Six things an independent comics fan should do at SDCC

This was hard. Screw that, it was really hard.

When I first started thinking about this list I figured that I’d find maybe a couple of interesting topic-focused panels and then have to pad the rest of the list with booth visits and a few publisher panels. After all, with San Diego’s increasingly becoming a Pop Media Con, how much room is still left for talking about comics? Well, quite a bit actually.

So much so that I’ve had to leave out a lot of good stuff in order to get this list down to six things. In fact, my original plan was to make a more comprehensive list that divided a lot more stuff into six general categories. The result was extremely busy though and some of the things I was most excited by got lost in the crowd. This then, is the really, really good stuff.

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1) Attend a panel on crime comics. Max Allan Collins, Darwyn Cooke, Greg Rucka, and Steve Lieber will be talking about the resurrection of the crime genre in comics on Thursday from 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Room 5AB). If they’d also gotten Ed Brubaker and Brian Azzarello, my head would’ve exploded.

2) Welcome Mike Mignola back to Hellboy. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy panels have been fairly movie-focused the last few years, but with no new film in sight and especially with Mignola’s returning to art duties on the series next year, Saturday’s panel (4:30 – 5:30 pm in Room 4) with editor Scott Allie should be the most exciting for comics fans that these have been in a long time.

3) Attend a panel on historical graphic novels. There are a few graphic novel panels over the weekend that sound fascinating, but I’m limiting myself to two for this list. Tom Spurgeon’s hosting a general panel on graphic novels that sounds great if only because it’s hosted by Tom Spurgeon, but the one that really gets me excited is the historical graphic novels panel on Saturday from 5:00 – 6:00 pm (Room 8). You’ll either have to skip out of Mignola’s panel early or come to this one late, but you don’t want to miss Randy Duncan (co-chair of the Comics Arts Conference) talking to Rick Geary (Treasury of XX Century Murder: Famous Players), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Jason Lutes (Berlin), Chris Schweizer (Crogan's Vengeance), and Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) about their individual takes on history and how to portray it. I’d pay money just to listen to Shanower talk about that topic for an hour.

4) Wish Usagi a happy 25th birthday. Usagi Yojimbo’s creator Stan Sakai has a panel on Sunday from 12:30 – 1:30 pm (Room 8). In it, he’ll not only discuss the history of his awesome comic and his upcoming plans for it; he’ll also demonstrate his creative process step-by-step. Should be an unforgettable hour with this legendary creator.

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5) Attend the Comics and Graphic Novels for All Ages Panel. There’s another panel earlier on Sunday about Graphic Novels for Kids, but the real gem is going to be from 1:30 – 2:30 pm (Room 3) with the broader-themed Comics and Graphic Novels for All Ages panel. Not only are the topics more wide-ranging (including periodical comics and grown-ups in the discussion), but the line-up of panelists is also can’t-miss. Randy Duncan again talks to Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules!), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Eric Jones and Landry Walker (Supergirl, Little Gloomy), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf).

6) Celebrate the joy of talking animals. I’m proclaiming Sunday to be Unofficial Comic-Con Talking Animal Day. From 3:30 - 4:30 pm (Room 3), Bryan Talbot will talk about the influences behind his upcoming, badger-with-a-gun, steampunk comic in a discussion called Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Comic Tradition.

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