Posted by Adam Wills
This year’s San Diego Comic-Con brings the much-anticipated Firefly and Buffy reunions, early footage of Iron Man 3, The Hobbit and (hopefully) Man of Steel, as well as sneak peeks at the upcoming seasons of Fringe, Doctor Who and Supernatural. And if you’re an actual comic book fan, there will be plenty of discussion about the upcoming Marvel NOW! relaunch and a look back on the success of DC’s New 52. But if you’re looking for something a little more GeekHeeby at SDCC, you came to the right place…
THURSDAY, JULY 12
11:00-12:00 Filmation and Lou Scheimer: Celebrating a Generation of Animation and TV Heroes
One of the most successful and groundbreaking television animation studios was Filmation, whose productions shaped Saturday mornings and daytime syndication from the 1960s to the 1980s. From Superman, Batman, and Aquaman to The Archies, from Fat Albert and the Groovie Goolies to the live-action Shazam! and Isis series, up to the groundbreaking He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra Princess of Power, Ghostbusters, and Bravestarr, Filmation created the shows that entertained and educated a generation. Making his final convention appearance is Filmation founder Lou Scheimer, who will reminisce about nearly 30 years of animation magic. Appearing with him are author/animator Darrell McNeil (Hero High, Shazam, Tarzan and the Super 7) director/writer/animator Tom Tataranowicz (He-Man, She-Ra, Bravestarr), and other guests. Bestselling author and documentary director Andy Mangels moderates this celebration of the studio that saved American animation in the 1970s and 1980s and show exclusive clips of never-before-seen Filmation footage. Plus, you can get a sneak peek at the September 2012 book release from TwoMorrows, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, co-written by Scheimer and Mangels. Room 23ABC
11:45-12:45 Stan Lee’s World of Heroes
The legendary Stan Lee introduces his new YouTube channel that tells the stories of heroes, villains, and the fans who love them. In this epic panel, Stan, Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Adrianne Curry (America’s Next Top Model), Peter David (The Hulk), Jace Hall (The Jace Hall Show), and Bonnie Burton (Star Wars Craft book) talk about their new shows, debut new episodes and trailers, answer questions from fans, and provide a few Stan Lee surprises. Room 6BCF
FRIDAY, JULY 13
10:00-11:00 Remembering Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon
Jerry Robinson was a key artist on Batman in the 1940s, the co-creator of The Joker, and later an accomplished newspaper strip artist and political cartoonist. Joe Simon was half of the legendary team of Simon and [Jack] Kirby, the co-creator of Captain America and other Simon-Kirby classics, and later the creator/editor of Sick magazine. We’ve recently lost both of these legendary figures in comics, so let’s pause to remember them along with Paul Levitz, Michael Uslan, Anthony Tollin, Marv Wolfman, Paul Dini, Batton Lash, Steve Saffel and moderator Mark Evanier. Room 9
11:00-12:00 Siegel and Shuster and Finger
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created a character you may have heard of. Bill Finger co-created one or two himself. These men are the subjects of two new books that unlock many secrets as to how some young men gave the world some of the greatest icons of fantasy ever. Hear Larry Tye (author of Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero) and Marc Tyler Nobleman (author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman) as both discuss their works with moderator Mark Evanier. Room 9
3:00-3:45 Adult Swim: Robot Chicken/Robot Chicken DC Comics Special
Co-creators/executive producers Seth Green and Matthew Senreich are joined by co-head writer/executive producer Tom Root, actor/writer Breckin Meyer, and writer Matthew Beans to discuss the Emmy-winning series. DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns joins the panel to share insider scoop about the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special. Come watch a sneak peek and get your questions answered about Season Six. Keith Crofford, VP of production for Adult Swim, will moderate the panel. Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
4:30-5:30 50th Anniversary of Marvel Superheroes
Fifty years ago Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber created the Marvel Age of Comics when they introduced the Incredible Hulk, the Amazing Spider-Man, the Mighty Thor, the Astonishing Ant-Man, and the Invincible Iron Man, all in the course of one short year, 1962. Those characters have shown incredible endurance and staying power, still thrilling audiences today, on both the page and screen. Mark Evanier talks to Comic-Con special guests Stan Goldberg (a Marvel cartoonist and colorist in that storied year) and Incredible Hulk artist Herb Trimpe about the heroes that still thrill us five decades later. Room 5AB
4:30-5:30 Falling Skies: The Battle Is Just Getting Started
Continuing the fight against alien invaders, TNT’s Falling Skies follows a band of human survivors on their quest to outrun and outwit the powerful alien force that invaded Earth. Join stars Noah Wyle (ER), Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation), Will Patton (Armageddon), Drew Roy (Secretariat), Colin Cunningham (Living in Your Car), Sarah Carter (The Vow), and Connor Jessup (The Saddle Club), and show runner Remi Aubuchon (Caprica), with Q&A hosted by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory). Watch never-before-seen clips and be treated to an in-depth discussion on Falling Skies season 2. Room 6BCF
SATURDAY, JULY 14
10:30-11:30 Marvel Television Presents
Marvel’s head of TV, Jeph Loeb, brings the scoop on season 2 of the hit animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, along with a never-before-seen episode…and a glimpse of the other heroes joining Marvel Universe on Disney XD! Plus, get the update on other hot Marvel Animation Studios projects, including Marvel Knights Animation, Marvel anime-and more surprises from Marvel Television. Room 6BCF
11:30-12:30 Save the Date: Your New Favorite Film
This may be the first comic book film that isn’t based on an actual comic book; instead, Save the Date uses the style and sensibility of indie comics by renowned graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown as a jumping off point to tell a contemporary story of the trials, pain, and happiness of modern love. Explore the challenges and advantages of working in film versus comics with cartoonist/screenplay co-writer Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Darth Vader and Son), director Michael Mohan (One Too Many Mornings), and producers Jordan Horowitz (The Kids Are All Right) and Michael Roiff (Waitress), and discover how the cast has been influenced and inspired by comics and geek culture, with Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men), Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks, Party Down), Geoffrey Arend (500 Days of Summer), and Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim). Join them for a lively session moderated by Noel Murray (The A.V. Club). Room 5AB
Futurama cannot be killed! Join the cast and crew of the Emmy-award-winning series for world premiere footage of the all-new season on Comedy Central. Plus: Wear your Futurama-themed costume for the chance to win slightly valuable prizes! Scheduled panelists include creator/executive producer Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen, and stars Billy West (Fry, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan), Katey Sagal (Leela), John DiMaggio (Bender), and Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker, Calculon, Morbo). Ballroom 20
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Stan Goldberg
Cartoonist, colorist, and Comic-Con special guest Stan Goldberg was there at the beginning of the Marvel Age of Comics, designing the color schemes for characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and many others. As an artist, he is best known for his over 45 years of work at Archie Comics as one of the Archie artists. Stan talks about his career and what he’s doing next in this spotlight panel. Room 9
3:30-4:30 Comic-Con How-To: The Art of Writing with Gregg Hurwitz
Actor, author, and award-winning audiobook narrator Scott Brick talks to author Gregg Hurwitz about his work. Hurwitz’s books include The Crime Writer, Trust No One, and You’re Next. He’s also written for comics, including Marvel’s The Punisher MAX and Wolverine and DC’s Batman: The Dark Knight. Room 2
4:15-5:15 EPIX Originals: William Shatner and Roger Corman
Two legends of the entertainment world take to the Comic-Con stage to preview their latest projects. Get a gander at the EPIX Original movie, Roger Corman’s first-ever made in 3D, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, in which a meek college co-ed is transformed into a gigantic cheerleader. Then take a sneak peek at William Shatner‘s Get a Life!, an EPIX original documentary based on Shatner’s hugely popular book, in which he examines the cultural phenomena of Star Trek, its fan-following, and his own role within it. To top it all off the panel will be moderated by “Mr. Comic Book Men” himself, Kevin Smith. Room 6A
4:30-5:30 The Legacy of Harvey Pekar
J. T. Waldman (Megillat Esther) discusses the legacy of Harvey Pekar‘s work through the lens of the just-released memoir with Waldman, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Told over the course of a single day in Cleveland, the book explores Pekar’s loss of faith in the modern state of Israel. Waldman discusses this work and the mark Pekar has made on graphic memoir. Room 26AB
SUNDAY, JULY 15
10:00-11:00 The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
There might not be comic book industry were it not for Jack Kirby...and if you don’t know who that is, you really don’t belong at this convention. Each year, his friends and co-workers gather to talk about Jack and his work and to marvel (no pun intended) at the length and breadth of his influence, not just on comics but on TV, movies, and all the arts. This year, the dais will include Herb Trimpe (Incredible Hulk), Stan Goldberg (Marvel colorist), Paul Dini (Batman), and Charles Hatfield (Hand of Fire), all chatting with moderator Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics). Room 5AB
1:45-2:45 Cartoon Network: Ben 10: Omniverse
It’s hero time in San Diego! You don’t want to miss this chance to see the world premiere exclusive sneak peek of Ben 10: Omniverse. In the new series premiering this fall, Ben has a new look, new aliens, a new sidekick, and, of course, new bad guys to battle. Yuri Lowenthal (Ben) hosts a panel featuring stars and producers who will give an inside look at the creation and direction of Ben 10: Omniverse, and you’ll be the first to see animation from this exciting new series! Room 6DE
2:30-3:30 Super Secrets: Lifting the Curtain on the Man of Steel
Mark Waid (he wrote Superman comics longer than just about anybody) and Larry Tye (author of the new biography Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero) reveal things you didn’t know but will be glad to learn about Superman. Like the wrenching story of his birth and nurturing by a parade of young creators yearning for their own absent dads, and how he took on everyone from Adolf Hitler to the KKK long before the rest of America did. And why Tye at least is convinced this supermensch is Jewish. Room 23ABC
Did I miss something? Feel free to add your picks in comments!
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July 1, 2012 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Animation fans have grown up with Steve Blum. From T.O.M., the laconic host of Cartoon Network’s anime block “Toonami” to snarling Wolverine in “Wolverine & the X-Men” to the nasally Guilmon of “Digimon,” his voice is instantly recognizable to many teens and 20-somethings.
This has been a big year for 47-year-old Blum. In addition to returning as T.O.M., following the May renewal of “Toonami,” and voicing Amon in the “Avatar” spin-off “The Legend of Korra,” Blum won a world record for the most video game roles (261), including turns as Grunt in the “Mass Effect” sequels and Vincent Valentine in “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.”
At the L.A. Convention Center, a crowd of about 2,000 chanted “Steve, Steve, Steve” as they waited for their gravel-voiced hero, one of this year’s guests of honor at the 21st annual Anime Expo, to take the stage.
Doing T.O.M. again is like “coming home,” he said, adding that at conventions people who watched “Toonami” after school would come up to him and say “I helped raise them.”
The man some fans call “father” is such an inspiration for fan boys that he’s added a page on his Web site to answer their most frequently asked question: “How do I become a voice actor?”
But Blum’s entry into the world of animation and video games was happenstance.
He dreamed of becoming a comic book artist around the same time he was studying for his bar mitzvah at Adat Shalom. From age 12 to 14, he spent his summers helping his uncle run the comic book department at his grandfather’s Hollywood bookstore, Cherokee Books.
In the late 1980s, he worked as a production assistant for a sci-fi/horror film company by day and played in an R&B band at night, hoping to make it as a musician. Although Blum was the only person in the mailroom who didn’t want to be an actor, the various voices he did to entertain his co-workers earned him a tryout for the anime series “The Guyver.” Blum was so good at synching English dialogue to lip movements intended for Japanese actors he was hired for all 26 episodes.
He started landing more anime roles, but Blum continued to look on the jobs as a sideline as he went to work as an executive with a film company. “I never really tried to become a voice actor,” he said. “I was just doing it because it was fun.”
Around the age of 40 he landed a job that allowed him to transition to full-time voice acting, but he says he still doesn’t make that much money doing anime. “I do it because I love it,” he said.
A self-described “voice monkey,” Blum says the best character he’s portrayed is whichever one he’s currently working on. “If I feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career and that is my all-time favorite, I would have nothing left,” he said.
Among the other voice actors he’s befriended over the years, Blum says he draws the most inspiration from Frank Welker, famous for voicing Megatron in “Transformers” as well as Fred on “Scooby-Doo.”
“Frank is just one of these amazing people that not only is he an incredible talent — he can make any kind of sound you could possibly imagine: mechanical, human or creature — but he’s also one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met,” he said.
This isn’t to say Blum doesn’t have an edge. For shows like “Wolverine,” which records with a full cast in the studio, he says the room is full of “lunatics” who play off each other.
“The biggest show is actually in the room, [which] you’ll never hear. That’s where the filthiest stuff is,” he said, adding that the tamer and younger the show skews, the dirtier the bloopers.
Despite his long list of voice acting credits, Blum says he goes on 30 auditions for every one role he gets — even one he seems to now own, such as Wolverine.
“Wolverine was kinda rolling around in my head since I was pretty young,” he said. “After chewing some razor blades and drinking some whisky, it worked.”
Following the apparent death of the villain Amon in the season finale of “The Legend of Korra,” Blum says he can’t comment on whether he’ll return to that role or take up another on the show.
“We’re not allowed to talk about anything that hasn’t been shown yet, and especially at places like Nickelodeon, where quality is everything, we really want to keep it on the down low.”
A fan of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” Blum laments that he didn’t have time to watch more than 12 or 13 episodes of the original animated series, but he said he was inspired by what he saw.
“When they asked me to do Amon, it was one of those gigs where I almost peed myself,” he said. “The quality of that show is just unsurpassed.”
For those fans who want to join Blum in the world of voice acting, he recommends studying acting and improv, and cautions that actors need a strong self-esteem to motivate them between jobs — an inevitability in entertainment.
“If you go into it for the right reasons, you do it because you love to do it, and you’re not doing it because of money or fame or because you feel like you have to be working all the time,” he said. “You have to find that inner peace inside where when you do have that downtime you have other stuff to do.”
May 17, 2012 | 2:24 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Lionsgate just released its trailer for “The Possession,” a dybbuk tale from producer Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures that’s due out Aug. 31. Maybe this film will do what David Goyer’s 2009 thriller, “The Unborn,” couldn’t — break the Catholic stranglehold on good possession films!
Based on the trailer, “The Possession” comes across like a Jewish “Exorcist.” (Note: Matisyahu — still sporting a beard — filling in for Jason Miller’s Father Damian Karras.) When a young girl, Em, buys a cursed box at a yard sale (such a deal!) and opens it, she unleashes UNSPEAKABLE EVIL! Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick star as Em’s estranged parents, who must reconcile their differences to help their demon-possessed daughter.
Originally titled “Dibbuk Box,” and based on a true story, the film is written by Juliet Snowden & Stiles White (“Boogeyman”) and directed by Ole Bornedal (“Nightwatch”).
So, will “The Possession” be the first truly scary Jewish horror film?
August 25, 2011 | 1:30 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
In Dani and Eytan Kollin’s 2009 novel, “The Unincorporated Man,” religion was all but extinct on Earth. In their 2010 sequel, “The Unincorporated War,” we find faiths like Islam and Christianity growing throughout the off-world Outer Alliance. But with the release this month of their third book in the “Unincorporated” universe, “The Unincorporated Woman,” the Kollin brothers revive Judaism through a new side character, Rabbi – a Moses-like figure who reluctantly takes charge of the Alliance refugees, known as the Diaspora.
“Islam and Christianity got a really big flag waving in book two, and we got some heat from that. Like, ‘What happened to the Jews, man?’ ” said Dani, who will appear with his brother, Eytan, 7 p.m. tonight at The Grove’s Barnes & Noble.
As “Unincorporated Woman” opens, the United Human Federation (UHF) decimates the 200-year-old, asteroid-bound Jewish community of Aish Ha Torah, leaving Gedalia Wildman, a rabbi/propulsion specialist, as the only person able to lead the Jewish people. Following the attack, he is known thereafter only as Rabbi.
The novel is essentially an Exodus story, Dani said. “[Rabbi’s] primary concern through the entire book – and even into the fourth [book] – is whatever Jews are left who want to be observant, how the hell am I going to keep them going and save them?”
Dani and Eytan, sons of Rabbi Gil Kollin, rabbi emeritus of Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, pepper Jewish themes throughout the book, explaining Orthodox Jewish traditions (e.g., not shaking hands with members of the opposite sex) and delving into Jewish law. During one discussion, Rabbi clarifies why Jews in the 24th century can’t alter the Tay-Sachs gene. “For all I know, that one gene saves humanity fifteen generations from now,” he says.
And since this is science fiction, expect Jewish snark.
When Agent Agnes Goldstein—an atheist maybe-Jew – talks with Rabbi about the complex process of Jewish conversion, she says, “Are you guys trying to become extinct?” And when UHF President Hektor Sambianco and his minions struggle to understand the threat posed by Rabbi, his recommended reading: “A book called Protocols of the Elders of Zion seems as good a place as any to start.”
As the war drags on, adherents of the growing religious faiths wrestle with their differences as well as their temptations to engage militancy.
“The message of the book, in terms of religion is, ‘Don’t you dare go back to where you were. How dare you reinterpret or try to bring back jihad or the Crusades?’ It’s so disheartening to see what happens in the name of religion, and it’s nice to be able to have a world in which we believe we can, to a certain extent, stem that,” Dani said.
The “Unincorporated” books are Heinlein-style tales of personal freedom and responsibility. In the first novel, the Prometheus Award-winning “Unincorporated Man,” 21st century billionaire Justin Cord, secretly frozen in cryostasis before the economic catastrophe known as the Grand Collapse, awakens 300 years later to encounter a society built around personal incorporation, where people struggle their whole lives to achieve a majority share in themselves in order to gain control. His rejection of the system serves as an example for others unhappy with their lot, which leads to civil war between the corporate-friendly UHF and the rebellious Alliance.
As “Unincorporated Woman” opens, the Alliance struggles for its survival following Cord’s death. Janet Delgado (J.D.) Black – a corporate lawyer turned fleet admiral – is loathe to give up her post and turns to another human in cryostasis: Dr. Sandra O’Toole, the woman who created the technology to freeze Cord. However, O’Toole isn’t about to be Black’s puppet wartime president and insists on power.
The brothers say the third book demanded effective female characters.
“A lot of people assumed that J.D. would become the main protagonist of the third book. We even set up the beginning, for those who hadn’t read the spoilers, to make it almost appear as such. And it was with delight that we introduced Sandra and allowed J.D. to go on and kick universal ass,” Dani said.
Eytan says that writing Sandra O’Toole was easier than writing Justin Cord in the second book. “Writing Justin was being ground to pieces because the circumstances had changed so much, which, by the way, happens historically,” he said.
While the brothers freely admit J.D. Black is essentially a “guy with boobs,” they studied a variety of female leaders, including Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher, when they went to write Sandra O’Toole.
“Mom to a certain degree poked through [with Sandra],” Eytan said. “But it’s not like we wrote our mom.”
As far as the “Unincorporated” universe’s other major female character, Eytan and Dani say fans were more upset (2 to 1) over how Neela Harper-Cord—Justin Cord’s wife—had been psych audited and turned into Sambianco’s sexual plaything than they were over Cord’s death.
“What we did to Neela was a lot crueler,” Eytan admitted.
“Neela became marginalized … and there’s not a lot left for Neela to do,” Dani said, adding that her predicament will be resolved in book four.
In the next book, which the brothers are currently writing, they say the war becomes even more desperate and brutal, and Sandra O’Toole asserts greater control over the Alliance.
“The society can’t exist as it was before, and it’s literally destroying itself. This all comes down to: is it worth it? Is this idea of freedom and liberty worth everything that is going on, worth this destruction, worth this schism?” Dani said.
July 14, 2011 | 2:27 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
“Black Swan” star Mila Kunis has come out of the closet ... as a “massive” Trekkie.
In the latest issue of GQ, Kunis confesses to having an autographed photo of Leonard Nimoy as well as vintage Star Trek action figures, and ranks Treks in order of preference:
Mila Kunis: I was too young to fully understand the importance of working with Hulk Hogan. I just thought he was this huge man. Shatner was different. I’m a massive Trekkie, so that was crazy. He’s exactly what you think he is.
GQ: When did you get into Star Trek?
Mila Kunis: I got into it in my late teens—18, 19, 20. Something like that. I got into it later than most people. But let’s not talk about it in the past tense. I’m still a Star Trek fan. You never stop being one. Let me give you my rundown of the series in order of most favorite to least favorite.
GQ: I definitely have my answer to this. Let’s hear it.
Mila Kunis: Okay. You should know this list is an ongoing argument between Seth MacFarlane and myself. But I have it: The Next Generation; the original series; then Voyager—
GQ: Okay, you’re already wrong.
Mila Kunis: Fuck. You and I are in trouble already. This always happens with Star Trek fans. After Voyager, then I have Deep Space Nine. Then last is Enterprise.
GQ: Did your Star Trek fandom extend further than just watching the show?
Mila Kunis: Uh, I went a little bit further.
GQ: How so?
Mila Kunis: I went to the Star Trek Experience in Vegas maybe five years ago. I hung out with a bunch of fake characters inside Quark’s bar. [Ed note: Quark was the name of the Ferengi bartender on DS9.] There were all these actors there pretending to be the different characters from the different shows. Yes, I loved it.
GQ: Please tell me you didn’t go by yourself.
Mila Kunis: No! I went with friends. I’m not that big of a loser. But I also have a signed Leonard Nimoy photo in a little frame that a girlfriend gave to me for my 21st birthday. And I’ve got a bunch of vintage Star Trek figurines given to me by Jason Segel. God, it’s so embarrassing.
Then again, this isn’t totally shocking. In 2008, she told Jimmy Kimmel that she was a World of Warcraft addict:
“The problem is, if anyone plays Warcraft… I’m really good, I’m a really kick ass Mage… We’ll you’re your own person and you can get into a guild… You gotta be in a guild, because you gotta do raids that require thirty or forty people. But now with the expansion pack, they’re gonna have raids that require only like ten people. So that’ll really make things a lot easier… Oh my god, it’s such a good game. I love it.”
July 11, 2011 | 1:35 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Comic-Con’s full schedule is up and the Tribe will be well represented at the San Diego Convention Center (July 20-24): “Big Bang Theory” co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady as well as actors Simon Helberg and Mayim Bialik, zombie writer Max Brooks, “Cowboys & Aliens” director Jon Favreau, “Spider-Man” star Andrew Garfield, “Buffy’s” Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, Stan Lee, Lost’s” Damon Lindelof, Jeph Loeb, Ron Perlman and the original captain himself … William Shatner. Also, be sure to save some time on Sunday for Arlen Schumer’s presentation on Jews ‘n’ Comics.
The following are some don’t-miss events. Feel free to add your own Comic-Con recommendations in the comments section at the end.
THURSDAY, JULY 21
Spotlight on Joyce Brabner
Is she the glacial, humorless activist as portrayed in the film American Splendor or just the person who published the first comic on the Internet? Come hear Comic-Con special guest Joyce Brabner talk about her latest projects, including finishing the work of her late husband Harvey Pekar and dealing with his legacy. Room 8
Artists from Dumbrella, one of the most popular online comic collectives, discuss webcomics, independent publishing, and subverting popular culture. Feel free to quiz Andrew Bell (The Creatures in My Head), Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie), Jon Rosenberg (Goats), and Chris Yates (Chris Yates Studios) about anything your Internet heart desires. Room 4
Sarah Michelle Gellar makes her highly anticipated television return in the gripping new thriller Ringer, as a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin—only to learn that her sister’s seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to leave behind. Be the first to see an exclusive sneak peek at the new series about family secrets and stolen identities, followed by a panel discussion with series stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four), Nestor Carbonell (Lost, The Dark Knight), Kristoffer Polaha (Life Unexpected), executive producer Pam Veasey (CSI:NY), and co-executive producers Nicole Snyder (Supernatural) and Eric Charmelo (Supernatural). Ballroom 20
Spotlight on Paul Levitz
Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans, Superman) and Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics) interview fellow comics fan, writer, and editor—and Comic-Con special guest—Paul Levitz about his life, from The Comic Reader to DC Comics president & publisher, and now beyond as he returns to writing Legion of Super-Heroes and makes his debut as a historian with the Eisner-nominated 75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making. Room 8
The Visionaries: A discussion with Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro on the Future of Pop Culture
Entertainment Weekly moderates an in-depth conversation with Jon Favreau (Cowboys & Aliens) and Guillermo del Toro (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), two filmmakers at the forefront of bringing geek culture to the masses and making blockbuster art out of pulp fiction. They will discuss their inspirations, their current work, and how they strive to put a personal stamp on blockbuster entertainment. Plus: How is new technology changing the way stories are produced and viewed? And what do they think the pop culture universe will look like a decade from now? Moderated by Jeff “Doc” Jensen. Hall H
History of the Modern Zombie
Experts discuss the history and evolution of the modern zombie, from its first appearance in George Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead to the most recent work being done in zombie science, survival, and pop culture today. Panelists include Max Brooks, bestselling author of World War Z and Zombie Survival Guide; Matt Mogk, head of the Zombie Research Society and author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies; Steven Schlozman, M.D., Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and author of The Zombie Autopsies; Scott Kenemore, bestselling author of Zen of Zombie, Z.E.O., and Zombie, Ohio; and Bradley Voytek, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley neuroscientist and author of Scanning the Zombie Brain. Room 7AB
FRIDAY, JULY 22
Star Trek: The Captains
William Shatner is joined by fellow Star Trek captain Avery Brooks to present a preview of the EPIX Pictures original documentary produced and directed by Shatner, in which he travels the world to interview all the actors who’ve played Starfleet captains. This lively discussion and Q&A session is moderated by Comic-Con fave Kevin Smith. Room 6BCF
The Big Bang Theory Screening and Q&A
Dr., Dr., Dr., Dr., Dr., Mr., Miss… See everyone’s favorite scientists (and engineer and waitress) from The Big Bang Theory as the show’s producers and stars return to San Diego with a special screening and Q&A. Executive producers Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men), Bill Prady (Dharma & Greg), and Steve Molaro (iCarly) join stars Johnny Galecki (Roseanne), Jim Parsons (Garden State), Kaley Cuoco (Charmed), Simon Helberg (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), Kunal Nayyar (NCIS), Mayim Bialik (Blossom), and Melissa Rauch (True Blood) for a fun and lively discussion. From Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television, The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8/7c on CBS, and The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 13. Ballroom 20
Writing Seminar with Marv Wolfman and Neo Edmund
Marv Wolfman (God of War, Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths) and Neo Edmund (Solitary—The Movie, Windy Hollows, Discovery Channel’s Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Predators), return to basics in this annual writing seminar as they discuss the building blocks of putting together a story, creating tension, and what the “three act structure” really means. There will also be time for a Q&A session. Room 30CDE
DreamWorks: Fright Night
Colin Farrell (The Way Back), Anton Yelchin (Star Trek), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Imogen Poots (Jane Eyre), Dave Franco (Charlie St. Cloud), director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), and screenwriter Marti Noxon (I Am Number Four) take the dais to give fans a taste of the horrific fun to come in DreamWorks Pictures’ 3D reimagining of the classic horror film. Hall H
Adult Swim: Robot Chicken
Seth Green (co-creator, Robot Chicken), Matthew Senreich (co-creator, Robot Chicken), and Tom Root (head writer, Robot Chicken) discuss the popular Adult Swim series. The series uses stop-motion animation to bring pop culture parodies to life in a modern take on the variety/sketch show format. In Robot Chicken, no pop culture target is safe. Legions of action figures are used to spoof everything from reality television and Star Wars to past presidents. Moderated by Keith Crofford, vice president of production, Adult Swim. Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
Sony returns to Hall H with a stellar lineup of films and talent, including:
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man is back on the big screen, shot in 3D for the first time, and will be swinging into your neighborhood on July 3, 2012. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, and Martin Sheen, as well as Sally Field, and directed by Marc Webb, The Amazing Spider-Man’s new creative team will be taking a whole new direction in the unfolding saga of everyone’s favorite web-slinger. Appearing in person are producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, director Marc Webb, and our own Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy—Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
SATURDAY, JULY 23
Spotlight on Jerry Robinson
Comic-Con special guest Jerry Robinson, creator of the Joker, will discuss his legendary career from Batman to Broadway and beyond with the publisher of Dark Horse Comics and Emmy Award winner Mike Richardson in this one-on-one interview and Q&A session. Room 9
Marvel’s head of TV Jeph Loeb brings the inside scoop on Marvel’s latest series that take your favorite heroes from page to screen. Get a first look at the premiere of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes season two, a sneak peek at a certain ultimate webslinger, and a few other surprises from Marvel Television. Room 6BCF
Join executive editor Tom Akel to hear about new and ongoing titles with MTV creators. Marc Silvestri will discuss the new MTV/Top Cow collaboration September Mourning, a multiplatform project blending comics and music through video, comic books, and live events. And the legendary Stan Lee will reveal the story behind MTV Comics’ upcoming digital book The Seekers and let artists and writers know when to start sending submissions to collaborate with Stan on the comic! Room 7AB
Will Eisner: Visionary
Will Eisner —artist, storyteller, entrepreneur—played a central role in comics from the Golden Age to the Computer Age. During his career, Eisner reinvented sequential art and himself to overcome obstacles and create new media. A combination of idealist and realist, he led the way and helped create the comics and graphic novels that we know today. Learn about Will Eisner from those who personally knew and worked with him. Join moderator Charles Brownstein (executive director of the CBLDF, author of Eisner/Miller), Denis Kitchen (artist, author, publisher, Eisner’s agent and longtime friend), Paul Levitz (writer, former president/publisher of DC Comics), Scott McCloud (artist, author, theoretician about comics and sequential art), Diana Schutz (executive editor, Dark Horse Comics), and Jeff Smith (writer/cartoonist, Bone, Rasl) to learn more about the “Father of the Graphic Novel.” Room 9
Comics Arts Conference Session No. 10: The Wit, Whimsy, & Wisdom of Weisinger
Comic book historian and illustrator Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) presents the work of Mort Weisinger, editor of the Superman line for 30 years (1940-1970), told in Weisinger’s own words and artist Curt Swan’s images. Room 26AB
Futurama is back! Again! On stage will be creator/executive producer Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen, and stars Billy West (Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg), Katey Sagal (Leela), John DiMaggio (Bender), and Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker, Calculon, Morbo). Get a sneak peek at never-before-seen footage of Futurama reincarnated as Japanese anime, along with a thrilling preview of this summer’s new season on Comedy Central. Moderated by Bill Morrison. Ballroom 20
Remembering Harvey Pekar
The legendary Harvey Pekar died in July 2010, leaving behind a huge legacy of work with a veritable who’s who list of comics collaborators on his American Splendor and graphic novels. Joyce Brabner and Danielle Batone join editor Charles Kochman and moderator Jeff Newelt to talk about Harvey’s life and comics career. This is an open invitation to anyone whoever worked with Harvey or cared about him to come and share their memories. Room 7AB
Spotlight on Peter Kuper
From MAD to World War 3 Illustrated, Comic-Con special guest Peter Kuper (Spy vs. Spy) has for three decades been blowing up spies and politicians and creating graphic novels ranging from Franz Kafka adaptations to autobiographies that would scare Kafka. Get an inside look at how he comes up with Spy vs. Spy ideas and his other idiotic projects! Room 8
Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Adam West (Batman), and executive producers Mark Hentemann, Steve Callaghan, and Kara Vallow present a sneak peek at the new episode Stewie Goes for a Drive, featuring voice guest star Ryan Reynolds, followed by a Q&A session. Ballroom 20
Calling all Lost Fans: Once Upon a Time
Moderator Damon Lindelof (co-creator, Lost) introduces you to the magical story of two parallel worlds: one in a distant fairytale land, the other in a present-day reality. Following the exclusive screening of Once Upon a Time, join co-creators and executive producers Edward Kitsis (Lost, Tron: Legacy) and Adam Horowitz (Lost, Tron: Legacy) along with Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love), Jennifer Morrison (House), Robert Carlyle (SGU: Stargate Universe), Lana Parrilla (24), and Josh Dallas (Thor), for a Q&A about this modern fairytale turned on its head. All attendees will get a limited-edition Comic-Con giveaway! Room 6DE
SUNDAY JULY 24
The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
As always, we gather to remember the man some still hail as The King of the Comics, Jack Kirby. If you don’t know who that is, you have no business being at this convention. Moderator Mark Evanier discusses the life and times of Kirby with Walt Simonson (Thor), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Richard Kyle (Graphic Story World), and Mike Royer (inker of lots of Kirby comics). Room 5AB
Creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy, creator/executive producer Brad Falchuk, and stars of Glee present a sneak peek at Glee The 3D Concert Movie featuring never-before-seen footage, behind-the-scenes secrets, and Q&A session. Hall H
Jews ‘n’ Comics: A Past & Present History
From Ben Grimm to The Golem and more, comic book historian and illustrator Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) surveys the specifically Jewish creation of the American superhero and its antecedents in older, ancient myths, as well as the significant contributions Jews have made to the evolution of comic book art in the 20th and 21st centuries—including his own superhero creation, Captain Israel! Room 24ABC
Max Brooks: Zombie Survival 101
Max Brooks, screenwriter and author of bestselling books The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, is the world’s leading authority on the defense against a ghoulish uprising! Renowned for his campus and convention lectures nationwide, Brooks comes to Comic-Con to share his insight into the rotting minds of the undead, reveal how the Zombie Survival Guide came into existence, and field questions from zombie-phobic fans. You dare not miss this lecture—your very life may depend on it! Room 7AB
Cartoon Network Action: Ben 10/Generator Rex
Two of action animation’s biggest stars collide in one explosive panel! The voice talent and creators behind Ben 10 and Generator Rex give fans a sneak peak into the future of these two series, including an exclusive first look at the upcoming Ben 10/Generator Rex: Heroes United crossover special event. Yuri Lowenthal (Ben) is on hand for some fun surprises, as well as series creators and writers for the inside scoop on two of Cartoon Network’s biggest Friday Night Action hits. And Ben 10 fans won’t want to miss the exclusive world premiere unveiling of footage from the new Ben 10 CGI movie! Room 6BCF
Sons of Anarchy
Get an inside look into the world of FX’s highest-rated series ever, Sons of Anarchy, with creator Kurt Sutter (The Shield) and stars Charlie Hunnam (Children of Men), Katey Sagal (Married…With Children), and Ron Perlman (Hellboy). Hall H
July 1, 2011 | 11:37 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Downtown will see its fair share of samurai and soldiers, demons and vampires this holiday weekend. Yes, Anime Expo is back, and the cosplaying masses are taking over the L.A. Convention Center July 1-4.
About 125,000 otaku are expected to turn out for North America’s largest anime and manga con. Fans get to meet and hear from some of the most famous anime, manga and musical artists and get into the action through everything from cosplay, karaoke and video competitions to exclusive screenings and video gaming competitions.
Oddly enough, the most anticipated guest at this year’s AX isn’t even a real person. Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku—a 3D hologram created by Crypton Future Media—makes “her” U.S. debut with a concert on Saturday, July 2, at the Nokia Theater. (Alas, it’s sold out.)
Hatsune Miku is an anime girl with kiddie-pool sized eyes and flowing teal pigtails. She stars in a new Toyota Corolla commercial aimed at the Asian-American market.
Miku is huge back home in Japan. Originally invented to sell synthesized voice software, the character’s featured in a video game, she’s released hit pop songs and she sells out live concerts. (If “live” is the right word.)
“They use twelve different projectors to project her in 34D space,” explains Justin Sevakis, of the Anime News Network. “She towers. She’s a good twenty feet tall in those concerts.”
Cartoon bands for kids are nothing new, but Japanese anime has taken them to slick, sophisticated new levels — and created adult demand for them.
In addition to Miku, Akihabara singer Maon Kurosaki will perform along with Kalafina, Nirgilis and Vic Mignogna. And on Sunday, watch as people compete in the con’s own AX Idol, a singing and voice acting competition.
Other highlights include the debuts of “Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing,” “Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer,” “Onigamiden” and an English-language adaptation of “Supernatural: the Anime Series”; the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium (topics include “Between Yasashii and Bushido: The Balancing Power of Warrior Mothers in Anime,” “Open-Source Culture and the Cult of Hatsune Miku” and “Writing About Otaku: Lessons From Fandom, Academia and Beyond”); as well as Magic: The Gathering tournaments.
And while there’s nothing particularly “Jewish” about AX this year (no Seth Green with “Robot Chicken” or “Titan Maximum” clips), you can do a mitzvah while you’re there by supporting survivors of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March. Proceeds from this year’s AX Charity Auction, held on July 4, will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society. The auction will feature rare anime and manga art, autographed collectibles and other items donated by AX guests, sponsors and other industry professionals.
“The money raised will help people in the disaster-affected prefecture as they reconstruct their lives,” said Sayaka Matsumoto, a spokesperson for the Japanese Red Cross Society.
AX 2011 will be held July 1-4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. $45 (single day), $75 (4-day pass). To register or for more information, visit anime-expo.org or call (805) 654-0171.
June 8, 2011 | 9:01 am
Posted by Adam Wills
“To those who said X-Men First Class was good, I want to stab you in the face.”
My friend Jason posted this to Facebook yesterday. Hyperbole aside, I understand his frustration.
Fox was in spin mode this past weekend trying to explain a lower-than-expected opening for the fifth film in the “X-Men” franchise ($55.1 M—the lowest since the first film debuted in 2000 at $54 M … $79 M today if adjusted for inflation). The studio blamed the lack of bankable stars, the lack of a big-name director and the film’s 1960s setting.
But is there another problem? For Jason and other longtime fans of the best-selling comics, a heavily revised origin story for a franchise that’s older than “Star Trek” is a slap in the face from Hollywood.
“I thought they were gonna make changes…I didn’t realize they were rewriting everything…and I mean everything,” Jason writes.
Based on the feedback Jason’s getting from his friends, it seems most are content to wait until the film hits the rental market or television. One responder writes that she’s ignoring “First Class,” looking on it as a “money-making ‘place card’ ” until the next “X” film, “The Wolverine,” which is being adapted from the phenomenally popular Chris Claremont and Frank Miller miniseries.
For me, I became a “First Class” fence-sitter once I saw that the featured mutant characters weren’t based on the original 1963 lineup created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby.
Instead of Scott Summers as the Professor X’s first student, we get the villain Mystique. (((((facepalm)))))
There’s no Jean Grey (Marvel Girl/Phoenix/etc.), Bobby Drake (Iceman) or Warren Worthington III (Angel). Hank McCoy (Beast) is the only original X-Man in the film, but even Silver Age X-Men side characters Alex Summers (Havok) and Sean Cassidy (Banshee) get more prominent roles than good ol’ Beast.
To better understand why the lineup change for a film called “First Class” would be frustrating to a longtime X-Men fan: imagine a “Harry Potter” film without Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Instead, the filmmaker taps Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy to be Harry’s best friends. It would be, in a word, wrong.
“First Class” conflates storylines, timelines and characters, including turning Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club, into a Nazi who becomes a target of Magneto’s post-Holocaust rage a la “Inglourious Basterds.” (My colleague Naomi Pfefferman declared “First Class” the “most Jewish superhero movie ever” on her blog, The Ticket. But it could have been even Jewier had the filmmakers stayed true to the comic and shown Professor X and Magneto meeting for the first time in in 1950s Israel, where they started debating whether mutants could co-exist with normal humans.)
Die-hard fans who want to enjoy the film without being bothered by its inaccuracies can easily look on “First Class” as a story set on an alternative Earth in the Marvel multiverse. But others, like those who responded to Jason’s post, aren’t taking the bait. The summer is stocked with plenty of geek fare: “Green Lantern,” “Captain America,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Conan.”
Some fans might be thinking: Why settle?