10 Must-See Panels at Comic-Con

San Diego Comic-Con is a week away, but it's not too early to start strategizing about what you should see when you're there. Especially if you've seen the size of the event's program schedule.

But there's no reason to battle eye strain. We've put together a list of the 10 comic-related events to check out*, and the 10 movie and TV events to see. 

*All events at San Diego Convention center unless otherwise noted.


Grant Morrison.jpg
1. DC Focus: Grant Morrison
When 12:30-1:30 p.m. Friday, July 23
Where Room 6DE
Why attend I won't kid you, I'm a whore for Grant Morrison. I don't think there's anyone working in comics currently who so recklessly and cheerfully throws about wild, creative shit like he does. And it's resulted in engrossing, imaginative--if not entirely successful--works such as The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, All-Star Superman and his current work on Batman. So anytime you have the opportunity to hear him discuss comics is an opportunity you should take advantage of. Make sure you can decipher a thick Scottish brogue, though.

2. Marvel Comics Writers Unite!
When 10-11 a.m. Saturday, July 24
Where Room 6DE
Why attend Top talents Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction and Mark Waid join industry legend Chris Claremont to talk about writing comics. On the surface, it sounds pretty tame, but Bendis, when talking about the panel on a recent Word Balloon podcast, alluded to the chance of sparks flying between him and a fellow panelist who don't always see eye to eye on the creative process. Couple that with Waid's recent Tweet that he's given up reading superhero comics, and you've got the makings of some "spirited" discussion, to say the least.
If you like this, check out Spotlight on Brian Michael Bendis. This is a one-on-one interview with Bendis and Word Balloon podcast host John Suintres. 12:30-1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 24; Room 6DE.

3. 22nd Annual Eisner Awards
When 8:30-11:30 p.m. Friday, July 23
Where Indigo Room, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, 1 Park Blvd.
Why attend Billed as the Oscars of comics, the Eisners is your chance to rub shoulders with industry talent and get a free Will Eisner graphic novel just for attending. Also, while there's no need to invest in a Marc Jacobs gown for the event, but you should probably leave your Mountain Three Wolf Moon T-shirt at home.

4. "The Batman Dreams of Hieronymus Machines," or The Matt Fraction Spotlight Panel
When 2-3 p.m. Sunday, July 25
Where Room 7A
Why attend Matt Faction and Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader. It's safe to assume that comic books will be talked about, but it's also safe to assume that discussion will be pretty hilarious.

5. Spotlight on Jerry Robinson
When 1:30-2:30 p.m. Friday, July 23 
Where Room 9
Why attend Arguably responsible for many of the elements that made Batman popular, Robinson is a comic book legend who deserves more recognition. Use this interview as a crash in 70 years of comic book history. You'll thank me later when you realize that the Golden Age of comics really wasn't when Image Comics was founded.
If you like this, check out Spotlight on Stan Lee. If I need to explain to you who Stan Lee is, why are you even attending Comic-Con? 2-3 p.m. Friday, July 23; Room 6BCF.

6. Spotlight on Geoff Johns
When 2-3 p.m. Thursday, July 22
Where Room 6DE
Why attend Johns' recently was named the chief creative officer for DC Comics, and he's still writing books like Green Lantern and The Flash. Expect some talk about future projects he has on top. And hopefully, he will have some big announcements dealing with the direction of the DC Universe.  
If you like this, check out DC Comics' 75th Anniversary. Johns will be one of the panelists along with Denny O'Neil, Jim Lee, Dan Didio and others, who will talk about the company as it's changed over the years. 4-5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22; Room 6DE

Gabrielle Bell.jpg
Gabrielle Bell
7. Spotlight on Gabrielle Bell
When 1-2 p.m. Saturday, July 24
Where Room 3
Why attend It takes a lot for autobiographical comics to be entertaining and vital anymore (blame your late father, you bastard comic children of Harvey Pekar). But Bell has the artistic chops to pull it off. Just ask film director Michel Gondry, who adapted her book Cecil and Jordan in New York as part of the anthology film Tokyo! You might not be a fan of her work yet, but you will be after seeing her show off her work at Comic-Con.
If you like this, check out Spotlight on Peter Bagge. If it's either grabbing lunch or spending an hour with one of the driving forces of the alt-comics movement that started in the 1980s ... well, you can always have lunch the next day, right? Noon-1 p.m. Saturday, July 24; Room 3.

8. Spotlight on Milo Manara
When 2-3 p.m. Saturday, July 24
Where Room 25ABC
Why attend Most comic book readers are just being introduced to Manara's work, thanks to the recently released X-Women #1, which teams up the Italian artist with Chris Claremont. But Manara's most famous for his erotic works, which include Indian Summer, The Ape and Click, works that receive wide praise in Europe but very little attention in the states. Think of this as your way to experience some culture.

9. Gays in Comics: Year 23!
When 5:45-7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 24
Where Room 6A
Why attend Usually, I'm not a big fan of these type of niche panels. But when you've got this type of talent--gay and straight--together on one stage, you really can't pass it up. Howard Cruse, Geoff Johns, Marjorie Liu, Daniel Way, Jim McCann are just a few of the creators who are scheduled to attend. An hourlong gay comics fan mixer will be held after the panel. 

10. Iron Man and Rocket Men: Is Stark Industries an Appropriate Model for Private-Industry Space Exploration?
When 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22
Where Room 24ABC
Why attend Honestly, I don't know what to expect from this panel, but it sounds intriguing. The panel is presented by the San Diego Space Society (who knew San Diego had a space society?) and will feature space entrepreneurs Mark Street of XCOR Aerospace and John Hunter of Quicklaunch, as well as San Diego Space's Chris Radcliff and Dave Rankin, co-founder of The Mars Society's San Diego branch. Screw jet packs! My hope is this panel gets us closer to personal-use, space-faring Iron Man armor. 

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