If you happen to be going to the big San Diego Comic Con next week – and if you want to find me – the convention has promoted me to the status of “guest of honor” and has planned several panels and events that will make me quite easy to find.
Actually there are so many panels of interest, I’m not sure I’ll have much time to check out the exhibit hall (but don’t worry, I’ll find the time). As a regular attendee who DOESN’T haunt the movie/TV events in Hall H – I don’t expect the the writers strike (and possible allied actors boycott) will affect my time or enjoyment there. Here’s what I’m doing – followed by a list of other panels I hope to attend (if I’m not already booked for a meeting, sharing a meal or knee deep in a box of discount comics).
11:30am – SPOTLIGHT ON JERRY BECK – Room 24ABC LINK
The first panel I’m doing is one devoted to my favorite subject: ME! My pal comics Editor/writer (Spider-Man) Danny Fingeroth will act as moderator as I talk about the stuff I’ve done – and maybe reveal a few secrets about what I’m working on now.
2:30pm – ANIMATION BRAIN TRUST: Animation’s Most influential Authors Talk Cartoons – Room 10 LINK
A group of my friends have been assembled to just do a panel about the history of animation… I’ll be sitting with Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King producer (and author) Don Hahn; expert on the history of women in animation Mindy Johnson (Ink & Paint, The Women of Walk Disney’s Animation); USC animation professor and prolific animation artist Tom Sito (Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation); Emmy-nominated story artist and author Jenny Lerew (The Art of Brave), and renowned critic and animation historian Leonard Maltin (Of Mice and Magic, The Disney Films) for a lively discussion in which we lay some cartoon wisdom on all those in attendance. Moderated by the super-duper Leslie Combemale.
7:15pm – WORST. CARTOONS. EVER! – Room 6BCF – LINK
For the 19th time at Comic-Con, in conjunction with ASIFA-Hollywood, I will once again foist a selection of the most terribly written, ugliest drawn, and unintentionally funniest animated films ever made. This year, for the first time, I’m going to introduce each cartoon with rare images via PowerPoint – just as I might do at my class at Cal Arts – If I would ever expose my students to this crap. Episodes screened will include favorites Mighty Mr. Titan (the physical fitness superhero in his form-fitting costume a little too tight for comfort) and Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero (worst. anime. ever.). Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
FRIDAY JULY 21
11:00am – WILL EISNER: BREAKING THE FORTH WALL – Room 28DE – LINK
The comics of Will Eisner (The Spirit, A Contract with God) were filled with larger-than-life characters who periodically interrupted the action—breaking the 4th wall—to address the reader or their creator and boldly call attention to the fact that they were, indeed, characters in a comic book. Originally a function of live theater, 4th walls are now broached in comics, TV, animation, and movies, shattering—with purpose—the illusion of reality. Join comics writer and historian Danny Fingeroth (chair of Will Eisner Week; A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee) and 4th-wall-breaking experts Dean Haspiel (Covid Cop, The Red Hook), N. C. Christopher Couch (The Will Eisner Companion, UMass Amherst) – and me – as we explore Eisner’s innovative illusion shattering in comics and place it in the colorful history of creative risk taking.
3:00pm – CELEBRATING POPEYE with the Comic Con Premiere of THE ART OF POPEYE: Masterwork Of The Medium – Room 32AB – LINK
The Art of Popeye: Masterwork of the Medium is the first comprehensive monograph about the history of the pop culture icon. The panel will begin with a video featuring numerous examples of original Popeye comic strips, animation art, comic book artwork, advertising, and product art, which will then lead into the panel, moderated by Daniel Herman (publisher of Hermes Press, Silver Age: The Second Generation of Comic Book Artists). Panelists include me, Randy Milholland (current artist and writer on the Popeye comic strip), and Brian Peck (John Buscema: Michelangelo of Comics). The author of the book, R. C. Harvey, recently passed away and the panel will also present a brief tribute to him.
4:00pm – YOU’RE WRONG, LEONARD MALTIN!– Room 23ABC – LINK
I’m not actually on this panel – but I’ll be there in the audience. I highly recommend this entertaining hour – which has now become an annual Comic Con event. Leonard Maltin is, of course, the ultimate movie fan, and his reviews are legendary. But . . . are they “right”? In the spirit of good sportsmanship and with the understanding that film is subjective and opinions come in all shapes and sizes, “You’re Wrong, Leonard Maltin” gives audience members a rare opportunity to challenge the movie master himself on his categorical cinematic conclusions. It’s a conversation between battling beliefs . . . and possibly the only chance you will ever get to convince Leonard Maltin that his movie methodology is mortally mistaken, and, in fact, WRONG. Perhaps best known for his eponymous annual book of movie capsule reviews, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, which was published from 1969 to 2014, Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie, who together host the Maltin on Movies podcast, are willing to take on all comers who have an axe to grind over one of Leonard’s reviews.
SATURDAY July 22
11:00am – WARREN KREMER: HARVEY COMICS COVER GENIUS – Room 4 – LINK
When Casper the Friendly Ghost’s artist visited the Marvel Bullpen, Marie Severin remarked, “They don’t know it, but this is the best artist that ever walked through these doors.” Was she right? Jim Thompson (A People’s History of Comics, 2021 Eisner Awards judge), Alonso Nuñez (executive director of Little Fish Comic Book Studio, 2021 Eisner Awards judge), Mark Badger (artist, DC/Marvel, creator of Badgetoons), Jerry Beck (author and animation historian) and Steve Leialoha (artist) examine Kremer’s Casper, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Hot Stuff, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Stumbo the Giant, and Richie Rich covers—a master class on color, brushstrokes, design, direction, character expression, and the art of the gag.
4:30pm – HISTORY OF CARTOON VOICES – Room 7AB – LINK
Keith Scott is one of the top voice actors and impressionists in Australia, and he’s also an expert on cartoon voices for theatrical cartoons in this country. He’s making a rare visit to America this year and he’ll be talking about Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, June Foray, Walt Disney, and many you’ve never heard of. And talk about his new MUST-HAVE book. Don’t miss this rare chance to hear all about how cartoons learned to talk, with not only Keith but also historians Jerry Beck, Leonard Maltin, and your moderator, Mark Evanier.
And here are few panels I really want to attend… if I can…
Friday, July 21 • 10:00am – 11:00am – A Look Back at Animated Series in the 1980s – LINK
Writers from your favorite 1980s cartoon series recount their fondest memories and painful war stories about the shows that made your childhood. Featuring Craig Miller (The Real Ghostbusters, The Smurfs), Tom Ruegger (The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo), Karen Willson (Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, DuckTales), John Semper (My Little Pony, Superfriends), and Marc Scott Zicree (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, The Mighty Orbots).
Friday, July 21 • 12:30pm – Walt Kelly’s Pogo – LINK
The brilliant newspaper strip Pogo was created, written, and drawn by one of the great geniuses of comic art, Walt Kelly. It’s currently being reprinted in full in a series of books from Fantagraphics, one of which is up for an Eisner Award tonight. Meanwhile, fans of Mr. Kelly and his zany swamp denizens can gather to discuss him, his work, and what it was that made his cartooning so very special. Come hear from artist Steve Leialoha, scholar Maggie Thompson, Kelly archivist Jane Plunkett, and the co-editors of the current reprint series, Eric Reynolds and Mark Evanier.
Saturday, July 22 • 1:00pm – 2:30pm – Cartoon Voices 1 – LINK
Once again, Mark Evanier has assembled a roster of some of the most-heard performers in the world of animation, and they’re here to tell you what they do, how they do it and then demonstrate it. The dais includes Adam McArthur (Star vs. the Forces of Evil), Elle Newland (Lego Marvel’s Avengers), Keith Scott (Bullwinkle Moose), Bill Farmer (Goofy, Pluto), Dave Fennoy (Batman, Transformers) and Jessica DiCicco (The Emperor’s New School, Muppet Babies). And as usual, the actors will mangle a classic fairy tale for your enjoyment.
Saturday, July 22 • 3:00pm – 4:30pm – Scott Shaw’s Oddball Comics – LINK
Scott Shaw!’s been presenting his Oddball Comics slide show since the early days of Comic-Con – when they actually used “slides”! Shaw! knows which memorable funny books get the biggest laughs – and his commentary is a hoot! Can he demolish 300 vintage comic covers in 90 minutes? Only The Rifleman knows for sure!
Sunday, July 23 • 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Looney Legends in Conversation: A Conversation with the Voices of Bugs Bunny and other Favorite Characters. LINK
Looney Legends in Conversation is a fascinating project featuring actor and director Noel Blanc (son of legendary voice artist Mel Blanc) and Jeff Bergman (the voice of Bugs Bunny in Space Jam: A New Legacy). Fans will get a sneak peek into Noel and Jeff’s remarkable relationship as they preview footage of these legends discussing all things Looney Tunes, Flintstones, and more. Jeff will be chatting with Richard Manson, one of the creators of Looney Legends in Conversation. Moderating the panel will be actress and animation voice-over artist Carla Delaney Bergman.
And there are about six billion other great panels… including any and all Mark Evanier is on (his complete convention schedule is POSTED HERE). Check the convention’s online Programming Guide to figure out what you want to see. Happy Summer, everyone, wherever you are!