Valuable Comic-Con panels

6 JULY 2015

Hey, did you hear? Star Wars is coming to San Diego Comic-Con.

Almost every "Top Panels at Comic-Con” article I’ve seen has regurgitated the same names: The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Warner Bros, Legendary, the AIR premiere, Supergirl. Obviously these will be crazy popular and the curiosity factor for Warcraft, Fear The Walking Dead, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Scream Queens is high. I can't deny it - the big room panels are phenomenal this year. 

But so much coverage focuses on the biggest panels (and the invite-only parties) that a lot of interesting smaller panels get lost in the dust. So I'm going to name-check a few that I think will be important, appealing or just represent a great opportunity for attendees.

David Aja's Behind The Pages panel. Lots of fans and budding artists will take advantage of the chance to see him.

Childhood's End. I think this might get more fanfare if there weren't so many splashy superstar panels. But there are plenty of SF fans that will rate this high on their dance card.

Outcast. This has gotten some attention, yet many attendees don't realize the mind of Robert Kirkman has spawned another show, this one coming to Cinemax. First panels can be the best panel of a show's Comic-Con life so consider making this.

The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, narrated by William Shatner. Historic. All of you who are going to this, I envy you.

Terry Brooks and The World of Shannara. MTV has a spotty record with their series execution but Brooks has enough fans that this is highly anticipated.
The world premiere of Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Lots of people eagerly anticipating this too.

NASA’s Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact will include a tribute to Leonard Nimoy involving his son. The panel itself sounds good but the Nimoy tribute takes it to another level that many attendees will turn out for.

Ash vs. Evil Dead. We've been waiting for this since it was announced at last SDCC.

Going Back in Time: The Q&A and discussion around the Back to the Future Feature Documentary. So many attendees are planning on going to this.

What the Big Two Don't Want You to Know. This might have the most tantalizing description of any panel: it promises to "pull the Band-Aid off the biggest controversies in comics publishing right now, especially relating to Marvel and DC Comics" and says it will include "essential SDCC revelations."
World Premiere of Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Maybe it’s just me but this sounds so much better than a lot of the Friday night parties.

MARCH with Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Not only will this panel offer up veritable Civil Rights icons and award-winning graphic novels – attendees will also hear “Congressman Lewis's firsthand memories of sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the march on Washington, Selma, and beyond, and the vital power of his message of transformative nonviolence in the world today.” That's not something you get every day.
High Def Horror: Hammer Horror Meets Harryhausen.  Just the title is everything for attendees who have specialized cinematic tastes.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! and Kazuki Takahashi panel. He doesn't make too many guest appearances, which makes this a coveted opportunity for fans.
The Geek Shall Inherit: A Look at the Evolution of Geek Culture. “The evolution of our beloved culture.” If this digs into the real dynamics driving the cultural nerd explosion, it should be pretty awesome.
Scream Queens: World Premiere Screening. SDCC attendees love being the first to see a show or movie, and given Ryan Murphy’s fanbase, I’m guessing we’ll see an ginormous crowd. Even though this hasn't gotten the most favorable reception from the media.

NASA: Journey to Mars. We don't know if Fox will talk about The Martian or not in Hall H, but this panel will by framing the movie in terms of our own real-life science. Given the turn-out for NASA's panel last year, this will be big.
Starship Smackdown XV: Battle of the Intergalactic Stars Edition. This might strike a lot of you as silly, but it's the perfect partnering of real-world expertise and sci-fi imaginings. In short, it's the kind of activity nerds can only get at Comic-Con.

These aren't by many means the "best" panels at Comic-Con. The best panel is ultimately the one that speaks to your specific passions. But each of these has a certain amount of SDCC clout that deserves its due. 

So on that note I'll close with this - don't ignore your program guide (or the online programming) and assume the biggest panels are going to be the most gratifying. Between the lines and the fact that you could wind up at the back of an airplane-hangar-sized room, big-name panels don't always deliver. Take a look at the other panels out there and find the unique ones that could really enthrall you. You'll get in more of what you want to see with much less waiting around.

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