, Man at Arms), and Aubriana Zurilgen (creature creation: Steve Wang’s Creature Workshop, MasterFX), will explore the nontraditional roles of women in the comic and entertainment industries. Female editors, illustrators, prop fabricators, and creature creators will relate their success stories and how to follow your dreams in the industry, while exploring gender roles in the creative professions. Moderated by Glenn Freund (League of S.T.E.A.M.).
Great going, ladies! Now someone get you off this marginalizing panel and on the stage with the big boys. A woman on every panel, not one panel for every woman.
5:00pm – 6:00pm
Hermes Press: A Celebration of The Phantom, the First Masked Hero Room 9
Be the first to see the premiere, concept, and design of Peter David and Sal Velluto’s New Phantom comic book series together with a multimedia presentation about the history of the The Ghost Who Walks. Sal Velluto (The Phantom, Flash, Justice League Task Force, Black Panther), the artist for the new series, will discuss the direction and philosophy of the book and show off artwork from issue #1. Daniel Herman (publisher, Hermes Press), Graham Nolan (Batman, The Phantom, Rex Morgan, M.D.), and Thomas Andrae ( Batman and Me, Creators of the Superheroes, Walt Kelly: the Life and Art of the Creator of the Art of Pogo) will discuss the history of the character, the classic strip and comic books, and the all-new version (which brings back the classic Phantom) of this iconic character.
5:15pm – 6:15pm
Celebration of 24-Hour Comic Day Room 18
This year marks the 10th anniversary of 24-Hour Comic Day. Come by and help celebrate! Participants will reminisce about past years while also discussing how to make October 4, 2014 the best 24-Hour Comic Day ever. (This panel is open to all Comic-Con attendees.)
How can you cram this into one hour?
6:35pm – 8:05pm
The Musk of Tusk: An Evening with Kevin Smith Hall H
After all the interesting and exciting movie panels are over, Hall H belongs to a middle-aged man who once worked with BatFleck! Ask ComiKev questions and get ready to say #WalrusYes as Kev premieres the trailer to his first film in three years: the twisted, transformative tale of Tusk! Wrap up a busy Friday with the Clown Prince of Comic-Con!
It’s nice to see that Kevin Smith has embraced his place as the It the Living Colossus of 90s nostalgia.
7:00pm – 8:00pm
Simpsons Collectors Group Room 29A
Simpsons collectors of the world, unite! Take a break from the busy Comic-Con floor and get a chance to meet some of your fellow collectors of Simpsons merchandise from all over the country. Meet the other Simpsons collectors you see on the message board and put faces to names. This gathering, hosted by the staff of the SimpsonsCollectors.com website, is a great chance to network with other collectors and share your experiences in the hobby with others.
Isn’t this what a convention used to be about? Just people with odd hobbies finding kindred souls?
8:30pm – 9:30pm
Klingon Lifestyles Room 6A
Klingons, weapons and ohhhh, yes there will be live action bat’leth sword battles. Come join the fun and mayhem for the 21st annual Klingon stage play. Watch the Stranglehold Klingons travel to distant worlds to bring glory back to the empire! Enter the Trek costume contest-prizes awarded for best dressed, largest red shirt group, and more. All alien races welcomed. If you love stage plays and love SWAG even more, come and support the only live-action Star Trek fan-based play to boldly go where no play has gone before!
Talking about the 90s…this event is in its 21st year, and is one of two or three “throwback” panels from when Under the Sails was new! Visit it to marvel at the sight of this living dinosaur!
1:00pm – 2:00pm
Little Lulu and John Stanley Fan Group Room 29A
One of the most memorable kids’ comics ever created (yet with remarkable “all-ages” appeal), Little Lulu has generated a worldwide fan following. Learn more about this classic comics character and the renewed interest in the other delightful works of the great John Stanley, and join in for a scripted reading of a Golden Age Little Lulu story. All are welcome!
Another throwback, this one possibly going back to the 80s! Do you realize what is must feel like for a group that has been meeting at the con for over 20 years? In the meantime, God bless Mike Richardson for publishing that completely Little Lulu line a few years back, and Tom Devlin at D&Q for Stanley and Thirteen and the other great Stanley/Tripp books.
8:00pm – 9:00pm
Science in the Stories of H. P. Lovecraft Room 4
Iconic weird tale author H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), in his introduction to the story The Call of Cthulhu wrote: “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we s Hall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” Was he right? A panel of scientists and Lovecraft experts will discuss the science behind Lovecraft’s stories and what modern research has revealed about humanity’s place in the cosmos. With Cody Goodfellow (Deepest, Darkest Eden: New Tales Of Hyperborea), Shane Haggard (Chemistry instructor, San Diego City College), Leslie S. Klinger (The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft), Andrew Leman (The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society), and Lisa Will, Ph.D. (astronomy and physics professor, San Diego City College). Moderated by Aaron Vanek (The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon-Los Angeles).
Although this sounds niche-y, when I looks at the RSVP list online it had more people than most comics panels.
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Dr. Zhivago’s Innovation in Education: Basic Cartoon and Animation Using Vector Graphic Tools for Kids Room 30CDE
Dr. Marie Zhivago (professional cartoonist and published children’s book author) and Dr. Eric Banatao (principal of Eastlake Elementary School, Chula Vista, CA) discuss how students learn basic cartoon and animation using an industry standard vector-based app and software on iPads and computers. Kids learn early how to use current technological tools to help stimulate and develop young artist’s creative imagination. Join Dr. Zhivago and Dr. Banatao for this Q&A session.
UNless you like….quantum graphics. I think you would need to be a child to have the comprehension for this panel on a Sunday morning at con.
12:00pm – 2:00pm
Ball-Jointed Dolls Collectors Group Room 29A
Doll owners and enthusiasts discuss the world of ball-jointed resin dolls from companies such as Elfdoll, Volks, Fairyland, Iplehouse, and many others. This year artist Bo Bergemann of Bergmann Dolls will talk about sculpting and manufacturing BJDs. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn the basics about BJDs and pick up tips on customizing, maintaining, and photographing these beautiful dolls. Share the beauty of your own unique doll, or just see the many dolls on display. From tiny to towering, it’s a great opportunity to experience the different types of dolls in the world of BJDs. Make new friends, both real and resin!
Just tell people you are going to Comic-Con to learn about the world of BJDs. They didn’t know it was that kind of place. This panel has also been going on for more than a decade. Someone needs to make a documentary just about this, the John Stanley group and the Klingon lifestyles, for a look at the original gangsters of fandom.
12:30pm – 1:30pm
Comic-Con How-To: Building Your Fandom Armada Room 2
Let’s discuss relationships and fandom. Bring your OTPs, gather your Armada, and cross over into an expert presentation by two DeviantArt masters, with Kay Purcell (damphyr) and Aun-Juli Riddle (aunjuli), as they help you navigate more ships than have ever crossed the worlds of fandom.
What in the heck is this? No one expects the Spanish Armada. Buehler? Anyone?
4:00pm – 5:00pm
Disney Pin Trading: Past, Present, and Future Room 29A
Back for a second year at Comic-Con is Pin Pics, an exclusive insight into the world of Disney Pin Trading. Lead panelist Barry Koper (Disneyana expert) will take you back to the beginning of the Disney pin-trading hobby.Anthony and Samantha Medina (Pin Pics presidents) will take you through modern trends in trading and discuss the future direction of Disney pins as collectibles. Jennifer Colyn (Pin Pics event director) moderates, followed by Q&A. All pin traders, Disney enthusiasts, and collectors welcome.
Despite being in the VERY LAST slot for programming at the con, this panel still had several hundred RSVPs.
And now a serious note: although I started this column as a bit of a laugh (and to spotlight the many archaeological layers of the Con) the RSVP system on the website allows you to see how many people intend to attend each session. And even things like Disney pin collecting got more than many many deserving comics panels. I won’t go into details or hold anyone up to embarrassment. I was disheartened to discover this, although not that surprised. But even though comics are once again the low man on the totem pole of the party they started, I do think the above list gives a little idea of the variety of fantoms that Comic-Con embraces. It’s a big tent, yes, and right now some people are sleeping in that tent waiting for a panel in Hall H.
What about it? Do you go to comic-con for the ball jointed doll panel or John Stanley? We’d love to hear from you.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.