Are You Going To Comic-Con?

Comic-Con is more than just a comic-book convention. It's like Cannes for the geeky arts. It showcases comics, cult and science fiction movies and TV shows, and nerdy crafts. I'm sure there'll be at least a hundred different varieties of light sabers on sale in the dealer room. It even showcases books, for those of us who are still quaint enough to read print books anymore.
Comic-Con is more than just a comic-book convention. It's like Cannes for the geeky arts. It showcases comics, cult and science fiction movies and TV shows, and nerdy crafts. I'm sure there'll be at least a hundred different varieties of light sabers on sale in the dealer room. It even showcases books, for those of us who are still quaint enough to read print books anymore.I live in San Diego, and one of the perqs of living here is that I don't have to travel to Comic-Con or make hotel reservations. The event is July 24-27 -- next week. Hope you got your tickets already, because apparently it's completely sold out.

I go every year, but only for one day because one day is enough for me. It's pretty overwhelming. The weather is usually scorchingly hot -- temperatures over 100 aren't unusual. The crowds are staggering -- 125,000 people expected this year. Comic-Con takes over the county the way Comdex used to take over Las Vegas. I live 12 miles from the convention center, and yet when I go to the light rail station on the morning of the day I go to Comic-Con, there are invariably a few people wearing Comic-Con badges waiting there with me.

For me, the main purpose of Comic-Con is that it's an opportunity to meet up with friends and enjoy the spectacle. The hall costumes alone are gorgeous and creative. The convention center is crawling with Batmen and X-Men and Spider-Men and Imperial stormtroopers and Doctor Whos (or should that be "Doctors Who"?) and exhibitionist slave-girl Princess Leias and demure Leias wearing the standard white robe with head-mounted Cinnabons. My photos from last year's Comic-Con:

Elvis stormtrooper
View the whole set.

I plan to attend six events. Two are in direct conflict with each other, and the other four overlap. Figures. All four events are Saturday:

10:00-11:00 Looking at Our World: Eye on the Future -- Speculative fiction authors discuss shaping the future through their fiction and shaping their fiction to the future. Panelists include Robert J. Sawyer (Rollback), Ann Aguirre (Grimspace), Tobias S. Buckell (Ragamuffin), William C. Dietz (When All Seems Lost), Alan Dean Foster (author of more than 100 books), Charles Stross (Saturn's Children), and John Zakour (Dangerous Dames). Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy.Room 8

I've read Foster, but not recently. He was a childhood favorite for me; I read and re-read his Star Trek Log series as a teen-age Trekkie.

I'm a big fan of Stross. I'm looking forward to meeting him at Comic-Con. Here's some of what I've written about Stross in the past for InformationWeek: "Book Review: IT Manager Battles The Undead In The Atrocity Archive," "Interview With Science-Fiction Writer Charles Stross About Virtual Worlds,"

It should be a fun panel. Or maybe "fun" isn't the right word -- the future doesn't look all that rosy for the human race at the moment, at least not for the next couple of decades.

10:45-11:30 The Simpsons -- Entering into their record-setting 20th season, The Simpsons debuted their first feature film in July 2007, grossing more than $500 million worldwide. "The Simpsons Ride" opened in May 2008 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood, Califa., to great success. Now join the creative team behind this historic show and get the inside scoop on the upcoming season! Featuring Matt Groening (creator and executive producer); Al Jean (executive producer and head writer); Matt Selman (executive producer); Michael Price (co-executive producer); Matt Warburton (co-executive producer); Don Payne (consulting producer); Carolyn Omine (consulting producer); Mike Anderson (supervising director) and David Silverman movie and TV series director). Ballroom 20

Who will win the time conflict? Probably the first panel.

I'm skipping most of the media panels, even for shows that I love, like Heroes and Lost. I just don't enjoy most of the media panels. But I do hope to attend a couple:

12:00-1:00 The Writers Room: Writing Prime Time Animated Comedy -- Join real live prime-time animation writers as they recreate a TV animation rewrite room. Jokes will be "pitched," stories will be "broken," and lunch will be "ordered". Panelists: Eric Kaplan (Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle), Opus Moreschi (Li'l Bush), Dan McGrath (King of the Hill, The Simpsons), Bill Freiberger (Drawn Together, The Simpsons), Maiya Williams (The PJs, Mad TV), and Carolyn Omine (The Simpsons). Moderated by Patric M. Verrone (Futurama, The Simpsons). Room 10
I write nonfiction and a little bit of fiction, and I do it sitting alone at my computer. I'm fascinated by TV comedy and drama writing, and the way they write by committee. The whole process seems wonderful and alien to me, like a cook finding another cook who prepares food with his feet. Common wisdom is to sneer at art created by committee, but some great art has been created that way -- The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, etc. -- just as good as anything created by a scribe sitting alone with his muse.

12:00-1:00 Steampunk Fan Group Meet-up -- Do you hunger for a past that never was? If your gears are turned by the speculative future of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, Neo-Victorian, steam, and clockwork, then this is the place for you. Participants will be discussing the Steampunk aesthetic. Meet others, share projects and ideas, and discuss this exciting and beautiful culture! Room 24A

12:45-1:45 Exclusive Q&A with the writers of The Office -- Meet the writers of the Emmy Award-winning comedy The Office and hear them talk about their favorite episodes, characters, and fun behind-the-scenes stories. Moderated by cast member Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute), panelists include executive producer/showrunner Greg Daniels (The Simpsons) and writers Jennifer Celotta (Andy Richter Controls the Universe), Michael Schur (Saturday Night Live), B.J. Novak, Lester Lewis (The Larry Sanders Show), Gene Stupnitsky (Year One), Lee Eisenberg (Year One), Mindy Kaling (Matt and Ben), Justin Spitzer (Scrubs), Ryan Koh (various commercials), and Anthony Ferrell (The Audacity). Room 6A

The Office is a wonderful show, it combines very broad humor with subtle and nuanced characters and I'm really interested in hearing what the writers have to say about it.

1:30-2:30 Writing 101: Creating Characters -- Marv Wolfman has been writing comics for more than 40 years and has created such legendary characters as Blade, Bullseye, Black Cat, The New Teen Titans, Deathstroke The Terminator, and hundreds more. As he's done for the past four Comic-Cons, Marv conducts his personal writing seminar, this year discussing the art of creating characters. There will be time available for Q&A. Room 30CDE

I've got a novel in progress, and hope to write many more, so I'm interested in picking up tips how to create compelling characters. I don't read comics, but I respect the medium and people who do read them. I've never heard of Marv Wolfman, but those things are a plus to me. I'll be able to get a completely alternative perspective.

The preceding four events all conflict with one another, two of them head to head, and two overlapping. Who'll win that conflict? I'll probably skip the panel on writing prime-time animated comedy entirely; I only made a note of it in case other events are cancelled.

I want to go to the steampunk gathering because steampunk is wonderfully zany and beautiful. Also, it looks like a group discussion rather than a panel; I'd rather talk with people than be talked at.

I'm on vacation all next week, but I'll probably have something to post here about Comic-Con anyway. I don't just use the Internet and write about it; I live on the Internet. I'll have my iPhone with me, and I'm trying out the location-based social networks Loopt and BrightKite, as well as the location features of Twitter, so I hope to be able to spontaneously meet up with some fellow fans at the show. I'll also take lots of pictures, which I'll post to Flickr, with links on Twitter.

Friend me on BrightKite and Flickr and I'll friend you back. I'm still figuring Loopt out so I probably won't friend you there. As for Twitter: I'm limiting Twitter friendships now to people I actually know and like, either in person or by reputation, otherwise I find the service less enjoyable and useful. (How do you decide who to friend on various social networks? Let us know.)

Are you going to Comic-Con? What events are you most looking forward to? Also, if you are going, post your social networking information so we can keep in touch.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing