So, it’s that time of year again…

The monstrous pop-culture extravaganza known as the San Diego Comic-Con International is once more upon us, and for the fourth consecutive year, I’m headin’ on out, meetin’ my homie Nate Lee, and settling in for an entire weekend of geek-type enjoyment. Easily the more exhausting of the two major shows, what SDCC lacks in general focus, it substitutes with an unending flood of noise, panels and celebrity guests. Always pretty fun though, long as I don’t get too distracted with some “objective” I’ve outlined for myself. It’s a bit insane, but I don’t want to step foot on that plane without some kind of mission statement, something to set the overall tone for the trip, which admittedly, is so very obsessive, but hey, I’m a goal-oriented dude. And it’s hardly my fault that whatever goal is always something completely impossible to accomplish in a decent month, let alone a weekend.

With that in mind, I tried something a little different last year, though no less impossible…relaxation. Never one of my strongest suits, but last summer I drew an emphatic line in the sand, that I was not going to spend the entire trip stressin’ over picking up business cards, handing out samples, etc. Essentially coolin’ down on all the “hustle man” type behavior that might prevent any real vacationing from happening on the vacation-like trip, and even more so than last year, it would be good to have a little break. Worked out pretty well then, so this year I’m looking for the same deal. Sleeping in, catching a movie, maybe hitting the gym, on top of the presentations, and meeting a few people from my e-mail address book. As usual, the panel schedule is packed, which demands some tough choices, but what I can’t reach, the magic of hotel wi-fi allows me to experience later on in the evening. The future, man…isn’t it just cool?

Here’s what I’m looking at after Preview Night, which is really the first official day of the con, to anyone that knows better…


Thursday-

11:30-12:30 DC Nation–
Come one, come all, and join the DC Nation!! Meet Dan DiDio, senior VP/executive editor DCU, as he invites you to be part of the revolution! Discuss surviving a Crisis, living in a world One Year Later, and discover the weekly magic of 52. Rise up, and shout. The Nation is waiting! Room 5AB

3:00-4:30 Marvel Comics: Civil War–
The best-selling book of the new millennium has plunged the Marvel Universe into war, pitting friend against friend. Come in for a debriefing and get a sneak peek at what’s to come from Joe Quesada and J. Michael Straczynski (Amazing Spider-Man), Paul Jenkins (Civil War: Front Line), Marc Guggenheim (Wolverine), Robert and Charles Knauf (Iron Man), and many more! Also, surprise announcements from Jeph Loeb (Ultimates 3) and Frank Cho (New Avengers). Room 6A

The big spotlight panels from the major companies, and spaced well enough apart so conceivably, I can hit both of them. Hopefully, we can get official confirmation of two of the worst kept secrets in comics, the Bendis/Cho Avengers book, and the Donner/Johns creative team on Action Comics. The respective events are working out extremely well for them, and there’s nothing like a good dose of company cheerleading to get things off to a proper start. Plenty of time to cruise the floor, catch up with a few people, and find a couple good indy books to throw some money at.


Friday-

10:30-11:30 Marvel: Spider-Man: Then and Now–
Welcome, True Believers, to a once-in-a-lifetime event! In one room for the first and only time, join the men who have influenced Spider-Man’s life from the beginning and those who are shaping him into the man he is today: Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, and J. Michael Straczynski! Find out what went into creating the world’s greatest superhero and what the future holds for the wall-crawler. Room 6A

12:30-2:00 NBC: Heroes Pilot Screening and Q&A with Cast and Producers–
Debuting on NBC this fall, the highly anticipated series Heroes chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. Be the first to watch an exclusive 72-minute cut of the pilot episode, created specifically for Comic-Con. Join cast members Ali Larter (Final Destination), Greg Grunberg (Alias), Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girls), Hayden Panettiere (Ice Princess), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Blind Guy Driving), and Masi Oka (Scrubs); creator/executive producer Tim Kring; executive producer Dennis Hammer; co-executive producer/comic book writer Jeph Loeb (Lost, Superman for All Seasons); and legendary comic book artist Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween) for a Q&A session. Room 6CDEF

3:00-4:00 Moonstone Celebrates the Phantom’s 70th Anniversary–
Moonstone’s editor-in-chief Joe Gentile will be joined by Mike Bullock (Phantom writer), Doug Kaluba (Phantom cover artist), Paul Guinan (Phantom Law of the Jungle artist), Ben Raab (Phantom Legacy writer), Art Lyon (Phantom colorist/designer), and EricJ (Phantom artist) in a discussion of Moonstone’s new and upcoming Phantom projects, followed by a Q&A session. Room 1A

3:00-4:00 The Black Panel–
Featuring Reggie Hudlin (president, BET), RZA (Wu Tang Clan), Jeffery Wright (CEO, Urban Ministries), Denys Cowan (senior VP, BET Animation), Mike Davis and Mark Davis (Blokhedz), and Axel Alonso (editor, Marvel Comics). This is the definitive panel for what’s up in black content, and black content is hip content. Moderated by Michael Davis. Room 6A

3:30-4:30 WildStorm: Crossroads–
The West Coast is about to unleash a Worldstorm! Find out what’s on the horizon from WildStorm Productions in this slide-show presentation. Panelists will include Scott Dunbier, executive editor, WildStorm; Bob Wayne, VP, sales, DC Comics; Ben Abernathy, editor, WildStorm; Jim Lee, editorial director, WildStorm and in-demand artist (WildCats, All Star Batman and Robin); writer Grant Morrison (52, Batman, All Star Superman); writer Gail Simone, (Gen13, Secret Six); artist Talent Caldwell (Gen13); and artist Darick Robertson (The Boys). Also joining the panel will be Danny Bilson (The Flash: Fastest Man Alive) and Paul DeMeo (The Flash: Fastest Man Alive), and special guest star, The OC’s Adam Brody! Room 5AB

4:00-5:30 Bruce Timm Retrospective/Legion of Super Heroes–
Warner Bros. Animation president Sander Schwartz introduces a retrospective on the creativity of animation legend Bruce Timm (Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series). Bruce will talk about his 20-year career, screen selected scenes from his body of work, and take part in a Q&A. Immediately following the Timm retrospective, Warner Bros. Animation presents a sneak peek at Legion of Super Heroes, a new Superman-themed half-hour adventure series inspired by the DC Comics series and set to air Saturdays this fall at 11:00 AM ET/PT in the Kids’ WB! programming block on the new CW. Producers Linda M. Steiner (Teen Titans) and James Tucker (Justice League Unlimited), story editor Rob Hoegee (Teen Titans), and others from the show’s creative team will join several of the Legion cast members, including Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Superman), Andy Milder (Lightning Lad), Shawn Harrison (Timber Wolf), and Michael Cornaccia (Bouncing Boy) for a Q&A session and debut of scenes from the upcoming show. Room 20

5:00-6:00 The Boondocks: The Complete First Season–
Join creator Aaron McGruder and the cast of Adult Swim’s provocative, award-winning comedy series The Boondocks for a panel discussion in celebration of the release of The Boondocks: The Complete First Season on DVD and for PSP July 25. Cast members Regina King (Miss Congeniality 2), Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911), Gary Anthony Williams (Malcolm in the Middle), Jill Talley (The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie), and Gabby Soleil (Johnson Family Vacation), along with McGruder, will discuss the stories behind the edgy, animated characters, and offer a first-ever sneak peek of the three-disc DVD. Room 6CDEF

5:45-7:00 New Line Cinema Presents Snakes on a Plane–
Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the fright. New Line Cinema will show exclusive footage from Snakes on a Plane. Samuel L. Jackson makes his first San Diego Comic-Con appearance, along with director David R. Ellis, to discuss his new film! And, watch out–snake wrangler Jules Sylvester will also be on hand with live snakes from the movie. Also included in the presentation will be a special preview of New Line Cinema’s upcoming The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, while Final Destination 3 director James Wong and star Ryan Merriman demonstrate the unique “Change-Their-Fate” interactive feature on the upcoming DVD, available from New Line Home Entertainment on July 25. Hall H

Here is where it all becomes interesting. Not possible to hit every spot, and though I’d like to duck into all of ’em, there are a couple definite highlights, along with some things I might be able to scratch off. Usually, the Spidey panel would be something I could review in the Newsarama write-up, but as you all well know, something very big happened in Spider-Man history a few weeks back, so this one is sure to be packed with some anxious, and probably even a few angry fans, along with an appearance by co-creator Stan Lee. Suppose the deciding factor will be what time we roll into the con that day, but never seen Stan in person before, and this sounds like a really cool opportunity to reflect on the history of Spidey, as Marvel pushes him kicking and screaming into a new direction.

The Heroes pilot would be good to see, another storytelling descendent of LOST, with a massive ensemble cast, and an overarching plot thread weaving itself through the seemingly random storylines. By the time it hits the network, a few elements will likely have shifted here and there, and most importantly, it’s about superheroes, and writer Jeph Loeb is an executive producer.

Would like to show love to the Phantom panel, since I am working on a prose story for one of the upcoming anthologies, but it looks an unfortunate casualty of The Black Panel. Think this is maybe the third straight year SDCC has scheduled one, and it’s easily my favorite discussion of the entire con, and always leaves me more than a little inspired when it’s done. Sure there is a very passionate write-up about this in near Ambi. future, so I’ll contain myself for now. After, I’ll probably duck into the Wildstorm panel to hear some more details on the “relaunch” of sorts, that I’m confident will officially put them on the map, from a sales standpoint. For years, they’ve been delivering incredibly well executed books, that the numbers don’t even begin to accurately reflect, and with any luck, we can see that come to a swift and very justified end. Morrison on Wildcats and Authority is almost too cool for words, and with the other slots filled by people like Gail Simone and Azzarello, it’s time for the industry to stop sleepin’ on Wildstorm. Good luck to them with this initiative, and I can’t wait for it to get started.

After finally finishing the first season of Justice League, my respect for Bruce Timm increases once again, and I remember a few years back when JL was “premiered” at this very con, so I definitely wouldn’t mind a look at the new Legion cartoon. It crashes into The Boondocks Panel, which I might be able to skip because I went last year, and into what I’m sure will be the incredibly entertaining Snakes on a Plane presentation. The highbrow elitist threatened to get the best of me here, suggesting that I refuse to pay any mind to a movie so blatantly ridiculous, but honestly…how in the hell can I pass up a chance to see the great Sam Jack in person? Seriously? Just ain’t gonna happen. No way in hell do I come back home and tell cats I didn’t go to this, because I was too “smart” for Snakes on a Plane. So, there’s that settled right there.


Saturday-

10:30-12:00 Lost: Season 3–
You won’t want to miss this panel with Jorge Garcia (Hugo “Hurley” Reyes) and Daniel Dae Kim (Jin-Soo Kwon) from the cast of ABC’s hit show Lost as they are joined by co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producers Bryan Burk and Carlton Cuse to discuss the new season of Lost. They’ll preview excerpts from the Lost Season 2 DVD box set, take questions from the audience, and perhaps even offer some surprises! Room 20

11:30-1:00 Marvel: Cup o’ Joe–
It’s no-holds-barred, rapid-fire news and Q&A, shooting from the hip with the Q himself: Marvel editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada. This is one panel you don’t want to miss! Room 6B

1:00-2:30 DCU: One Year Greater–
With the world in post-Crisis shock, there’s a lot of picking up to do. Look into the future of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman–not to mention Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the Flash, and all your other DCU favorites–in this slide-show presentation moderated by Dan DiDio, senior VP/executive editor, DCU, and Bob Wayne, VP, sales. Joining them will be editor Steve Wacker and creators Terry Dodson (Wonder Woman), Geoff Johns (Teen Titans, 52), Kurt Busiek (Action Comics, Aquaman, Superman), Ivan Reis (Green Lantern), Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, All-New Atom), Grant Morrison (52, Batman, WildCATS), Judd Winick (Green Arrow, The Outsiders), Greg Rucka (52, Checkmate), Jimmy Palmiotti (Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven, Jonah Hex, Secret Six), Paul Dini (Detective Comics), and Brad Meltzer (Identity Crisis, the upcoming Justice League of America). Room 6B

Last day of the con, and a pretty light schedule to go along with it. The LOST panel is a given, as is Cup o’ Joe, which I don’t think I’ve ever missed, and the DC panel I’m strangely curious about, simply because I think that’s the most guests I’ve ever seen listed on one panel. Well, that’s not the only reason of course, but damn, that’s a lotta creators on stage. Good creators, too, which does help. But looks like I’ll be sitting in that same room for two straight hours, and then braving the con floor, for the most congested day of the festivities. It’ll be cool, though.


And then it’s all over, plane leaves back to the Chi on Sunday, and I begin the process of developing whatever form my recap column will take. First couple days will tell me if the photo journal thing has a chance of working out, but cool as it might be, already I feel sorry for my poor editor. If anybody spots me in a panel, or on the floor or something, please don’t hesitate to stop me and say what’s up. See you folks when I get back, and be on the lookout, cause there is a possibility, however slight, that I might send in a couple updates during the trip. Notice the presence of the word “slight” in that previous sentence.

Until then, or you know, sometime after. Take care.

B

 

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