SAN DIEGO, HERE I COME
This weekend, the people behind the scenes at Comic-Con International posted the full programming schedule for this year's San Diego Convention. As is Pipeline tradition, it's time to flip through the sched to look for the highlights. If you want to track me down to say hello or just slap me for being a loud-mouthed opinionated fool, these might be your best chances.
In putting together this list every year, I like to keep the comics the first priority. I like to tell myself that I'm going to a comic book convention. I'm not going to Hollywood South's Trade Show. That stuff can be cool, but I won't let it interfere. Also, I don't want to deal with the crowds in Hall H this year, who'll be camping out to see the likes of Keanu Reeves and Jude Law. There are a few Hollywood presentations I might show up for, but they're on a considerably smaller scale than Hall H.
On the other hand, I can't help but feel a certain letdown at the final panel schedule. It's not that it isn't impressive, well rounded, and all encompassing. It's just that I've done most of them before. There aren't that many creators I haven't met or seen in person by now. What's new for me in this schedule? Maybe I do need to start considering some of the Hollywood things.
Two things are noticeable by their absence: No Oddball Comics panel, and no J. Michael Straczynski presentation. Given all the exciting rumors/unconfirmed stories/reports BABYLON 5 and its writer are creating these days, that's a real loss.
Still, we carry on:
11:30-12:30 Spotlight on Walt and Louise Simonson-Comic-Con special guests Walt and Louise Simonson, together and separately, have had long and accomplished careers in comics. Walt has written and or drawn such titles as Thor, Fantastic Four, and Orion. Louise has had distinguished runs as editor or writer on such projects as Power Pack, X-Men, and Superman. Together they produced X-Factor and X-Men/Teen Titans. Danny Fingeroth (Superman On The Couch) interviews this dynamic duo, followed by a Q & A session! Room 7B
It's an interesting panel with an artist whose work I admire a lot. However, it's at the beginning of the weekend. First thing Thursday morning is usually the time I'm running around the con floor and getting my bearings, even AFTER preview night. There's always one panel like this every year. Interesting, but just poorly timed.
1:30-2:30 Coloring Comics with Alex Sinclair-Alex Sinclair has colored almost every character in the WildStorm Universe and has begun to tackle the DC Universe with his award-winning run on Batman: Hush, and this year's Superman and Identity Crisis. Alex will give a brief history of digital coloring and have a Q&A session while giving a demonstration of his coloring techniques. Room 2
Computer coloring is something that fascinates me. After seeing Laura Martin do a demo in Philadelphia a couple years back, I've been entranced by the techniques. Brian Haberlin's instructional CDs are likewise entertaining. The field is still new enough that new ground is broken ever year. Sinclair is a great colorist, and I'd love to see him at work. The demo sounds like fun.
One of these years, they'll do another panel for lettering. There was one a few years ago, but it was first thing in the morning and I missed it. As more and more small press people -- artists and writers both -- begin to do their own lettering, you'd think a new demonstration would be in order.
The Sinclair demo comes in direct opposition to this one:
1:30-3:00 DVD Producers-The Digital Bits.com editors Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan talk DVD with some of the hottest producers working in the industry today. Scheduled to appear are Charles de Lauzirika (Alien Quadrilogy, Spider-Man 2), J.M. Kenny (Footloose: SE, Troy), David Prior (Panic Room: SE, Master and Commander), and Javier Soto (Devil's Backbone, Hellboy). The producers will discuss projects currently in production and engage in a lengthy Q&A with the audience. Door prizes will be given away (including movies and a DVD player). Room 6AB
I attended the first DVD Producers panel a couple of years ago. It's interesting, from a DVD Geek perspective. While I'm sure this one will be more fun, the comics come first. If I'm going to be sitting in front of a panel at that time, it'll be for Alex Sinclair's.
4:00-5:30 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? (Answer to rhetorical question: It would be the same but with one less panel.) Room 8
This is my sixth San Diego convention and I've yet to attend this panel. I miss it every year due to a scheduling conflict, activity on the con floor, or lack of space in the panel room. This year might be my best chance to see it.
The only competition:
5:00-6:00 DC: The Write Stuff-At this panel you will meet some of the most talented writers in the industry and hear how they broke in, where they get their inspiration, and how they've honed their craft. Dan Jolley (Bloodhound, Firestorm), Paul Jenkins (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight), Andy Diggle (Swamp Thing, The Losers), Bill Willingham (Robin, Fables), Howard Chaykin (Bite Club, Challengers of the Unknown) and Jimmy Palmiotti (Hawkman, The Monolith) are joined by senior editor Peter Tomasi as they discuss what skills are necessary to succeed in this highly competitive field. Room 1B
I love listening to writers discuss their craft. I'm leaving this open as a possibility. Panels like this depend a lot on their moderator. If the moderator asks interesting questions and is able to goad good answers out of the writers, it can be a great time. If they leave it open to a floor filled with shy people and those who want to ask a simple question in as much time as possible, it'll be tedious. I'm the sort who always feels guilty about not having a question to ask when it is thrown open to the floor. That's why I'm a columnist and not a reporter.
12:00-1:00 Marvel's Universes-Join Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, executive editor Axel Alonso, Brian Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Pulse, Daredevil, Powers), Terry Dodson (Marvel Knights Spider-Man), Robert Rodi (Loki, Tomb of Dracula), Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson (Powerless), and publisher Dan Buckley, as they give you the complete lowdown on everything in Marvel's Universes-from the Ultimates, to Marvel Knights, from the brightest parts of the Marvel Age to the darkest corners of Hell's Kitchen! And did anyone say 2099, people? As an added bonus, join Marvel editor Tom Brevoort for a round of "Stump the T-Voort"-be the first to stump the walking Marvel Encyclopedia and win a prize! Room 5AB
Bendis is always entertaining on a panel. These general interest panels from Marvel and DC can be entertaining. There's enough people in them to keep things moving, although one or two people usually wind up being the center of attention. I bet Quesada and Bendis will do most of the talking here, while Cherniss and Johnson will be the quiet ones over on the far side of the dais.
1:00-2:30 Spotlight on Chuck McCann-If you grew up in New York, you probably remember Chuck McCann's brilliant, groundbreaking kids show. Otherwise, you know him as one of the funniest comic actors in the business. Mark Evanier is your host as Chuck shares funny clips and even funnier stories with the audience. A not-to-be-missed event! Room 5AB
Mark Evanier has been pushing this one pretty hard over at his blog. (Please note that the time has changed from his original annoncement.) It sounds interesting. If I'm not otherwise preoccupied, I might give it a shot. It would be something different, even if it's not a comic book-related panel.
2:30-3:30 Disney/Pixar: The Incredibles-Pixar Animation Studios offers a sneak peek at its much-anticipated computer-animated feature The Incredibles (coming from Walt Disney Pictures on November 5), as it spotlights the career and creative genius of "The Incredible Brad Bird." Director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Simpsons), producer John Walker, and moderator Mark Vaz (author of Art of The Incredibles, The Art of Finding Nemo, The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting [co-authored by Craig Barron], Behind the Mask of Spider-Man: The Secrets of the Movie, etc.) will discuss the filmmaking process and present the world premiere of a scene from the film, along with other surprises. Those attending this presentation will receive an exclusive Comic-Con poster for The Incredibles designed by the legendary Mike Mignola. Mike and Brad will be on hand for a special limited signing immediately following the program. Room 20
THE IRON GIANT is the best comic book movie ever made. There, I just linked this panel into comics. I feel better now. I'm also one of the last people alive surfing the web who hasn't seen the full trailer for the movie. Dang Quicktime problems.
3:00-4:00 TOKYOPOP with Lupin III creator Monkey Punch-Meet the legendary Monkey Punch, creator of the internationally renowned manga Lupin III (also an anime on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) for a special Q&A session hosted by TOKYOPOP. Room 2
How many chances do you get to see a manga legend like this in person? LUPIN III is a fun manga series, even with something of a slow and sometimes confusing start.
4:00-5:00 How Many Comics Are There?-Unlike coin collectors, who know absolutely how many of everything went into circulation, comics collectors have long had to guess about what's out there-at what is really, truly scarce. But now, with historical research into print runs and the tools of the Internet, the "supply" picture is taking shape! Speculate with panelists John Jackson Miller (Standard Catalog of Comic Books), Chuck Rozanski (Mile High Comics), Milton Griepp (icv2.com), Jeff Vaughn (Overstreet Price Guide), and Steve Borock (CGC)! Room 1B
In light of the way we analyze the monthly sales figures on the internet every month, this is a very interesting panel, indeed.
5:00-7:00 Collecting Comic Art-Have you always wanted something special from the first comic you ever read? How about from your favorite artist? For as long as comic books has been around, there have been people who collect the art used to produce them. Collectors Dan Herman, Bill Howard, Jonathan Mankuta, Frank Giella, and Brian Peck discuss various subjects about the art that is near and dear to their hearts. They'll give you the benefit of their experience to help you learn what to look for when buying, as well as the best resources for finding art, plus its care and preservation. Additional topics range from the history of this intriguing medium to the ways the Internet has changed and expanded this hobby. Room 7A
I've passed up this panel in the past. I recently picked up some art portfolio books to display some of my pages better. Before this, they sat in a stack under my bed. This has me thinking about original art again, so I might make this one this year.
That's it for Friday. We'll take a break there. I'll come back to look at Saturday and Sunday's schedule in next week's column. I'll spoil one part of next week's column for you now, though:
11:00-12:00 Comic Book Idol 2-Meet the winner of the Comic Book Resources Art Contest! For two years, ComicBookResources.com has run an amateur art contest, which has awarded its winner with work in the industry. 2004 saw the launch of Comic Book Idol 2, and CBR has flown the winner to San Diego to meet the fans. Go behind the scenes with the winner and fellow panelists creator J. Torres (Teen Titans Go), CBR executive producer Jonah Weiland, judges Ron Marz (Green Lantern) and Scott Morse (Plastic Man) ,and 2003 winner Patrick Scherberger (Marvel Age Spider-Man). Moderated by Augie De Blieck Jr. Room 9
I love it when my name shows up in bold faced type on the Comic Con website.
You'll also be getting nightly Pipeline updates from the con floor next week. Look for those first thing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. Check in on Thursday morning, too. I might do a Preview Night recap. You'll all be waiting to hear my latest airplane horror story, I'm sure. Why, it's practically a con tradition!
I'll also be in Chicago for the WizardWorld convention there in August, but won't be doing nightly updates. There just won't be enough time. That con report will have to wait for the next week.
The questions keep trickling in. Please add some of your own for future columns.
CBI host J. Torres wants to know (and we won't ask why):
Should you ever be fortunate enough to find a woman who'd agree to have your child, will you name it is Augie de Blieck the Third if it's a boy?
It's quite the possibility. I am the last one left in the family to carry on the De Blieck name. And, dagnabit, someone else should suffer through childhood with a name like "Augie." I shouldn't be the last.
The better question here goes to J: Would your lovechild be J Jr? JJ? J2?
Kevin Hines, who is a very bitter guy, has a few questions:
What was the first non-super-hero comic you purchased regularly?
Hmm, superhero would be easy:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. I was a strict Spider-Man guy for a brief time. After that, I branched out to CAPTAIN AMERICA, which would be the second regular series I purchased. It was the summer bi-weekly storyline that Keiron Dwyer illustrated and, of course, Mark Gruenwald wrote. "The Bloodstone Hunt." I remember it now as being lots of fun with cool cliffhanger endings, like a Saturday afternoon serial.
BATMAN or DETECTIVE COMICS (whichever one Norm Breyfogle was doing at the time) would be a close third.
As for non-superhero? I remember picking up a NINJA HIGH SCHOOL IN COLOR mini-series fairly early on. BORIS THE BEAR might have come before even that, though. James Dean Smith was publishing that through his own Nicotat Comics by then. Over the years, I've picked up a bunch of BORIS issues going back to his Dark Horse origins, but I'm still missing a bunch. I don't know if the book would hold up too well today. It was centered on popular comic book parodies, many of which might seem silly by today's standards. Some collections of that would be cool, though.
I think I just became the first person ever to request a BORIS THE BEAR trade paperback. Scary.
Could you give up reading all books and comics and internet sites for one year if it meant cancer would be cured?
Absolutely. I'd still be left with magazines, newspapers, and e-mail, after all. I could keep myself busy by learning new programming languages, or taking up drawing again, or something. And I doubt I'd have any unviewed DVDs left by the time the year came up.
How long is your commute to work?
On a good day, about a half hour. I've had that doubled on bad days, though. I adjusted my schedule so I work 7:30 to 4, to skip the worst of the rush hour traffic.
True story: I once got caught in a hellacious traffic jam when a tractor-trailer carrying liquid soap overturned. It rained the next night and the road bubbled up with white suds during the rush hour commute. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the road.
Over now to Tracie Mauk, the official Pipeline Mascot:
What is your favorite color?
Blue. Any shade will do.
That was easy.
Post your questions to the Pipeline message board, and you might see your name in this column in the coming weeks. As you can tell, no question is too slight, but something comic book related would be preferred.
FOLLOW-UPS, ODDS AND ENDS, ETC.
* Ken Jennings continues his Jeopardy! winning streak, by sweeping a Mavel Comics category on Thursday, and correctly answering the Superman-related Final Jeopardy! Clue the next night.
* One of my problems with the complaints about Free Comic Book Day being moved to a new date is that it didn't ask the next logical question. Won't some retailers benefit from tourist traffic? People who go on vacation don't just disappear into outer space. They wind up somewhere else, is all. Sure enough, one of those retailers came forth to admit to having a great FCBD.
* WITCHES #3 came out this past week. Mike Deodato isn't drawing the second half of this mini-series, after all. The story isn't doing anything for me, but I enjoyed the art. With Deodato gone, I should just throw the book to the side and forget it. But now I have three issues out of the four in the series. Seems like a waste to stop now. UGH
Pipeline Commentary and Review returns next Tuesday with a look at the programming of the last two days of the San Diego convention.
Over at Various and Sundry this week: How to listen to Conan O'Brien's "Monorail" commentary on THE SIMPONS DVDs, a sudden death on AMERICAN CASINO, more Motion Picture madness, the lie that was the motorcycle photographer in Chernobyl, the JEOPARDY! backlash, building a better Mozilla browser, and lots more.
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.