By Victor Van Scoit

There’s plenty to see and do at San Diego Comic-Con and with so much programming, panels can get lost in the shuffle to the media frenzy of Hall H, Ballroom 20, and the Indigo Ballroom. Below are some panels that I think can yield just as much entertainment, and might even educate you in art, business, or overall appreciation.

10:30am – 11:30am | Spotlight on Jill Thompson | Room 4
Comic-Con special guest and Eisner Award-winning comics creator Jill Thompson will be doing a live painting demonstration and Q&A. See how Jill paints a comics page using real watercolor paint and actual paper. It’s unique and it’s vibrant! The Q&A is totally improvised and all questions are welcome. There will be stories and prizes!

Watching someone do something is always more enjoyable than watching them explain how they do that something. Jill Thompson is known for her watercolor pieces, and I think this panel would be worthwhile for anyone looking to watch art be created, get tips for their own watercolor work, or even bringing somebody else along to encouraged into the arts.

11:00am – 12:00pm | God Is Disappointed in You | Room 28DE
Hey, nothing personal; that’s what the book says! Writer Mark Russell (Prez) and Eisner Award-winning artist Shannon Wheeler (The New Yorker, Too Much Coffee Man) bring to life their hilariously irreverent retelling of the Bible, God Is Disappointed in You (published by Top Shelf). They’ll perform their infamous “Bible in Ten Minutes” slide show, and play a selection from the audiobook, as read by James Urbaniak (The Venture Brothers); recently nominated for an Audie Award for Best Comedy Audiobook. They will also give a sneak preview of the hotly anticipated sequel, Apocrypha Now.

This panel sounds fun because of the showmanship, and the audacity. God Is Disappointed In You is hilarious, sharp, and gets you through the meat of The Bible. But The Bible in ten minutes? It sounds like a dare. Throw in some preview of audio book Urbaniak and you’ve basically had a show just in time to break for lunch.

11:00am – 12:00pm | Nurturing Talent: What It Takes to Be a Decision Maker| Room 29AB
It takes a special kind of person to find talent in others and draw the best from them. Seeing the potential in comic creators and learning to nurture that talent is not an easy task, but a very important one. Moderator Mark Waid (Thrillbent) discusses with Eric Stephenson (Image Comics), Chip Kidd (Penguin Random House), Denis Kitchen (founder of CBLDF), Reginald Hudlin (producer, director), Jonboy (Spawn Resurrection), and Todd McFarlane (Spawn) how they balance the everyday decisions with big picture-planning.

If I was a burgeoning editor, or have thoughts of becoming one, I’d be at this panel. Maybe you want to know how you can get that friend of yours to realize how great they are by doing more than just saying so. The experience on this panel should be able to net you some actions that you can take to be the ultimate wingman.

12:00pm – 1:00pm | Editing Comics with Oni Press Editorial | Room 9
Join the Oni Editorial staff as they share their discoveries after two months of opening up submissions about the pitching process, making comics, and the importance of fostering diversity in creating comics accessible to everyone. Janelle Asselin (Fresh Romance editor) discusses comics editing and the future of the medium with editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones (Scott Pilgrim), senior editor Charlie Chu (Kaijumax), editor Robin Herrera (Invader Zim), and associate editor Ari Yarwood (Rick & Morty).

If you’ve ever wanted to know about what are the tipping point factors that make a pitch get noticed I might stop in here. They’re bound to talk about what stood out during their open submission process, and what things kept a pitch from even making it past the first hurdle.

12:00 – 1:00pm | Voice Over Celebration w/ Cartoon, Video Game, & Film Actors | Indigo 
From zero to sixty, a voice actor must convey a plethora of emotions, often impromptu. You will get an in-depth look into how voice actors approach the art, beauty, and challenges of performing on the spot. Susan Eisenberg, Rob Paulsen, Caitlin Glass, Anthony Bowling, Matt Mercer, Tara Platt, and Yuri Lowenthal from beloved titles including Wonder Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Diablo, Pinky and the Brain, League of Legends, Full Metal Alchemist, Call of Duty, Samurai 7, Attack on Titan, The Devil is a Part Timer, Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil discuss this pivotal topic, led by Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion, MMORPG).

If I wanted to be entertained for an hour I’d take my chances on this panel. The level of talent from the voice over world is excellent, and these people have voiced memorable characters you’re sure to recall. My tip for really enjoying is to close your eyes the minute anyone starts doing a voice so your imagination sees it all come to life. This is the panel where it’s okay to ask, “Can you say [insert catchphrase]?”

1:00pm – 2:00pm | DeConnick & Fraction: Milkfed Criminal Masterminds at Work | Room 2
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!

The duo of DeConnick & Fraction will actually be a solo act as Matt Fraction reported he’d be missing SDCC due to some last minute family commitments. But don’t fear as DeConnick is an interesting straight shooter when it comes to talking about the industry. Even better we get to hear about their production studio and all that entails. I’d also take my chances on a Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen sighting here.

1:30pm – 2:30pm | First Second: What’s in a Page? | Room 4
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).

This panel is sure to deliver on the theory of comic book storytelling that your left brain has been craving. Scott McCloud is considered a scholar when it comes to breaking down the nuance of a page. Gene Luen Yang was a computer science teacher before succeeding in graphic novels, Aron Steinke is an elementary school teacher by day, and Rafael Rosado comes with 20 years experience in animation across all parts of production. What this basically means is you’re getting knowledge from people who are just as much teachers as they are fantastic artists.

3:00pm – 4:00pm | Comics Make Kids Smarter: Exploring Data-Driven Success in the Comics Classroom | Shiley Special Events, San Diego Central Library
Research shows that comics and graphic novels are motivating, support struggling readers, enrich the skills of accomplished readers and are a highly effective tool for teaching challenging material in a more efficient way. Educators Meryl Jaffe (CBLDFUsing Graphic Novels in Education; Raising a Reader! How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Learn to Read), Ronell Whitaker (Dwight D. Eisenhower High School, Blue Island, IL), Eric Kallenborn (Alan B. Shepard High School Palos Heights, IL), and Tracy Edmunds (Reading With Pictures), creator John Green (Teen Boat), and moderator Tom Racine (host of Tall Tale Radio) will explore and explain the research behind the comics in the classroom movement and what it could mean for the future of the medium in the classroom.

If you’re a parent, educator, mentor, or librarian I’d swing over to this panel. After attending the American Library Association’s Annual Conference I realized how important comics books can be in helping children grow, whether helping to increase reading, tackle big topics in a manageable way, or just expanding their world. The location also gives you an opportunity to check out The Art of Comic-Con exhibit.

7:30pm – 8:30pm | Artists as Brand: Rise of the Artist Entrepreneur | Room 8
Greg Spalenka (artist in publishing, film and higher education, Sandman, Titan Books, The Golden Compass) moderates this annual panel discussion on art career sustainability. Learn strategies on how to create an income from your talent on your own terms. Panelists include the Shiflett Brothers (sculptors extraordinaire of comic and original designs, Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee, Verotik comics), Jeff Soto (painter/illustrator/muralist who has exhibited in galleries and museums around the world), Daniel M. Davis (artist/designer of Steam Crow), Diana Levin (gothic fantasy artist, illustrator, jeweler), and Melissa Pagluica (illustrator and creator of the comic Above the Clouds). Giveaway will include three free Artist as Brand Workbooks.

Artists/Creators, Greg Spalenka’s Artist As Brand ethos is more than just about making money. It’s about making a living off your creative endeavors by approaching it as an entrepreneur. Let’s face it. You might be amazingly talented but if you don’t learn to balance your creative side with that business stuff you’ve been avoiding, then you’re only making it tougher on yourself. My thinking is Greg has been at this for 30 years and since he’s an artist he’ll know how to explain business concepts that a creator can comprehend without having their financial planner sitting beside them.

Comments are closed.