By Shawn Bourdo and Gordon S. Miller
San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Thursday
The first day of Comic-Con is such a roller coaster. It’s usually the sweetest day of the whole Con. You are still full of energy, you’ve forgotten how the Convention smells and the pain of waiting in lines, and it’s a day that is usually the least crowded of the four. Looking ahead, here’s what is catching my interest for this magical day.
1. TEEN TITANS GO! (10:15am – 11:15am, Room 6DE) – The cast and a preview of DVD releases and the upcoming season. This is a great start to the convention because it’s actually a comic based animated show. It also happens to be one of the funniest shows on TV. All ages shows are invaluable. This is a show that I can bond with my son. I can’t watch Archer or Children’s Hospital with him but we watch this show and both get all the references. I love that they are featuring this on the first morning because it’s an important bridge show for adults and children.
2. 1986: THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE (3:00pm – 4:00pm, Room 5AB) – I’ve attended the past few years of these looks back at 30 years ago in movies. They are the highlights of my trip each year. I’m anxious for 1986 because you get discussion of Aliens and Blue Velvet and Ferris Bueller among others. This is a frantic discussion for sixty minutes that I always wish was a two-hour, time-travel trip. It’s the best year to talk about until we get to 1989 and I’m excited to make this a destination panel.
3. SNOOPY FOR PRESIDENT: POLITICS IN PEANUTS – (3:00pm – 4:00pm, Room 32AB) – I hate when two of the things I want to see the most are happening at the same time. This is a subject that’s been needing a panel. Charles Schulz was a political thinker. He didn’t really support a specific candidate but he lampooned the process. I remember clearly the time when Snoopy was declared the Head Beagle and how it reflected the early 1970s political environment. Done correctly this could be one of the most informative panels at this convention.
4. GEEK’S MORE GREATEST MOVIES & TV NEVER MADE: THE THREEQUEL (4:00pm – 5:00pm, Room 23ABC) – I’ve attended the previous two episodes of this panel. Are you seeing a pattern here? Some of the best panels just can’t be completed in an hour. This one is working into the third edition. I’ve always been interested in films that were almost or never released. This year I’m most interested about James Cameron’s Spider-Man and the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai.
5. CAPTAIN AMERICA 75th ANNIVERSARY (5:00pm – 6:00pm, Room 9) – Jim Simon the son of Joe Simon, one of the co-creators will be here. I think you need to have at least one comic related panel each day. It’s a comic book convention. I like to hear talk about the original written material that attracted us to these stories. I’m less knowledgeable about the origins of the Captain America book than I am of other titles. For Thursday, this looks like the best of the comic bunch.
SKIP: SNOWDEN (redacted) – Oliver Stone directs a film that plays out well in trailers but is probably not anything interesting for a feature-length film. I can’t tell you enough how uninteresting talk about Snowden will be here for an hour. I don’t even want to know how uniformed the average attendee might be here. If you want to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt that bad, I’m sure he’s got another panel this weekend.
Gordon S. Miller
1. SILICON VALLEY PANEL Q&A (4:00pm – 5:00pm, Indigo Ballroom) – Although Game of Thrones and Veep get most of the buzz, this sitcom sandwiched in-between is just as deserving of attention because it is one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV. Hope they offer some hints about the next season.
2. MAD ABOUT MAD (6:00pm – 7:00pm, Room 5AB) – It is amazing that this brand is still out there. Can’t wait to see how it compares to the material from my youth.
3. SPIKE & MIKE’S FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION (7:15pm – 8:15pm, Room 6BCF) – This a great opportunity to see the current state of animated shorts by filmmakers who may go to become leaders in the industry.
4. THE 19TH ANNUAL SUPERHERO KUNG FU EXTRAVAGANZA (8:00pm – 10:30pm, Room 6A) – There is comfort in institutions and it’s good to see Ric Meyers return with clips filled with madness and mayhem. I won’t be there for the whole show, but it’s nice to know I can pop in for a few moments to be stunned and amused.
5. GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON MEMORIAL GATHERING (9:00pm – 10:30pm, Room 9) – Friends and fans will celebrate the life of George Clayton Johnson (writer for Twilight Zone and Star Trek, co-writer of the novel Logan’s Run), who died on Christmas Day 2015 at the age of 86. Commemorations of art and artists are what I love about conventions. The selling of products I have little interest in.
SKIP: It was hard for me to narrow down to just one. There are a number of bad panels this day where people without much in the way of accomplishment have gotten themselves a Comic-Con pass by creating a panel devoted to themselves, like internet writers (and no, I hadn’t wish I’d thought of it first). But the absolute oddest one is:
NERD TRIVIA CHALLENGE: AUTHOR EDITION (redacted) – Attendees get to leave the Convention Center area for the opportunity to watch a group of authors answer trivia questions. No, thanks. I can just as easily do that with my friends or strangers at a bar.
San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Friday
Friday is the day that everything really gets started. The morning always has more energy as a majority of the weekend folks arrive with renewed excitement. It’s also the day that the “real” stars start to show off. I hit the Convention Center still excited and full of hope that I’ll get into all the panels I want to see.
GEEK GIRLS & CATBIRDS (10:00am – 11:00am, Room 25ABC) – Other than having a really great title (which I will always give a second look), this panel has one attraction. A few years ago at a Ray Bradbury memorial panel I was lucky enough to hear Margaret Atwood speak. I’ve always respected her writing but I found her spoken stories just as riveting. Atwood, Joelle Jones, and Hope Nicholson talk about creating characters, cartooning, and book deals. I have found these free-form panels to lend themselves to very interesting stories. And learning from some of the accomplished women working on the fringes of the industry should be informative.
THE GIANT’S DREAM: DOCUMENTARY SCREENING & CHAT WITH BRAD BIRD (10:00am – 11:30am, Room 24 ABC) This is probably me real first destination on Friday morning. I have loved Iron Giant since it debuted in 1999. Brad Bird is bringing a new documentary about the making of this film to the Con. This was his start that led to some great work at Pixar. But this movie has that same heart. I love documentaries about older films when we have the time and perspective. This chat about a 17-year-old movie is right in my wheelhouse.
AMC’S FEAR THE WALKING DEAD (Noon – 1:00pm, Hall H) – I would go to this panel to see if I can save myself quite a bit of time this next year. I’m at a crossroads with this show, which I have written about. I need to go to this panel to see if they give away any clues as to where we are going next season. Also my Kim Dickens will be there! I know that most of these panels don’t do anything but tease the next season and celebrate the past season. I can hold out hope that they can get me excited about a show that has left me cold more than enthused recently.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: BRAVE NEW WARRIORS (1:45pm – 2:45pm, Ballroom 20) – I will have to fight everyone interested in hot, spicy men to get into this. But it might be worth it. These are some of the most iconic male heroes on TV currently including Dominic Cooper from Preacher, Theo Rossi from Luke Cage and Clive Standen from Vikings. These panels that don’t just focus on one show are great because it becomes a love fest among the actors who all express love for the other shows on the panel and try to top each other with funny stories.
STARZ ORIGINAL SERIES AMERICAN GODS (3:15pm – 4:15pm, Room 6BCF) – I haven’t read this Neil Gaiman title but I’m hoping this is one of the next big genre titles on TV. The cast looks really great. I only really know Ian McShane and that’s perfect for a genre series. I want to get a feel for the tone of the show because the adaptations of Gaiman’s work has been all over the place. I don’t mind with what they’ve done with Lucifer but it’s not true to Neil’s original work. I think we might be talking about a show in a much bigger room next year.
SKIP: THE EXORCIST (redacted) – This is the new show based on the movie coming to Fox this Fall. Need I even tell you why you should stay way away? If I do, stop reading me now and forever.
Gordon S. Miller
WALT KELLY AND POGO (12:30pm – 1:30pm, Room 8) – I am a sucker for the classics and Kelly’s Pogo is held in such reverence by artists like Bill Watterson that I need to learn more about it and fill that void in my comic-strip knowledge. I hope I can a collection of the start of its run on the show floor.
SPOTLIGHT ON BERKELEY BREATHED (1:30pm – 2:30pm, Room 5AB) – Publishing on his Facebook page, Breathed returned to Bloom County last year after a seven-year break since Opus. I am curious to hear him talk about the reasons why and the what he has planned moving forward.
THE TICK: THE FIRST 30 YEARS (2:30pm – 3:30pm, Horton Grand Theatre) – Dammit! I am a huge fan of the comic and the cartoon (never got into the live-action show) but why is this panel offsite?! Am going to scope out travel time on Preview Night, but the location is a huge negative. Hope someone records it.
ARCHER: SCREENING AND Q& A (5:00pm – 6:00pm, Indigo Ballroom) – One of the funniest casts around from one of the funniest shows always makes for a delightful panel and since I am missing out on the exclusive Archer Live! event, I’ve got to take them in. (Phrasing!)
KLINGON LIFESTYLES (8:30pm – 9:30pm, Room 6A) – The scope of fandom is Comic-Con fascinating to me because there is only so much entertainment a person can ingest in the finite time one has. This is why each year I always try to attend a long-running panel that I’ve never been to, like the Little Lulu and John Stanley Fan Group. This year it is Klingon Lifestyles, which is holding its 23rd annual stage play about the adventures of the IKV Stranglehold crew. Their long-running devotion to theater and Star Trek I find fascinating, so I am going to give it a shot. Plus, there’s a Trek costume contest.
SKIP: There are a lot of panels I wouldn’t recommend because I have no interest in them like improv groups and those that appeal to a niche I am not into but that’s not really fair to those panels since I don’t even know what goes on beyond the program synopses. One I have attended before and feel comfortable telling people to take a pass on is:
YOUR OPINION SUCKS! ROTTEN TOMATOES CRITICS VS. FANS (redacted) – This is a comment thread come to life as fans voice their opinion or troll the critics and crowd about why they think a certain popular movie sucks. Some people make good points about why a movie didn’t work for them; others don’t. Skip it and go argue with your friends.
San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Saturday
Saturday. The peak. The day when you never have less that three panels at any given time that you want to attend. There’s a definite pinnacle to Saturday with the most popular and interesting panels. The lines start early and go into the night. It’s the day that I’m most tired and more likely to consider the whole schedule and spend hours or the whole day in one room. I’m looking at the panels independently for this list. This is the “I have a Fast Pass to the front of every line” list where I can just roam the halls and go from panel to panel. You know, like 1998.
EISNER, KURTZMAN, SCHULZ AND FEIFFER: VISUALIZING A LEGACY (10:00am – 11:00am, Room 4) – Yes it’s all about older artists that can’t be there mostly because they’re dead. Why this group of artists other than that they are groundbreaking? They are all nominated for Eisners this year. Also I’m still discovering the work of each. As I get older, I’m more interested in the history of graphic storytelling. These are part of the Rushmore of that group. Each of the four artists is represented by someone who is an “expert” on them. I’m most anxious to hear Chip Kidd speak on Schulz.
CREATING UNIVERSES (11:30am – 12:30pm, Horton Grand Theatre) – I wondered initially if this was Universe or if it was universes. Turns out that it’s both! I want to be front row for Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about real Universes and Len Wein (“Swamp Thing”) talking about comic universes. If you know me, you know that this is right up my alley. I couldn’t create a panel that does a better job of combining science and imagination. I’m tempted to call this the panel of the whole Con.
SPOTLIGHT ON JEFF SMITH (12:30pm – 1:30pm, Room 8) – I’ve seen the Bone creator on multiple occasions. He’s the resident expert on Pogo and I love hearing him talk about Walt Kelly. But he’s also the creator of maybe my favorite comic of all-time in Bone. He’s responsible for the entry-level comic for so many folks. I like to just check in with the man. He’s inspiring to me because we share a vision for how a story should unfold outside of genre expectations but still respecting the genre. I hope this has news of a new project.
NASA & ANGRY BIRDS ON A JOURNEY TO MARS (1:30pm – 2:30pm, Room 5AB) – Maybe I’m at the wrong type of convention? I think it’s more of the evolution of my convention experience. I’m a geek. I have deep interest in all of the fringe elements of culture. For me, Space was one of my first. It developed into an interest in actual space exploration. To understand the brilliance of some of the best science fiction I needed to know the actual science behind it. This panel is in one obvious way about a video game. But look at the panel – it’s all folks, and some pretty important folks, from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I’m excited to be in a room with some of the most brilliant engineers on our planet. It’s all about creativity and knowledge. My geek is strong with this one.
SID & MARTY KROFFT (2:00pm – 3:00pm, Room 23ABC) – I’ve seen these brothers the past four years or so. I think they tell one new story per panel. But there will be a day when I can’t see them. I feel like I just want to be in a room with the men that brought so much pleasure to my Saturday mornings as a kid. I can’t hug them or hold their hands but I feel that love among these people there. David Arquette will be there this year because he’s starring in the Amazon Prime version of Sigmund and the Sea Monster and we are getting closer to the Electra Woman and Dyna Girl film. I won’t learn much here but for sixty minutes I feel among my tribe.
SKIP: SCOOBY-DOO AND WWE: CURSE OF THE SPEED DEMON (redacted) Normally I’d say that mixing two things I like into one would be a good thing. But you can only combine the franchises so many times. Was it great when Scooby-Doo met Batman and Robin? Yes. It was fabulous. How about when he met KISS? Well, that was a stretch. Now there’s some wrestlers solving a mystery with a talking dog. I know that we like to flippantly say the wrestlers are like superheroes but seriously. I am as big a fan of Scooby as you get but even I reach my limits.
Gordon S. Miller
WHAT HAPPENED (10:00am – 11:00am, Room 6A) – Wish this wasn’t so early, but it is what it is. I am such a big fan of movies that I am just as intrigued by some of the ones that didn’t get as I am the ones that did. The discussion will include films such as Superman Lives to Jodorowsky’s Dune, which both had documentaries made about their plight.
STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT (12:30pm – 1:30pm, Room 5AB) – With “never-before-seen clips and photos from some of Star Trek‘s most beloved episodes,” I am compelled to check it out. Don’t think the room is going to be big enough.
ALIENS: 30TH ANNIVERSARY (3:15pm – 4:15pm, Hall H) – Not that I think I’ll get in, but to bring together director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, and cast members that include Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, and Lance Henriksen is a must-see.
TIME AFTER TIME PILOT SCREENING AND Q&A (8:20pm – 9:15pm, Room 6BCF) – I enjoyed Nichols Meyer’s 1979 movie about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper to modern-day America. As a TV series it has great potential, like Dr. Richard Kimble chasing the one-armed man in The Fugitive. Although the executive producers give me pause because I haven’t been a big fan of their work.
SEASON 2 WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING OF ASH VS EVIL DEAD (10:00pm – 11:00pm, Room 6DE) – Was astounded how well they pulled off the return to this universe and can’t wait for next season. This is in much to small of a room.
SKIP: THE RICHARD HATCH BREAKTHROUGH ACTORS LAB AND FILMING WORKSHOP (redacted) – There were many contenders, but the title gave it the winning edge. I am willing to concede that Richard Hatch may be a great teacher, but is anyone coming to Comic-Con in order to spend less than an hour learning “the art, craft, and business of how to ignite and level up their abilities, as well as how to take [their] career to lasting success in today’s rapidly changing entertainment industry.”
San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Sunday
Sunday is the relaxed day of rest at the convention. If you are leaving town, then you are usually more concerned about getting out of town than what is still happening at the Con. If you are staying, then you are enjoying much less traffic and making last-minute purchases and the panels are usually more oriented towards a younger audience. I find it a wonderful end after such a crowded Saturday. Here’s a few that look good for the stragglers.
INDIEWIRE: WEIRDMAGEDDON: A FAREWELL TO DISNEY’S GRAVITY FALLS (10:00am – 11:00am, Room 7AB) – I’ve always championed this animated series as one of the most under-appreciated around. I think if it had aired on a more mainstream outlet other than Disney XD that it would be more of a cult favorite. It went out with a spectacular three-part event that summarized lots of in-jokes from the whole series. I want to be around to pay tribute to this show before it becomes a footnote in geek TV history.
CONAN & FRAZETTA: CELEBRATING 50 YEARS (11:00am – Noon, Room 29AB) – Frank’s daughter, Holly will be at this panel that focuses both on Frazetta and Conan. I’ve attended a few Frazetta-related panels over the years and I don’t know if there is a more passionate fan group of a single artist out there. It was close for George Perez but Frank’s fans are legion. You can’t help but get excited around that much energy.
ANYTHING GOES WITH JOHN BARROWMAN (2:00pm – 3:00pm, Room 6BCF) – This is usually a Saturday afternoon panel and sometimes one of my last of the Con. I’m glad I have a later flight this year and this will once again be my last of the Convention. For years his energy has made this the best freeform panel. I always laugh and leave with a new appreciation of his talents. A perfect conclusion to an awesome week.
SKIP: WORLD PREMIERE OF BATMAN UNLIMITED: MECH VS MUTANTS (redacted) – I am usually all about the DC Universe in animated format. The trend of mixing the Batman video game universes into the animated world has created some very boring and uninspiring stories. That’s what is written all over the plot of this one. It’s Sunday, go forth and shop and walk the grounds before sitting inside for this one.
Gordon S. Miller
EXHIBITION FLOOR – If you want to find some great deals, this is the day to go. Don’t expect any exclusive items that rabid fans want, but for the causal collector, prices will be slashed so dealers can lessen their load before returning home
JACK KIRBY TRIBUTE PANEL (10:00am – 11:15am, Room 5AB) – One of the men responsible for this wild weekend because of his influential work. Panelists and fans will gather to honor the man known as The King of the Comics.
PAC-MAN TO MARIO: RETRO VIDEO GAMES AND VIDEO GAMES HISTORY (3:00pm – 4:00pm, Room 32AB) – As someone who used to play Space Invaders at the roller rink and own an Atari 2400, I am definitely interested in this topic.
SKIP: DO YOU WANNA BUILD A MANDO (redacted) – Normally, I would be indifferent to a panel like this because if your hobby is building costumes, I hope you derive all the fun you can out of it. But to see the description contain “the application process, what happens after you’re approved” smacks of exclusion and elitism that I don’t think belongs in fandom. Are there really only an entitled few who can make Jango Fett outfits?
THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON BLOGCRITICS AS:
Previewing San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Sunday
Previewing San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Saturday
Previewing San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Friday
Previewing San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Thursday
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