Well we had a chance to go through all fours days of the San Diego programming. Sure there are plenty of comics folks, company panels, and movie stars — Kate Beckinsale, Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton — but there are even more TV stars than ever! If there is a cult TV show, chances are the whole cast will be there begging to hang out with you. Plenty of cartoon types, masqueraders, toy people, kids, fan clubs, Josh Whedon, SF authors, and…just looking at this list, frankly, gives us a headache. Luckily, there will be four or five thousand journos there to tell us what happened.
This year, despite the presence of The Clive, is not quite as gobsmacking as last year, although doubtless something ultra cool will come up and prove us wrong. Last year had cooler foreign comics guests, like Tatsumi and Koike — once in a lifetimers.
Tom has a very useful list of just the comics programming — what we’d like to see is a further reduced list of guest spotlights — this is where things are really good. Those once in a lifetime things.
What you will find below the fold is some panels we would like to attend, some panels we would like you to attend, and some things we found of note for their curiosity value. What we haven’t noted is all the big movie and TV panels — we’re sure you can find those all on your own. So here is our own little SD07 highlight list, which our comments in itals.
1:30-2:30 Blade Runner and More—Syd Mead will be on hand in person to recall his experiences while working on the motion picture Blade Runner and to introduce his newest DVD release: Visual Futurist: The Art & Life of Syd Mead. The DVD takes the viewer behind the scenes and beyond the images he created for this film as well as Tron, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, private 747s, games, yachts, cars, and a seemingly endless list of major design projects around the world. Syd looks forward to entertaining questions and providing his unique perspective on topics of design for the film industry. Joining him will be Paul M. Sammon, author of Future Noir: The making of Blade Runner, the definitive book on its subject. Paul will add his own anecdotes about BR’s creation while divulging new details about his brand-new Second Edition Future Noir, due for publication in late 2007. Room 6B
SYD MEAD! Talk about once in a lifetime. This is the man who pretty much invented the world we live in via his futuristic designs for BLADE RUNNER, and oddly enough while we were typing this, the love theme from BLADE RUNNER came up on our iTunes shuffle, so there you go.
2:30-4:00 Sergio & Mark: Groo’s 25th—It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 25 years since Sergio Aragonés’ Groo first wandered into our lives. Many issues and seemingly just as many publishers later, Groo is still hale and hearty. Join creator Sergio Aragonés, colorist Tom Luth, letterer Stan Sakai, plus a Groo editor or two, along with Mark Evanier, whose involvement with the character remains a mystery to all of us. Room 8
If there is comics royalty, this is it.
3:00-4:00 Fletcher Hanks: The Ed Wood of Comics?—Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, Super Wizard of the inkwell. Hanks worked for only three years in the earliest days of the comic book industry and then . . . disappeared. Genius? Nutcase? Visonary? All of the above? Cartoonist Paul Karasik (co-adapter of Paul Auster’s City of Glass) has spent years tracking down Hanks’ obscure buried stories and collected them in I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks. But he saved one of the weirdest to present at this lecture. Hanks is the greatest Golden Age cartoonist that you never heard of—until now. Visit www.fletcherhanks.com for more information. Room 10
If there were a Flavorpill for comics, this panel would be on it.
3:30-5:00 From Art to Art: The Challenges of Translating Comic Book Figures to Film Icons—A look from the artists’ perspective at the issues, hurdles, and joys in the process of transforming a comic book superhero into a film action star. Panelists are from Local 790, Illustrators and Matte Artists, of the IATSE, whose skill and imagination help create some of the most stunning images, thrilling action, incredible characters, intricate props, otherworldly vistas, and dynamic sequences that grace the visual media that we enjoy. They’ll reveal a seldom-seen corner from behind the scenes in film production. Panelists include Dan Fraga, VFX, storyboards and comics; Trevor Goring, films, games, and comics including Waterloo Sunset and theBlvd.; Gabe Hardman, storyboard artist on blockbuster comic book films; Martin Kline, art director Sony Pictures Imageworks; David Lowery, senior film storyboard artist; Mark Moretti, storyboards, former writer, artist, and editor, Valiant Comics; Stephen Platt, comic book, concept, and storyboard artist; and Tracey Wilson, concept illustrator and film storyboard artist. Room 30AB
We just wanted to mention this because it answers the question “What ever happened to one-time Image hot shots Dan Fraga and Stephen Platt.”
4:00-5:30 The Golden and Silver Age of Comics—Comic-Con has a long tradition of seeking out talent from the early years of comics, and this year is no exception. Along with comics stalwarts Dick Ayers, Gene Colan, and George Gladir, moderator Mark Evanier interviews first-time special guests Allen Bellman, Mel Keefer, and Lily Renée Phillips about their lives and careers in comics. Room 8
You will regret not ever hearing these people speak one day.
6:00-7:00 How To Become an Internet Geek Super-Star—It is the age of video on the Internet, and geeks are leading the charge! If you have interesting stories to tell or a unique take on nerd culture, there is an audience out there for you. Ben Cote (DivX Stage6) will moderate a wide-ranging discussion on how some of the budding stars of the online world found a following of like-minded fans. Guests include Jarett Cale and Geoff Lapaire (“Jeremy” and “Kyle,” PurePwnage), Alex Albrecht (Digg/The Totally Rad Show), Jonathan London (Geekscape), and Zadi Diaz (JetSetShow). Room 30CDE
I need all the help I can get!
8:30-10:30 2007 Friend of Lulu Awards—Every year during Comic-Con, Friends of Lulu hosts their Lulu Awards as a way to bring honor and recognition to the most inspiring and noteworthy women in the comic book industry. Awards will be presented by Trina Robbins, Shaenon Garrity, and more. The 2007 Friends of Lulu Awards are sponsored by Minx/DC Comics. Room 10
It’s really nice that Minx is sponsoring these awards. With all the talk about women in comics recently, a good turnout would be a good sign of solidarity.
10:30-11:30 Image Comics: The Founders—Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Mark Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and maybe even a surprise guest panelist or two reunite for Image’s remarkable 15th anniversary. Join the conversation as they explore Image Comics’ beginnings, impact, and future in the comics industry. Moderated by George Khoury (author of Image Comics: The Road to Independence from TwoMorrow Books). Room 5AB
It should be interesting jsut to see these guys in the same room together again.
12:30-1:30 Vertigo: I Am Legend—Top sf/comic book writers and artists Orson Scott Card, Richard Christian Matheson, Mark Protosevich, Steve Niles, Bill Sienkiewicz, David Levy, and Jason Chan unveil and discuss their contributions to the I Am Legend–inspired comic book, as well as master sf author Richard Matheson’s enduring influence. The limited-edition comic will be available at the panel and at designated times in the DC Comics booth. Room 5AB
Had they announced this already?
2:00-3:15 Spotlight on Neil Gaiman—One of Comic-Con’s most popular guests returns to spend his weekend with you. Neil Gaiman talks about this busy year, including upcoming films Beowulf, Coraline, and Stardust (set to premiere Comic-Con weekend in L.A.), that little ditty called Death looming on the horizon, and tons of other great stuff he has in the works. Room 6CDEF
They put Neil Gaiman opposite Clive Owen. MEAN. BTW it appears that Friday is now the big movie preview day, what with the worries over Saturday logistics.
3:15-4:45 Warner Bros. Home Video: 300 and Blade Runner Final Cut—First up, 300 creator Frank Miller, director Zack Snyder, stars including Lena Headey and David Wenham, producers Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari, and other special guests are on hand to discuss the groundbreaking film and its highly anticipated July 31 DVD release. Be the first to see a clip not included in the theatrical release! Then it’s the 25th Anniversary Blade Runner “Final Cut.” Director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Hannibal) has created a new, definitive version of this landmark film, with scenes and special effects that have never been shown before. Catch this first preview of the new version by the legendary director of the final, authoritative. and best presentation of one of the most acclaimed science fiction films of the 20th century. This presentation will feature unseen clips from the new cut as well as a look behind the scenes that will be featured on the upcoming DVD box set. The panel includes Ridley Scott, Sean Young, Joanna Cassidy, Joe Turkel, James Hong, Syd Mead (designer/futurist), Mark Stetson (FX), and DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika. Hall H
Did we mention that we love Blade Runner?
3:30-4:30 Comics to Film: TATUA—Legendary comic book creators Paul Jenkins (Wolverine Origin, Frontlines) and Rob Prior (Spawn The Impaler, Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Show EFX) present their original new motion picture TATUA. Actors C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders, Soul Man) and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Thelma & Louise), and metal band Helmet featuring Page Hamilton (Unsung, Milquetoast) will talk about the movie and the unprecedented impact that comic writers currently have in Hollywood. Q&A will follow, as well as a video presentation on movie projects by Jenkins and Prior, plus the premiere of Helmet’s latest music video. Room 6A
Every year there is some kind of jam project like this that obviously got started over some really good weed.
4:00-5:00 Lessons from Masters in Visual Storytelling—Marshall Vandruff will show how such masters of comic art as Winsor McCay (Little Nemo in Slumberland) and Harvey Kurtzman (MAD) brought images and story structure together that form a foundation for all visual storytelling, including children’s books, animation, and film. This session is part of the Crash-Course in Sequential Art being offered next weekend at The Art Institute of California, San Diego. Room 30CDE
You might learn something.
4:30-5:30 New Voices in Graphic Novels—The medium is exploding with new opportunities and new creative talent. Six graphic novel creators who have published their first books in the past year—Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Leland Myrick (Missouri Boy), George O’Connor (Journey into Mohawk Country), David Peterson (Mouse Guard), Christian Slade (Korgi), and Jamie Tanner (The Aviary)—talk about their inspirations and about the place their books have in the changing graphic novel market. Moderated by Calvin Reid (Publisher’s Weekly). Room 4
We’ve seen plenty of panels like this, but maybe YOU haven’t!
5:30-6:30 Scott McCloud and Family—Award-winning comics artist and author Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics; Making Comics) and his family (Ivy, Sky, and Winter McCloud) recap an incredible year on the road, meeting thousands of comics artists and fans and seeing all 50 states, plus Canada, England and Spain! Want to know the state of American comics in 2007? The Clan McCloud has all the answers! Room 5AB
We were there for the kick-off, its time to catch up!
7:30-8:30 Klingon Lifestyle Presentation—Last year the IKV Stranglehold lost a valued member of the crew after a traitorous act. Their current mission forces them to travel a path few return from to regain what they lost. All species are welcome to experience the ongoing voyage and adventure of life aboard a Klingon vessel. Room 6A
Note to journalists, this is the panel you REALLY want to cover for your “San Diego is full of wacky people!!!” story.
8:30-11:30 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards—The 19th annual Eisner Awards, the “Oscars” of the comics industry, will be given out by celebrity presenters, including Reno 911’s Tom Lennon and Ben Garant, comedian Brian Posehn, cartoon voice actor Maurice LeMarche, British TV celebrity Jonathan Ross, and author Neil Gaiman. Other prestigious awards to be given out include the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award and the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award. The master of ceremonies is Bongo Comics’ Bill Morrison, who will be aided by the Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlen. Admission to the Eisners is free to all Comic-Con attendees—just be sure to bring your badge. Doors open for pros and VIPs at 7:30 and for attendees at 8:15. Ballroom 20
Well, it had to happen, celebrity presenters at the Eisner. The list isn’t quite what we expected, but we’ll miss seeing Sergio Aragones or whoever struggle with a name.
10:30-11:30 Meet the Press: Writing About Comics—From blogs to books to magazines, the public conversation about comics is livelier—and faster—than it’s ever been. Heidi MacDonald (Publishers Weekly), Nisha Gopalan (Entertainment Weekly), Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter), Tom McLean (Variety), Graeme McMillan (The Savage Critics), and moderator Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics) discuss the state of the art of comics criticism. Room 3
Every year we have one request, just one thing. “Please don’t put us on a panel early Saturday morning.” What happens every year? WHAT THE F___ DO YOU THINK??? How come the podcasters and the “Internet Geek Superstars” get to have their panels in the AFTERNOON? Why do us writer types get saddled with the VERY FIRST PANEL SATURDAY MORNING. Come on. Also, we should note that this is the third year in a row that we’re on the same panel with Tom Spurgeon (And second in a row with Graeme and Tom.) No offense to any of these gentlemen, but why just once can’t we be on a panel with say, Clive Owen?
10:30-11:30 Black Panel—This year’s Black Panel features Prodigal Sunn (The Wu Tang Clan), Ehrich Van Lowe (TV producer The Cosby Show, The Tom Joyner Show), http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/briefings/commentary/9388/ (executive VP, Film Roman), Denys Cowan (senior VP, BET Animation), Andy Horne (producer, 24), Marv Wolfman (creator of Blade), and newcomer Korby Marks. Hear about their exciting new comics and animation projects! Moderated by Michael Davis. Room 5AB
We seem to remember how last year there were quite a few complaints about how this was really the “Black Man Panel” and this year is looks to be the same. There was room for a token white guy, but no girls allowed again? Looks like next year there needs to be an Ormes Society meting at San Diego.
12:30-1:30 Spotlight on Lily Renée Phillips—She was one of the pioneer women cartoonists in the Golden Age of Comics, producing an impressive body of work for Fiction House in the 1940s, a period dominated by male artists. Comic-Con special guest Lily Renée Phillips talks about her life and career with cartoonist and noted comics historian Trina Robbins. Room 3
1:30-2:30 Great American Comic Strips—We’re living in a Golden Age of comic strip reprints, and this panel discusses the many ongoing series of books devoted to this great American art form. Moderator Tom Spurgeon (comicsreporter.com) talks to Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics Books (Peanuts, Krazy Kat, Popeye and the upcoming Pogo); Carolyn Kelly, daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly; Tom Devlin of Drawn and Quarterly (Walt and Skeezix, Moomin, Oh Skin-nay); Bruce Canwell of IDW (Terry and the Pirates, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie); Steve Tippie, VP, marketing and licensing, Tribune Media Services; Charles Pelto of Classic Comics Press (Mary Perkins On Stage, Dondi); and noted comics historian and author R. C. Harvey (Meanwhile . . . .A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon) about the sudden growth of high-quality chronological reprints and the art of the American comic strip. Room 4
This just sounds like an interesting panel with a bunch of interesting folks.
3:30-4:30 Futurama—Matt Groening is proud to announce the long-awaited return of the animated sci-fi comedy classic Futurama! Matt and executive producer David X. Cohen will be on the dais, accompanied by writer Ken Keeler, animation directors Peter Avanzino and Dwayne Carey-Hill, and for the first time together on stage in any universe, actors Billy West (Fry), Katey Sagal (Leela), John DiMaggio (Bender), and Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker)! The cast and crew will entertain your questions and present a sneak peek at Bender’s Big Score! in glorious wide-screen format! Moderated by Bill Morrison. Ballroom 20
Do we have to explain this? Maybe Maurice LaMarche will say “Crumb drisp coating” just for us.
4:00-5:00 Jeff Smith—Join Jeff for an open Q&A about his latest projects, including Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil (DC Comics), the new Bone Volume 6 color edition (Scholastic), the new Art of Bone book (Dark Horse) and the Ohio State Wexner Center Bone Art Exhibit planned for 2008. Also get a sneak-peek at his upcoming new self-published comic: RASL. Room 8
6:00–7:00 The Hero Initiative: I’m Supposed to Retire on This?!—When you’re a professional in comics, you are in charge of your own destiny, including paying your taxes and funding your retirement. But how are you supposed to save any money when Uncle Sam takes it all? And if you do have any money left over, where do you put it—IRAs, SEPs, savings accounts or bank CDs, what’s the difference? Harlan Wenig (independent financial advisor) and Joe Davidson (registered tax preparer) explore the financial aspects of being a comic book professional. Room 30CDE
If everyone who needed to attend this panel actually went, it would be Hall H-level crowded.
11:30-1:00 Comics Are Not Literature—For years, comics have presented themselves as a new kind of literature—but cartooning isn’t prose, and graphic novels aren’t novels. What if conflating comics with “literary” storytelling is a terrible mistake? Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics) moderates what should be a contentious discussion with Cecil Castellucci (The PLAIN Janes), Dan Nadel (PictureBox Inc.), Austin Grossman (Soon I Will Be Invincible), Paul Tobin (Spider-Man Family), and Sara Ryan (The Rules for Hearts). Room 8
Another interesting panel!
11:30-1:00 Friends of Lulu Annual Meeting—President Shannon Crane and directors Leigh Dragoon, Marion Vitus, Shawnelle Gibbs, and Shawnee Gibbs discuss Friends of Lulu’s past year as well as future plans. Learn what Friends of Lulu is all about and how you can help further FoL’s goals of increasing diversity within the comic book industry as well as breaking down stereotypes about women and comics. Nominations will be taken for the new Board of Directors for the 2007–2008 year. The meeting is open to all. Room 24A
See above. Come on kids, safety in numbers.
12:00-1:00 My Dad Makes Comics!—What does a comics career look like from a kid’s eye view? Find out with Sky and Winter McCloud, daughters of Scott McCloud (Making Comics); Alexa Kitchen (Drawing Comics is Easy (Except When it’s Hard)), daughter of Denis Kitchen; and Brennan Wagner, son of Matt Wagner (Grendel, Mage) discuss what it’s like living with dad, the cartoonist. Room 5AB
This sounds unique.
1:00-2:00 What’s Happening in Kids’ Comics Today?—Some of the most creative work in the industry is being done in kids’ comics. Svetlana Chmakova (Dramacon), Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules!), Debbie Huey (Bumperboy), Kazu Kibuishi (Flight, Amulet), George O’Connor (Journey into Mohawk Country), and Gene Yang (American Born Chinese) talk with moderator Dave Roman (Nickelodeon) about the importance of kids’ comics—and the fun they have creating them! Room 8
We just put this in there because back the day THIS was the panel we had to wake up for every Sunday morning. Now Dave Roman gets to do it. HAW HAW.
1:00-2:30 Ball-Jointed Doll Collectors Meeting—Doll owners and nonowner enthusiasts will discuss and display various types of Asian ball-joint resin dolls (Volks, Cerberus Project, CustomHouse, Blue Fairy, Dream of Doll, SoulDoll, AngelRegion, Obitsu, Leeke, etc.). Trade tips on customizing, sewing for, and photographing BJDs. Come share the beauty of your own unique doll, or come to see one of our dolls in-person for the first time! Make new friends—both live and resin! Room 24A
Isn’t it just possible that THIS — not the glitz, the glamour, the parties, the boats, the screenings, the TV crews, the lights, and monkeys– will be the real highlight of the con? Either way, we guarantee that by this time, you will be fit for nothing except ball-jointed dolls.
3:00-4:00 San Diego Museum of Art: Contemporary Art and Animation—Recently, the San Diego Museum of Art has seen an increase in production of animation works by contemporary artists working within the gallery system. This panel considers one strand of this explosion, focusing on artists who are shifting painting and drawing to the time-based practice of handmade and digital animation, while also accessing popular culture and music. This panel is organized in conjunction with the San Diego Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibition Animated Painting, on view from October 13, 2007 to January 13, 2008, to include works by 14 international contemporary artists including William Kentridge, Julian Opie, Kota Ezawa, Jeremy Blake, and Ruth Gómez. Moderator Calvin Reid (artist, art critic, and co-editor of the online comics newsletter PW Comics Week) talks to panelists Betti-Sue Hertz (curator of contemporary art, San Diego Museum of Art), Lisa Cartwright (professor of communication, University of California), and Jody Culkin (artist and assistant professor of media arts, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York). Room 3
Oh no! Calvin got stuck with the last panel of the con slot! We’ve been there too…next stop…THE YACHT CLUB!