San Diego Comic-Con has something for everyone. Even if your interests don’t lead towards the nerdy or the bizarre, you’ve got kids panels, video games, and even technical workshops that train in everything from CGI to Photoshop design. But for those of you who want to avoid the Hall H lines, the screaming Gleeks, and non-stop barrage of comic book news, there’s plenty of places to catch your breath. Here are ten off-beat panels where we guarantee you’ll learn something you never, ever knew before. Unless, you know, you’re running the panel:
Thursday, July 22 - 11:00-12:00 Comic-Con How-To: Costuming with Sabrina Belly Dancer— Sabrina will show how to create a costume bra top for hall costumes or a masquerade performance. She will create the costume bra and, time permitting, will also show the application of Long Wearing Fantasy Eye Makeup For Long Days On The Con Floor and for hall costume or masquerade performances. Room 28DE
There’s a number of different costuming panels throughout the Con, but this is easily the most specific. I mean, not only is it not full costumes… It’s bra tops. For fantasy costumes. That’s it. Granted, sure, I guess SOMEONE needs to make bra tops, but if you haven’t made your Slave Leia costume by 11am on Thursday, where are you going to find one now? Oh right: everywhere.
Friday, July 22 - 1:00-2:00 Free 3D Glasses for You at the 3D Comics Panel!— This presentation in actual 3D will take you through the exciting history of million-selling 3D comics. It showcases their invention in 1953 by Joe Kubert and Norm Maurer and the artists who followed their lead: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bob Powell, Otto Messmer, and more. Projected in 3D, you'll see rare comics and unpublished art by these geniuses and the 3D comics that have inspired today's 3D movies. Hosted by Eisner Award winner Craig Yoe, author of the Amazing 3D Comics (IDW/Yoe Books), premiering at Comic-Con. Room 4
This wins “Best Title of a Panel at This Year’s CCI,” hands down. And though it does have a ridiculous title befitting its subject, it does have the super smart Craig Yoe at the helm, and a fascinating subject. So take that, snarky guy who is writing this article (who is me).
Friday, July 22 - 4:00-5:30 So You Want to Be a Comic Book Retailer?— ComicsPRO's Retailer Mentoring Forum brings you this Comic-Con tradition -- an always lively and fun discussion in which your dreams of owning your own comic book specialty store take flight! You have questions? This panel of experienced retailers has answers! Hosted by Joe Field (ComicsPRO president, owner of Flying Colors Comics, Concord CA), with Portyln Polston (Brave New World, Newhall CA), Jennifer Haines (The Dragon, Guelph ON), Chris Brady (4 Color Fantasies, Rancho Cucamonga CA), and Diamond Comic Distributors outside sales manager Dave Hawksworth. Your career in comics retail starts here! Room 32AB
My fondest hope is that they start the panel, say, “No. You don’t,” drop the mic, and walk out.
Friday, July 22 - 7:00-8:00 Teching Out with NCIS: LA— With a hot young cast and high-stakes adventures, it's no secret why 18 million fans tune in each week to watch the agents of NCIS: Los Angeles go undercover to protect national security. Utilizing some of the most advanced technologies available today, NCIS: LA offers a stunning window into the world of constant surveillance. In this panel, fans will be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at how the series uses some of the coolest and immersive technologies available today, as well as how the cast has used technology and social media in their own personal lives to connect to their fans. Creator and executive producer Shane Brennan, actor LL Cool J, and other NCIS: LA cast members explain what's real, what's not, and what's next for season three. Room 6BCF
I’m trying very, very hard not to snark on weird TV choices in panels, but this is easily the most bizarre. I’m glad they actually gave this the focus on surveillance tech – and yes, I realize, as the blurb says, eighteen million people I’ve never met watch this show. But NCIS: LA? Really? With LL Cool J as a special guest? Really? First person to ask him about his shark contact lenses in the video for “Deep Blue Sea” gets five bucks from me, by the way.
Friday, July 22 - 7:30-8:30 The Science of Zombies: How Possible Is a Zombie Virus?— The top creative minds behind the acclaimed and highly anticipated Dead Island role-playing video game and an esteemed medical professional in the field of brain research and brain disease explore the pop culture fascination with the zombie genre as a whole and how creative talent is harnessing medical science to define and explore horror entertainment in more realistic (and therefore more frightening and engaging) ways. Room 8
There’s actually a number of zombie panels this year, including one on how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse with World War Z author Max Brooks, and another focusing on Deadliest Warrior’s Zombies vs. Vampires episode. But this one sounds the nerdiest of them all, at least until you realize it’s a semi-sneaky way of advertising the new video game Dead Island. But don’t worry! There’s “an esteemed medical professional” on the panel. Fingers crossed it’s Tara Reid’s character from Alone in the Dark. Man, I am on far with the mid-2000’s movie references today, you guys.
Friday, July 22 - 7:45-8:45 Klingon Lifestyles Presentation— When a diplomatic mission to Bajor goes awry, the crew of the IKV Stranglehold find themselves going through the looking glass to a world that is different from what they know. All life forms and alien cultures are welcome to the latest episode in the ongoing adventures of life aboard the Klingon vessel Stranglehold. Room 6A
True story: there was a guy who raised his child to speak Klingon as a first language. I don’t know if he was arrested or not, but he would definitely go to this panel.
Saturday, July 23 - 10:00-11:00 From Buddha to Batman: Deepak Chopra and Grant Morrison Discuss The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes— Five years ago, New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned spiritual guru Deepak Chopra joined legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, Supergods) at Comic-Con to discuss the role superheroes play in the social fabric. What started as a thought-provoking panel discussion has since become a profound new teaching manual for discovering the superhero within -- Chopra's new book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes. Now Chopra and Morrison are back to elaborate on what the superhero archetype means for us today. Joined by Deepak's son Gotham Chopra (founder of Liquid Comics) and moderated by Chris Carle (editorial director of IGN Entertainment), the discussion will cover the seven essential laws that govern the realm of superheroes and the cultural importance of superheros -- why they matter, why they will always be with us, and what they tell us about who we are...and what we may yet become. Q&A to follow. Room 6A
I actually went to see this exact same panel at CCI three years ago. It was a Sunday, and after several days of non-stop noise, talking, drinking, and walking the long Con hallways, I just needed a place to sit in the dark for a bit and watch something simple to calm my mind. So I snuck in the back of this chat between Grant Morrison and Deepak Chopra, which, in short order, made me think maybe I had gone completely insane and couldn’t understand logical human speech anymore. Anyway, this should be a good time.
Saturday, July 23 - 3:30-4:30 How to Get News Coverage— Small press publishers: what makes the difference between an item that will get news coverage, previews, interviews and one that won't? A lot of publishers have no idea what to submit to the press, how to submit it, and why they are being overlooked for coverage. Comic journalist Rik Offenberger (First Comics News, Archie Comics) moderates this panel with the comic journalists themselves telling you what they are looking for in your submissions. Panelists include Holly Golightly (BroadSword Studios), Laura Hudson (Comics Alliance), Rich Johnston (Bleeding Cool), Kiel Phegley (CBR), Chris Thompson (First Comics News), and J. C. Vaughn (The Scoop). Find out what it takes to self-promote and make a significant impact on your ability to sell your comics project. Room 24ABC
The easiest way? Call your panel, “How to Get News Coverage,” and then have it be listed in a list of ten off-beat panels. So there you go. That said, there’s a pretty nice line-up here, and it should make for an interesting panel, though I secretly hope nobody goes, and CCI tells them, “Well, maybe you should have promoted it better.” That would be hilaaaaarious.
Sunday, July 24 - 12:00-2:00 Ball-Jointed Dolls Collectors Group— Doll owners and enthusiasts discuss the world of ball-jointed resin dolls from companies such as Elfdoll, Volks, Luts, Customhouse, Fairyland, Bambicrony, Iplehouse, and many others. Learn the basics about BJDs, and pick up tips on customizing, maintaining, and photographing these beautiful dolls. Share the beauty of your own unique doll, or just see the many dolls on display, from tiny to towering...it's a great opportunity to experience the different types of dolls in the world of BJDs. Make new friends, both real and resin! Room 32AB
I have nothing to add beyond the last sentence of that blurb.
Sunday, July 24 - 4:00-5:00 The Superhero Battlefield— What drives superheroes to keep fighting the good fight without getting burned out, disillusioned, or transforming into villains themselves? Trauma psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi (UCLA) explores the minds of your favorite comic book heroes and villains, linking them with the very real minds of actual trauma survivors. Alongside Dr. Letamendi are fellow psychologists Dr. Robin Rosenberg (The Psychology of Superheroes) and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman in his Belfry), as well as guest panelists including writer Len Wein (Swamp Thing). Room 4
You can finish up CCI with what is possibly the most erudite panel on the schedule. Some might call it, “the nerdiest panel,” but not this guy, as it actually sounds kind of fascinating, and calling something the nerdiest at CCI is like going into the sea, pointing to a mackeral, and saying, “You’re the fishiest.” But after four days of watching superguys punch each other, maybe its good to leave with a little education?