San Diego Comic-Con is an overwhelmingly huge event, with thousands of panels, signings, screenings, and special events to choose from – but worry not, we at MTV Geek are here to help you. We've already given you our Top 10 must-see live-action TV panels and our Top 10 must-see toy panels, and here, I, Patrick Reed outline the top ten programs based around the convention's heart and soul: comics.
I've been spending a few days poring over the CCI schedule, making the tough decisions, figuring out my schedule – and this is the end result. This is a completely subjective list – these are just a small selection of the panels I plan to be attending, and/or the ones I'm upset I'll have to miss. (Narrowing the MASSIVE schedule down to merely ten picks, even with some honorable mentions tacked on, is a truly daunting task.)
So, without further ado, The Top Ten Must-See Comic Book Panels at CCI: San Diego (in chronological order)!
10. Black Mask: Bringing a Punk Rock Sensibility, Activism, and Wu-Tang to Comics (Thursday July 18th, 8:30pm, Room 8)
Black Mask are the wild upstart publishers of the comics game, the company behind Occupy Comics, Ghostface's '12 Reasons To Die', and other exciting titles… And word on the street is, they've got some big announcements in store for this panel. I've loved everything they've published so far, so I'll be there to hear what's coming up next.
9. Spotlight on Tony Isabella (Friday July 19th, 10:00am, Room 9)
Tony Isabella is one of my favorite writers ever to work in comics, an acclaimed journalist and commentator, and the creator of Black Lightning (DC Comics' first major African-American superhero). Here he makes a rare convention appearance to discuss his life, career, and creations.
8. Writers Unite: Pitching and Writing Creator-Owned Comics (Friday July 19th, 11:00am, Room 23ABC)
This panel brings together some of the brightest stars working today to discuss their most personal projects, give tips on how to submit pitches to comics companies, compare notes on their creative processes, and tell stories of life in the world of creator-owned comics.
7. Marvel: Cup O' Joe (Friday July 10th, 3:15pm, Room 6BCF)
Marvel's chief creative officer Joe Quesada is renowned for his wide-ranging and freeform convention panels, and this time around, he's joined by Marvel's Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso, talent scout C.B. Cebulski, senior VP of print and digital David Gabriel, Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers), Brian Michael Bendis (Guardians Of The Galaxy, X-Men, half the high-profile titles of the last decade) to talk about all things new and not-yet-announced.
6. IDW: The Panel To End All Panels (Friday July 19th, 4:00pm, Room 4)
The staff of IDW always bring their A-game to convention programming, hyping their publishing slate and announcing new projects with the skill and enthusiasm of master showmen. And this isn't just any convention – this is San Diego, the biggest con of all, housed in the city that serves as IDW's base of operations. I have no idea what they have in store, but I'm going to be in the room to find out.
5. A Celebration on Walt Kelly's 100th Birthday (Friday July 19th, 5:30pm, Room 8)
Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo Possum, was one of the finest artists the comics medium has ever produced. Here, his daughter (Carolyn Kelly) joins Jeff Smith (Bone), Paul Dini (Batman), acclaimed journalist Maggie Thompson, comic historian R.C. Harvey, and moderator Mark Evanier to commemorate Walt's centennial year and discuss his phenomenal body of work.
4. Spotlight on John Romita, Jr. (Saturday July 20th, 11:30am, Room 5AB)
John Romita Jr. is one of the most productive and distinctive artists in the industry, known for co-creating original properties Kick-Ass and The Grey Area, and having drawn defining runs of Thor, Hulk, Daredevil, Captain America, Spider-Man, and nearly every other major Marvel character. He's also a quick-witted and engaging storyteller, so this panel promises to be a perfect mix of informative and entertaining.
3. Jack Kirby Tribute Panel (Sinday Luy 21st, 10:00am, Room 5AB)
What can I say? If you're at Comic-Con because you love comics, this is the one panel that you shouldn't miss. Jack Kirby was 'The King', the man who defined comics' visual vocabulary in the 40s and reinvented it in the 60s, co-created the Marvel Universe, and invented countless concepts and characters over seven decades in the industry. This program is a Comic-Con tradition, and this year, moderator Mark Evanier has brought together speakers Neil Gaiman, Tony Isabella, and Paul S. Levine to discuss and celebrate Kirby's life and legacy.
2. All-Ages Comics Have Arrived (Sunday July 21st, 1:00pm, Room 24ABC)
KaBOOM! editor Shannon Watters talks about all-ages comics with Art Baltazar and Franco (creators of Aw Yeah Comics, Tiny Titans, Itty Bitty Hellboy, and Superman Family Adventures), Nate Cosby (creator of Archaia's Cow Boy), and Mike Kunkel (creator of Herobear And The Kid). I'm always psyched to see new comics that appeal to young readers, and I can't imagine a better line-up of creators discussing this topic. These are the people making the best kids' comics out there, giving vital insight into the work that's drawing a new generation of readers to comic shops.
1. Spotlight On Neil Gaiman (Sunday July 21st, 1:00pm, Room 6DE)
According to the program, this will be an hour of Neil Gaiman talking about his career… But he could get onstage and read the phonebook for an hour, and it would be worth lining up for. This my not be the absolute last panel of the weekend, but there's no better way to end your Comic-Con experience than listening to one of the world's finest storytellers.
And some Honorable Mentions (or a few more essential events for the comic-savvy con-goer):
The Eisner Awards ceremony at 8pm on Friday the 19th (in the Indigo Ballroom) will honor the industry's finest publications and creators, and bestow trophies on deserving recipients.
Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones' Quick Draw! session at 11:45 on Saturday the 20th (in Room 6BCF) is San Diego's annual fast-paced and fun-filled art competition (like professional Pictionary, with audience-suggested clues) featuring some of the best talents in the biz – this year's guest contestant is the legendary Neal Adams.
At 7pm on Saturday the 20th (in Room 25ABC), I'll be hosting the Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining panel, which will feature an all-star assemblage of recording artists and comic creators discussing the shared imagery, influences, and inspirations of these two uniquely American art forms.
And at 3:30 on Sunday the 21st (in Room 23ABC), it's the annual Comic-Con Talkback, with the president of CCI's board of directors conducting an open forum about this year's events, addressing concerns, and answering audience questions.
This is just a fraction of the incredible comics programming offered this year. Are you planning to attend any of these comic panels, or are there ones you think we missed? Let us know! And stay tuned to MTV Geek for more of our Comic-Con picks!