The San Diego Comic-Con International begins tomorrow with its annual Preview Night event before officially opening its doors on Thursday, July 24.
To the world outside of fandom, Comic-Con International appears to be some kind of weird movie, TV and video game convention, despite the “Comic” in its name. And it’s true that a lot of the Comic-Con press is dominated by television and film panels.
But there are more comic book related panels at Comic-Con than anything else. Because no matter what else Comic-Con has become, it’s still a comic book convention.
For this year’s list of our picks for the 10 Can’t Miss Comic Book Panels at Comic-Con, we’ve largely stayed away from the traditional panels that are only used to make news announcements or show off preview art. If you want to go to those panels, there are plenty of them at Comic-Con.
Instead of focusing on those, we’re bringing you a list of panels that could only be at Comic-Con. Panels with historical significance, panels with amazing guest lineups and even a panel that could help you break into the comic book industry if that happens to be one of your goals.
Spotlight on Bill Finger, the Co-Creator of Batman
11:30am – 12:30pm Thursday, July 24
Everyone who loves Batman should know who Bill Finger is. Finger is not only the uncredited co-creator of Batman, he is directly responsible for several of the most significant additions to the mythology of Batman, including Bruce Wayne, Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Gotham City and several of Batman’s most famous villains.
This year is the 100th Anniversary of Finger’s birth, and to celebrate his life, his granddaughter, Athena Finger and her son, Benjamin are coming to San Diego to continue the quest to give Bill Finger the credit and recognition that he deserved when he was alive.
Also joining them on this panel is ,Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), writer Mark Evanier, Catwoman actress Lee Meriwether, Marc Tyler Nobleman (Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman), Cartoons Arts’ Jens Robinson (son of Joker co-creator Jerry Robinson), and executive producer Michael Uslan (Batman, The Dark Knight film trilogy).
DC Comics: Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight
3:30pm – 4:30pm Thursday, July 24
This is one of DC’s official Batman comic book panels from Comic-Con, and it has a stunning lineup of some of the best Batman comic creators in his 75 year history. Neal Adams, Frank Miller, Denny O’Neil, Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder are appearing together for the occasion… and it should be one of the most memorable panels of the convention.
The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – A Look Under the Shell
8:15pm – 9:15pm Thursday, July 24
Just in time for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman is leading a panel dedicated to his most famous creation. Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles examines the 30 year backstory of one of the most improbable comic book success stories ever.
Director Randall Lobb will be on hand to discuss his film alongside his fellow executive producers, Isaac Elliott-Fisher, Mark Hussey and Galen Walker.
Will Eisner: Teacher and Mentor
10:00am – 11:00am Friday, July 25
It’s been nearly ten years since the world lost Will Eisner, one of the greatest comic creators in the history of the medium. This panel is dedicated to Eisner’s stint as an instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, where he taught several comic book creators who rose to fame of their own.
DC veteran Paul Levitz is moderating the panel with Joe Quesada from Marvel, Mike Carlin from DC, Batton Lash (Supernatural Law), Drew Friedman (Heroes of the Comics) and a surprise guest as they share their stories about what they learned directly from Eisner during his classes.
Comic-Con How-To: Graphic Novels from Idea to Finish
12:15pm – 1:30pm Friday, July 25
There are several “How To Create Comics” panels throughout Comic-Con. Brian Haberlin’s “Graphic Novels from Idea to Finish” is one of the few to offer a comprehensive overview of the process in just over an hour.
Haberlin will be using his own graphic novels, Anomaly and Shifter as examples to explore the development of an idea into a script, how to lay out the pages, create the artwork, print the comic, distribute the book and other aspects of the business that are largely unknown to anyone who is just trying to break into comics.
Spotlight on Mike Mignola
12:30pm – 1:30pm Friday, July 25
Sadly, Hellboy 3 is not on the horizon. But Hellboy creator, Mike Mignola is one of Comic-Con’s special guests this year. And in this spotlight panel, Mignola will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hellboy, including the comics, the films and the animated movies with several hundred of his biggest fans.
Spotlight on Jim Lee
11:15pm – 12:15pm Sunday, July 27
Everyone who walks into Comic-Con this year is getting a free copy of the Souvenir Book with Batman on it. San Diego native Jim Lee drew that cover, and he is one of the special guests at this year’s Comic-Con.
Twenty years ago, Lee was one of the biggest artists at Marvel with a best selling run on theUncanny X-Men and X-Men titles. Lee was subsequently one of the founders of Image Comics before joining DC. Now, Lee is DC’s co-publisher and the artist behind memorable runs on Batman,Superman and Justice League.
For this spotlight panel, Lee will be taking questions about his quarter century in the comic book industry and what his future will hold.
The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
10:00am – 11:00am Sunday, July 27
Jack Kirby was the King of Comics. Kirby co-created nearly every major Marvel superhero that you can think of in the ‘60s, then he went to DC in the ‘70s and created even more comics before starting his own creator owned comics in the ‘80s.
Kirby passed away 20 years ago, but Comic-Con celebrates his life every year with a Kirby tribute panel. Moderator and Kirby collaborator, Mark Evanier welcomes this year’s guests Len Wein, Scott Shaw!, Charles Kochman (editorial director, Harry N. Abrams Books), members of the Kirby family and Kirby family attorney Paul S. Levine.
Marvel Comics’ 75th and Daredevil’s 50th
1:45pm – 2:45pm Sunday, July 27
Marvel may have more announcement panels than any other company,,, except perhaps DC. But this one is special, because Marvel is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics # 1 and the 50th Anniversary of Daredevil: The Man Without Fear!
Mark Waid, Joe Quesada and Dan Slott will be the primary panelists here as they talk about the history of Marvel and why its characters have endured the test of time.
Dynamite 10th Anniversary Panel
2:15pm – 3:15pm Sunday, July 27
The biggest draw at this year’s Dynamite panel is the fact that Quentin Tarantino will be on hand to promote the upcoming crossover miniseries, Django Meets Zorro. Tarantino’s co-writers on Django Meets Zorro, Reginald Hudlin and Matt Wagner will also be here as Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci and senior editor Joseph Rybandt celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Dynamite.
Feel free to share your Can’t Miss Comic Book Panels from this year’s Comic-Con in the comment section below!