PRELUDE TO PIPELINE: SAN DIEGO
My apologies to all of you who aren't going to be at the San Diego Comic Con next week. The following column will seem nothing greater than a tease.
[Aside: Yes, I know that the real name for the event is the Comic-Con International: San Diego. Ask anyone who is there next week what they're there for. If any one of them says, "Comic-Con International," ask them how long they've worked in SDCC Media Relations. ;-) ]
This is the second year I get to write this particular column. In it, I hope to spotlight some of the more interesting panels, and let you all know where you should be able to expect me to attend. I'll be the tall guy with glasses and a CBR shirt, most likely. One of the funnier things I noticed in re-reading last year's column is that my plans oft went awry. More than half the panels I wanted to attend last year I never made it to. Having some experience behind me now, I think I can plan on my con better. Still, consider this the best provisional list I can offer right now. =)
The full schedule can be found on the Comic-Con's web site. The interesting panel descriptions below are direct cut-and-pastes from that list.
1:00 Marvel 2000 and Beyond!- Is Cyclops really dead? What's next for the Avengers? When will Rocket Raccoon return? Get the scoop on all of your favorite Marvel characters as the man in the know, Bill Rosemann, presents an eye-opening slide show and heart-stopping Q&A session with an all-star line-up of the House Of Ideas' top editors and creators! Room 7B
I'm not entirely sure I'll make it to this one, but Thursday is a slow day and this is a possibility. On the other hand, on the first day of the show, there's plenty of stuff to soak up on the con floor itself. So it's nice to be able to build in plenty of time to meet the creators and hit the dealers right away.
3:30 Creator Insight: Kurt Busiek-Talk with Kurt Busiek, writer of Avengers, Shockrockets, Astro City, the upcoming Maximum Security, Marvels, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, The Wizard's Tale and more, about past, present and even future projects, obscure comics trivia, the craft of writing comics and whatever else might come up. Room 16A
5:00 Batman and Beyond- The Dark Knight survived No Man's Land, but will he survive what's planned for him in the coming months? Several new surprising events and storylines will be coming Gotham's way in the months ahead, and some teasing hints will be provided by DC Senior Editor Bob Schreck who is joined by writers Greg Rucka (Detective Comics) and Ed Brubaker (Batman), artist Staz Johnson (Catwoman), and Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale (Batman: Dark Victory). Room 9
This Batman panel is the only definite of the three panels on the first day. That's nothing against Kurt Busiek. I'm just enjoying the limited schedule on the first day. Last year, the memorable "on-line versus print comics journalism" was held on Thursday. The same panel was listed in an earlier draft of the panels, but never came together, it seems. Too bad. I think we have even more issues to talk about from the past year when it comes to comics journalism than we did last year. This goes double especially with the growing number of print and on-line comics magazines that have shown up this year, or that are still coming. I think the question of whether the saturation point has been reached yet would have been an interesting one to pose.
…is a much hairier day. Conflicts abound. Scheduling is difficult, and there are a few must-see panels. Alas, I can't possibly make them all.
10:30 The History of Comic Book Coloring-Popular cartoonist and colorist Marie Severin (Superman Adventures, Hulk, Kull) and Eisner-Nominated colorist Laura DePuy (The Authority, Planetary) join forces to discuss coloring comics through the ages. Marie talks about the way it used to be done, and Laura shows us the latest computer techniques. Room 4
This one sounds interesting. On the other hand, I missed the similarly scheduled lettering panel last year, so who knows what will happen here? Friday's a pretty packed day, so I may want the time on the con floor at the beginning of the day.
11:30 WildStorm Slide Show- Everyone is talking about the projects coming from WildStorm Productions -- home of some of the most popular titles in comics today as part of the Cliffhanger, Homage and America's Best Comics lines. The innovation and creative energy continues to multiply in the coming months, as this slide show and panel discussion will prove. WildStorm Group Editor Scott Dunbier and Senior Editor Jeff Mariotte are joined by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely (The Authority), John Cassaday (Planetary), John McCrea (Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority), and Joe Casey (Wildcats). Moderated by DC's Manager -- Marketing Communications Patty Jeres. Room 7B
I went to this one last year, and it proved interesting. Jim Lee even joined in, idly sketching off to one side of the panel. (We're still waiting for an announcement about that graphic novel he's supposed to draw that Alan Moore is writing that he mentioned there.) There's another, even more interesting, panel going on Sunday afternoon, however.
1:00 Eisner Awards: Talent Worthy of Wider Recognition-We tell you they're worthy…but we don't let you recognize it! This year, we fix it, and offer up all five nominees for the Eisner Award for Talent Worthy of Wider Recognition in one handy, easy-to-use panel! Moderator Beau Yarbrough (Comics Wire, ComicBookResources.com) is joined by Ellen Forney (Monkey Food), Lawrence Marvit (Sparks), Tony Millionaire (Sock Monkey), Ariel Schrag (Potential) and Judd Winick (The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius). Come and see them so you can say you know them before they were world-famous! Room 16A
I'm definitely supporting Beau. Expect the CBR gang here. But it should also prove to be an interesting panel. A lot of the interviews Beau has been doing in the past weeks leading up to this have been very interesting. And he promises me that the panel will stick to a rigid 60-minute format! (Isn't that nice? That gives me exactly 0 seconds to get to the 2:00 panel.)
Of course, if I also go to the WildStorm panel, I have no idea when I'm going to eat any sort of lunch.
Last year, I lost 5 pounds on vacation at the con. It's very easy to do. You eat one big meal a day at dinner. Breakfast is usually simple and quick. And lunch is virtually non-existant, due to a mix of time pressures and a desire not to pay the inflated con prices for food. You're on your feet all day, running around the con floor. The night life is mostly walking between the con center, your hotel, and whatever local restaurants you choose to dine at.
San Diego is simply the best weight loss regimen a guy could ask for.
2:00 Marvel Writers-'Nuff Said!- Would you dare tell Wolverine and the Hulk what to do? These guys do it every day! Meet the writers behind the adventures of your favorite characters! Planned guests include Chris Claremont, Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins and Brian Michael Bendis! Room 7A
Brian Bendis has already opted out of this one, but the lineup is still interesting enough to attend. This one is a virtual must-see for me. But the highlight of the con is the presentation just after it:
3:00 Spotlight On J. Michael Straczynski-Spend a fascinating hour with the creator and executive producer of the beloved TV SF show, Babylon 5, and hear about his future plans including his own comics publishing imprint, Joe's Comics, a part of Top Cow/Image. Room 6B
I just hope the room is big enough. I hear there are a couple of new B5-related videos that have been produced since last year. I hope he gets a chance to show one of them. The exciting news of the past week is that Sci-Fi Channel will be showing B5 in widescreen format in September, five nights a week. Hopefully, this will lead to an easier and quicker DVD release. We shall see.
JMS also writes a pretty darned good comic. So I'm looking forward to hearing him talk about future comics projects here.
Following that is the biggest log-jam of the convention for me. Get a load of these panels:
4:00 Spotlight On William Stout: 25 Cool Stories and 100 Forbidden Images-Listen if you dare to William Stout's favorite 25 bizarre true tales. These weird and strangely funny accounts from this Los Angeles cult darling and painter-filmmaker-comic artist-theme park designer-screenwriter include his involvement with the Hollywood Church of Satan, how Stout nearly died at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Arnold Schwarzenegger's practical jokes, the untold (until now) original shocking ending to Predator, the U. S. Marines vs. the Martians, how Stout was trapped underneath the Antarctic ice, and the baby that looked like a potato. Room 4
4:00 Superman In Action-The Original Super-Hero is the focus of this panel discussion, which shows the Man of Steel facing some interesting new challenges for the year 2000 and beyond. Who is Emperor ??? And how will Superman deal with Presidential candidate Lex Luthor's bid for high office? Join Superman Editor Eddie Berganza and some of the creators of the ongoing Superman books: writers Jeph Loeb (Superman), Joe Kelly (Action Comics, Superboy), Mark Schultz (Superman: The Man of Steel) and artist Mike Miller (Adventures of Superman). Room 16B.
4:00 Creator Insight: Joe Casey: The Business of Writing Comics-Writer Joe Casey (Wildcats, X-Men: Children of the Atom) hosts a candid, no-holds-barred discussion about the business of being a writer in the modern comics industry. Explore the dangers and the drama as no question goes unanswered. The secrets of the universe revealed! Room 18
I hit the Superman panel last year, so there's a chance I could skip that. I skipped Casey's comics writing panel last year, so this might be a good year to see it. But the Stout spotlight is one of the most interesting things going on over the weekend. And I wanna know the shock ending of PREDATOR!
I don't know where I'll end up. But I'm definitely ending the day with some hairy apes:
5:30 The Gorilla Comics San Diego Rampage-Join the secret jungle masters of Gorilla Comics, the new creator-owned imprint from Image, for preview info, questions answered, scandals denied and general simian gab! Learn what's cooking for Shockrockets, Empire, Section Zero, Tellos and Superstar, and scurrilous lies about Crimson Plague! Featuring Kurt Busiek (moderator, 'cause he was too dumb to duck), Todd Dezago, Tom Grummett, Stuart Immonen, Karl Kesel, Mark Waid, Mike Wieringo and maybe even Jim Valentino, if he's too dumb to duck, too! Room 1
There's an Oni Press presentation scheduled opposite of this to start at 5 p.m. which sounds interesting. Amongst other things, they're having a Stump the Panel contest. Stump them with a pop culture question and win a prize.
Please note that all of this leaves me exactly an hour and a half on the con floor for the day. Maybe I will skip the coloring panel.
This is the busiest day of the con, and the one that's best spent sitting in panels all day. For me, Friday is still the busiest.
10:30 Image Central-Image Publisher, Jim Valentino and co-founder, Erik Larsen lead a panel of loon--er, we mean distinguished professionals (Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Casey, Scott Lobdell, Pat Lee and others) in 90 minutes of intellectually stimulating discourse guaranteed to make you a better person and end world hunger. Prizes will be given, announcements will be made and general insanity will ensue. Room 16A/B
If I remember correctly, last year's Saturday at the con began with an Erik Larsen-attended panel, too. That was the continuity panel.
This also leaves me an hour and a half for lunch and some crowded floor time before the next decision needs to be made:
1:30 Marvel: X-Men- With mutant movie mania spreading like the Legacy Virus across the world, it's time to find out what's next for the Children of the Atom! They star in the most popular comic books going today-and now you can ask creators like Chris Claremont himself everything you've always wanted to know about the X-Men! Room 1
1:45 Chris Carter: The Truth Is Right Here-The creator of The X-Files and the upcoming Lone Gunmen spinoff series make an incredibly rare convention appearance to tell us about the future of both shows. Room 6CDEF
I don't know which of the preceding two I'll make it to just yet. The Carter appearance will be an event, and one I'd like to see. If I'm sick of crowds by then, though, I may just stick with the X-Men panel.
4:00 Warner Bros. Film and Animation-No animation company has been as successful as Warner Bros. Television Animation Division. Their spectacular revivals of Batman and Superman are already legendary and now Batman Beyond has taken the Dark Knight into the near future. Come see what's about to happen in the world of Batman Beyond on both television and the direct-to-video feature Return of the Joker. Join Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Glen Murakami and voice actors Will Friedle and Mark Hamill. You will also see first looks at upcoming comics-based animated series Static Shock and The Zeta Project. Plus, travel to cyberspace with Lobo and The Gotham Girls to sample their adventures on WB Online. Also take a look at one of the most bizarre series ever created for television, The Oblongs. Warner Features will also be showing material from Osmosis Jones, Space Cowboys and Red Planet. Room 6CDEF
So if I go to the Carter panel, I just sit in that room all day. Convenient, if a bit numbing to the buttocks region. I'm not even watching BATMAN BEYOND regularly, but this one ought to be interesting, nonetheless.
5:00 Oddball Comics Slide Show-Scott Shaw! Brings his popular Oddball Comics slide show back to Comic-Con! This year's special theme: Giant Robots and Dinosaurs! See Scott's huge collection of goofy, weird and just plain, well… ODDBALL comics in sparkling slide format with Scott's own comments. A popular daily feature of ComicBookResources.com, brought to vivid life by the author! Don't miss it! Room 9
Not only do I support the fellow CBR writer with this, but it's one of my favorite parts of last year's convention. I laughed 'til I cried. The covers come together really well in these presentations, even better than they do with the daily hits you get here on CBR.
There are three interesting panels scheduled that I may attend. The first just sounds funny:
11:30 The Surreal World: Tatooine Episode 1.5-Think The Real World with the characters of Phantom Meanace and that's the set-up for this half-hour parody. See intergalactic teen angst, robot love and terrifying split personality disorders. Watch a 45-year-old Jedi convince everyone he's 22. And be in awe at the twisted fate of Jar-Jar. So find out what happens when a group of strangers from different planets stop using the Force and start getting surreal … in a galaxy far, far away. Episode 1.5 is directed and co-written by Anthony C. Ferrante (editor-in-chief of the online Eon Magazine) and produced and co-written by Sheri Bryant (The Dentist, Arachnid). A panel discussion will include Director Anthony C. Ferrante, Producer Sheri Bryant and cast members Todd Rex, M Steven Felty, Bruno Oliver, Ian Anthony Petrella, Nicole Hawkyard, Curtis Casey, Matt Falletta and Jennifer Slinger. Room 6CDEF
The second has a very interesting lineup of talent, although it may be redundant to Friday's panel:
12:30 Expanding The WildStorm Universe- Since becoming a part of DC Comics, WildStorm Productions has been expanding rapidly with an abundance of new ideas and concepts. Learn of some of WildStorm's new plans with WildStorm Editor John Layman who is joined by Mark Millar (The Authority), Adam Warren (Gen13), Joe Casey (Wildcats), Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (Jet), Ben Raab & Steve Ellis (Magique), Doselle Young (Monarchy), and Laura DePuy (Planetary/Authority: Ruling The World). Room 9
The third is the only must-attend of the day for me:
2:00 Sequential Tart: A Taste of Tart-Ladies and Gentlemen, the Tarts are in the building! One of the most popular comics-related websites is SequentialTart.com and the Tarts are at Comic-Con in force. Come see them hold forth on all aspects of comics, including their visit to the Con! Founding members Katherine Keller, Lee Atchison, Marcia Allass, Karon Flage, Steff Osborne and Laura DePuy, to name just a few, will be present. Room 18
So if you're looking for me at the con, here's a short list of the panels I'll definitely be attending:
- 5:00 Batman and Beyond - Room 9
- 1:00 Eisner Awards: Talent Worthy of Wider Recognition - Room 16A
- 2:00 Marvel Writers-'Nuff Said! - Room 7A
- 3:00 Spotlight On J. Michael Straczynski - Room 6B
- 5:30 The Gorilla Comics San Diego Rampage - Room 1
- 10:30 Image Central - Room 16A/B
- 4:00 Warner Bros. Film and Animation - Room 6CDEF
- 5:00 Oddball Comics Slide Show-Scott Shaw! - Room 9
- 2:00 Sequential Tart: A Taste of Tart - Room 18
I will also be at the special screening of THE SPECIALS on Thursday night, and the Eisner Awards on Friday night.
Tuesday's Pipeline Commentary and Review will show up as usual. Pipeline2 will not appear next week at all. Instead, look for daily con updates, posted just as soon as I can write them. (Thursday's probably won't be on the web until well after midnight. Look for it first thing Friday morning.) "Pipeline: San Diego" is a special four-parter, and I'm sure there will be some spillover into future Pipeline columns.
The TELLOS material that was originally promised for this column will appear eventually. Right now, it looks like it will be in the column on the 25th. This month's look at PREVIEWS will just have to be skipped. There's too much stuff going on, and not enough time to get it done. At this point, it wouldn't be timely, either.
Be sure to check out the Pipeline message board for any last-minute changes to any of these schedules discussed herein.