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Thursday, July 24 24 (10?11 a.m.)
Comic-Con is sorta like 24: A non-stop spectacle filled with sweaty, stubbly, shower-challenged people too busy running around with fake guns and searching for stuff to ever use the bathroom. So we begin here, mostly in hopes that Kiefer Sutherland—fresh off the mini-series revival of the franchise—will make some news by announcing that there will indeed be another season next year. Failing that, we hope he squints and says ''Dammit!'' a lot.
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Thursday, July 24 Spotlight on Bill Finger (11:30 a.m.?12:30 p.m.)
With 2014 being the 75th anniversary of Batman, Comic-Con is chockablock with a battery of panels celebrating the legacy of the superhero icon. This one takes advantage of the hype to champion a legendary Batman writer whose own legacy many feel hasn't been properly honored. The Golden Age comic book scribe—who also co-created Green Lantern and Wildcat and worked on countless characters and titles—is best known for helping Bob Kane shape and build the Bat business. Should DC Comics officially credit Finger as the Dark Knight's co-creator? The panel will make the case.
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Thursday, July 24 Female Heroes: Then and Now (1?2 p.m.)
You'll find several panels this year tackling an important issue: The underrepresentation and poor representation of original, quality female characters in comics (or at least the perception of such). I'd try to take in as many as possible, beginning with this one. From the program: ''This year marks the 25th anniversary of Heartbreakers, a groundbreaking science fiction series that was one of the first action comics starring female heroes, and the only one written by a woman when it debuted in Dark Horse Presents. Today, there are more women than ever reading and creating comics—not to mention cosplaying and writing about comics—but it seems a lot of the old biases are still entrenched. What's changed in 25 years, and what hasn't? Join Heartbreakers creators Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan, along with friends Jimmy Palmiotti (Painkiller Jane), Kiala Kazebee (Vaginal Fantasy), Allison Baker (Monkeybrain Comics), and Claire Hummel (Bioshock: Infinite), for a lively discussion of sexism, science fiction, comic books, and geek culture.''
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Thursday, July 24 Greendale Forever: TV Guide Magazine's Tribute to Community (2:15?3:15 p.m.)
The dream of #sixseasonsandamovie survives after Yahoo! announced it will be back a sixth season of the cult comedy. Here's hoping creator Dan Harmon, executive producer Chris McKenna, and cast members Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash, and Dino Stamatopoulos will offer some specific skinny on what lies ahead for Greendale's scrappy hyper-poppy study-group saviors.
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Thursday, July 24 Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries (4:30?5:30 p.m.)
A bright bunch, for sure. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Sleepy Hollow, Scorpion), Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash), and Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, iZombie) will discuss creativity, inspiration, the importance of fan feedback, and the future of TV. For me, the worst thing about our panel is that it conflicts with another bloody good panel I really want to see, featuring another showrunner I greatly respect?
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Thursday, July 24 Hannibal: Embrace the Madness (4:45?5:45 p.m.)
The finale of the dementedly scrumptious thriller had the freaky foodie brutally kabobbing, like, everyone, and then running away with Gillian Anderson. Which I used to dream about all the time. (The running away with Dana Scully part, not the killing-everyone part.) Where the hell does the unjustly Emmy-snubbed drama go from here? Creator Bryan Fuller, executive producer/writer Steven Lightfoot, director David Slade, executive producer Martha DeLaurentiis will be joined by stars Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, and Aaron Abrams to answer that very question. Moderator Jonathan Ross will have the pleasure of assaying the duty I thoroughly enjoyed last year: Managing the Fannibals, one of the liveliest, most intelligent, most colorfully dressed fan communities you'll find at Comic-Con. This panel is worth checking out for them alone.
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Thursday, July 24 Batman '66 (6?7 p.m.)
Another Bat panel, this one celebrating the clever-campy Batman TV series from the 1960s, the sense and sensibility of which has seen something of a comeback over the past year—a response, I think, to grim-and-gritty Dark Knight overload. This panel serves to promote the show's long-awaited DVD release this fall. It also promises to be a total hoot, what with Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar holding court in Hall H.
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Thursday, July 24 The Lost 1978 Comic Book Documentary (7:30?8:30 p.m.)
This one appeals to the comic book historian in me, as well as the fanboy who fell in love with superhero comics during the late '70s. From the program: ''John Siuntres (host of the ''Word Balloon Comics Podcast'') and Mark Waid (Thrillbent Comics) present this rarely seen in the U.S. short film. In 1978 the Canadian TV Show Behind the Scene produced a 20-minute look at the comic book business featuring footage shot at the offices of DC and Marvel Comics. Narrated by comedian Jonathan Winters, the film stands as a time capsule look at how comics were made and marketed in the pre-digital world of the mid-20th century. You'll see footage and comments from Stan Lee, Archie Goodwin, Neal Adams, Julie Schwartz, Denny O'Neil, Jim Steranko, John Romita, and many more.''
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Friday, July 25 Image Comics: I is for ? Inception (11 a.m.?Noon)
Image Comics—the hottest comic book publisher in the country (more on why later)—is touting its offerings with several different ''I is for ?'' panels, and I'd go to this one because it's where I'd find Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, the creative team behind my favorite comic of the past year, Sex Criminals. The rest of the panel is pretty alluring, too. Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly), Fiona Staples (Saga), John Layman (Chew), and Steve Seagle (Imperial).
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Friday, July 25 Spotlight on Mike Mignola (12:30?1:30 p.m.)
All about one of my favorite comic book artists, best known for Hellboy. But I might need to leave a little early to make sure I get a seat at...
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Friday, July 25 Game of Thrones Panel and Q&A (1:40?2:40p.m.)
Always a must-attend, and perhaps more so this year, if George R. R. Martin and exec producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss are asked to debate and discuss this past season's Jamie-Cersei rape-or-not-rape controversy. And maybe the brutal fantasy's overall rape-iness in general. Jamie himself, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, will be there, as will Gwendoline Christie, Natalie Dormer, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, Rory McCann, Pedro Pascal, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams.
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Friday, July 25 A&E's Bates Motel (3:30?4:30 p.m.)
I want you to read the program description and guess why I'm interested in this one. ''Bates Motel reopens in San Diego! Executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) will debut an exciting video with the cast of the highly acclaimed drama series, exclusively for Comic-Con attendees. The executive producers will be joined by the cast, including Vera Farmiga in her Emmy-nominated role as Norma Bates, Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), Olivia Cooke (Emma), and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero) to discuss the hit series. Fans will hear firsthand details about what is to come in season 3 debuting in 2015 on A&E and will have a chance to ask the cast and creators questions during a Q&A. The panel will be moderated by Dan Snierson from Entertainment Weekly.'' Yep, you guessed it: It's all about the Snierson for me. Not that I don't like the show. But Dan! He's the bestest! Make sure you to ask him about Ariana Grande. He looooves talking about Ariana Grande. I mean, weirdly so. Do it! Ask him! He won't feel awkward about it at all!
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Friday, July 25 Archer Screening and Q&A (5?6 p.m.)
True confession: I only recently discovered this inventively ribald animated gem about the brilliantly bitchy backstabbing agents of ISIS. Attending this panel for me is a declaration of allegiance—and to experience and enjoy the collective wit of its behind the scenes talent, including creator Adam Reed and voice cast H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers), Aisha Tyler (The Talk), Chris Parnell (21 Jump Street), Judy Greer (Arrested Development), Amber Nash (Frisky Dingo), and Lucky Yates (Good Eats).
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Friday, July 25 Sleepy Hollow (5:45?6:45 p.m.)
Part victory lap, part new season sneak peek (I hope) for one of the breakout hits of this past TV season. On hand: Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Fringe, Spider Man 2), Len Wiseman (Underworld, Total Recall), Mark Goffman, and Heather Kadin, plus stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, John Noble, Orlando Jones, and Lyndie Greenwood.
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Friday, July 25 The 26th Annual Eisner Awards (8?10:30 p.m.)
The comic book Oscars. Remember when I told you Image was the hottest publisher in the field? Check out the nominees for Best Continuing Series: East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Image); Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel); Nowhere Men, by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde (Image); Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image), and Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image). I read and enjoy them all—but Sex Criminals would get my vote.
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Saturday, July 26 Berkley Breathed: The Last Comic-Con Panel! (Noon?1 p.m.)
Mystery surrounds what the legendary cartoonist will be saying/doing/announcing during this rare (and allegedly last) Comic-Con appearance. ''However,'' according to the program, ''there is unofficial word that he may be revealing recent illicit photos and art of his best friend Bill Watterson, 'borrowed' from the latter's secret retreat in the foothills of Colorado.'' Ack!
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Saturday, July 26 Spotlight on Jim Steranko (1?2 p.m.)
The early Marvel Age legend—a true comics auteur, renowned for his narrative innovation and stylistic invention—didn't make many comics, but the few he wrote/drew/colored/everythinged had a lasting impact on comic book culture. Due to his association with Marvel's spy-fi properties—specifically, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.—there has been something of a Steranko rediscovery/revival because of the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series (which he recapped—hilariously; critically—for The Hollywood Reporter) and because of his colorful, provocative tweeting. Here, the opinionated, larger-than-life character holds court and promises to talk about ''controversial'' topics, including ''the true 'Father of the Modern Graphic Novel;' why Captain America: The Winter Soldier [was] dedicated to Steranko; the real origin of Mister Miracle; the Switchblade Years, motorcycles, death-defying escapes, hot redheads, Marvel, moviemaking, and more.''
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Saturday, July 26 The Awesomes: A Hulu Original (2?3 p.m.)
The panel for this superhero-spoofy animated series created by Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker (Late Night with Seth Meyers) promises to be one of the more entertaining panels at Comic-Con this year because, you know, Seth Meyers. He's funny! And he won't be alone. Cast members Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live), Josh Meyers (That '70s Show), and writer/producer Dan Mintz (Bob's Burgers) are supposed to be there, too.
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Saturday, July 26 Strong Female Characters (3?4 p.m.)
Another quality panel about the issue of female representation in comics, an issue worthy of as much time as you can give it if you care about comics. And women. And humanity in general. From the program: ''Well-written, realistic female characters are celebrated in this panel featuring Comic-Con International special guests June Brigman (Power Pack), Amanda Conner (Power Girl), Colleen Coover (Bandette), Sara Mayhew (Legend of the Ztarr), Jimmy Palmiotti (Painkiller Jane), Fiona Staples (Saga), Paul Tobin (Bandette), and Brian K. Vaughan (Saga), and moderated by Maggie Thompson. Strong female characters can be heroes or villains, have weaknesses and strengths, flaws or assets, and ultimately make the stories we love to read.''
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Saturday, July 26 The Wonderful World of ''Weird Al'' Yankovic (3:30?4:30 p.m.)
Sign me up for the Weird Al revival. Mandatory Fun, indeed.
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Saturday, July 26 Entertainment Weekly: Women Who Kick Ass (4:10?5:10 p.m.)
Our annual panel, always a winner. From the program: ''A discussion among fierce, fearless and flat-out fantastic female actors such as Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) and Nicole Beharie (Sleep Hollow) that open up about the power and privilege of playing women who redefine the rules and refuse to yield.''
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Saturday, July 26 Marvel Studios (5:30 p.m.?6:30 p.m.)
The annual state of the union from the premier purveyor in superhero pop. Gimmegimmegimme Avengers 2 footage, please, Captain Feige.
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Saturday, July 26 Fight Club: From Page to Screen and Beyond (7?8 p.m.)
From the program: ''Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Haunted), director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, The Social Network, and Gone Girl), Gerald Howard (Doubleday executive editor), and special guests discuss the seminal novel's journey from book to film and beyond.'' Expect an exciting announcement on what exactly ''beyond'' means.
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Sunday, July 27 The Fifth Beatle: The Beatles, The Big Screen, and Beyond (10?11 a.m.)
The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story was one of the most celebrated original graphic novels of 2013. Now comes word that this brilliant bio of The Beatles' manager is getting developed into movie blessed by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison. According to the program, Fifth Beatle writer and producer Vivek J. Tiwary (Green Day's American Idiot) will introduce ''a series of very special guests for a discussion of The Fifth Beatle's development, and breaking news.''
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Sunday, July 27 Spotlight on Michael T. Gilbert (Noon?1 p.m.)
The man who made Mr. Monster? I am so there. Don't know what Mr. Monster is? You are at the wrong convention, my friend.
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Sunday, July 27 The Strain (1:45?3:45 p.m.)
The new vampire horror series adapted from the novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan—overseen by Lost's Carlton Cuse—is off to a strong start. And it doesn't suck, either! My guess is that The Strain is poised to become a popular Comic-Con institution a la The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Especially if Guillermo—always a delight—shows up. He'll be there this year, along with Hogan, Cuse, and cast members Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mia Maestro, Sean Astin, Kevin Durand, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Miguel Gomez, Ben Hyland, and Jack Kesey.
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Sunday, July 27 Buffy the Musical: Once More with Feeling (3:30?5 p.m.)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show of Comic-Con. Rumor has it a special surprise guest will be on hand this year. Good Geeking, true believers.