A SAN DIEGO PREVIEW[Standard disclaimer: Yes, this is technically the Comic-Con International: San Diego. For the sake of making this column just a mite bit easier to read, I'm referring to it by the traditional San Diego Comic-Con.]
The fun and mayhem starts next Thursday. It's by far my favorite weekend of the year, as I hit my third Comic Con International: San Diego. 4 days. 40,000 people. More comic book creators than you can shake a stick at, and more and more of those Hollywood folk every year.
Personally, it's the show where four days of running around like a chicken with my head cut off and not eating all that much con food leads to a quick 5-10 pound weight loss. It's the coolest diet plan you could ask for.
The highlight of the pre-show festivities, of course, is the Programming Schedule. It's available on-line now at the above link, although heavy server volume may force the page down every now and again.
The really funny thing is that experience shows me that half of the plans I make based on the schedule get tossed out the window. Once you're in the flow of the convention, it's easy to reprioritize or even forget things you had marked down as "must see"s.
But what the heck. Let's have some fun. Here are some excerpts of this year's programming, featuring most of the panels that I want to be in attendance for. So if you're looking for me, I'll be the tall guy with glasses and a black CBR shirt in one of the rows of folding chairs taking notes.
One noticeable absence: It almost doesn't seem like a San Diego con without J. Michael Straczynski and a Babylon 5 presentation of some sort. With THE LEGEND OF THE RANGERS on the horizon, I was particularly interested in his presentation this year. Unfortunately, his heavy workload is keeping him at home this year. Dagnabit! At least this opens up an hour or so of time on the panel schedule.
Let's also take a moment of silence for the Gorilla Comics guys. Theirs was a must-see panel last year. It looked so promising and fell apart so fast.
THURSDAYThe first day of the con is usually pretty empty. It's still a weekday. Everyone's just set up. It's a good time to hit the creator end of the con and talk to people. On the other hand, it's a good day to hit the dealers at the other end since they won't be sold out of anything yet. Still, most people wait till Sunday for the mad dealers sales. The dealers don't want to cart all that stuff home. Of course, neither do you, but when the prices go that low, can you really help yourself?
Plus, it's the first day. The adrenaline is up and you want to hit everything. Thursday's a good day to avoid the panels. Yet some of the most interesting ones for me show up on Thursday. This year is no exception.
The first must-see of the con this year is one close to my heart, and featuring CBR Executive Producer, Jonah Weiland:
1:30 The Changing Face of Comics Journalism – Most of us get our comics news from the Internet these days. In the era of instant news and even-more instant gratification is the time-honored tradition of print journalism falling by the wayside? Do we know too much too soon on the Internet? Join Rick Veitch (Comicon.com), Jonah Weiland (ComicBookResouces.com), Matt Brady (Newsarama), Eric Reynolds (The Comics Journal) and Maggie Thompson (Comics Buyer's Guide) with moderator Charles Brownstein for this lively discussion. Room 9
It's an interesting mix, to say the least. All have different takes on comics journalism, and I think the moderator has worked for everyone on the panel at one point or another. ;-)
The CBR cheerleading section, of course, will be in full attendance.
Another of the fun annual panels is this one:
3:00 The 2001 WildStorm Editorial Presentation – Some of comics' most innovative, energetic and exciting projects hail from the sandy shores of La Jolla, California, home of WildStorm Productions. Check out this slide show for an advance look at what's coming from WildStorm and related imprints Homage, Cliffhanger and America's Best Comics. Join WildStorm Group Editor Scott Dunbier and Editor John Layman for a slide show and panel discussion featuring freelancers including Humberto Ramos (Out There), Sam Kieth (Zero Girl), Ian Edgington (The Establishment), Steve Dillon (Preacher, Wildcats) and others. Room 1A/1B
I'm excited to see Sam Kieth is attending the con this year. I don't think I've ever seen him in person before.
Your first chance to experience the human whirlwind that is Anthony Bozzi presents itself at 4 p.m.:
Image Comics Questions and Answers – Almost ten years ago, Image Comics changed the rules forever and created a publishing company completely in favor of the creator and his or her creations. Since then, Image Comics has evolved dramatically while still keeping creators' rights above everything else. Join Publisher Jim Valentino and self-appointed Key Grip Anthony Bozzi as they answer all your questions or help create new ones for you. Everything you ever wanted to know about Image Comics but were afraid to ask is the focus of this panel; but you--the curious participant--will create the discussion topics. Special prizes for everyone who participates. Room 16B
Last year's special prizes came from a box of leftover and sometimes rare Image Comics. If you have Image-related questions, this is the place to go, otherwise choose one of these three interesing panels at the same friggin' time:
4:00 A Look at Keenspot.com – Keenspot is one of the leading purveyors of comics on the Internet.
4:00 Shop Talk with Will Eisner – Join the master storyteller, Will Eisner, as he discusses his latest book, Shop Talk with Will Eisner, a collection of interviews with some of the greatest comic artists ever.
4:00 Animation Roundtable – What's the state of animation in 2001?
FRIDAYWithout a doubt, one of the panels I'm anticipating the most at this con has nothing to do with comic books. My general rule of thumb for choosing panels is that in case of a tie, the comic book panel wins. Not this time:
11:00 DVD Producers 2001 – DVD is the hottest home entertainment format … ever! And everyone's got their own list of favorite discs. But how do those discs get made? Who decides what extras should (or shouldn't) be included, and what goes into that decision? How involved is a film's director, and other creative talent, in the creation of the disc? And just who comes up all those funky Easter Eggs anyway? Join The Digital Bits.com's Bill Hunt and a panel of some of Hollywood's most talented DVD producers, as they answer these questions and more. Room 6CDEF
The talent list is impressive, but too lengthy to include here. I got my first DVD player on July 4th weekend, 1998. One of the first web sites I found was TheDigitalBits.com and I've visited it just about every day since then. Three years later, I get to see Bill Hunt in action at the San Diego Comicon. Cool.
Of course, this panel conflicts with a bunch of others. (Someone please ask the Len Wein and Marv Wolfman panel about the future of REBOOT and get back to me!) Scott McCloud has a panel on Web Comics. Top Cow has their annual presentation. And Maggie Thompson hosts a panel of "Great Comics You Should Be Buying" with Andi Watson, Steve Conley, Greg Rucka, Steve Lieber, and more.
At high noon is the second annual "Talent Most Deserving of Wider Recognition" panel, hosted by CBR's own Beau Yarbrough. Only three of the nominees are going to be present for the panel, but it's never a bad idea to go and root on Beau in his moderating duties. I beseech of you all to do so since I might not make it due to the DVD panel and a diabetic need to ingest some con food.
We also have dueling CBR Moderators! At 12:30, Larry Young hosts a panel:
12:30 World Wide Works: A Tale of Two Collaborators – Antony Johnston and Aman Chaudhary have spent the last year working on Frightening Curves – but they've never met until now! The Internet is fast becoming a normal way of working for young creators - Antony and Aman share their experiences of working 8000 miles apart, and reveal how publishers are looking closer at the World Wide Web than ever before. Joining them are Marc Bryant (Shangri-La) and Brett Weldele (Brian Wood's Couscous Express), both of whom have also gotten work after being 'spotted' on the Web. Room 19
Merely an hour later is the next big decision:
1:30 Image Comics All-Stars – Image Comics was founded in 1992 by seven fearless artists who risked everything to follow their dreams. Then, who pray tell, are all these other people? Why, they're the Image Comics All-Stars! They are the men and women who decided to follow in the original founders' footsteps with their own characters and creations. Image Comics Founders Jim Valentino and Erik Larsen are joined by Brian Michael Bendis (Powers), David Mack (Kabuki), Dawn Brown (Little Red Hot), Josh Dysart (Violent Messiahs), and Pat Lee (Warlands) to discuss their past and present while taking a look ahead at their future in and under the mighty "i". Room 1A/1B
1:30 DC Comics: Superman: Repercussions of War – The Original Super-hero is the focus of this panel, as members of the Superman creative team discuss the aftermath of "Our Worlds at War" and its effect on the Man of Steel. Will Superman ever be the same after facing the horrors of War? Join Superman Senior Editor Eddie Berganza and some of the creators of the ongoing Superman books: writers Jeph Loeb (Superman), Joe Casey (Adventures of Superman) and Mark Schultz (Superman: The Man of Steel). Room 9
I made the Superman panels in both the previous two conventions. It's almost a tradition at this point. But the lineup at the Image panel is fairly strong, too. I get the feeling this will be a last minute decision.
I'm finally going to make it to a panel presented by Mark Evanier. I can't believe it's taken this long. (Of course, his annual panel with Sergio Aragones – at noon this same day -- is inevitably in a room much too small and gets filled up rather quickly.)
2:30 A Tribute to Carl Barks – A group of his friends and associates remember the man who gave us Uncle $crooge, Gladstone Gander and hundreds of the best comic book stories ever created. We're going to gather to tell Carl Barks stories and invite the audience to share their favorite memories of the man and/or his work. Up on the dais, you'll find Russ Cochran, and Bruce Hamilton (publishers), Byron Erickson (Edgmont Publishing), R.C. Harvey (cartoonist and comic strip historian), Russell Myers (creator of Broom-Hilda), and Don Rosa (Duck Artist Supreme). Moderated by Mark Evanier. Room 8
I'm really looking forward to this one. The lack of Disney Comics in America has not gone forgotten. And Carl Barks contribution to them and American comics as a whole, cannot be overstated. Barks would have been 100 years old this year, and is the subject of one of the spotlights of the 2001 convention.
That should give me an hour on the con floor or so before I at last make one of these presentations:
4:30 Joe Casey: The Business of Writing Comics – One of comics' hottest writers returns with his popular seminar. Joe Casey is currently writing Adventures of Superman for DC Comics and Uncanny X-Men for Marvel Comics. This is his third no-holds-barred discussion about the business of being a writer in the modern comic book industry. Room 16A
I've missed it the past couple of years and everyone I've ever talked to who has sat in on it has said it's an exceptionally entertaining bit of business. This is the year I make it unless, of course, things change. You never know.
Friday night is the chance to wear a shirt and tie and show up at the annual Eisners Extravaganza. This year, CBR is the main sponsor of the event. CBR contributor Scott Shaw! Hosts the Inkpot Awards, as per the usual, clad in his loud Hawaiian shirt and fresh coating of flop sweat. (Kidding, Scott! I'm just kidding. I swear! And thanks again for the Augie Doggie sketch last year!)
SATURDAYThis is the day to hide upstairs soaking in the presentations. It's the busiest day of the four. The con floor is crowded and often difficult to navigate through. It's also got the most panels, and the biggest event ones of the weekend. Panels involving STAR WARS, SPIDER-MAN, and PLANET OF THE APES are first and foremost.
But one of the annual con highlights is the hour and a half (!) of mirth and hilarity that is Scott Shaw!'s ODDBALL COMICS presentation. Miss this one at your own risk. It's always the funniest part of the con. If you think his daily column at CBR is laugh-inducing, you haven't seen anything yet. Shaw!'s live presentation and rapid fire slide show will have you rolling in the aisles.
10:30 Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comic Book Slide Show – So exactly what are Oddball Comics? These are some of the craziest comic books ever to see print. Scott Shaw! has been collecting this type of four-color madness for over 40 years and he loves to share 'em with his fellow funnybook aficionados. These are actual, published comic books with unbelievable titles like Ricky and Debbie in Sardineland, It's Fun to Stay Alive, Sidewalk Romance, and Space Western. They feature characters like Muggy-doo -- Boy Cat, the Bouncer, Manuel Pacifico – Tuna Fisherman and Johnny Surge (a lovable li'l cow-milking machine), not to mention talking purple gorillas and time-displaced dinosaurs by the metric ton! But not all Oddball Comics are so obscure; Scott will also be taking a look at the odder aspects of familiar comics and characters you've probably seen all your life…but never like this! Don't miss this Comic-Con annual event! Room 7A
Of course, this means missing out on the Spotlight on Sam Kieth, the Mighty Marvel Comics Press Conference, and the first half hour of TwoMorrows Publishing's presentation. Most tragically, it runs opposite Matt Groening's FUTURAMA presentation, which promises a brand new episode of the series that FOX refused to air.
More Image fun starts after lunch, at 1:00 p.m.:
1:00 Image Comics: Founding Fathers – What a long, strange trip it's been. Their most vocal critics said they wouldn't last six months and now here they are gearing up for their ten-year anniversary. Please join Image Comics' original founding partners Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Marc Silvestri (Top Cow Productions), and Publisher Jim Valentino as they talk about future plans and once again spread their own rumors. 2002 marks the company's two-digit birthday. Get the news here first on how they're going to celebrate. Find out what's to come and when to get it from the world's first creator owned publishing company. See if they're really silly enough to bring a tape recorder and cardboard stand-up of Todd McFarlane. Comics' original rogues and trouble-makers. Together again. Together at last. Room 4
Ironically, this is opposite the Spotlight on Peter David. Maybe the two panels should merge and have an all out brawl. I can understand Rob Liefeld's absence, but why isn't Jim Lee at this panel, to look back on the old times?
A little bit later we get the competition of Media Panel versus Comic Panel:
2:30 Robert Wise and the Director's Cut DVD Version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Room 6AB
2:30 CrossGen Comics: The Cure for Short Story Syndrome -- Barbara Kesel, Ron Marz, Mark Waid, and Tony Bedard -- Room 7A
Perhaps the biggest draw of the convention is the following presentation, which is so big that they're repeating it on Sunday afternoon, also:
3:30 Star Wars: Connections –The Star Wars saga is a space epic of grand design and boundless fun. It entertains and inspires as it explores the conflict between good and evil, technology and humanity. The saga of the Skywalker family celebrates heroism and the limitless potential of the individual. And it is those individuals who stay with us long after the last battle fades: the feisty princess and the strong-willed queen; a young farmboy whose yearnings for adventure lead to the end of an Empire – and revelations of family secrets; the Padawan who becomes a Jedi Knight and connects father to son; and finally, a young Podracer who travels a torturous path to the dark side before ultimately finding redemption at the hands of that son. Join Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet as he explores the connections among the Star Wars films, from A New Hope ... to next year's Episode II. Comic-Con is extremely proud to be the first convention to show this major presentation. Room 6AB
If you can't squeeze in there, though, feel free to take in the JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series presentation right next door that Bruce Timm, et. al. will be putting on.
It's arguably the slowest day of the con. Some of the creators are already jumping ship. Most everyone who was going to attend the con has already been there. And the dealers go into a feverish panic to unload as much stuff as possible before they have to bring it all home with them. For what it's worth, this is also true in artists alley. Some of the artists – particularly those who've come in from overseas – don't want to take home that entire stack of original art with them.
Our friends over at SequentialTart.com have their second annual panel lined up:
12:00 Sequential Tart: The Terrible Threes – SequentialTart.com expands its borders and increases its staff during its third year. What started with ten rabid fangirls has now grown to seventy women strong. How can a group of women working for free on a zine continue to attract new female writers? How do they maintain their focus while growing upward and outward, and still meet the demands of their longtime readers? Join the Tarts for this insightful panel about growing pains, succeeding where other zines have collapsed, and surviving Bizarre Breasts. Room 7B
Of course, that panel conflicts with
- 12:00 Marvel Comics: Hot Summer Knights -- Room 9
- 12:00 Special Sunday Funnies Spotlight on Frank Cho -- Room 16A/16B
- 12:30 Star Wars: Connections Encore – Room 6CDEF
The rest of the afternoon fills in quite nicely.
1:00 Image Comics: New Stars – Head Honcho Jim Valentino presents the company's newest renegades: Jay Faerber (Noble Causes), Josh Blaylock (G.I. Joe), Dan Mishkin (Creeps), Long Vo (Last Shot), and Tom DeFalco (Mr. Right). Room 7A
2:00 DC Comics: The Young Super-heroes of the DC Universe: Wild in the Streets – Group Editor Andy Helfer and Senior Editor Eddie Berganza are joined by writers Peter David (Young Justice, Supergirl), Jay Faerber (The Titans) and Jimmy Palmiotti (Superboy), and artists Todd Nauck (Young Justice), Pete Woods (Robin), and Trevor McCarthy (Nightwing). Room 9
3:00 Not a Spotlight on Brian Michael Bendis – Room 8
There's my San Diego con. The full panel listing can be found at the Comic-Con International: San Diego web site, which is a must-visit for those of you planning to attend.
Don't forget – CBR will be updated all weekend long, including live posts of the Eisner Awards winners as it happens on Friday night. I'll be bringing you daily con journals from San Diego all next weekend. Look for them on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
QUICK SUMMARYIf you're looking for me over the course of the weekend, the following panels are your best chances. Don't be afraid to come up and say hello. (And, no, I don't believe you for a second when you say I owe you $20.)
- 1:30 The Changing Face of Comics Journalism – Room 9
- 11:00 DVD Producers 2001 – Room 6CDEF
- 2:30 A Tribute to Carl Barks – Room 8
- 4:30 Joe Casey: The Business of Writing Comics – Room 16A
- 10:30 Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comic Book Slide Show – Room 7A
- 1:00 Image Comics: Founding Fathers – Room 4
- 12:00 Sequential Tart: The Terrible Threes – Room 7B
More than 225 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 are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.
This year, you can still catch me at the Chicago Comicon (i.e. WizardWorld) and the San Diego Comicon (i.e. the Comic Con International: San Diego). I'm also tentatively scheduled for a day at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September.