What We Learned: San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Recap, Reviews & Summary

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As usual, I viewed the San Diego Comic-Con’s 2013 edition as an opportunity to get a barometer on the next year in films, along with pop culture in general.  Besides in-person observation, I waded through Twitter, online panel recaps, and videos of the various panels to pull together what I found to be the highlights.

Movie Panels Revved Up

It’s staggering to consider that roughly 30 major motion pictures made presentations during the four full days of Comic-Con 2013. After a slate of less-than-compelling films during much of the convention’s first day, the New York Times was bold enough to proclaim a sort of death of Hall H.  Such proclamations proved to be premature, the Times was correct in pointing out that fans did not give their attention to what they assumed to be sub-par presentations. Ultimately, there was a certain repetition appearing with so many super-hero properties in the mix.  To be sure though, those particular panel offerings seemed to be the most compelling.  Joss Whedon made comments at a non-movie panel lamenting the need for more original properties.  Just the same, Whedon remained in the same quandary as many filmmakers, working on blockbusters that needed built-in fan bases in order to get funding.   “300: Rise of an Empire” – This part-prequel, part side-quel apparently takes place both before and right after the film “300.”  The new footage that was shown sounded interesting, but the presentation didn’t generate much buzz. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” – While this was simply a title announcement by Joss Whedon that closed out the Marvel Studios panel, it implied that Ultron was the villain.  Most fans expected the villain to be Thanos, so this was quite a turn of events. “Captain America: Winter Soldier“ – There was a nice cast turnout, with many feeling that the footage hinted that the adaptation of Ed Brubaker’s “Captain America” run was being followed faithfully.  The Black Widow will apparently play a large role in the film, something that would be consistent with the source comics. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball 2” – Not much attention, as it was more of the same for what was largely viewed as a movie for kids “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – The director of “Cloverfield,” Matt Reeves, is directing this prequel sequel to the “Apes” franchise.  Despite positive comments by many regarding the first film, I can’t say that this sequel is hugely anticipated. “Divergent” – Comments by many made this appear to be a “Hunger Games” clone that was regarded with little excitement. “Edge of Tomorrow” – The film’s complicated time-loop setup appeared to somewhat confuse people.  However, it appears to be a well-crafted film, even if I don’t agree with the Tom Cruise casting.  Bill Paxton, who is in the cast, was pulled from the audience and prodded by Cruise to say lines like his famous “Game over man” to the crowd. “Ender’s Game” – “Ender’s Game” has a hard road ahead.  Past anti-gay comments by book author Orson Scott Card continued to complicate the marketing of the film, with protests likely when it is released.  Harrison Ford spoke to reporters about it that conflict, dismissing it as missing the important message of the film itself.  Ford also subjected himself to many horrible questions from audience members. “Escape Plan” – While it didn’t have a panel at the convention, this film did have an early off-site premiere.  The fan site ‘The Arnold Fans’ hinted that it was good.  However, more-generally, no reviews to be found, other than discouraging Twitter comments. “Europa Report” – The filmmakers knew that they were fighting an uphill battle and brought science into the mix to sell.  Not a bad plan, so maybe caught the attention of some in the audience. “Godzilla” – Director Gareth Edwards seems earnest about making a great film.  The talent involved also seemed enthused by the film.  The jury remained out regarding of the film would engage the public after the monster-centric “Pacific Rim” had a sluggish debut earlier this summer. “Gravity” – Sandra Bullock was on the panel with director Alfonso Cuaron. This film has already been called a ‘masterpiece’ by some, so it likely didn’t need much of a boost from the convention. “Guardians of the Galaxy” – The cast and director James Gunn flew in for the panel and were leaving shortly thereafter.  The 1980s song “Hooked on a Feeling” was used for the teaser footage, to amusing effect. “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – For being the adaptation of a popular book that many fans would have already read, this film kept its secrets under wraps, resulting in very little buzz. “I, Frankenstein” – Oh dear.  The film that generated the most talk of being used for by fans for bathroom breaks.  Some referred to it as “Underworld 5,” which was probably not a good thing.  Oddly, the special effects in the footage that was shown apparently looked downright bad. “Kick-Ass 2” – Jim Carrey swore off publicity and the story changed from the comic, but that didn’t seem to matter too much to fans.  At least not yet. “Man of Steel 2” – Perhaps the biggest movie news announcement was that “Man of Steel” would have a sequel in 2015 that co-starred Batman.  This would be Batman without Christian Bale, who had said in the past that he would not be returning.  A rumored “Flash” in 2016 and “Justice League” in 2017 remained rumors, but seemed likely if things continued to work out in favor of Warner Bros. and DC. “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” – The panel was hobbled by missing some of the main stars, but I’m not sure how much they would have helped.  There was little buzz at all for this adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel “City of Bones.” “Riddick” – This will be the third film in the “Pitch Black” franchise.  Given how the second film turned out, I can’t see myself doing much more than eventually Netflix-ing it.  This is an interesting franchise though and, like most, I was disappointed that the second film didn’t launch things like many had hoped.  Maybe the filmmakers will get the property back on track. “RoboCop” – The major reaction seemed to be surprise, in that perhaps it would be better than hoped.  With expectations so low, such a feat might be possible.  The film’s apparent focus on unmanned drones is surprisingly relevant. “Seventh Son” – Some claimed this to have a scope of “Lord of the Rings,” which could be cool, but footage reaction was mixed.  There were many with concerns over Jeff Bridges’s performance style being too over-the-top. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – After a short film depicting Spider-Man attempting to sneak into Hall H, actor Andrew Garfield appeared in the panel dressed in character as Spider-Man.  This might sound questionable, but he had the crowd rolling while pretending that Spider-Man was a consultant on the film. “The LEGO Movie”- One of the co-directors called it “…the weirdest kids film that’s ever been committed to celluloid.”  That sounded about right.  It was at least semi-interesting in that they appear to be adhering to the challenge of doing everything presented on screen in LEGO. “The World’s End” – The group behind “Shaun of the Dead,” was graciously received. “Thor: The Dark World” – It had the crazy in-character introduction by Tom “Loki” Hiddleston that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  Multiple “Game of Thrones” episode director Alan Taylor is looking like a great choice thus far, with many claiming that this film greatly improves on the original. “Veronica Mars” – This was probably the Kickstarter crowd-funded story of the year in the entertainment industry.  Unlike all other major presentations, this was a chance for fans to get a sample of what they’d directly helped bring to life. “World of Warcraft” – Legendary had a surprise glimpse of this film, to be directed by up and comer Duncan Jones.  Since the film hasn’t started production yet, a ‘proof of concept’ was shown that apparently wowed the crowd. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” – Technically, a discussion of the upcoming “The Wolverine” led into this film, but most fans were there to hear about Bryan Singer’s new “X-Men” film.  What Singer delivered ended up being one of the highlights of the convention.  The amazing cast appeared to be almost overwhelmingly large in size.  With Wolverine revealed to be the link between both the past and future “X-Men “groups and the debut of the Sentinels on film, this looked to be a winner.

Television Powerhouses

Although some of the most popular television-related panels did utilize Hall H, it remained odd that the convention planners would opt to feature low-profile films in cases where television panels otherwise filled the more-traditional television venue Ballroom 20.  In particular, the screening of the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot, with fans chanting “Whedon! Whedon!” could have easily filled Hall H. As it was, despite being on held on the usually-slow Sunday, the panel marking the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who” was one of the most-packed of the convention. “Game of Thrones” also filled Hall H, with fans enjoying a video that highlighted the many now-dead characters from the series in somewhat comedic fashion.  The shocking appearance of Jason “Drago” Momoa to kiss Emilia Clarke on stage was surely a highlight of the panel for many fans.   Author George R.R.  Martin reported that he was still working on the final two novels in the series, hinting that they would include more details around Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. Making a noticeable splash around downtown San Diego were both the “Once Upon a Time” television franchise and “Battlestar Galactica” showrunner Ron Moore’s new show “Helix.”  Both series had giant banners hanging off of hotels and Petco Park. The “X-Files” reunion panel proved to be more popular than the panelists apparently expected.  Series creator Chris Carter hinted at a third film in the show’s motion picture series. Unfortunately for classic “Batman” fans, rumors of the 1960s “Batman” television series getting a formal DVD or Blu-Ray release were unfounded.

Actual Comic Book News…

Most of my interest in the comic book news at the convention tended toward the moments that honored the industry’s past or focused on the non-traditional. Fans of higher-end comic books were again delighted by many new announcements related to IDW’s Artist’s Editions line.  Amongst others was more tandem work with classic Marvel Comics. Rival publishers, such as Genesis West, were also getting into the Artist’s Edition game.  Their “Conan: Red Nails” collection by Barry Windsor Smith was fantastic looking, featuring a slipcase that IDW’s offerings lacked. Stan Lee, as usual, held a memorable panel with most questions focusing on the past.  He was officially there to promote a “How It Should Have Ended” web series, but the topics obviously didn’t stay on that item. Fans at the “Superman: Post Crisis” panel were in for a treat as many of the key Superman creators from the late 1980s and early 1990s were on stage together.  Unfortunately, the lack of John Byrne on the panel cast an odd shadow over that event.  There was also no new announcement of related reprints of that work by DC Comics. Jeff Smith was on several panels, from an interesting look back at the comic strip Pogo to his own spotlight panel.  Besides talking about his near-future new work, Smith also hinted at further “Bone” material. IDW announced a surprise with Walter Simonson’s “Ragnorok,” a series that will surely make fans think of his run on “Thor” in the 1980s.  Simonson also had work coming out related to his old “Starslammers” creator-owned creations. Reclusive “Cerebus” writer-artist Dave Sim also appeared to have work at IDW in the pipeline.  Perhaps a budding relationship with the firm would lead to higher-quality Cerebus reprints in the future. Finally, fans learned more of the details about Neil Gaiman’s new Sandman comics.  The announcement of this prequel mini-series was 2012’s biggest comic book item and Sandman again had a large presence.  Beside panels related to Gaiman and the new work, there was also a 25th anniversary look back at “Sandman.”  That panel was perhaps most notable for the reluctance of original artist Sam Kieth to take much pride in his contributions to the title.

Marketing

 

Notable Efforts

With so much of the footage from a given panel appearing online or at least being described by attendees, the convention’s most unique engagement of fans continued to be via ‘experiences.’  Off-site ‘experiences’ like the “Godzilla Encounter” or the “Ender’s Game” exhibit were the talk of convention goers.  The Viking boat in the convention hall’s rear marina was another standout. Inside the convention hall, the “Walking Dead” and zombie creation booth were catching attention. Amongst the panels themselves, Warner’s announcement of the Superman/Batman team-up gained enough attention to nearly eclipse Marvel’s later presentation.  Nearly.  Marvel again proved that it knew exactly how to stage a presentation that energized the fans.  Amongst other films, the panel for “Amazing Spider-Man 2” garnered an honorable mention.

Marketing Disasters

The clearest cut ‘disasters’ were simply the films that failed to generate much online reaction after their presentations.  Beyond those obvious examples, not every off-site marketing effort was a home run.  The Syfy Channel again had their Defiance Café across from the convention center, but that stunt was a repeat of last year.  If anything, some of the most common complaints from fans was a sense of too much repeating of past panels or marketing material. As mentioned above, Warner Bros. had all of the ingredients to win the weekend, but somehow failed to top Marvel.  Inside the exhibit hall, the Warner Bros. booth also fell short by not having much of its usual eye-grabbing design.  The booth simply didn’t have the pop as in years past, with too much reliance on simply showing promotional footage.

Missed Opportunities

Despite the announcement of major new plans for “Star Wars,” Lucasfilm’s presence waned again this year.  “Star Wars Friday” at the convention continued to be a thing of the past.  Word was that the lack of “Star Wars” had to do with it headlining Disney’s growing D23 convention in two weeks. Inexplicably, “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” did little to excite fans by not showing much in the way of remarkable new footage.  In a similar way, other properties that hoped to capture a bit of the old “Twilight” magic were not successful. NerdHQ’s ‘Conversations for the Cause’ events off-site at Petco Park had a great guest line-up.  Its 250 seat capacity and $22 cost per panel should have received more attention, but was under the radar of most due to its last-minute promotion.

The Scene

So how did it all come together? Walking the exhibit hall was more pleasant than it had been in recent years.  Much of the hall felt oddly quieter.  That might have had to do with the video game booths having been moved to one far side of the entire hall. With comic book dealers sandwiched in the middle, it sat on the opposite end of the hall from the film and television booth. A fanatical ‘survival of the fittest’ continued, with many getting up before sunrise on Saturday morning in order to get in line for the “X-Men” and Marvel Studios panels that were in Hall H that evening.  Despite such diligence, there was a chance that some might not get in.  The line of people camping out overnight in sleeping bags was through the convention’s formal tented area and along the marina waterfront by midnight on Friday. Given that some attendees could conceivably obtained their passes without having also reserved a hotel room, I had to wonder about some of those who were camping in front of the Convention Center’s entrances in sleeping bag.  Whether many were actually in a line was unclear. Such fanaticism wasn’t limited to the panel-watching fans though.  Many attendees had an eye on making money.  More and more people continued to engage in the ‘flipping’ of convention exclusive items on eBay.  These items most particularly concerned toys.  Those toy flippers could make hundreds to thousands of dollars, with many paying for their full trip or even other bills. On a related note, I spend time on Saturday morning observing autograph hunters stalk celebrities in the Hilton Bayfront lobby.  The groups of hunters were obviously quite organized, with some working together to make celebrity spottings.  They conveniently had portfolios of 8×10 photos of attendees, almost certainly ready to be sold on eBay. This autograph chasing was a very bizarre scene to witness, with herds of people chasing after the arriving celebrity types.  Some signed autographs, while most are yelled away by security handlers.  I did not recognize most of the people being chased, but I did recognize the actor Aaron Eckhart… albeit in ill-advised skinny jeans and a thick English accent.  Convention regulars Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes were also easy to spot when they moved quickly through the lobby. I had seen Jeffrey Tambor, of “Arrested Development” fame the prior night in the Hilton’s restaurant.  He was being left alone at dinner, but presumably such politeness wouldn’t apply once he stepped back into the hallways. Finally, one oddity:  Wired Magazine profiled the various ‘street preachers’ that populated positions all around the convention center and downtown.  Such preachers were a weird mix of genuine conservative Christians, parody artists, and marketing campaigns.  As with everything else about the convention, that phenomenon only grew bigger in 2013.

Appendix:  Initial Schedule Analysis

Wednesday – July 17, 2013

In the past few years, Wednesday evening had seemed to serve as a continued expansion of the overall convention.  This year appeared to be a reverse of that trend, with the programming schedule only consisting of a few upcoming television pilots.  One such pilot, “Almost Human” was produced by J.J. Abrams and seems to have others from behind-the-scenes at “Fringe” involved.

Thursday – July 18, 2013

Flesk Publications Exposed! The Artists Spill Their Guts! The Truth Behind the Spectrum Transition! I supported Fleck’s Kickstarter of Mark Schultz’s work.  Hopefully there will be some news on the continuation of Schultz’s “Xenozoic,” which has been on hiatus since the mid-1990s. 10:00AM – 11:00AM; Room 32AB   35th Battlestar Galactica Celebration Room This panel might be more interesting if it happened to feature a mix of both the old 1970s show and the newer 2000s show.  As it appears on the schedule now, it looks to only focus on the 1970s cast. 10:30AM – 11:30AM;Room 6BCF   The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music: Bringing a Comic Book to Life This focus on film music could be unexpectedly popular due to directors James Mangold, Shane Black, and Michael Vaughn all appearing.  The topic is on super-hero film scores, with the composers of those directors’ films on-hand, but one could imagine the Q&A veering off course. 10:30AM – 11:30AM; Room 6A   DC Entertainment: All Access Room This appears to be a major news panel by DC Comics. 11:30AM – 12:30PM; 6DE   Masters of the Web Online film news has largely devolved in recent years, with writers simply recycling studio press releases. Perhaps there will be some discussion around how to reverse that trend. 11:30AM – 12:30PM; Room 24ABC   Hasbro: Transformers 30th Anniversary It is crazy to think that the “Transformers” franchise is thirty years old.  Hopefully, this panel will focus mostly on the classic early days of the line. 12:00PM –  1:00PM; Room 25ABC   Rich Johnston’s Bleeding Cool Magazine Forum Rich’s reputation as the top comics rumor monger on the web could lead to an interesting revelation or two. 12:00PM –  1:00PM; Room 32AB   Ghost Ghirls: A Behind-the-Scenes Paranormal Experience with Jack Black This promotion for Jack Black’s web series will likely turn into a spotlight on Black himself.  Black hasn’t appeared at Comic-Con in eight years. 1:00PM –  2:00PM; Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront   Marvel: House of Ideas At first glance, one might assume this to be a major news/announcements panel.  In fact, it appears to be about Marvel’s digital comics plans.  Perhaps some news related to stories will creep in though. 1:00PM –  2:00PM; Room 7AB   Europa Report This is a prime slot in Hall H for a smaller sci-fi film that features no big names on the panel guest list.  Although already available in some capacity, the film doesn’t officially come out in the United States until August 2nd.  Thus far, reviews have been only lukewarm. 1:10PM –  2:20PM; Hall H   Sherlock None of the main cast will be attending for this presentation on the BBC series “Sherlock.”  However, “Sherlock” showrunner and “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat will be there. 2:15PM –  3:15PM; Ballroom 20   Entertainment Weekly’s The Visionaries The headliner for many fans will be Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity”).  Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) and Marc Webb (“Amazing Spider-Man”) will round out the discussion of future film trends. 2:30PM –  3:30PM; Hall H   Adobe Photoshop Insights from the Photoshop Team and Pro Artists Notable in that Bill Sienkiewicz, known for his surreal work at Marvel Comics starting in the 1980s will be on hand. 3:00PM –  4:00PM; Room 30CDE   Comic-Con: Advance Screening of The Blacklist and Panel Session with James Spader I have no interest in the television series being previewed at this panel, but one has to assume that actor James Spader will make the panel interesting. 3:00PM –  4:00PM; Room 6A   IDW: Focus on Artist’s Editions A new title in IDW’s high-end ‘Artist’s Editions’ line will be announced.  Line editor Scott Dunbier will be there to make the announcements and hopefully discuss other books in the potential pipeline. 3:30PM –  4:30PM; Room 4   TV Guide Magazine Celebrates The X-Files’ 20th Anniversary Nostalgia could drive a big turnout for this cast reunion.  Perhaps there will be new film news?  The last “X-Files” film was in 2008, but murmurs have lingered since then of another sequel.  Surely the participants will give updates regarding the latest news. 3:30PM –  4:30PM; Ballroom 20   Enders Game and Divergent Harrison Ford’s presence will make this the biggest panel of the day in Hall H.  “Enders Game” is paired with the lower-profile “Divergent,” which looks like a “Hunger Games” rip-off. 3:50PM –  4:50PM; Hall H   Spotlight on Jeff Smith Fans of Smith’s “Bone” will likely learn more about his new comic “Tuki: Save the Humans.” 4:00PM –  5:00PM; Room 9   The Walking Dead 10th Anniversary Panel This panel will be only featuring comic book writer Robert Kirkman and no one associated with the show.  Presumably it will still be a wildly popular panel. 4:15PM –  5:15PM; Room 6A   Voltage Pictures: An Exclusive Preview of The Zero Theorum, Directed by Terry Gilliam Thirty minutes seems a bit short for Terry Gilliam, especially given the positive buzz thus far for “The Zero Theorum.” 5:10PM –  5:40PM; Hall H   An Unofficial Sneak Peek of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with TheOneRing.net Director Peter Jackson has said that there will be no panel for “The Hobbit” at Comic-Con.  He said the same thing last year and wasn’t truthful about it.  He might be honest this year though, leaving this unofficial panel as the closest that fans might come to a “Hobbit” con presence. 5:30PM –  6:30PM; Room 6A

Friday – July 19, 2013

Star Wars Comics: Here and Now Dark Horse Comics will soon lose the license to produce “Star Wars” comic books after over twenty years.  Presumably the upcoming licensing changes will be discussed. 10:00AM – 11:00AM; Room 7AB   The World’s End: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost Reunited A look at Wright and Pegg’s new film will presumably generate an interest by those who enjoyed “Shaun of the Dead.” 10:00AM – 11:00AM; Hall H   Stan Lee’s World of Heroes A chance to see Stan Lee. ‘Nuff said. 10:15AM – 11:15AM; Room 6BCF   Writing for TV: From First Draft to Getting Staffed Television writing, with its group approach can be a bit of a mystical area.  Hopefully this panel will demystify some of that world. 10:30AM – 11:30AM; Room 24ABC   Helix Showrunner Ronald Moore’s new series.  It has gotten a lot of advance praise and will hopefully live up to his past work on the “Star Trek” and “Batttlestar Galactica” franchises. 11:45AM – 12:45PM; Room 6A   Kick-Ass 2 and Riddick Presumably no Jim Carrey at the panel, given that he recently distanced himself from “Kick Ass 2.”  Oddly, no one is listed for that film.  Vin Diesel will be in attendance for Riddick. 12:15PM –  1:15PM; Hall H   Superman: The Post-Crisis Era This is an era of Superman – in the late 1980s and early 1990s that I have a soft spot for.  Unfortunately, the architect of that era – John Byrne – will not be attending. 12:30PM –  1:45PM; Room 5AB   AMC’s The Walking Dead The ‘real’ “Walking Dead” panel will feature people from the television show and comic book creator Robert Kirkman. 1:35PM –  2:30PM; Hall H   Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC Joss Whedon headlines this sure-to-be-packed panel regarding the new ABC television series. 1:45PM –  3:00PM; Ballroom 20   The X-Files with Creator Chris Carter Chris Carter follows up on the prior day’s “X-Files” reunion panel with this panel focusing on the new comic book series related to a ‘tenth season’ of the show. 1:45PM –  2:45PM; Room 5AB   Comics Arts Conference Session #8: Comics Theory Professor Neil Cohn is sure to again rock the house with his discussion of what cognitive neuroscience tells us about what happens in your brain when you read comics 2:00PM –  3:00PM; Room 26AB   Game of Thrones Panel and Q&A Session Certainly one of the major panels of the entire convention.  Fans will likely vent about some of the controversial plot elements at the end of the recent season three. 2:50PM –  3:45PM; Hall H   Marvel: Cup O’ Joe Typically a major Marvel Comics news announcements panel with Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada. 3:15PM –  4:15PM; Room 6BCF   Celebrating Strangers in Paradise’s 20th Anniversary with Terry Moore Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise” remains a landmark work.  Perhaps there will be further news related to either new material or new collections of the work. 4:00PM –  5:00PM; Room 23ABC   Sony & Screen Gems A long panel featuring several films that will presumably only have a modest level of fan interest.  The “Robocop” remake with actor Samuel L. Jackson attending could at least get some level of interest.  The panel’s main anchor appears to be “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but the panelists for that film were not yet announced. 4:05PM –  6:15PM;Hall H   DC Comics Superman Unchained: From Concept to Page Scott Snyder is one of the hottest writers in comic books right now.  His new Superman series will be drawn by longtime fan favorite Jim Lee.  Both will appear at this panel. 4:15PM –  5:15PM; Room 6DE   Surviving Collaboration Notable in that frequent 1980s Frank Miller collaborator Klaus Janson will be appearing on the panel. 5:00PM –  6:00PM; Room 30CDE   A Celebration on Walt Kelly’s 100th Birthday Walt Kelly’s classic comic strip “Pogo” has been re-released in a series of hardcover collections.  Kelly’s daughter and cartoonish/Kelly admirer Jeff Smith will be amongst others on the panel. 5:30PM –  6:30PM; Room 8   Making Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Some of the production staff behind the classic animated/live action combination film will discuss the original.  One might guess that progress on a potential sequel will also be discussed. 5:45PM –  6:45PM; Room 6BCF   Max Brooks: Zombie Survival and Extinction Parade Insights Zombie genre guru and son of Mel Brooks, Max Brooks will speak.  The adaptation of his book “World War Z” was an unexpected hit when released in June. 6:00PM –  7:00PM; Room 7AB   Dark Horse: Joss Whedon Joss Whedon’s second panel of the day in Ballroom 20, presumably to talk about his Dark Horse Comics tie-in work.  It would be a panel likely to wander into other topics though. 6:15PM –  7:15PM; Ballroom 20   At the Drive-In Featuring Metallica Potentially a very unusual panel, given that it will be very short and also not likely feature a performance by the Metallica members in attendance. 6:30PM –  7:00PM; Hall H   Old into Gold: How Retro Properties Are Big Business For Toys and Collectibles Old toys are big business and this panel will talk about how appealing to the ‘retro’ market is now a major focus of toy companies. 7:30PM –  8:30PM; Room 26AB   Syfy Presents the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards The ‘Oscars of the Comic Book World’ will include many big names in comic books and other sci-fi or fantasy media.  Neil Gaiman is listed as a host. 8:00PM – 10:00PM; Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Saturday – July 20, 2013

Comic-Con How-To: Writing Your Superhero Novel Tom King, the author of “A Once Crowded Sky,” walks aspiring superhero novelists through the basics of translating super-heroics into prose. 10:00AM-11:00am; Room 2   Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Preview Their Upcoming Lineups This could end up being one of the most-watched panels, with Legendary’s charismatic head Thomas Tull perhaps presiding over part of the event.  The remake of “Godzilla” largely remains an unknown, but should get some first looks.  Also unknown is “Seventh Son,” a large-budget fantasy film starring Jeff Bridges.  The sequel to “300” should get some attention, although not having Zack Snyder directing will hobble it a bit.  “Gravity” should be huge, with audiences likely getting a closer look at the Alfonso Cauron-directed Sandra Bullock/George Clooney starrer.  The only odd one of the bunch might be “The LEGO Movie,” but that should find a receptive audience at the convention. 10:45AM-1:15pm; Hall H   Spotlight on John Romita, Jr. John Romita Jr. has been a mainstay at Marvel Comics since the very-late 1970s.  His work has undergone a number of radical style changes that will hopefully be discussed. 11:30AM-12:30pm; Room 5AB   Spotlight on Roy Thomas Roy Thomas was in many ways the first successor to Stan Lee at Marvel Comics in the 1960s. 1:00PM-2:00pm; Room 4   The Tick 25th Anniversary The Tick’s heyday might be largely behind it, but it had an impressive rise from parody comic in the 1980s to cartoon series in the 1990s. 1:00PM-2:00pm; Room 23ABC   Lionsgate – Featuring I, Frankenstein and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire “I Frankenstein” will presumably be riding the attention brought on by “The Hunger Games” sequel.  No panelists are listed for “The Hunger Games,” but fans can hope that it will be the film’s main stars. 1:35PM-2:35pm; Hall H   Spotlight on Jim Lee Lee remains one of the most popular artists in comics, despite having his time split between various DC Comics editorial responsibilities.  This should be an interesting look back on his career. 2:00PM-3:00pm; Room 6DE   Spotlight on Russ Heath Heath was known largely for his ‘war’ comics in the 1950s/1960, but was an amazing illustrator in many genres.  This discussion with him will be moderated by writer Mark Waid. 2:00PM-3:00pm; Room 4   Will Eisner and the Graphic Novel The panelists include an impressive line-up, with Neil Gaiman, Scott McCloud, and Jeff Smith.  I wonder if Jim Steranko will show up to dispute Eisner’s place as the ‘inventor’ of the graphic novel? 2:00PM-3:00pm; Room 23ABC   Spotlight on George Pérez One of the great artists still working in comics, Perez was one of a handful of artists to dominate ‘favorite artist’ discussions over the past forty years. 3:00PM-4:00pm; Room 7AB   Spotlight on Gerry Conway: Secrets Behind the Death of Gwen Stacy Conway has had a long career since starting at a very young age at Marvel, part of the group of upstarts that took over after Stan Lee scaled back his involvement at Marvel.  Perhaps controversy will ensue regarding whatever ‘truth’ Conway reveals regarding the death of Gwen Stacy. 3:00PM-4:00pm; Room 9   Vertigo: The Sandman 25th Anniversary and Beyond! Many will be there for news regarding Neil Gaiman’s new “Sandman” prequel work, but perhaps some will want to look back.  The 25th anniversary ‘celebration’ appears to involve some of the former “Sandman” artists like Dave McKean and Sam Keith. 3:15PM-4:15pm; Room 6DE   Spotlight on Paul Dini Dini has been long-recognized as one of the major creative forces behind the success of DC Comics animated adaptations over the past twenty years. 3:30PM-4:30pm; Room 24ABC   20th Century Fox The entire panel was listed as ‘TBD,’ but would presumably include “The Wolverine” amongst other films. 4:15PM-5:45pm; Hall H   Spotlight on Sam Kieth Keith has one of the more unusual styles in comic books, having carved out a niche for himself over the past thirty years.  He’ll have just been at a “Sandman” retrospective panel before this one. 5:00PM-6:00pm; Room 9   Jeff Smith and Terry Moore Both Smith and Moore will have had individual spotlight panels earlier in the convention, so it will be interesting to see how this ‘mash-up’ of independent creator forces comes together. 5:30PM-6:30pm; Room 24ABC   Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski Straczynski’s banter with the audience has made this a hit panel in the past, so hopefully that trend continues. 5:30PM-6:30pm; Room 7AB   Marvel Studios: Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier This should end up being the ‘biggest’ panel of the entire convention.  Marvel will have two sequel films to present, as well as other surprise announcements. 6:00PM-7:00pm; Hall H   ComiKev 2013: Kevin Smith Uses His Mouth on You in Hall H Kevin Smith will actually have some new film news to discuss – this time regarding “Clerks III” – that might be of interest to longtime fans.  Hopefully he doesn’t show up high. 7:15PM-9:00pm; Hall H   Troma: Return to Nuke ‘Em High Lloyd Kaufman will hold court over what will likely be a lively panel.  The focus appears to be on the 1986 Troma film “Class of Nuke ‘Em High.”  The Troma panel is often perfect for the late Saturday timeslot. 9:00PM-10:00pm; Room 9

Sunday – July 21, 2013

DuckTales: Remastered This 1989 videogame classic is apparently undergoing a surprisingly high profile remake project for release on newer gaming platforms. 10:00AM-11:00am; Room 25ABC   Jack Kirby Tribute Panel Neil Gaiman appearing on yet another panel, this time with others in a look at Jack Kirby’s career.  Gaiman had a special connection to Kirby’s “Eternals” mythology. 10:00AM-11:15am; Room 5AB   Meet the Co-Publishers A chance for fans to ask question of the co-publishers of DC Entertainment, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. 11:15AM-12:15pm; Room 6DE   George R. R. Martin Discusses the Skin Trade Adaptation Despite focusing on a non-related work, it seems obvious that discussion will swing toward “Game of Thrones.” 12:00PM-1:00pm; Room 25ABC   Spotlight on Jerry Ordway Ordway recently gained publicity on the internet by publishing a long description of the life of a struggling 50-something artist in comics.  Ordway is perhaps best-known for his 1990s work at DC Comics. 12:00PM-1:00pm;Room 4   Spotlight on Dan Jurgens Like Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens still works today in comics, but his career was defined by his high profile in the 1990s at DC Comics.  His work, particularly on the “Death of Superman” storyline was quite well-read during that period. 1:00PM-2:00pm; Room 4   Under the Dome This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel as an ongoing television show only recently began.  Fans of “Lost” would note the involvement of writer Brian K. Vaugh and director Jack Bender. 2:15PM-3:15pm; Room 6BCF   Spotlight on Neil Gaiman Gaiman has a new book out and has been selling out large venues on his book tour.  This will be his final panel at Comic-Con and perhaps the one most directly related to his recent work. 3:00PM-4:00pm; Room 6DE

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