This month’s Comic-Con — still in San Diego, still a tough ticket, still sure to draw 125,000-plus fans — has just announced its first full-day schedule.
From Aardman to Zatanna, Thursday (July 21) is chock full of highlights. Here are Comic Riffs’ early picks for 20 especially promising sessions:
1. “Spotlight on Joyce Brabner” — Upon Harvey Pekar’s death, Comic Riffs wondered whether wife and comics creator Joyce Brabner would continue his work and be a keeper of his legacy. Well, Comic-Con promises a deeper answer, stating: “Come hear [Brabner] talk about her latest projects, including finishing the work of her late husband Harvey Pekar.”
2. “DC Comics: Grant Morrison” — Because Action Comics No.-1 lands in September. Because Morrison has his new nonfiction book “Supergods.” And because, well, he’s Grant Morrison.
3. “Stan Lee, Yoshiki, and Todd McFarlane” — Gods of multiple comics spheres join forces to introduce their new character, Blood Red Dragon.
4. “Love and Rockets” — The Brothers Hernandez talk with Gary Groth about three glorious decades of “L&R.”
5. “Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries” — The brilliant Guillermo del Toro promotes “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” The fan-fave Jon Favreau promotes “Cowboys & Aliens.” And together, they promote geek culture the world over.
6. “Bill Plympton: Independently Animated” — The Oscar-nominated ”king of indie animation” hucks his new book (same title as the session itself). Comic Riffs was a fan even before meeting him at the 2009 ’Con; now we appreciate his genius all the more.
7. “Join the 2D Animation Revolution” — “Watchmen’s” Dave Gibbons and Marvel’s Skottie Young are among the knowing folk who will wax lively on the state of animation.
8. FilmDistrict Studio Panel— As new studio FilmDistrict promotes ”Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and “Drive,” we can hope actors Carey Mulligan, Ryan Gosling, Guy Pearce and Christina Hendricks will show to support their product.
9. “Spotlight on Alex Niño” — The top Filipino comic artist is sure to discuss making it big in America, too.
10. “CBLDF Master Session: Shannon Wheeler” — From zines to New Yorker magazine, Portland’s own (aka “Too Much Coffee Man”) has much knowledge to share with the aspiring.
11. “Spotlight on Dick DeBartolo” — The first of two promising MAD-artist sessions from one of the longtime members of the Usual Gang of Idiots.
12. “Joyce Farmer: Special Exits, A Memoir” — Her Eisner-nominated Fantagraphics graphic-novel memoir is a must-read. Which makes Farmer a must-see.
13. “Marvel: Next Big Thing” — Still-new EiC Axel Alonso will be among those on hand to tell us where the Marvel Universe is headed.
14. “Garth Ennis’s ‘Stitched’ Movie World Premiere” — Every reason we want to see this session is contained in the very title itself.
15. “MAD Men” — Some of the same Idiots who played the Con in 2010 return for more genuine fun — including Sergio Aragonés and Tom Richmond — plus new panelists Peter Kuper and Keith Knight.
16. “Beavis and Butthead” — UCSD’s own Mike Judge returns to San Diego to unveil the heralded return of his ‘90s icons, who this year are chuckling their way back to MTV.
17. “Spotlight on Frank Stack” — Four words: Excellent. Underground. Comix. Pioneer. ‘Nuff said.
18. “Spotlight on Jo Chen” — The ever-talented cover artist Chen (Buffy, New Avengers) deservedly gets center stage.
19. “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: Bringing Worlds to Life, From Concept to Pixel” — If “Spawn’s” Todd McFarlane is there, so, too, should we be.
20. “Focus on Rick Baker” — With “Men in Black 3” on the horizon, the makeup-effects legend will appear in the flesh (and latex?) for a career retrospective.