12 NOVEMBER 2015
Amidst all this SDCC Pre-reg drama swirling around, Emerald City has been slowly emitting micro-announcements on guests. We're now expecting comic guests who've worked on indie titles and books from DC and Marvel - hi, Fiona Staples, Chris Burnham, Alex de Campi, Faith Erin Hicks, Terry Moore and so many others - and entertainment guests from The Flash, iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and more. Given that we're still 5 months away from the Con, this bodes well.
But there's something important that isn't getting quite as much attention - the opportunity to host your own Emerald City panel. You don't have to be famous; fans are welcome to apply. (Of course there's no guarantee you'll be accepted.) Benefits include complimentary admission to ECCC, possible professional prestige and promotion, and the opportunity to make friends with fans who share your passion. And don't think that a fan panel is doomed to low attendance. Some have been standing room only.
Obviously this isn't something as easily accomplished at monster Cons like NYCC and SDCC, so it's worth looking into if there's a panel you'd really like to host or see. Think not just about your topic but moderators, panelists, your presentation style and start reaching out now to see if people are interested. Yes, that could include your favorite cult figure or niche artist. They might love a panel in their honor and be willing to come bask in some fan adoration. If there's one thing Cons are beloved for, it's the panels dedicated to very specific, often obscure fandoms. What have you got to lose by asking?
That said, if you've only attended panels before, as opposed to sitting on or leading them, you might think it looks pretty easy - essentially sitting in a chair and talking about your work or something that interests you. It actually requires a number of skills: being engaging, managing time, communicating appropriately with the audience, fighting stage fright, corralling panelists who go awry and being able to improvise when the discussion dies 20 minutes sooner than you thought it would.
That isn't to intimidate you out of doing it, but rather to say that you should take it seriously and prepare if this type of thing is new to you. Most of us who've been to a small Con have sat through (or walked out of) a horribly-managed panel. No one wants to have their precious Comic-Con time wasted, so practice until you're confident about your panel game.
The deadline for applications is 7 January at 5:00 pm PST. Good luck.