Happy Comic-Con@Home week! It’s bittersweet because San Diego Comic-Con is the geek mecca, and not only did it have to be canceled this year, but it’s unclear when we’ll feel safe to go to massive cons again. The small silver lining is that Comic-Con International and the geek community came together to coordinate some exciting virtual panels. It’s also nice that for some fans, this will be their first taste of SDCC, and they can enjoy it without having to break the bank for a trip to San Diego and the privilege to brave the long, pungent lines of the San Diego Convention Center.
The formal Comic-Con@Home events begin on Wednesday (traditionally “Preview Night”), but your favorite vendor, company or professional might be having special virtual events as soon as today (Monday). So if there’s a creator or brand that you really love, be sure to check with them directly to see what they have going on. For example, premium collecting distributor Sideshow Collectibles is having Sideshow Con starting today. Funko is another toy company with virtual events going on all week. The SDCC Unofficial Blog is a great place to find up to date info on various Comic-Con@Home happenings.
Now to the Comic-Con@Home panels! You can find the full con schedule HERE, and below are a few of panels that caught my eye. All panel information is reprinted directly from the Comic-Con International website.
True to the actual con, “Preview Night” doesn’t start until 3:00 PM. Only this time, you won’t have to rush in to get your grubby hands on con exclusive collectibles. This first day seems to have a lot of young adult/youth education focused programming full of diverse panelists. Given current events, I really appreciate all of these panels talking about how comics and graphic novels can be used to help better educate youth and children on important social issues. My personal favorite writer, Gene Luen Yang, is on a panel about teamwork in kids comics so I’ll definitely be viewing that one. The panel on Watchmen and the impact and power of masks seems extremely interesting, especially in an increasingly virtual world (including this very virtual con!). Finally the CBC Graphic Novel Committee wins the award for best and most extensive panel descriptions! They’re hosting two panels full of diverse creators.
Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops) is joined by Chad Sell (Cardboard Kingdom) and science comics team Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks (Astronauts) to talk about collaboration in kids comics! This panel is moderated by Betsy Gomez and sponsored by the CBC Graphic Novel Committee.
HBO’s Watchmen put forth the idea that “masks make one cruel”. On college campuses, many people, both students and non-students have taken up virtual masks to make statements and take actions that would not be acceptable if done in public. Zoom bombing, doxing, and anonymous threats have caused much dismay, particularly as campuses move to remote learning due to COVID-19. Come hear what educators have to say about the power of masks and how Watchmen and other comics show us a path towards heroism or villainy. Dr. Kalenda Eaton (University of Oklahoma), Dr. David Surratt (University of Oklahoma), Hailey Lopez (UC Berkeley), Robert Hypes (Phoenix Creative Collective), and Alfred Day (UC Berkeley).
Sabaa Tahir (A Thief Among the Trees: An Ember in the Ashes Graphic Novel) is joined by James Otis Smith (Black Heroes of the Wild West), R. Sikoryak (Constitution Illustrated), and David Bowles (Rise of the Halfling King) in this discussion about graphic novel adaptations. Moderated by Adam Kullberg (Pop Culture Classroom) and sponsored by the CBC Graphic Novel Committee.
Cartoonist R. Sikoryak is the author of Masterpiece Comics, Terms and Conditions, and The Unquotable Trump. He adapts the classics for various anthologies, including The Graphic Canon, Fable Comics, and more. His comics and illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The Onion, MAD, and SpongeBob Comics, as well as on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He’s done storyboards and character designs for Augenblick Studios on various animated projects. Sikoryak teaches in the illustration department at Parsons The New School for Design and previously at The Center for Cartoon Studies. Since 1997, he’s presented his live cartoon slide show series, Carousel, around the United States and Canada. He lives in New York City with his wife, Kriota Willberg. Constitution Illustrated is in stores next week!
A Thief Among the Tress: An Ember in the Ashes Graphic Novel
Sabaa Tahir is the author of the An Ember in the Ashes series. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. This is Sabaa’s first graphic novel collaboration.
Rise of the Halfling King
David Bowles is an award-winning Mexican-American author and translator, as well as an associate professor of literature and Nahuatl at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written over 20 books, among them Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico and Flower, Song, Dance: Aztec and Maya Poetry. September will see the release of his graphic novel Rise of the Halfling King, which Kirkus calls “an unmissable adventure of mythical proportions.” Next spring, the first volume in his steampunk graphic novel series Clockwork Curandera will drop. David’s work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as School Library Journal, Apex, Strange Horizons, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature. In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.
James Otis Smith
Black Heroes of the Wild West
James Otis Smith is illustrator of the graphic novel adaptation Showtime at the Apollo, by music writer Ted Fox. He studied writing and film before becoming a production artist for independent movies in New York. Years of growing up reading comics had taught him how to write with both words and pictures, which was good training to become a film and video editor. Missing the straightforward honesty of ink on paper, he eventually returned to his first love, comics. In addition to the Apollo Theater history, he drew the children’s book adaptation of the fantasy novel Ancient Lands by Jason McCammon and the mature-readers cyberpunk Gang of Fools. As a childhood fan of old serials and the classic American aesthetic, he has long hoped to reclaim those stories lost in our oversimplified telling of our own history, and expand who and what we mean when we say America. Black Heroes of the Wild West (coming September 2020 from TOON Books) is his first book as both author and illustrator.
James Otis lives in the last apartment free of cats in Brooklyn, New York.
Moderated by Adam Kullberg
Pop Culture Classroom
Adam Kullberg is the education director and interim executive director for Pop Culture Classroom, a Denver-based nonprofit.
Sponsored by the CBC Graphic Novel Committee
Jerry Craft (Class Act, New Kid) and Faith Erin Hicks (One Year at Ellsmere) join exciting comics artists Robin Ha (Almost American Girl), Derick Brooks (Bright Family), and Jonathan Hill (Odessa) in a discussion about new kids graphic novels. Moderated by Candice Mack (YALSA) and sponsored by the CBC Graphic Novel Committee.
Faith Erin Hicks
One Year at Ellsmere
Faith Erin Hicks (she/her) is a Canadian writer and artist. She worked in the animation industry for several years before transitioning into writing and drawing comics full time in 2008. She started making comics “for fun” and putting them on the web when she was in college. Her first published work was Zombies Calling (SLG Publishing) in 2007. Since then, she has published a number of other graphic novels including Brain Camp, Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, The Adventures of Superhero Girl, The Nameless City and Pumpkinheads. Faith Erin won an Eisner Award in 2014 for The Adventures of Superhero Girl and in 2019, her debut Young Adult prose novel, Comics Will Break Your Heart, was published by Roaring Brook Press.
Almost American Girl
Robin Ha (she/her) is a Korean American cartoonist and illustrator based in Washington D.C. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling comic cookbook Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes. Her work has been published in independent comics anthologies including Secret Identities and The Strumpet, as well as in the pages of Marvel Comics and Heavy Metal Magazine. Her graphic novel memoir, Almost American Girl, talks about immigrating from Seoul, Korea to Huntsville, Alabama as a teenager in the mid-1990’s.
Jerry Craft (he/his) is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator. His book, New Kid, is the winner of the 2020 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. It is the first graphic novel in the Newbery’s nearly 100 year history to receive the award. Craft is only the fifth African-American author to land the coveted prize. New Kid was also awarded the Coretta Scott King award for an outstanding work by an African American writer. Craft is the second person to have simultaneously won both awards in the same year. Craft was born in Harlem and grew up in the Washington Heights section of New York City. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts. He resides in Connecticut with his two sons and two beagles.
Bright Family: Versus the Multiverse
Derick Brooks (he/him) is a cartoonist from Richmond Virginia working in comics literary publishing and animation. Derick loves to create adventure fantasy, soft sci fi, and slice of life stories about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color.) He is currently illustrating the book series Bright Family (Epic!) and in production of his first graphic novel Grip Up! (Iron Circus Comics) coming in 2022.
Jonathan Hill (he/his) is an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist, illustrator, and educator living in Portland, OR. His first two graphic novels, Americus (2011), and Wild Weather: Storms, Meteorology, and Climate (2019) were published by First Second. His third book, Odessa, will be published in November of 2020 (Oni Press) and he has another forthcoming book True Tales of a Seventh Grade Lizard Boy in 2022 (Walker Books).
Jonathan teaches comics in the illustration department at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Literary Arts and chairs the Youth Programs Advisory Council.
Candice (Wing-yee) Mack
Vice President, Asian Pacific American Librarians Association
Candice (Wing-Yee) Mack and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I manage systemwide Young Adult services, programs and collections at the Los Angeles Public Library, the third largest library system in the United States and am the incoming President of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association. As a lifelong Southern Californian, I’ve attended San Diego Comic Con since I was a teenager myself and served on the 2018 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards jury. I also served on the 2018 We Need Diverse Books Walter Dean Myers Award Jury and am past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). On Twitter, I post about food, music, libraries, YA lit, social justice and Star Wars as @tinylibrarian.
by the CBC Graphic Novel Committee.
The first full day of Comic-Con@Home is stacked! The con will be in full gear with panels starting at 10:00 AM and it boasts a full day of geektastic glory. The Body Talk panel about diverse bodies in media is an important one; Michelle Yeoh will be at the Star Trek Universe panel so that’s all you really need to know about that; Batgirls! has a genuinely impressive list of diverse panelists, which is a good reflection of the creative diversity behind Batgirl of late; personal favorite Gene Luen Yang is on another panel on managing the pandemic; How to Build a Girl Squad has a fantastic premise and list of panelists, including Sarah Kuhn and Afua Richardson. I’m also excited about A Look Inside “Marvel’s 616” on Disney+ which is a panel on a documentary series on the impact of Marvel Comics on pop culture from diverse perspectives. Angélique Roché, who hosts the Marvel’s Voices podcast and was one of the writers on Marvel’s Voices #1, is moderating.
Visual storytelling mediums have an opportunity to show diverse bodies and yet it seems to still be a struggle to find true representation for many marginalized people. Now, more than ever, having difficult discussions about inclusion, representation, diversity, and the power of stories to remind us all of our humanity matter, need to happen. Join creator Jules Rivera, Christina “Steenz” Stewart, Mari Naomi, Sequoia Bostick, and Lilah Sturges for a frank, thoughtful, and funny discussion about these topics. Moderated by Mariah McCourt.
Star Trek broke barriers when it first premiered more than 50 years ago, inspiring people of all walks of life by championing cultural diversity, scientific advancement, and the exploration of new frontiers. Today, this legacy carries on through the Star Trek series on CBS All Access, where Starfleet and new characters alike take on exciting missions and explore uncharted areas of the universe while keeping true to the ideals of “Star Trek” that society needs now more than ever. Join us as we virtually bring together the casts and producers from Star Trek: Discovery, new animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Picard.
Dominic Patten, Deadline’s senior editor, moderates the overall “Star Trek Universe” panels with an introduction and discussion with Secret Hideout Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin who give a glimpse of what’s ahead in the ever-expanding franchise.
The cast of Star Trek: Discovery reprises their roles in a virtual table read of the season two finale “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” Cast scheduled to appear, include Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou), Doug Jones (Commander Saru), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Commander Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), Tig Notaro (Commander Jett Reno), Alan Van Sprang (Captain Leland), Jayne Brook (Admiral Katrina Cornwall), and the Discovery Bridge crew Emily Coutts (Lt. Detmer), Oyin Oladejo (Lt. J.G. Owosekun), Patrick Kwok-Choon (Lt. Rhys), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Lt. J.G. Bryce), Sara Mitich (Lt. Nilsson), and upcoming Start Trek: Strange New World stars Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Number One), and Ethan Peck (Spock), alongside Star Trek: Discovery executive producer and co-showrunner Michelle Paradise and executive producer Olatunde Osunsanmi, who also directed the season two finale.Act one of the table read will make its world premiere at Comic-Con@Home followed by a brief cast Q&A.
Mike McMahan (Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites), creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the upcoming animated comedy series Star Trek: Lower Decks, which premieres Thursday, August 6 on CBS All Access, will debut an exclusive extended first look from the premiere episode. McMahan also moderates a fun discussion with the Starfleet crew residing in the “lower decks” of the U.S.S. Cerritos, including “Ensign Beckett Mariner” voiced by Tawny Newsome, “Ensign Brad Boimler” voiced by Jack Quaid, “Ensign Tendi” voiced by Noël Wells, and “Ensign Rutherford” voiced by Eugene Cordero and the ship’s bridge crew including “Captain Carol Freeman” voiced by Dawnn Lewis, “Commander Jack Ransom” voiced by Jerry O’Connell, “Lieutenant Shaxs” voiced by Fred Tatasciore, and “Doctor T’Ana” voiced by Gillian Vigman.
Patrick Stewart and the lively cast of the hit original series Star Trek: Picard, come together (virtually) for the first time post-finale to discuss the critically acclaimed first season. Cast members scheduled to appear includes Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard), Alison Pill (Dr. Agnes Jurati), Isa Briones (Dahj/Soji), Evan Evagora (Elnor), Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker), and Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal Rios) along with special guest stars Brent Spiner (Data/Dr. Soong), Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi).
Odds are, when most people hear the name “Batgirl, ” the first character to come to mind is Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. First appearing in 1967, she’s been a comic mainstay, first as Batgirl and then as Oracle. But as is tradition in the Bat-family, when things happen, the cowl can been passed from hero to hero. From Stephanie Brown to Cassandra Cain to The Bat Girls, each having a wildly different take on the role of caped crusader. Join Cecil Castellucci (Batgirl -Barbara Gordon), Sarah Kuhn (Batgirl -Cassandra Cain), Bryan Q. Miller (Batgirl -Stephanie Brown), Nancy Kiu (Batwoman -Kate Kane), Marieke Nijkamp (Oracle -Barbara Gordon) and Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions) who have brought these different iconic versions of Batgirl to life in a celebration of what makes them different and what makes them Batgirl.
How do cartoonists deal with writer’s block in the face of a global pandemic? How do you balance homeschooling with publishing deadlines? Panelists Brian Fies (A Fire Story), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles), MariNaomi (Life on Earth trilogy), Ajuan Mance (1001 Black Men), Thien Pham (Sumo), Jason Shiga (Demon), Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops), and moderator Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum) discuss work-life balance, sanity, and survival in the midst of our brave new world.
Marvel’s 616 explores how Marvel’s rich legacy of stories, characters and creators exist within the “world outside your window.” Each documentary, helmed by a unique filmmaker, explores the intersections of storytelling, pop culture and fandom within the Marvel Universe. Join directors Gillian Jacobs, Paul Scheer, and executive producers Sarah Amos and Jason Sterman as they discuss the making of this Disney+ original anthology series with moderator Angélique Roché.
Growing up, many of us had to contend with the Smurfette principle: stories where there was only one girl in the whole gang–the token, the love interest, and the character who had to stand in for all girls everywhere. But times have changed, and many creators are writing their dream girl gangs, squads, and inclusive ensembles. So how do you build your modern squad from the ground up? How do you decide what kinds of characters will best complement, conflict, and have chemistry with each other? And why is writing and/or drawing a girl gang just so gosh darn fun? Join creators Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), Sam Maggs (The Unstoppable Wasp: Built on Hope), Afua Richardson (Black Panther: World of Wakanda), Steenz (Heart of the City), and Rebekah Weatherspoon (A Cowboy to Remember) as they discuss the challenges and joys of squad goals and building the modern girl gang.
Writer/Director Josh Boone and the cast of Twentieth Century Studios and Marvel Entertainment’s The New Mutants, including Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga discuss the upcoming original horror-thriller moderated by Ira Madison III.
The works of best-selling authors Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due (to name a few) are part of a written corpus that has laid the ground for the blossoming of the movement of Afrofuturism, brought to light by the music of Sun Ra and others. The works of the late Charles H. Long, James Noel, Tracey Hucks, and Rachel Harding bring to light how black religion and the imagination of matter speak to the way in which Black people in the Atlantic World syncretize their experience to create community and fashion a future. This dynamic panel will explore the connections between Afrofuturism and Black Religion and the way in which comics, graphic novels, and animation are capturing the rich dynamic that spawns new ways in which popular culture is being impacted by these forces. Panelists inlcude John Jennings (MFA: professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside 2-time Eisner Award winner (2016, 2018), Kinitra D. Brooks (PhD: Leslie Endowed Chair of Literary Studies, Michigan State University), Sakena Young-Scaggs (PhD: Honors Faculty Fellow, Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University), and moderator Aaron Grizzell (MA, executive director, Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation).
Join executive producer Eric Kripke, along with series stars Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Karen Fukuhara, and Aya Cash, with moderator Aisha Tyler, for a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming second season of The Boys. Executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will also make a special appearance. Based on The New York Times best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys is a fun and irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – who are as popular as celebrities – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. The even more intense, more insane season two finds The Boys on the run from the law, hunted by the Supes, and desperately trying to regroup and fight back against Vought.
Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time), Jamie Clayton (Roswell: New Mexico), Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery), Tatiana Maslany (Perry Mason), Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery), J. August Richards (Council of Dads), Harry Shum, Jr. (Shadowhunters), Brian Michael Smith (9-1-1: Lone Star) discuss the past, present, and future of representation of LGBTQ characters on television in a Q&A session moderated by Jim Halterman (TV Guide magazine).
More heroines are being represented in the media, but are they well-rounded characters or bland beings going from point A to point B without any distinct traits or personalities? Why might writers shy away from writing women as fully-developed people? Here to discuss everyone’s favorite female/nonbinary characters of the past decade, and what we can learn from them, are women dangerous in their own right: Charlie Jane Anders (author of Victories Greater Than Death, co-host of Our Opinions Are Correct podcast), Tamara Brooks (writer for DC Universe, host of Tales from the Tapes podcast), Dani Fernandez (host of Nerdificent podcast, writer for Girls on the Bus), Hanh Nguyen (Salon’s Senior Culture Editor, Television Critics Association board member), Diya Mishra (writer for Masters of the Universe: Revelation), and moderator Katrina Hill (author of Action Movie Freak, 100 Greatest Graphic Novels).
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.