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Pipeline2, Issue #160

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline2, Issue #160

SAN DIEGO 2002, DAY BY DAY

This year, this is no America West. There is Continental Airlines.

This year, there are no layovers in Phoenix and Las Vegas. I have a direct flight.

Hopefully, this means I won’t have to repeat any of last year’s airline horror stories.

All I’ll have to talk about, then, is the convention, itself, and the panel programming.

For the first time in the four years that I’ve been attending Comicon International: San Diego, the con programming schedule doesn’t have me doing backflips. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

In the past, the publication of the official schedule meant a stack of printouts, little ink left in my pen, and pulled hair. It can be difficult trying to pick from three or four interesting things that are going on at once at any given time at the Con. On top of that, you have to leave some time for browsing the con floor. Last year’s added space made it all but impossible to walk downstairs from the panel rooms to a far corner of the con hall and back in less than twenty minutes.

This year, I’ll be having less of those problems. One of the reasons for that is just con familiarity. It’s not that I’m tired of going to conventions. It’s just that I’ve been to them before and seen a lot of it. With just Pittsburgh and Philadelphia this year, for example, I’ve seen some of the same panels offered next in San Diego. For example, I can strike the Spotlight on Chuck Dixon from my schedule. I’ve seen that two or three years in a row now between Chicago and Philadelphia.

And as much as I’d love to make the annual trip to the JMS question and answer hour, I don’t know if I want to go listen to anyone talking about JEREMIAH, a show I’m looking forward to seeing someday on DVD or in syndication. Don’t want to spoil it all before then. (I don’t have Showtime. I don’t have HBO. I’m OK with that. Really. Just because I live in New Jersey, it doesn’t mean I worship the ground The Sopranos walk on. That show can’t go off the air quickly enough for me. Not a day goes by in this area that another Sopranos-related story doesn’t hit the paper. Yes, that even happens in the year and a half between seasons.)

Nevertheless, if this is the only con you’re going to this year, or if you’re a San Diego newbie, there’s still plenty of stuff to chew on. It can still be overwhelming. Check out all the listings on the convention’s web site and decide for yourself.

The con this year mirrors the comics industry well. It’s growing — through Hollywood. You’ve got panels this year with the likes of Hilary Swank, Colin Farrell, Brian Singer, and Lucy Liu, for starters. Gone are the years when seeing Weird Al Yankovic and Seth Green and Leonardo DiCaprio roaming the con floor are oddball things. It seems that the con organizers have really reached out to the nearby Hollywood community for support.

I’ve used one criterion in recent years when deciding which panels to attend when there are more than one running at the same time: This is a comic book convention. The comic book-themed panel wins every time.

I’m not so sure that’s going to hold up every time this year.

Judging by past experiences, though, I’ll probably not attend half the panels I want to. I’ll choose, instead, to wander the con floor and meet the creators who are gathered around. You can never leave enough time for the con floor, itself.

Let’s look at some of the more interesting panels, day by day.

THURSDAY

Thursday is always the most magical day of the convention. Everything is new and there’s something cool around every corner that you haven’t yet seen a dozen times while passing it by on the way to something else that’s really cool.

Thursday is the best day to stay on the floor. It’s the least attended day and it’s all new so you’re full of energy. Time to run around the floor. Thus, Thursday’s panels have to be real Must See’s to drag me off the floor. Let’s see what they’ve got lined up this year.

12:00 Swingin’ with Spider-Man! – The blockbuster movie showed the entire world why we love the wall-crawler… and now you can find out what’s next for the web-slinger right from the source! Be there as editor Axel Alonso, Paul Jenkins (writer, Peter Parker: Spider-Man), Ron Zimmerman (writer, Spider-Man’s Get Kraven), and J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. (writer and artist on Amazing Spider- Man) talk Spidey! Room 16AB

It’s an interesting panel with a good group of talent, to be sure, but I’m about all Spidey’ed out. And I’m sure I’ll find JMS at another panel later in the weekend.

1:30 The Art of the Cover – Renowned cover artists Dave Johnson, Jim Lee, Adam Hughes, Kevin Nowlan, John Romita Jr., and others are joined by DC editorial art director Mark Chiarello for a discussion on the art of creating great covers. Room 9

Cover designs have been under great debate in certain segments of the industry lately. It would be interesting to see such luminaries — some of the most recognized and exciting cover artists — talking about their craft. Great topic, great panel. The only thing working against it is that it happens so early on in the convention, I may not want to be bothered going upstairs to where all the panel rooms are.

4:00 Devin Grayson on Characterization – Nightwing and Matador writer Devin Grayson will discuss some of the key points of characterization, including character objectives, scene beats, voice, and the illusion of change. How do you keep serialized characters fresh and introduce new, convincing entities in a visual medium? Grayson isn’t sure she knows either, but she’d be happy to discuss that issue with you in this interactive exploration of fictional beings and what makes them tick! Room 13

I love listening to writers talking about their craft. I’ve never seen Grayson talking about it before, and this occurs later in the day. It could be a fun.

It also runs up against two other interesting panels:

3:30 JLA/JSA: The World’s Greatest Super Teams! -Between the adventure of their ongoing titles and special projects, including the upcoming JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice graphic novel, the JLA and JSA are working overtime to live up to their collective nickname: The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes. Find out what’s cooking for these teams with DC group editor Dan Raspler; writers Geoff Johns, Joe Kelly and Kurt Busiek; artists Carlos Pacheco, Leonard Kirk, and Doug Mahnke; and more. Room 9

I’m not a big fan of either JLA or JSA, but I am a big fan of nearly everyone on that panel. Since the topic isn’t all the interesting, though, it’ll be easy to skip.

4:00 Image Comics: Questions and Answers-Everything you ever wanted to know about Image and weren’t afraid to ask. Image VP/ publisher Jim Valentino and Image marketing director Eric Stephenson will open themselves up to all your nagging questions about the mighty ‘i.’ They’ll field questions on everything from Image history to submissions. Room 7A

This is usually an interesting panel. I can’t call it “exciting,” but if you have any questions about Image — maybe you want to ask them about CrossGen and CG6 — this is the place to go. It’ll be strange without Anthony Bozzi running up and down the aisles this year, though. Maybe Eric Stephenson will strap on his running shoes in homage.

I’ve done this panel before, though, and unless I come up with any burning questions, I’ll pass on it this year.

4:30 Bongo-mania!– What’s Comic Book Guy’s real name? What state is Springfield in? What really happened to Uter? Will you find the answers to these questions at this panel? Probably not. However, a whole swarm of Bongo writers and artists will be on hand to discuss what’s coming in the next year from Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics Group. Panel members include Ian Boothby, Pia Guerra, Batton Lash, James Lloyd, Bill Morrison, Phil Ortiz, Gail Simone, Chris Yambar, and moderator Terry Delegeane. Room 16AB

Go see Gail Simone. Go cheer her on. This is her first big con, so treat her well. Go cheer on Pia Guerra, while you’re at it. She’s female, you know. (She draws the well-reviewed Y: THE LAST MAN for Vertigo, also.) While you’re at it, cheer on Ian Boothby. He wrote me a nice e-mail recently, so I’m inclined to like the guy. It’s the era of good tidings at Pipeline!

5:30 WildStorm’s 10th Anniversary Editorial Presentation – Everyone’s talking about the projects coming from WildStorm Productions-including the Cliffhanger, Homage, and America’s Best lines, as well as the new mature-readers line, Eye of the Storm! WildStorm editorial director Jim Lee, and group editor Scott Dunbier will be joined by writers Joe Casey, Ed Brubaker, and Kurt Busiek; writer/inker Jimmy Palmiotti; artists J. H. Williams III, Carlos Pacheco, and Whilce Portacio; and others. Room 9

These editorial presentations run all weekend from Marvel and DC. You’ll get them from all corners to represent all the lines the two major companies have to offer. The news that breaks from them will be up on the web instantaneously, or later that night. I’m sure we’ll have it all up there for you on CBR later in the day.

However, that’s an amazing lineup of people they’ll have on the dais for this panel. That could make it interesting. Say what you will about WildStorm, but they always have an interesting selection of books in their lineup.

10:00 Bill Plympton’s Mutant Aliens-Comic-Con proudly presents the new film from cartoonist/animator Bill Plympton. Mutant Aliens is animated in the wild style of Bill’s previous endeavors. If you’re a fan of Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival, you’ll flip for Mutant Aliens! Bill will be on hand to introduce the film. Room 6BCDEF

I picked up a copy of this graphic novel from Plympton at last year’s con. It’s a funny story. I think I reviewed it here, but I’d have to check the archives. Don’t know what I’ll be doing at night, but this is a possibility I’m keeping in mind. If you’ve never seen Plympton’s stuff, give it a shot sometimes. Picture an animated film drawn entirely by hand using colored pencils. It’s unbelievable. There’s also a DVD available with selected shorts on it.

FRIDAY

11:30 Battle of the Planets – This two-part event includes a screening of a special Battle of the Planets minifeature, a two-part episode from the original series that has not been released on DVD or video. Following the screening will be a panel discussion with some of the voice actors from the original series, including Casey Kasem, Janet Waldo, and Ronnie Schnell. Room16AB

I have no interest in this. I just thought it was really cool that Casey Kasem is going to be at the convention. I’m surprised there’s no SCOOBY DOO panel for him…

12:00 Alias – Join members of the cast and crew behind the hit ABC-TV series Alias as they make their first Comic-Con appearance. Join series creator J. J. Abrams, writer Jesse Alexander, producer Brian Burk, and actors Bradley Cooper (Will) and Kevin Weisman (Marshall) as they tell us what’s up next for Sydney and Alias! Room 6BCDEF

This might be the one big exception this year ot the rule about comics being more important than Hollywood. I love this show. This panel is very tempting. Its competition:

12:00 Image Comics All-Stars-The best and brightest creators in the Image stable gather in one place, as Image VP/publisher Jim Valentino hosts a Q&A with a group of Image’s hottest creators. Included will be Josh Blaylock (G.I. Joe), Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil), Jay Faerber (Noble Causes), David Mack (Kabuki), Jim Mahfood (Stupid Comics), Michael Avon Oeming (Powers, Bastard Samurai), and Tone Rodriguez (Violent Messiahs). There’s something here for everyone! Room 4

Since I only read about half of those books to be discussed on the panel, the decision to try to get into the ALIAS panel is that much easier. It’ll depend on the length of the line to get in, I imagine.

12:00 Catching Up with Kurt Busiek-A conversation with award- winning writer Kurt Busiek on life after Avengers. Talk with him about Astro City, Power Company, JLA/Avengers, Arrowsmith, and future projects, about the writing life . . . or just about whatever might come up during the program. Room 7A

Busiek seems to have fallen off the radar a little bit in recent months. He’s not writing four books a month anymore. His big project (JLA/AVENGERS) is probably a year away from completion (publication-wise). ASTRO CITY is still on hiatus and POWER COMPANY has failed to light up the charts. He’s still a solid writer and a very patient man with all sorts of questions. Take a look at how he handles himself on-line for a model of how people should act on the internet.

I can remember a time when he was everywhere, and his name associated with every possible new project that was rumored to be coming out. He was the Brian Bendis of about four years ago, minus the Hollywood connections. 😉

Would someone please ask about SHOCKROCKETS for me, too? I loved that book. I’d love to see a trade and more stories.

1:00 CrossGen Comics and Hollywood – Branded Entertainment President Michael Uslan, executive producer of both live-action and animated Batman feature films, and Branded’s vice president of production, FJ DeSanto will join CrossGeneration Comics VP Tony Panaccio in a surprise-filled panel that will reveal the newest movie deals brokered for CrossGen’s comics. Expect special guests and announcements that will show that CrossGen is a leading Hollywood contender! Room 16AB

I happily admit that I root for CrossGen. I think what they’re doing is great. I’m not one to get excited about movie deal announcements, though. They happen far too often in this industry. While they bring in some handy spending money to the industry, they very rarely pan out to be something great. I am, however, very curious about what CrossGen has lined up. Since there’s nothing else happening at the same time, it’s an option to be considered. (And I wonder what kind of special guests they might have?)

2:30 Spotlight on Todd McFarlane – Celebrating 10 years of Spawn and Image Comics, Todd McFarlane will discuss his formative comics years, the origin of Image, how the publishing company has continued to succeed, and his own business endeavors in comics, toys, and film. Moderated by Larry Marder, president, McFarlane Toys. Room 6A

2:30 Scott Shaw!’s Oddball Comics Slide Show: Special Julius Schwartz Edition – This special installment of Scott Shaw!’s popular annual presentation will be devoted wholly to comics edited by Julius “Living Legend” Schwartz, who will tell be on hand to impart what little information he remembers about these silly books. As an added bonus, this year Shaw! will be aided and abetted by Mark Evanier. Room 8

Poor Scott. He’s running up against Todd McFarlane. I can’t believe McFarlane’s panel isn’t scheduled for a larger room. Say what you will about the man, but he’s sure to attract a crowd. In Scott’s favor, though, it’s not like his demographic is the same as McFarlane’s. (There’s a more interesting McFarlane panel on Sunday, anyway. More on that in a bit.)

Still, ODDBALL COMICS is the can’t-miss panel of San Diego for me every year. I’ve laughed until it hurt and then laughed until I cried every time I’ve seen it. It’ll be different this year, moving slightly away from the rapid-fire cover onslaught. Seeing Scott up there with Mark Evanier and Julius Schwartz to discuss all those Go Go Checked DC titles, purple gorillas, and oddly suggestive poses should be a blast, though.

Go see this one. Even if you have no love of the Silver Age comics and characters, the covers and stories behind them are hilarious. Scott does a wonderful job every year in introducing them.

4:30 Quick Draw! Cartoon Improv – It’s like Whose Line Is It Anyway? except the participants draw pictures. At this year’s WonderCon, Quick Draw! brought down the house. Now, it’ll be bringing down an even bigger gathering with contestants Sergio Aragonés, Scott Shaw!, Erik Larsen, John Romita Jr., and several surprises. Your host for this fun- filled event: None other than Mark Evanier! Room 6BCDEF

Any panel that compares itself to my favorite television comedy of all time is bound to get my attention.

After being introduced to the Quick Sketch concept in Pittsburgh last year, I started hoping that they’d do it on a larger scale somewhere. I know it’s been done elsewhere, but I like the talent that this panel has lined up, and it sounds like the format of it will be even more exciting than Pitt Con’s.

The Quick Sketch pretty much puts the kabosh on the Warren Ellis Forum Axis of Comics Journalism panel:

5:00 Not Necessarily the News-Having the scoop on the hottest industry news and gossip is all fine and dandy, but there’s a lot more to journalism than just posting the news. Join five net-journalistas and one tree killer in a discussion of the strengths of non-news journalism and the issues faced by publications that focus on interviews, articles, reviews, and criticism. The panel includes Dave Potter, (editor, Savant, www.savantmag.com), Zack Smith (staff, Slush Factory, www.slushfactory.com, contributing writer 9th Art, www.ninthart.com), Greg McElhatton (writer, iComics, www.icomics.com), Chris Butcher (editor, Pop Image, www.popimage.com), Katherine Keller (editor and writer, Sequential Tart, www.sequentialtart.com), and Jon B. Cooke (editor, Comic Book Artist magazine-he’s the tree killer!). Andi Rosenberger moderates. Room 13

I include it here because, well, there’s a good chance you might be interested in the topic if you’re the kind of person who reads Pipeline and surfs the web.

As usual, Team CBR will be covering the Eisners en masse:

8:30 Will Eisner Comic Book Industry Awards-The comic industry’s own version of the Oscars moves to a new venue-the large and beautiful ballroom on the Upper Level in the new portion of the Convention Center. As usual, Scott Shaw! will serve up some prime jokes and present Comic-Con’s own Inkpot Awards. Other awards preceding the actual Eisner ceremony will include the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, the Russ Manning Award, and the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award. For the Eisners proper, hosted by Eisner Awards administrator Jackie Estrada, you can expect to see lots of celebrity presenters and Will Eisner himself hand out the trophies, as well as a nifty multimedia show. The doors will open at 8:15; admission is for anyone with a Comic-Con badge. There will be a post-Awards cocktail party in the ballroom’s foyer. Room 20

I realized I was getting older the second the idea of getting dressed up to go out for a formal affair seemed like a good idea. I hate wearing a tie, but this is a special occasion. The trick is to make it through the entire ceremony without shifting in your seat too much by the end. It does have a tendency to drag on just a bit.

SATURDAY

It’s the day to get the heck off the convention floor and hide in the relative peace and quiet of the panel rooms. Of course, with all the extra space on the con floor this year, I don’t know how much that will be a problem anymore. We shall see.

10:30 Cup ‘o Joe (Quesada, that is) – How can you break into the biz? What kind of comics is Marvel interested in publishing over the next year? What’s up with the Ultimate line? Find out as Marvel’s one-and-only editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada, answers every question you throw his way, with brutal honesty! Room 6BCDEF

Quesada is always good for a quote, and to speak his mind. He doesn’t hold back, and he’ll answer anything. Plus, he’s been on all sides of this business, so he’s good to pelt with questions.

10:30 Smallville/Birds of Prey – Warner Bros. Television and The WB invite you to watch the cliffhanging, special-effects-packed season finale of Smallville, followed by a question-and-answer session with Al Gough and Miles Millar (Shanghai Noon, Spider-Man II), executive producers of Smallville which airs Tuesdays (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT) on The WB. Plus a special sneak preview of Birds of Prey, a new show based on the popular comic book from DC Comics. […] Room 16AB

This is one of the lines you may want to stay away from. I get the feeling that it might be very popular in the Comicon crowd. I don’t watch SMALLVILLE, so I think I’ll stay away from it and keep my fingers crossed for the debut of BIRDS OF PREY, in the meantime.

11:30 DVD Producers 2002 – Join Bill Hunt, editor of TheDigitalBits.com, and a panel of Hollywood’s leading DVD producers as they discuss the DVD format, their work creating some of your favorite DVD special editions, and what you can look forward to spinning in your players in the coming months. Panelists include Charles de Lauzirika (Speed: 5-Star, Black Hawk Down: SE), J. M. Kenny (Dances with Wolves: SE), and others. Room 6BCDEF

The DVD geek in me enjoyed this one last year and wants to try it again. If I had a dream job in mind, working in the DVD industry to some extent would be the one. Heck, if I could review them, I’d be happy. I seem to have been the kiss of death for two different web sites already with my DVD reviews. It’s probably for the best, though. I don’t really have the time to review both DVDs and comic books.

12:00 60 Minutes with CrossGen Comics – Join pugnacious publisher Mark Alessi as he reveals CrossGen’s plans for publishing, licensing, and beyond. Learn the latest news about CrossGen’s new publishing entities, CG Entertainment and Code 6 Comics, as well as information about CrossGen’s publishing plans for 2003. Alessi will then field questions on any and all comic book related topics. Be prepared to be entertained and enlightened in Alessi’s outspoken, no-holds-barred presentation. Room 9

Remember what I said before about Quesada being entertaining, answering all questions, and never holding back? That goes triple for Alessi. It’s one of the reasons why I think a One On One discussion between these two at a convention would be a really cool thing. It’s not for the spectacle. It’s because neither is afraid to speak his mind and tell the other exactly what he thinks he’s doing wrong.

Of course, the CrossGen panel neatly overlaps these two panels:

12:00 DC Comics One-on-One: Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb-The ultra-hot Batman Team of Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb talk about the Dark Knight and their plans for the Guardians of Gotham City. Join them for this special one-on-one panel and Q&A session. Room 16AB

Jeph Loeb is always entertaining, and I haven’t really ever heard Jim Lee speak that much at these conventions. I think I’m ready to let their work speak for itself, though.

12:00 Paramount: The Core – Oscar winner Hilary Swank makes a special visit to answer questions and preview her new science fiction thriller The Core, about a journey deep inside the earth. Directed by Jon Amiel and co-starring Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, DJ Qualls, Stanley Tucci, and Bruce Greenwood. Room 20

There’s something about Hilary Swank I can’t explain. I like her. Thought INSOMNIA was a great movie. She’s not the first actress I would have guessed would show up at this convention, though. It’s tempting to attend, but having Delroy Lindo there also would have made it a must see. 😉

12:30 Voice Acting Workshop – If you love to have fun with your voice, or if you’ve ever wanted to do voice-over for animation or commercials, this workshop is for you! In this workshop, you’ll learn some basic voice and acting techniques you can use in many areas of your personal life. You’ll learn how to create interesting and believable characters with your voice, how to place your voice in different parts of your body, and some of the secrets professional voice actors use to sustain a character over a long period of time. This workshop is taught by James R. Alburger, author of The Art of Voice Acting, professional voice actor, voice-acting and performance coach, commercial producer/director, and owner of The Commercial Clinic in San Diego (www.voiceacting.com). Room 13

Things you don’t know about me: I’ve done a little radio for the past 8 years, starting in college. I do an hour right now on the weekends for a local public affairs type show. I hate the sound of my voice, though. I’ve learned a lot in recent years, but there’s a lot more to go. That’s why this panel interests me so much.

1:00 Comedy Central: Beat the Geeks Trivia Contest – It’s a fight to the death: The Purple Pros (Len Wein, Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek) in a steel-cage trivia match against reps from the Comedy Central TV Show Beat the Geeks. The Geeks team is made up of Alan Korsunsky, Taliesin Jaffe, and Mason Rabinowitz. Mark Evanier hosts, with some questions provided by Comic-Con trivia perennial Tom Galloway. And may the geekiest comic book buff win! Room 6A

Four years of San Diego con-going and I still haven’t attended one of the trivia contests. I’m a huge BEAT THE GEEKS fan, though, but since the three Geeks aren’t people who’ve been on the TV show, from what I’ve read so far, I don’t think I’ll bother.

1:00 National Cartoonists Society-Comic-Con is pleased welcome the National Cartoonists Society for it’s first major panel. In addition to having a booth in the Exhibit Hall, where you can meet and greet NCS cartoonists and writers all weekend long, NCS presents this panel on what it’s like to be a syndicated cartoonist. Scheduled to appear are Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Jerry Scott (Baby Blues and Zits writer), Rick Kirkman (Baby Blues artist), Greg Evans (Luann), Jeff Keane (Family Circus artist), and Phil Ortiz (The Simpsons artist). Room 16AB

I’m a voracious comic strip reader. It’s a part of my morning breakfast ritual. My local paper has two pages worth of strips and panels and I read through most all of them everyday. ZITS is my favorite strip right now, so Jerry Scott is a draw for me. The rest have done work I can enjoy, but aren’t included in my paper. Thankfully, they’ll have a booth, so I can meet some people there. Ought to be cool. I just hope they’re doing sketches.

1:00 New Line: Lord of the Rings – Info to come. (We promise!) Room 20

Stay away. Dear God, if you value your life, stay away. Forget what I said about the long lines and crowds at the Smallville/Birds of Prey presentation. This could likely dwarf it. (Pun fully intended.)

Heck, the floor plan for the con indicates an LOTR pavilion larger than any other major comics company in attendance. Look out for passing Hobbits in San Diego, man.

(Did I mention that the pavilion includes a section labeled “SIDESHOW”?!? It can’t be any worse than the Eruptor girls of the past flashing their whips and sais at a crowd of eager photographers. ::sigh:: There are days when it’s good that all the Dot.Com money is out of comics.)

2:30 Image Comics’ 10th Anniversary: The Founding Fathers-Comic history unfolds before your eyes! This year’s Comic-Con International sees one of the most exciting events in recent memory as four of the Image founders appear together for the first time in over five years! Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino meet to talk about the first ten years of their wild ride and what’s in store for the next ten. As if this isn’t enough of an event, immediately following the panel the Image founders will move to the Autograph Area to sign an exclusive limited edition “jam” print to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in the Autograph Area! Room 16AB

Image Comics will always occupy a bright spot in my comics history. It got me interested in more than just the comics I was reading at the time. I started to look seriously at non-Big Two comics. I started following industry news and politics. I followed that story ten years ago as it unfolded from week to week in the pages of The Comics Buyer’s Guide. While the history of the past ten years has had its ups and downs, I think this panel should be pretty cool.

I can’t wait to hear McFarlane’s excuse for not finishing up his SPAWN story for the Image 10th Anniversary hardcover. Will he have a new excuse for the occasion?

My sketchbook now has sketches in it from four of Image’s founding fathers — Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld. I’d be happy if I could just get McFarlane to sign the book in his scroll style. Jim Lee does a lot of signings at cons like these, so I’m sure I’ll get him somewhere along the line. Whilce Portacio is at the convention this year, so I may get a shot at a sketch from him, if he’s drawing. It turns out that Marc Silvestri may be the hard one.

3:00 Cartoon Voices – As he does every year, Mark Evanier will chat with a bunch of folks who make their livings speaking for your favorite cartoon characters. He’ll be interviewing Gary Owens (Space Ghost), Bob Bergen (Porky Pig), Greg Burson (Bugs Bunny), and more! Room 8

Maurice LaMarche was just added to this lineup. You probably know him best as the voice of Brain from Pinky and The Brain. I may have to choose between this and the Image Comics panel. Grrr

Yes, it conflicts with the second half of the Image panel. Crap. It’s another decision I’ll need to make that afternoon.

The following panel is one I’ve attended without question in the years that it’s occurred:

4:30 Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski-The mega-popular creator of Babylon 5 and Jeremiah, is also the writer of Marvel’s flagship title, The Amazing Spider-Man. J. Michael Straczynski will talk about his TV projects, his upcoming plans for comics in general, and Spidey in particular and answer questions from the audience. Room 6BCDEF

See what I wrote at the top of this column. I’m probably going to miss it this year.

At the same time is the always-popular GROO panel:

4:30 20 Years of Groo-Has it really been 20 years? Seems like longer. Celebrate this momentous anniversary with the entire Groo Crew-Sergio Aragonés, Tom Luth, Stan Sakai, and Mark Evanier-as they discuss the past, present and future of the idiot barbarian. Room 8

Every year they stuff this panel into a small room off on the side. The room is SRO and people get shut out. Right now, I’m trying to remember if Room 8 is one of those small side rooms, or one of the regularly-sized areas. It’s the same room that hosts ODDBALL COMICS, which means it should be an upgrade. Maybe I’ll get in there this year.

There’s nothing scheduled for Saturday night that has me rushing out of the convention center. I can take in a late panel and still cruise the con floor until it closes.

SUNDAY

This is the day when panic starts setting in. As tired as you might be from the previous three days of running around, this is when it strikes you that it’s almost over and you still had thirty little things you wanted to do. You wanted to get back to that one dealer in aisle 3000 to pick something up. You still haven’t seen Creator X at this table in Artist’s Alley. You’re sure you missed a booth somewhere over in the small press area.

There’s less programming scheduled, thankfully, to allow more time on the floor. Yet, there will always be something ready to draw you back upstairs for a panel. It’s only an hour, right? 😉

11:30 Todd McFarlane: Take Your Best Shot – Critics and fans alike will have equal opportunity to ask Todd McFarlane questions about his life, his career, comics, toys, film, sports–whatever your heart desires. Friend or foe, adversary or admirer, come one, come all. This ain’t no love fest, it’s a no-holds-barred free-for-all with Todd answering your questions. And Peter David is the moderator! Care to take a shot? Come on by! Room 16AB

Peter David hosting Todd McFarlane. Time heals all wounds, I suppose. This should prove entertaining. And give McFarlane credit for doing this. A lot of people who catch as much flack as he does (much of it rightly so) wouldn’t put themselves out there like this to catch the arrows. Maybe he’ll change his mind again from the day before on why the Image hardcover book is so late.

12:30 How Do You Explain Your Comics Job to the Person Sitting Next to You on the Plane?-Yep . . . it’s the wordiest title on the schedule! But it’s an interesting question–how do comics writers, inkers, editors, and other pros explain their job to a noncomics person (with raised eyebrows, nervous coughs, and looking for empty seats included)? This discussion includes bemused and amusing answers from Devin Grayson, Greg Rucka, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda O’Connor. Room 16AB

Interesting topic, with some interesting people. I’m reading Rucka’s novels right now and just can’t put them down. I have a whole new level of respect for the man.

Plus, it’s in the same room as the McFarlane panel, so I don’t have to worry about rushing from one to the other, or about missing the first few minutes of the second panel.

1:30 Barbara Kesel Writing Workshop – How does a comic book go from vague idea to written plot or full script? Join Barbara Kesel, head writer for CrossGen Comics, for a frank talk about the process and problems of writing for the four-color medium. Room 12

Like I said earlier, I’m a process junkie for writers. This type of thing fascinates me. If I’m not concerned about spending a third straight hour off the con floor on the last day of the con, I’d like to sit in on this one.

2:00 The Marvel Writers-What’o the X-Men or Spider-Man a blessing or a curse? Find out from this all-star line-up: Paul Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Peter Milligan, and J. Michael Straczysnki. Room 16AB

Don’t think I need to sit through another panel in which the participants talk about continuity, tradition, and fan expectations. As much as I like the work all of these gentlemen are doing right now, I just don’t see the need to attend this one. I’d rather listen to Barbara Kesel dissect storytelling.

Hmm, maybe I won’t see JMS at all this year, after all.

TO SUM IT ALL UP:

The entire con listing can be had here. If you’re going to San Diego, it’s a must read.

And if you’re looking for me, here’s a short list of the panels I’m about 90% certain I’ll be attending. (The rest is a toss-up.)

Thursday:

  • 4:00 Devin Grayson on Characterization, Room 13
  • 5:30 WildStorm’s 10th Anniversary Editorial Presentation, Room 9

Friday:

  • 2:30 Scott Shaw!’s Oddball Comics Slide Show: Special Julius Schwartz Edition, Room 8
  • 4:30 Quick Draw! Cartoon Improv, Room 6BCDEF

Saturday:

  • 2:30 Image Comics’ 10th Anniversary: The Founding Fathers, Room 16AB

Sunday:

  • 11:30 Todd McFarlane: Take Your Best Shot, Room 16AB

Everything else is a toss-up.

All the fun begins on Wednesday night, 31 July, when Preview Night opens at 5:30. Much of the CBR staff will be there all weekend long to keep you updated on the happenings. We’ll be there for the Eisners, as always, and recording the audio from the acceptance speeches. We’ll have daily news updates. I’ll be doing at least three Pipeline updates, scheduled to hit the web on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning.

It’s the best time of the year to be a comics fan.

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 400 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 still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

Right now, San Diego is the only convention I’ve committed to attending for the rest of the year. The Small Press Expo in September is a possibility, though, as is the Baltimore convention in October.

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