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Pipeline, Issue #422

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Pipeline, Issue #422

SAN DIEGO COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR

This is the annual ritual in which I run through four exhausting days of “Comic-Con International: San Diego” panel schedules and pick out a few choice moments. These are the panels I’m most interested in or just have the most to say something about.

If you’re extremely bored at work today, you can take a brief tour through the history of this column: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 (Part 1, Part 2).

That will be my seventh trip to San Diego. Much of what I had to say last year goes for this year: There’s a certain let down with the final panel schedule. I’ve done many of these panels before. I’ve seen many of these creators before.

What happened to that neophyte filled with excitement six years ago? Getting older sucks sometimes.

You can now see a map of the convention floor at the official CCI: San Diego web site. This won’t show you where the various panel rooms upstairs are, but it’ll give you an idea of the layout for the convention. Again, all the retailers are on the right, the comics companies to the right of the middle, followed by the Hollywood companies, and then artist’s alley and small dealers on the far left. Some room left open last year for a “lounge” has been reclaimed by exhibitors, which means even less space this year to grab a short breath of air. (Truth be told, there was never any unclaimed chairs at those tables in the lounge area last year.)

While I am ripping these panel descriptions straight from the official web site, I will be cutting some descriptions down for space as we go. If you’re heading to San Diego this week, it’s almost mandatory that you peruse these listings yourself ahead of time.

THURSDAY:

I’m in a panel again this year. Come thrill to the world of blogging as Mark Evanier leads a rag tag band of netizens in a discussion of the new “fanzines.”

4:30-5:30 Comic Book Weblogs–They’re the fanzines of this century and a new form of instant communication. A discussion of the form by funnybook bloggers Heidi MacDonald, Tom Spurgeon, Peter David, Tom McLean, and Augie DeBlieck, Jr., moderated by fellow blogger Mark Evanier. Room 8

Now, isn’t this the highlight of your convention so far? Of course, it is. Trust in Mark.

Jumping back the beginning of the day:

10:30-12:00 Comic Book Law School 101: Let’s Get It Started! — Learn the basics of copyright and trademark law in this popular interactive lecture series brought to you by noted attorney Michael Lovitz, author of the The Trademark and Copyright Book comic book (and the forthcoming Trademark, Licensing and Copyright Book graphic novel). This first workshop will cover the basics of protection and ownership of ideas, characters, and names from their point of creation forward. Room 4

This panel series happens every year. I point it out this year because it’s becoming a more and more important panel as Hollywood “invades” our turf. If you’re planning on starting up your own comic, this is important information you should have to protect yourself.

11:00-12:30 Margaret Kerry: Voice Actor Tryouts–Margaret Kerry, the rotoscoop [sic] model for Disney’s Tinker Bell and the lips of Clutch Cargo, brings her years of voice acting skills to this unique voice acting training session. Here is a chance to learn the tricks of the voice acting trade. Room 6A

There’s one of these panels every year, and I always highlight it as a reminder to myself. Yet, I never make it. First thing on a Thursday morning, I’ll be enjoying getting lost somewhere on the con floor and seeing new things around every corner. One year, I do have to try one of these things. Between my radio background and podcasting experience, I’m more interested than ever in learning about voice acting and voice overs.

11:30-12:30 Batman: Year of the Bat–The Dark Knight is casting his large shadow on the silver screen in what is unquestionably one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. At this panel find out what Gotham’s guardian is up to on the comics front, with writers Bill Willingham (Robin) and Greg Rucka (Gotham Central), artists Jim Lee (All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder) and Andersen Gabrych (Batgirl), plus editors Bob Schreck, Joey Cavalieri, and many more. Missing it will drive you positively batty! Room 5AB

This panel happens every year without fail, also. I attended it the first couple of times. By now, though, I’ve heard it all. The players and plots change, but that’s about it. In the end, it’s just one more iteration of Batman comics, usually attached to a massive crossover of some sort. If it’s not “No Man’s Land,” it’s “Bruce Wayne: Murderer” or “War Games” or “DC Crisis 2.”

12:00-1:30 The Digital Bits: DVD Producers 2005-Join Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits.com, as they discuss DVD production and the future of the format with some of the leading special-edition DVD producers working in Hollywood today. Room 6CDEF

This is the third year for the panel. I skipped it last year and probably will again this year. I leave it open as an option, though. What better panel to grab an overpriced bottle of convention water and a doughy pretzel for? Sitting in a large dark hall to watch people talk about and show DVDs is the perfect lunch setting at the con.

12:30-1:30 Wilmer Valderrama stars as El Muerto–Get an exclusive sneak peak at El Muerto, the feature film adaptation… Room 6A

This is how low Comic-Con has sunk. Wilmer Valderrama gets a spotlight panel. Sure, it’s meant to talk about his new comic-based movie, but how long until someone in the crowd asks him about Ashton Kutcher? :: sigh ::

On the other hand, it shows how popular Valderrama is — he doesn’t rate Hall H.

1:00-2:00 Spawn Animated–It’s never before seen, behind-the-scenes footage from the hit Spawn show! Join directors Chuck Patton and Frank Paur and other creative talent as they show storyboards and art by Todd McFarlane, the directors, and creators of the show. Also be among the first to see the world premiere of the new animated teaser that will soon be posted on the Spawn website. Room 6B

McFarlane isn’t scheduled to be on this panel, but he will be appearing on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Room 8 for a spotlight panel. He doesn’t go to San Diego that often due to family vacation commitments.

While SPAWN has become an industry punchline in the past ten years, I am curious about the new cartoon.

1:00-2:00 Will Eisner: The Spirit of An Artistic Pioneer–Premiering a 45-minute preview of Andrew and Jon Cooke’s documentary on Will Eisner. Room 8

There’s a lot of Eisner-themed programming this year. This is only the beginning. I definitely want to hit at least one of these.

1:30-3:00 Coloring Comics: Beginning Coloring–Join professional colorists Dave McCaig (Adam Strange), Trish Mulvihill (100 Bullets), Jeromy Cox (Otherworld), Alex Sinclair (All-Star Batman and Robin) and Snakebite (The Red Star) for an introduction to coloring and computer coloring. Part of a two-day course, this seminar will teach you the basic steps needed to get started in the comic book coloring field, including scanning, monitor calibration, and software use. Room 1AB

This is the most important instructional course in comics creation for the weekend. They have a great talent lineup. If they can keep it from getting dry and technical, there’s a world of wonders to bestow upon the modern generation of Photoshop junkies.

1:30-2:30 Marvel Comics’s Ultimate U: The Write Stuff–Orson Scott Card (Ultimate Iron Man) and Brian K. Vaughan (Ultimate X-Men) will be on hand to discuss their writing styles and answer questions about your favorite Ultimate books! Room 5AB

Let’s hope people can restrain themselves and stick to the panel’s topic. Card has a spotlight panel Sunday at 2:00 in room 6B. I hope that any questions from the crowd stick to writing and don’t turn into a political debate. Or, perhaps, this is just where we learn that the internet is only a small part of comics fandom, and not everyone will be looking to rip Card a new one for past editorials.

One of the more interesting things about Comic-Con in past years is discovering the number of people who don’t know all the “in jokes” of internet-based comics fandom. There is, indeed, a much bigger well of comic fans than just those that post on our various message boards and blogs here.

3:00-4:00 Is It Dead, Jim? Star Trek: 1966-2005, R. I. P. Room 6A

Of course it isn’t. Don’t be ridiculous. There. I just saved you an hour.

3:30-4:30 The Sergio and Mark Show –What would a Comic-Con International be without Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, Stan Sakai, and Tom Luth giving you the lowdown on the world’s stupidest barbarian, Groo the Wanderer, and other weird projects they have in the works? (It would be the same but with one less panel.) Room 8

Sure, it’s opposite Bruce Campbell’s spotlight, but that’s hardly a contest. Six years in a row I’ve missed this one. Maybe this is the year I go?

4:30-5:30 Comic Book Weblogs–They’re the fanzines of this century and a new form of instant communication. A discussion of the form by funnybook bloggers Heidi MacDonald, Tom Spurgeon, Peter David, Tom McLean, and Augie DeBlieck, Jr., moderated by fellow blogger Mark Evanier. Room 8

I’ve mentioned this already, haven’t I? Reminders are good, thogh.

7:00-10:00 William Messner Loebs Benefit Auction–Nearly everyone in comics has contributed an incredibly unique piece of art work to benefit William Messner Loebs and his wife Nadine who have fallen onto hard times… The auction will be led by Neal Adams and all are welcome and invited. Bring your checkbooks and good will! Room 9

If I didn’t have the Padres game to go to, I’d stop in. Let’s hope enough people get in there to bid early and bid often.

FRIDAY:

Day two is a time when the madness cranks up a gear and people start muttering about how miserable Saturday is going to be and how we should all go see Shamu rather than deal with it. I love Friday.

10:30-11:30 Marvel Comics: The World Has Changed: House of M: X-Men–You’ve seen the Marvel Universe changed, you’ve read the shocking last page to issue 3, and you’ve helped to make House of M the biggest event of the year! Room 5AB

That last page was supposed to be shocking? I must be really jaded. It’s particularly not shocking if there’s any sense of internal logic to the storyline. At that point, you’re in an alternate universe where other dead people have already been name checked. Why is this one so special? I grow weary.

11:00-1:00 Warner Bros. Presents–This giant-size presentation includes four great new films coming soon from Warner Bros.: V For Vendetta (Appearing in person at this event will be Natalie Portman, Joel Silver, and original graphic novel co-creator David Lloyd.), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, The Fountain. Hall H

The lines are going to be around the block for this one. Who wouldn’t want to see Joel Silver in person?

And will Hugh Jackman show up to promote THE FOUNTAIN? Did they ever finish filming the dang movie? Last I heard, they stopped filming and quit the whole thing.

12:00-1:00 Stan Lee–See the legend himself, Stan Lee, as he introduces the public to his newest superheroes from POW and IDT Entertainment. Room 6B

I know we’re not supposed to talk about how much we loved a creator’s old work and how the new stuff never stacks up, but c’mon: What’s the last project Stan Lee was involved in that you actually thought was great?

1:30-3:00 Coloring for Comics 2: Advanced Coloring— Get tips on using special effects, layer manipulation, and file prep for printing. Featured colorists will be Dave McCaig (Adam Strange), Jeromy Cox (Otherworld), Dave Stewart (DC: The New Frontier), Snakebite (The Red Star), Alex Sinclair (All-Star Batman and Robin), and Tony Aviña (Richard Dragon). Room 1AB

If you’re at all interested in coloring comics, yourself, then you can’t miss this one. Quick prediction: The first ten minutes of the panel will be taken up with technical issues combining a laptop computer with the in-room projector and the lights and all the rest. It’s inevitable.

2:30-3:30 Spotlight on J. Scott Campbell–The fan-favorite creator J. Scott Campbell, artist behind Wildsiderz and Danger Girl, sits down for an uncensored chat with Scott Dunbier, executive editor, WildStorm. Join them as Campbell speaks about his past, present, and future work. Room 5AB

Dunbier is capable of getting an artist or writer to open up and discuss things. His panels usually come off fairly loose and friendly. Campbell should have an interesting perspective on comics, given his history in them. He’s part of that new generation of comics talent forced to see comics as properties to be exploited.

He’s the guy you want to answer the question, “Is it possible to make a living from doing comics for the sake of doing comics? Or is everything just a media property waiting to be exploited?”

4:00-5:00 TwoMorrows Publishing–Join the gang from TwoMorrows Publishing for a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating all their fan-favorite books and magazines on comics, and win one of several prizes to be given away! On hand will be Draw!’s Mike Manley, Back Issue’s Michael Eury, Modern Masters’ Eric Nolen-Weathington, Write Now!’s Danny Fingeroth, and publisher John Morrow, as they unveil new products and offer exclusive previews of upcoming items! Room 4

To be honest, I have no idea if this panel will be all that exciting, but TwoMorrows is an unsung publishing hero in this industry. They put out a lot of solid material that gets overlooked too often.

At the very least, someone should ask Danny Fingeroth a question about his time spent on the XANADU comic, right? (Apologies to whichever blog it was that found that link recently. I lost track of you.)

5:00-6:00 The First-Ever Fanboy Radio Panel!–Hosts Scott Hinze, Oliver Tull, and David Hopkins have been broadcasting comic book talk on the airwaves and the Internet for over three and a half years. In this panel, the fanboys talk about the history of the show, what’s next, and other fanboy projects, will have a Q&A session, and will be giving out TONS of great prizes! Guest panelists will include Joe Quesada (EIC Marvel Comics), Jim Lujan (jimlujan.com), Scott Kurtz (PVP), and many more! Room 4

Radio: It’s like podcasting with better equipment.

5:30-7:00 DC Comics: Crisis Counseling with Dan DiDio–How do you top Crisis on Infinite Earths? Orchestrate another one! Join Dan DiDio, VP/executive editor, DCU, as he institutes a support system for those of you still reeling from the last crisis. This forum is open to all to share thoughts and concerns on the mega-event and all that leads up to it. He’s here to help! Room 5AB

Let’s see if DiDio can make sense of his own universe. I want to see all the DCU fanboy out there to ask him detailed questions on obscure characters

8:30-11:00 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards–The gala 17th annual Will Eisner Awards ceremony will feature special tributes to the late comics giant, including a retrospective slide show. Doors open at 8:15. For more details, see page 8. Room 20

It’s the first Eisner Awards without an Eisner to give the awards to the winners. It’s going to be strange. Don’t know if I’ll be able to attend it or not, though.

SATURDAY:

It’s the busiest and maddest day of the con. The trick here is to stay away from anything with the slightest stench of Hollywood on it. This is the day that the most “civilians” show up for the con. This is the day of long lines to Hall H and overflow into the smelliest portion of the con, the LucasArts Pavillion. Good luck to us all.

If you can plan out your whole day to sit in panels, you’ll probably be the happiest of us all. Unfortunately, they aren’t making it easy. Wait ’til you see the pile-up that happens around 3:00 in the afternoon.

10:30-12:00 What’s New at Image Comics–Publisher Erik Larsen and creators Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Invincible), Scott Kurtz (PvP), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows), Jonathan and Joshua Luna (Girls), Joe Casey (Gødland), and Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Sea of Red) will discuss the current state of Image Comics, make announcements on upcoming projects, and participate in a Q&A. Room 5AB

If there’s one thing you can say about Image, it’s this: Their annual panel in San Diego is never the same twice. It’s always filled with new creators and new projects.

11:30-1:00 Cartoon Voices–Another fine demonstration of the artform of putting words in the mouths of cartoon characters. Charlie Adler (Cow and Chicken), E. G. Daily (Powerpuff Girls), and Bob Bergen (Porky Pig) join Mark Evanier for this Comic-Con tradition! Room 6CDEF

Mark hosts more than a dozen panels per year. Heck, I’m on one of them this year. This one is very close to being near the top for the most entertainment value.

12:00-1:00 Oni Press: A Look into the Future. Room 5AB

12:00-1:30 Marvel Comics: Cup o’ Joe–Everyone’s favorite EIC is having his panel invaded by an All-Winners Squad of Writers! Room 6B

You can start to see the bottleneck beginning. But, wait, it gets worse.

1:00-2:30 Quick Draw!–Take three swift cartoonists and throw challenges at them; they draw as fast as they can and the results are always hilarious. This year, the combatants are Sergio Aragonés, Scott Shaw!, Kyle Baker, and the creator of Bone, Jeff Smith, along with host, Mark Evanier Room 6CDEF

It’s the Can’t Miss panel of the weekend. Period. There’s a WRITE NOW! Panel opposite it in Room 4, with such luminaries as Erik Larsen, Marv Wolfman, and Len Wein, but everything else pales next to the hour and a half of pure cartooning madness that this event is.

1:00-2:00 Kevin Smith–He’s baaaaaack! After a year off from Comic-Con, Kevin Smith makes his triumphant return, for the first time ever in the massive 6,500 seat Hall H arena! Hall H

I know it’s not hip to admit to it anymore, but I’d love to sit in on one of these. I just don’t like dealing with the crowds of Hall H or the thought of missing the Quick Draw! Competition.

1:30-2:30 Family Guy Feature Length DVD Premiere–The rumors are true! Family Guy is back like you’ve never seen before . . . in an all-new, feature-length production. . . Room 20

Love this show. Too bad it conflicts with everything else.

2:15-3:15 Universal Presents Serenity and Slither–Fan-favorite creator Joss Whedon and cast members of Serenity return to Comic-Con a year later to show us how it all worked out! Hall H

At least they gave the Kevin Smith fans 15 minutes to clear out before the Whedonverse lunatics try to cram in. Last year, SERENITY didn’t rate Hall H. I guess they’ve learned their lesson. I’d love to see the cast again — they were great last year — but I doubt I’ll have the time or patience.

3:00-4:30 National Cartoonists Society: “How’d They Draw That?”–Six famous cartoonists will show how they draw their characters and answer such burning questions as “Why I begin with the left ear”: Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha), Bill Amend (Fox Trot), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Tom Richmond (Mad magazine). Steve McGarry (Kid City and Biographic),Rick Stromoski (NCS president, Soup T o Nutz). Moderated by former newsman Jack White. Room 3

I want to meet Bill Amend. I hope he’s signing on the con floor. FOX TROT is a long time favorite of mine. When it first started, my local paper didn’t carry it. I ended up buying each collection as it came out. By the fifth or sixth one of those, my local newspaper — and most others — finally began carrying it. Seeing him draw the characters live would be a treat.

Unfortunately, none of the other panelists really thrill me.

3:00-4:30 Tribute to Will Eisner — Room 5AB

3:00-4:30 Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski — Room 6A

I told you the bottleneck was coming, didn’t I? It gets worse:

3:30-5:00 WB Animation: Teen Titans Live!–Teen Titans talent take the stage and bring to life an action-packed script in an exclusive performance, featuring Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven), Hynden Walch (Starfire), Ron Perlman (Slade), and Kevin Michael Richardson (Trigon), led by multiple Emmy Award-winning voice director Andrea Romano Room 6CDEF

That’s a pretty cool idea. Is it wrong of me to want to stop in just to see Andrea Romano at work? She’s behind some of the greatest TV casts of all time, from TEEN TITANS back to BATMAN, TINY TOONS, and more.

Ironically, there’s an “Art of Voice Acting” panel happening down the hall in Room 8 at the same time.

4:30-6:00 Scott Shaw! Presents: All-New Oddball Comics–For nearly four decades, award-winning cartoonist Scott Shaw! (Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, Simpsons Comics, The Flintstones) has performed his notorious-but-hilarious Oddball Comics slide show at San Diego’s annual Comic-Con. Room 8

If you’ve never seen one of these before, you have to attend this one. Scott’s presentation is another annual highlight, and thankfully he has the extra half hour to work with this year. There’s always too much material for too short a time span. This is the format I prefer to see Oddball Comics in. As entertaining as the column is, nothing beats the rapid fire pace of one of these shows, along with Scott’s personal commentary on the hilarity and insanity of those great old comics.

5:30-7:00 Collecting Comic Art–For as long as comic books have been around, there have been people who collect the art used to produce them. Authors Glen Gold (Carter Beats the Devil) and Jonathan Mankuta (subject of the Playboy article, “The Incredible Adventures of the Collector”) will appear along with Keif A. Fromm (Golden Age historian and comic book archivist), Malcolm Bourne (writer, art collector), and Brian Peck (comic art collector). Room 9

This isn’t the first panel on this topic in San Diego. I’ve missed the others, though, and will likely miss this one. At the end of the day Saturday, I might be sneaking out early to get back to the hotel to prepare all the stuff for the website. . .

7:00-10:00 Comic Book: The Movie–See the movie that every comic book fan is talking about: Comic Book: The Movie! Room 6CDEF

Yes, do go see it in a free screening. Don’t pay money for it.

8:00-10:00 The Mindscape of Alan Moore— Shadowsnake Films presents the long-awaited documentary about the mindscape of the world’s most critically acclaimed writer. Room 6B

I’ll wait for the DVD, thanks, but it’s good to know it exists.

SUNDAY:

It’s the slowest day of the convention, as things wrap up and people start heading home. It’s also kids day, which means a lot of panels I don’t have any interest in. It’s a nice day to run around like a lunatic on the con floor to try to spend any money you have left.

1:00-2:00 Marvel Comics: Spider-Man: The Other–You read about it in Wizard magazine, now get the inside scoop on this fall’s huge Spider-Man event with writers J. Michael Straczynski (Amazing Spider-Man), Reginald Hudlin (Marvel Knights Spider-Man), and Peter David (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) in this in-depth Q&A! Room 5AB

This might be a nice stop if I need to sit down for a while. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.

Believe it or not, that’s the only panel for Sunday that holds even the vaguest interest. Wow, that’s the most dead I’ve ever seen a Sunday.

Don’t forget to check the program schedule when you get there and look for the corrections and updates posted throughout the con hall, usually on the columns in the middle of the hall and in signs by the doorways leading in. Schedules shift all the time.

PIPELINE BLOG

There isn’t really a Pipeline blog, but I will occasionally post things to the Pipeline Message Board that don’t make it to this column, or aren’t covered by the 1,001 other comics blogs.

Here, then, are a few samples from the past week:

  • FOX News looks at the new Fantastic Four movie, complete with quotes from CBR’s own Rob Worley and Jonah Weiland. I blame those two for the $56 million opening.
  • Warner Bros. announces the fourth BATMAN ANIMATED collection.
  • Read ZOMBIE KING #0 tonight, the newest from Frank Cho. It’s a Mature Readers title for language and for the hilarious opening sequence that’s unmentionable in polite mixed company. But, trust me — if you have a dark sense of humor, you’ll be laughing at much of the opening 17 pages.

    After that, it’s five pages of thick wall-to-wall exposition talking heads from an artist who’s skilled at being a comic strip artist, but not a comic book artist. You’ll see what I mean when you see this book. It’s a simple layout with simple panel compositions. And people talk — a LOT. It’s all meant to explain this “zombie” universe and what’s going on. I just wonder what a more skilled writer might have come up with to SHOW this series, and not TELL it.

    The art’s nice, though. The story is interesting. The laughs are funny. It’s just unbalanced.

  • THE RIDE TPB collects all of the one-shots from Gaijin Studios. It’s uneven with the stories and the changing artists, but it is entertaining in its diversity.

    The big draw here is that it’s only $10 for a good-sized chunk of very nice black and white art from the likes of Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze, Rob Haynes, Chris Brunner, and Jason Pearson. The price is kept low by being black and white on plain black and white paper. You’ll feel the ink run off on your fingers as you flip through the book.

    There’s some sketchbook material and interview material in the back talking about specific pages of art — my goodness, this almost IS like the “DVD Extras” everyone likes to talk about.

    The lettering is atrocious, but the book is good, if sometimes awkward.


The San Diego madness starts on Wednesday. Check back here on Thursday and every day over the weekend to see what’s going on. I’m hoping to do some podcasts from out there, also, so subscribe to the feed today so you don’t miss a thing!

Check the Pipeline message board for updates on the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes now, too!

You can still hear last week’s podcast through the MP3 file.

Don’t forget about the VandS DVD podcast.

Various and Sundry continues its link dumps, and all political discussions are at VandS Politics.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are also still available at the Original Pipeline page.

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