By Victor Van Scoit

You’ve survived Thursday, but Friday is upon you. What don’t you want to miss out on? Take a look at these panels that might otherwise be passed up for the movie and TV love of Hall H, Ballroom 20, and Indigo Ballroom.

10:00am – 11:00am | Spotlight on Scott McCloud | Room 9
Text and images-the combination of these two is what makes a comic. But how do you move beyond that simple fusion to create a true story, with characters, plot, and narrative depth? Renowned, best-selling authors Scott McCloud (The Sculptor) and Gene Luen Yang (Secret Coders) discuss what goes on behind the scenes when telling stories in graphic novel form, as well as the creative development of McCloud’s bestselling graphic novel The Sculptor.

Basically if you didn’t make yesterday’s First Second: What’s In A Page? then you can make up for it here. Even if you did make that panel yesterday you should be here. My expectation is that Scott and Gene will go deeper than the cognitive understanding of the page, and deep dive into the process of what it takes to put several hundred of those pages together. Last time Scott gave a peek as to his process on The Sculptor he showed the many drawing layers he worked in, how he can storyboard by moving thumbnails around like puzzle pieces, and what drove his dialogue choices.

11:00am – 12:00pm | Image Comics: Where Creators Own Process | Room 23ABC
The trick to making comics isn’t finding a specific pen or sitting at the keyboard for hours. You have to do all that, but more important, you must figure out the story you want to tell and the best way to tell it. Nick Dragotta and Jonathan Hickman (East of West) go face-to-face with Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman (Invisible Republic) in this wide-ranging discussion on how to make comics, from some of the best in the business.

All the creators are great but I’m stopping by for Jonathan Hickman. I was fortunate to attend Morrisoncon where Hickman was one of the most interesting guests. He didn’t pull punches from the tough questions, got real honest about his own difficult choice to pursue a career in comic books, and gave blunt advice. It was like having your slightly tipsy uncle at Thanksgiving telling you to stop screwing up and do better. I can only hope for a smidgen of that for the rest of you.

11:00am – 12:00pm | Publishers Weekly: The French Comics Invasion | Room 29AB
As graphic novels become a global phenomenon, a new breed of French comic is making a big impact on the U.S. graphic novel publishing. Publishers such as First Second, NBM, and Magnetic Press are putting out some of the most spectacular comics on the stands. Join Publisher Weekly’s Calvin Reid to explore howbande dessinée are finally making their mark in the U.S. and beyond. With Mark Siegel (First Second), Terry Nantier (NBM), Michael Kennedy (Magnetic Press), Laurent Duvault (Dargaud), and others.

I recently traveled abroad and spent a good deal of time wishing I could read French at each comic book store.  The books were beautiful and I could still follow the storytelling even without comprehending the dialogue. A real testament to the artistry. First Second already has me hooked on Last Man and Magnetic Press has me reaching for anything Bengal, which is why I’m excited to see what’s coming over from everyone.

11:30am – 1:00pm |Comics Arts Conference #6: The Scientific Study of Comics’ Visual Language | Room 26AB
Recent work in cognitive science has examined the makeup of the “visual language” of comics and its cognition in the brain. Neil Cohn (University of California, San Diego) will provide an overview of this scientific approach to comics, setting the stage for three presentations that directly coded 40 comics each for properties within and across panels. First, two studies explore the changes in structure that have occurred in American superhero comics from the 1940s through the present. Ryan Taylor (University of California, San Diego) will report on how text and images interactions have changed in the service of storytelling over time. Then, Kaitlin Pederson (University of California, San Diego) will detail how page layouts have become more systematic across the decades while also growing in complexity. Finally, Nimish Pratha (University of California, San Diego) will describe how sound effects differ across genres of American comics and Japanese manga. Together, these presentations show the benefits of a data-driven, scientific approach to studying comics.

Increase your that left brain understanding of right brain imagery in the comic book landscape. Basically make sure you understand why the pretty pictures and words can tell more than just a story and how these techniques have evolved. I’m particularly interested in the sound effects portion as I love how someone like Frank Quitely incorporates them into the art and environment.

2:00pm – 3:00pm | Designing & Constructing a Digital Composition for Covers | Room 32AB
Comic-Con special guest Tony Harris gives you a detailed look at the construction of a multi-layered digital file and a smooth glide through the conceptual and design process. A Q&A to follow.

In the first trade paperback for Ex Machina there was an extra called “Cast of Characters”. It showed the models that Tony Harris used for the story and a photo gallery of how he used them to create photo compositions that would later become pencils and finished pages. If you’re an artist you’re likely to come away with some ideas to move your art along. You just might need to make sure you have a few friends to help you out after.

5:00pm – 6:00pm | Science Fiction That Will Change Your Life | Room 25ABC
What science fiction stories from the past year made you think and entertained you? Panelists talk about the year’s smartest books, comics, movies, and TV with Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz and io9 editor-in-chief Charlie Jane Anders, along with authors Ernie Cline (Ready Player One, Armada), Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100, The Middleman).

There’s a reason why genre entertainment is growing and that’s because of smart writers like these. So wouldn’t you want to know what great stuff they’re into or makes them tick? You’ll be sure to leave with a top ten list of items ready to buy as much as you can on the convention floor.

5:30pm – 6:30pm | Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey | Room 6DE
After winning a 2014 Education Documentary Peabody Award for its “dazzling visual tour of the final frontier and its energetic evangelizing for science,” as well as four Emmy Awards from 12 Emmy nominations,Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (National Geographic Channel, FOX) returns to Comic-Con with a Q&A with executive producer Seth MacFarlane, writer/executive producer/director Ann Druyan, and renowned astrophysicist and host Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson should be enough right? It’s always amazing to hear someone speak so passionately about a subject they know and love that it’s infectious. Plus Neil is witty enough to keep up with Seth MacFarlane should he start to go off the rails as a moderator.

6:30pm – 7:30pm | Creative Communities and the Scenius of Comics | Room 8
“Scenius” is what Brian Eno called the creativity that arises from communities; and it’s brought about some of the best comics ever. Joëlle Jones (Lady Killer), Tula Lotay (Supreme Blue Rose), Jen Vaughn (Vertigo), and Jen Wang (In Real Life) talk about what brings creative scenes together and how being part of a closely knit network has affected their work. Moderated by Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics).

You’ve picked up that I’m into the panels that make your head feel all fuzzy by now. Any panel that has a Brian Eno shoutout is going to pique my interest, but I’m more interested in the community aspect. Creating can be a lonely profession so maybe it’s time to surround yourself with like minded individuals to make something greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe Grant Morrison will pop in from the 4th dimension to say hello. It’s fine if he doesn’t as these creators’ works already make my mind wibble-wobble.

7:00pm – 8:00pm | Kung Fury: The Best Movie of All Time | Room 6BCF
The team behind viral sensation Kung Fury discuss the record-breaking and critically acclaimed journey, from Kickstarter to Cannes to Comic-Con. Director David Sandberg is joined on stage by the “True Survivor” David Hasselhoff (Hoff 9000), and cast members Jorma Taccone (Hitler), Eleni Young (Barbarianna), Leopold Nilsson (Hacker Man), Andreas Cahling (Thor), as well as Seth Grahame-Smith (producer of the upcoming feature) and moderator Drew McWeeny.

First see this:

Then see the whole thing and tell me you don’t have a few questions for these guys who drove the Internet crazy with their Kickstarter.



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