Look, we know you’re probably poking through the San Diego Comic-Con schedule and panicking right now. “How the hell am I supposed to choose between Modern Batman-ology and the Game of Thrones panel in Hall H?” First off, that’s a trick question; you’re never getting into Hall H, so forget it. But secondly, we’re here to help you make some of those crucial choices as you scope out some of the best and most interesting panels during the show.
In this list, we’ve come up with 13 comics-related panels which you absolutely, positively should not miss (unless you’ve made it into Hall H, in which case please share your dark sorceries with the rest of us).
13. IDW: Rock This Town (Friday, 4:00pm – 5:00pm Room 4)
The announcement in the Comic-Con schedule for this panel was pretty light on details outside of its panelists: creative types Gabriel Rodriguez, Jonathan Maberry, and Scott Tipton will be joined by IDW head honchos Dirk Wood and Chris Ryall.
So why’d it make the list? Every year, IDW seems to sneak in one or two very interesting new licensed comics. Right now, the publisher has a great relationship with Hasbro and they’ve been working with Cartoon Network to produce comics based off of some of their line of programming.
So what will it be this time? Will the nostalgia factory find a way to nab something like He-Man or figure out how to make Go-Bots interesting for the modern era?
12. 30 Years of Usagi Yojimbo (Saturday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm Room 28DE)
How weird is it that this is one of two martial-arts animal comics celebrating three decades on the shelves?
With the Senso miniseries on the way, Dark Horse has trotted out Stan Sakai to talk about the book, the character, and maybe, just maybe a few life lessons. Sakai is a wildly talented artist, and Usagi Yojimbo has survived the ups and downs of the industry (and plenty of publishers), ultimately making its way to its current home at DH.
Now when are we going to get a Bucky O’Hare retrospective up in this?
11. Lion Forge Comics: Knight Rider vs. Airwolf, Rampage Jackson and New Project Debuts (Saturday, 11:00am – 12:00pm Room 29A)
Speaking of having our childhoods sold back to us…
How exactly does a car (albeit one that talks) fight a chopper? I guess we’ll find out in the upcoming crossover comic. Also, MMA tough guy Rampage Jackson will be onhand to talk about Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier, thus pushing the fighter-turned-actor one step closer to the full Mr. T.
10. Berkeley Breathed: The Last Comic-Con Panel (Saturday, 12:00pm – 1:00pm Room 9)
This one is really for the newspaper strip fans (the six or seven of you that are out there).
The Bloom County, Opus, and Flawed Dogs creator is making a rare (and according to the convention, possibly final) Con appearance to show off… something. Breathed’s not saying what, nor are the organizers, but art or photos involving Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson are involved.
Seriously, what is the deal with reclusive and secretive comic strip creators?
9. The Oni Press Comicstravanganza: All Cats Go to Purgatory (Saturday, 2:00pm – 3:00pm Room 9)
Comics publisher Oni seems to be shining a pretty narrow spotlight this year, featuring Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey’s I Was the Cat alongside The Life After from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo.
While the panel description promises additional announcements, it’s a far cry from previous years where Oni would pack their stage with tons of creators and tease out plenty of news in advance. Here’s hoping this is just a coordination thing, because Oni offers some of the most consistently strong books in the business and I want to know that 2015 will be chock full of new titles at least as good as offerings like The Sixth Gun or (way back when) Scott Pilgrim.
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary (Saturday, 2:00pm – 3:00pm Room 23ABC)
Okay, this is a little bit of a cheat since this panel crosses pretty much every version of the Ninja Turtles franchise, but the comics are in there (and the reason for the whole anniversary in the first place).
Series co-creator Kevin Eastman will be there along with Tom Waltz, current writer of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, so that means you’ll have plenty of chances to ask why we haven’t see a TMNT/Daredevil crossover yet.
7. Where is the Love: The Strange Disappearnace of Romance Comics (Friday, 11:00am – 12:00pm Room 28DE)
Where, in fact, is the love?
I have to confess, the academic part of my brain is always fascinated by this kind of panel, looking at a slice of history and trying to figure out what went wrong (or whatever). In this case, creators like Colleen Coover (Gingerbread Girl) and Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics) try to figure out why a once ubiquitous genre just went extinct. While it would be easy to blame a giant meteor or soap operas (which are themselves an endangered species), look at some place like Japan which still does a healthy trade in romance-only funny books.
And no, we’re not counting the ones involving tentacles.
6. Image Comics: I is for… Inception (Friday, 11:00am – 12:00pm Room 23ABC)
It’s the nerdiest of comics nerd panels: looking at how books get made (and I’m kind of into it)!
From the sounds of it, this panel isn’t really specific to a particular announcement, reveal, or title. Instead, it’s a spotlight on some of the creative teams which have been at the forefront of the Image line for the last couple of years. Look at it as a chance to get some behind-the-scenes insight into the production process at Image, which is a bit different when you’re dealing with a shared universe at a publisher like Marvel or DC.
5. DC Comics – Superman: Man of Tomorrow (Saturday, 11:15am – 12:30pm Room 6DE)
Have I mentioned here how excited I am for some of that upcoming Romita on Superman action? I mean in terms of the art, and not via some elaborate artist-on-fictional-character fanfic I may or may not be currently writing.
I’m also ready to see what DC has planned for Superman heading into – what, is this year three of the New 52? Charles Soule has a pretty solid track record as a writer, and it doesn’t hurt to have him associated with Superman, who really needs more writers who don’t think the Man of Steel needs to be more of a jerk in the 21st century. And I’m an occasional Geoff Johns fan, so I’m curious what his thoughts are on the direction for the character headed into the future.
Also: giant robot apes!
4. Spotlight on Mike Mignola (Friday, 12:30pm – 1:30pm Room 24ABC)
When it comes to Hellboy, I’m like one of those people who found religion late in life: I’m always talking about it and trying to convince everyone else to read this bit of literature I have for them.
Now that the character is turning 20, publisher Dark Horse has been great about showing HB some love with collections and goodies. This time out, they’re spotlighting his creator, Mike Mignola, who’ll be on hand to talk about the Hellboy-verse (and maybe tell us when the whole apocalypse thing will finally just up and finish in B.P.R.D.).
3. Marvel Spiderverse (Friday, 10:00am – 11:00am Room 6DE)
I should probably be reading more Spider-Man comics. I’ve been a big supporter of most of writer Dan Slott’s work with the character over the last few years, and I have to confess, I’m curious what Marvel’s cooking with their upcoming “Spiderverse” event, which brings together all of the Spider-heroes past, present, future, and across dimensions for some kind of grand meetup.
Slott will be on hand along with writer Mark Waid, who knows a thing or two about a great Spider-Man story.
Also: Spider-meetup. I don’t know what it means now that I’ve written it, but someone make it a thing.
2. Milestone @21 (Friday, 11:30am – 12:30pm Room 5AB)
Look, DC doesn’t know what to hell to do with the Milestone characters (didn’t Icon or someone show up in the Justice League briefly), but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t celebrate this, er, milestone for the minority-friendly comics imprint.
The line, started by the late Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, and Michael Davis is your chance to revisit some of the books from the line (which really need some kind of Absolute edition at this point). As a bonus, voice actor and all-around super nice guy Phil Lamarr will be moderating the panel, so at least there will be jokes (and at least once person asking about the Samurai Jack revival).
1. DC Comics: The Multiversity Enrollment (Friday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm Room 6DE)
Finally: hot damn, how long have we been hearing about Multiversity? I feel like writer Grant Morrison has been talking about it since (or even before) Final Crisis wrapped.
The mad Scot’s next big DC thing is coming soonish we’ve been told, so DC has flown Morrison out to talk about the book, and the characters we can expect to see from the 52 alternate Earths that now make up the shared DCU.
So those are my picks – what are you planning to see at the show?
Previously by Charles Webb
9 Things Zack Snyder’s Justice League Movie Had Better Not Do
8 Batman Characters Who Might Be the Arkham Knight
8 Things I Learned After a Week of Dying in Dark Souls II
8 Things I Learned While Surviving Space Camp
8 Reasons You Absolutely Must Watch Cosmos
10 Modern Heroes of Black Nerddom (and Urkel Is NOT One)