San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Preview

Written by Eric Searleman

For five days in July San Diego’s Comic-Con is the center of the nerd universe. Eric Searleman previews the event.

aNewDomain.netSan Diego’s Comic-Con was founded back in 1970. But there’s some dispute as to when the annual convention embraced its dork status and colloquially became known as the nerd prom. It probably happened the night Mark Hamill, Stan Lee and Wonder Woman went on a bender in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Comic-Con has always been ground zero for nerds who enjoyed comic books, science fiction and collectibles. But in 1995 the event officially changed its name to Comic-Con International (CCI) and embraced the entire swath of pop culture. Comic books are still a big part of the five-day event, but they share the spotlight with movies, television, video games, toys, art, literature, fashion, porn, tech, gadgets, bad food, celebrities, and all sorts of urban attention seekers. If you didn’t know, geeks have inherited the Earth and CCI is the place they go to spawn.

WonderGirl SuperMan

Image credit: Wikimedia

This year’s event officially runs from Thursday, July 18 to Sunday, July 21 at the San Diego Convention Center. But like every other year, the Con opens its doors a day early for three hours on Wednesday, the 17th. This preview night is a great opportunity for attendees to pick up badges, peep at the convention’s exhibitor hall and hook up with Booster Gold, Vampirella and Chewbacca.

Once CCI officially starts on Thursday, however, expect to be crushed by a riot of frenzied fans wearing well-worn Superman jerseys and perky cat ears. Last year the convention attracted over 130,000 people, and that’s not counting all the media affiliates, special guests, Hollywood VIPs, vendors and support staff. Make sure you’re battle ready when the doors open on Thursday morning. offers 180 helpful tips on how to survive Comic-Con weekend. The No. 1 item on the list is “Stay Safe.” You don’t want to be crushed by a gang of Sailor Moon cosplayers.

Media coverage is intense during CCI. This is the time of year when Hollywood studios, book publishers, video game companies and toy manufacturers roll out their latest shiny projects. Unfortunately, nobody truly knows what’s going to be announced. At this point everything is pretty hush-hush.

Surprisingly, announced its plans to launch a comic book imprint before the convention. This was big news and will undoubtedly have tongues wagging in the halls of the convention center. But what else can conventioneers expect next week?

First on your to-do list should be Rich Johnston’s panel on Thursday. Johnston is the majordomo of, the “premiere source for breaking news and entertainment in the comic book industry.” He will undoubtedly spill the beans on all the “cool” stuff happening at the convention (Thursday, Noon – 1 p.m., Room 32AB).

Entertainment Weekly is bringing together a bunch of filmmakers to discuss the future of the movie industry. On board is Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). Most likely Wright will be talking about his upcoming Ant-Man project. Get in line early (Thursday, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m., Hall H). The magazine is also hosting a panel of hot new TV action heroes featuring Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf), and David Giuntoli (Grimm). Expect lots of gossip and tomfoolery (Thursday, 4:45 – 5:45 p.m., Ballroom 20).

TV Guide celebrates the 20th anniversary of The X-Files. Join creator Chris Carter along with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny (among others) as they reminisce about the seminal and influential television show (Thursday, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., Ballroom 20).

Toy collectors will not want to miss the Mattel industry panel on Friday. Get the scoop on what’s going to be on the shelves at Toys R Us before anyone else (Friday, 11 a.m. – Noon, Room 25ABC). Hasbro is also hosting its own panel later in the day featuring upcoming Stars Wars and Angry Birds toys (Friday, 1 – 2 p.m., Room 7AB).

Arguably the most anticipated TV show next season is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Join director/producer Joss Whedon and special guests as they reveal top-secret info about the series (Friday, 1:45 – 3 p.m., Ballroom 20). Whedon hosts another panel later in the day to discuss his ongoing Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series (Friday, 6:15 – 7:15 p.m., Ballroom 20).

The comic book world was dealt a terrible blow in June when Kim Thompson, the co-publisher of Fantagraphics, passed away from cancer. Expect lots of love, tears and condolences during a special tribute to the respected comic vet (Friday, 2 – 3 p.m., Room 25ABC). Joe Kubert, another comic legend, passed away recently and a similar tribute is planned for him, as well (Saturday, 10 – 11 a.m., Room 4).

Have you heard? Fan fiction is the next big thing now that has launched its Kindle Worlds imprint. Find out how fan culture is challenging today’s entertainment norms (Friday, 2 – 3 p.m., Room 29A). Also on tap, a group of Twilight fan fiction authors are getting together to answer questions about the joys (and challenges) of writing derivative fiction (Saturday, Noon – 1 p.m., Room 29A).

The Sony/Screen Gems panel will feature news and gossip about upcoming films like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, RoboCop and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Friday, 4:05 – 6:15 p.m., Hall H). Warner Bros. has a similar panel featuring films such as Godzilla, Seventh Son, 300: Rise of an Empire, Gravity and (our pick for biggest film of 2014) The LEGO Movie (Saturday, 10:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., Hall H). Not to be excluded, Lionsgate is sponsoring a panel to promote the films I, Frankenstein and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Saturday, 1:35 – 2:35 p.m., Hall H). The agenda for the 20th Century Fox panel is still TBA (Saturday, 4:15 – 5:45 p.m., Hall H). And don’t forget about Walt Disney Picture’s movie premiere panel. The studio promises lots of goodies related to Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Saturday, time TBD, Hall H).

After vampires and zombies fade away, Vikings will be the next big thing (you heard it first here). The History Channel is bringing the cast and crew of its hit series Vikings to Comic-Con for lots of season two teasers (Friday, 6 – 7 p.m., Room 6A).

Max Brooks, the author of World War Z (and the son of Mel Brooks), talks about zombies and his upcoming comic book projects (Friday, 6 – 7 p.m., Room 7AB).

All the members of Metallica are scheduled to show up to promote their new concert film, Metallica Through the Never (Friday, 6:30 – 7 p.m., Hall H). Later, the band has scheduled a “secret” concert somewhere in San Diego.

Adam West (Batman) and others talk about the influence of superheroes in American culture over the last 70 years. West and filmmaker Michael Kantor are promoting a new movie called Superheroes: The Never-Ending Battle (Friday, 7 – 8 p.m., Room 23ABC).

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are considered to be the Oscars of the comic book world. The ceremony is open to everyone. Food, drinks, entertainment and a bunch of surprise guests are on tap (Friday, 8 – 10 p.m., Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront).

Marvel Television has a lot of projects in the pipeline. Join Jeph Loeb as he discusses the company’s plans for the future. Hint: get ready for lots of Hulk smashing (Saturday, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Room 6BCF).

YA novels often feature heroines who kick ass and leave a string of broken hearts. Join a group of best-selling authors as they discuss the delicate balance between killing and kissing. Among the panelists are Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments), Veronica Roth (Divergent), Holly Black (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), and Marissa Meyer (Scarlet) (Saturday, 11 a.m. – Noon, Room 23ABC).

The future of Xbox gaming is always a hot topic. Join a gaggle of game developers as they dish the dirt on the next generation of Xbox games (Saturday, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., Room 6A).

A klatch of TV screenwriters gather to discuss genre entertainment. Among others, panelists include Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost), Ashley E. Miller (Fringe), Amy Berg (Eureka), Steve Melching (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Gabrielle Stanton (The Vampire Chronicles and Arrow), Jose Molina (Firefly) and Mark A. Altman (Castle) (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Room 24ABC).

Twenty-five years ago, the world fell in love with Sandman, author Neil Gaiman’s best-selling comic book. Now Gaiman and his Lord of the Dreaming are back together again for an all-new series. This is big news (Saturday, 3:15 – 4:15 p.m., Room 6DE). Gaiman gets another spotlight panel the following day (Sunday, 3 – 4 p.m., Room 6DE).

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series is also making a comeback. Expect to see a brand new 13-part series in 2014 called Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. Interestingly, the executive producer is Seth “Family Guy” MacFarlane. Go figure (Saturday, 6 – 7 p.m., Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront).

Leonard Maltin, America’s most-knowledgeable film critic, sits down for an hour-long interview (Saturday, 6 – 7 p.m., Room 5AB).

Get a sneak peek at Stripped, a new comic strip documentary. The movie features interviews with Bill Watterson (his first interview ever), Jim Davis, Cathy Guisewite and 60 more of the world’s best cartoonists (Saturday, 7 – 8 p.m., Room 28DE).

The Comic-Con masquerade is arguably the highlight of the entire weekend. Contestants spend all year making costumes of their favorite characters from comic books, video games, and Japanese animation. The entertainment value is unparalleled. Come early because the ballroom fills quickly (Saturday, 8:30 – 11:30 p.m., Ballroom 20).

Sunday at Comic-Con is dedicated to the kids. As such, there are lots of fun things for the little ones to see: LEGO Legends of Chima (10 – 11 a.m., Room 24ABC), the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival (10 am – 5 pm, Room 9), 60 years of Bazooka Joe (11 a.m. – Noon, Room 32AB), how to create an all-ages comic book, featuring the creators behind Owly, Mouse Guard, My Little Pony, Oddly Normal, Amelia Rules, and Fraggle Rock (11 a.m. – Noon, Room 28DE), how to draw manga for kids (11 am – Noon, Room 30CDE) and Teen Titans Go! (11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m., Room 6BCF).

Every year Comic-Con produces last-minute surprises. Panels and events are still being added to the convention’s schedule even at this late date. Speculation is that George Clooney, Sandra Bullock and Hugh Jackman may pop in for a visit. And you never know, someday an Amazon princess and a Norse god may deign to attend the proceedings.

Long live the nerd prom.

Based in San Francisco, Eric Searleman is a senior editor at He’s worked as a newspaper reporter, a fiction editor, a comic book artist — and even a rocker. He’s edited novels for Eraserhead Press including “Trashland A Go Go”, and he’s illustrated books for Immedium including “Animals Don’t, So I Won’t”. Read Eric’s blog about superheroes at or check out his bio on