SDCC 2010: Potentially Overlooked Panels

Here at Newsarama, we live to inspire dreams, not crush them like a cheese sandwich (™ Patton Oswalt).  But for those of you headed to the blue skies of Southern California for Comic-Con International: San Diego, we have some bad news about the big panels you want to attend: You ain’t gettin’ in.

Well, you’ll probably get in to some of them.  But as the con has engorged itself with fans from multiple media over the past decade, it has become more and more typical for rooms to overflow and rooms to get capped off.

Even the 5,600-seat Hall H had to turn away 800 people in 2008 for the preview footage of the Watchmen film.  Depending on how you feel about the final product, that may or may not have been a heartbreaker.

But even if you have spent hours and hours standing in line only to be told you can’t get in, don’t let despair claim your soul.  Sure, you might not get to see the first footage of Green Lantern, J.J. Abrams rap with Joss Whedon, a bunch of second-string cast members from Glee or the Quantum Leap retrospective with Scott Bakula (Newsarama note: Zack’s judgment of this as a major event might be subjective, unless Dean Stockwell also shows up).

But this is Comic-Con – there’s always something else going on.  And we’ve put together a list of some panels you might not have noticed that we think are pretty darn dope (™ Frylock).

Read on for 10 panels at Comic-Con that are well worth your time.  Some even involve comics!  And as a bonus, we’ve included some evening events as well.  Because we love you.  And because this let us cheat on the whole “10” thing.


The first full day of the con after Preview Night, which if history is any indicator, will be as busy as the Saturday from the previous year.

12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Sessions Paul Pope: Inking with Speed and Precision: If you want to learn how to make comics, you can spend almost the entire show in “how-to” panels learning everything from writing to penciling to inking to coloring to publishing to marketing…and more.  There’s a complete list of these panels here.

The program starts at noon with Paul Pope, one of the coolest cartoonists in comics, giving his advice on inking, followed at 1 by…Rob Liefeld describing how to “Design Iconic Characters.”  

Admit it.  You’re perversely intrigued.

Other CBLDF Master Sessions throughout Comic-Con include Jill Thompson on “Secrets of Watercolor Technique,” Terry Moore on “Drawing Characters with Character,” and Darick Robertson on “Body Language in Sequential Storytelling.”  

A great way to learn, and all the art produced will be featured in the CBLDF’s charity auction!  The sessions take place in Room 30CDE.

1:30-2:30 Beanworld and the Leguminous Life of Larry Marder: There are a ton of great creator showcases at Comic-Con, and this is one of the best.  If you haven’t checked out Larry Marder’s Tales of the Beanworld, you’ve missed one of the most magical and surreal all-ages comics ever published – think Fraggle Rock, but with beans.  

Dark Horse has reprinted the original series and done new graphic novels, and Marder discusses his career with no less than Scott McCloud of Understanding Comics.  It’s a great opportunity to see two master cartoonists talk shop. (Room 4)


In the highly, highly likely event that you won’t be able to get into Penn and Teller’s 35th anniversary retrospective, why not brush up on your comics history with the special premiere of Secret Origins: The Story of DC Comics, which is produced by the team behind the Oscar-nominated Spellbound and is narrated by Ryan Reynolds.

 Brush up on your history and annoy friends with your obscure trivia!  The premiere and a special panel run from 7:30 to 9:30 in Room 7AB.


The day where things start to get funky, both in terms of crowds and smell.

11:30-12:30: AMC’s The Walking Dead: Okay, we’re cheating with this, because it’s likely to be popular anyway.  But here’s a point: The summer before a new TV show premieres, you can meet all of the cast and creators at Comic-Con with little difficulty.  After its first season, you will find yourself in the world’s longest line to meet maybe half of them.

Take this opportunity now while you still have the chance. (Room 6BCF)

2:15-3:15: The Cape: Sneak Peek and Panel Discussion: Okay, so we’ve been fascinated with this upcoming NBC pilot ever since the script leaked months ago and the first footage started to air.  With its old-fashioned tale of a framed cop who becomes his son’s favorite comic book hero to clear his name, it could be the next Heroes or the next…well, Heroes after Season One.

 But it has some cool actors (including Summer Glau, Keith David, Vinnie Jones and James Frain, currently creeping it up as Franklin Mott on True Blood), and Battlestar Galactica’s Bear McCreary doing the music.

Oh, and on top of that, the pilot sneak features a giveaway Cape comic with a cover by John Cassaday.  Marvel’s Gabriel Hardman has said he did some comic art featured in the pilot, so he’s likely to be the artist on the interiors.  So if nothing else, it’s a chance to get some cool art by cool artists.  

Please, though, let this be better than shows like Black Scorpion…yes, I actually remember this…(Room 6A)

6:00-7:00: The Goon Film Panel: A few years ago, Eric Powell opened a San Diego panel by discussing a “Feature Film” of The Goon with Reno 911! ’s Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, who explained how they were writing the script for Vin Diesel and Rob Schneider, and then Powell smashed a fake chair over Lennon’s head and pretended to stomp on them before they fled.

Lord only knows what he’ll do now that there’s going to be an actual film. (Room 8)

And in Room 7AB, you can attend a panel for FX’s Archer, a great and very twisted spy cartoon that very few people watch.  Seriously, it’s good.  “Dayyynger Zonnnneee!”


Don’t forget the Eisners from 8:30 to 11:30…though they may last later.  Sure, it’s a bit slow, but if you wait until the very end, it’s a great way to casually chat with pros afterwards.  Plus, you’ll get to see some amusing presentations.  Oh, and this year, everyone who attends gets a free graphic novel by Will Eisner.  Not too shabby, eh?


The biggest day of the con, and the day most likely for someone to get trampled to death.

12:30-1:35: Quick Draw! : Everyone who attends SDCC should check out the Quick Draw contest at least once – it’s a chance to see some master creators coming up with some hilarious pics.  This year, host Mark Evanier and artist Sergio Aragones and Scott Shaw! are joined by the great illustrator and dinosaur artist William Stout.  Watch as Evanier comes up with something crazy for these experts to draw – and they have to draw it.  A great tradition, held at Room 6BCF.

1:30-2:30: Behind the Scenes with Sid & Marty Krofft, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears: A Look at the Past, Present and Future— One of the biggest news stories a few months ago was that Sid and Marty Krofft – aka creators of some of the most seemingly-drug-induced children’s shows of all time, such as H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost – would be developing the ideas comics god Jack Kirby did for Ruby-Spears Animation in the 1980s.

Ruby-Spears, who did such shows as Alvin and the Chipmunks, employed Kirby and a host of comic legends – including Gil Kane, Jonny Quest creator Doug Wildey and Filipino comics master Alfredo Alcala, as well as up-and-comer Jim Woodring – to work on some of the most insane cartoons of the 1980s, including the infamous Turbo Teen, about a teen who…turns into a car.  This was a real show.  Seriously.

Kirby’s left-behind ideas include the likes of Roxie’s Raiders, the tale of a 1930s circus sideshow who fight spies.  The Kroffts, along with the Ruby-Spears heads, will be at SDCC to talk about the material they’re developing, and working with Kirby.  It’s a great chance to learn more about the lost ideas of the King of Comics, or to possible confront those responsible for several childhood traumas.  Sleestak, anyone? (Room 24ABC)

3:15-4:15: ABC's No Ordinary Family: Exclusive Premiere: Remember what we said about getting in on a TV show early?  Well, ABC is building great buzz for this tale of a family that mysteriously acquires superpowers, headed by Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz.  Think of The Incredibles as a series.  Or possibly My Secret Identity.  You remember that, right?

Here’s your first chance to see the pilot and rap with the cast and creators, including executive producer Greg Berlanti, who happened to co-write the Green Lantern film.  If this show is a hit, you will have a much, much more difficult time doing this next year.  (Room 6A)

(Digression: You ever notice how every promo for ABC shows goes, “ABC’s (insert name), all-new this (day) on ABC?”  You think they don’t know what network we’re watching?  Also, lay off the “wacky” music in your dramas, ABC.  It’s driving us mad.)

We should cheat again by saying that this panel is up against the one for NBC’s Community from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Indigo Ballroom at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront.  This sort-of falls under our purview, as creator Dan Harmon’s written some comics and the Halloween episode had one of the best Batman parodies ever.  

But mostly because it’s one of the funniest shows on TV, and not enough people are watching it, and it’s going to be up against Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory this fall.  We promise you if you attend this panel, you will soon be after every episode for your DVR.  Trust us on this.


Fans taking the air this fine Saturday will have a choice between the annual Masquerade or hanging with the likes of Stan Lee, the Mythbusters, the makers of Halo, Kevin Smith, the Legend of Neil crew with Felicia Day, or Timmy Wiseau from The Room doing…whatever it is he does.  Possibly yelling strangely.

But if you want a great alternative early in the evening, why not try out Remembering Dick Giordano from 7:30-8:30?  An all-star team that includes Neal Adams, Mark Evanier, Bob Layton and Paul Levitz talk about the artist and editor who helped change the face of superhero comics.  A tribute to a great comics creator, and at the very least a nice prelude to the Masquerade. (Room 4)


As you wander amongst the tired, the dehydrated and/or hungover as the con winds down, don’t forget to pick up some bargains from desperate retailers and check out some panels. Some of them describe themselves.  For example:

2:00-3:00 ”The Batman Dreams of Hieronymus Machines,” or The Matt Fraction Spotlight Panel— If you like Matt Fraction’s Marvel superhero books, you’re only seeing…um, a fraction of his range.  I really didn’t intend that pun when I started that sentence. Newsarama Note: Yes, yes, he did.

The sheer weirdness and creativity of books like Casanova will be on display with what the program calls “a weird spoken-word history of comics, art, and his own experiences with both and how comics -- and art -- can save your life. Also: Bruce Lee, cave paintings, Stilt-Man, and profound brain injuries.”

This could be a profound afternoon.  Or just really, really weird.

Did we mention there’s a Q&A with SNL’s Bill Hader afterwards? (Room 7AB)

3:00-4:30 Comics Pro/Fan Trivia Match— And here’s another that speaks for itself:

“Len Wein (Microbots), Kurt Busiek (Kool-Aid Man), and Mark Waid (Batman Electric Talking Toothbrush) face off against fans Tom Galloway (former Google employee), David Oakes (college professor), and Michael Grabois (rocket scientist) in a match on significant pre-Crisis DC events in celebration of DC's 75th anniversary. Peter David (Captain America's War on Drugs) will moderate.” (Room 4)

Of course, these are just some panels that leapt out for us.  There might be others that appeal more to you – so why don’t you share them in the comments?  Because you’re going to do that anyway.  

But remember: Even if you can’t get into the panel you want, or if the floor’s too crowded to get upstairs…you’re still fine.  At Comic-Con, the coolest stuff is what you find on the floor.  Whether it’s meeting pros, new friends, or just finding something you never even knew existed, there’s plenty to find outside of the panels.  Just don’t buy what you can’t carry home. The shipping is expensive. And of course, if you’re not going, you can attend all the biggest panels and get all the news right here at Newsarama.

Panels galore!

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