Comics, Daily Lists, Nerdery, TV

The 21 Best TV Panels at Comic Con for Fans and Future Professionals



The San Diego Comic-Con is the premiere pop-culture convention with over 130,000 fans making the pilgrimage each year to attend panels discussing their geek obsessions. To put it another way, a population the size of Pasadena travels to San Diego to live for a week. This has the effect of increasing San Diego’s population by 10%. More people attend SDCC than attend the Super Bowl – it is a big deal in fandom. So much so that it has outgrown its name, and more people will attend SDCC than purchased copies of the new Amazing Spider-Man issue #2.

In fact, for television it has become vital for building buzz and creating and maintaining meaningful connections with fans. Like most conventions, it is a great place to network and develop relationships that can lead to jobs in creative fields, with opportunities to not only learn about what is happening in your favorite entertainment media, but also to learn best practices. There is no medium where this is more true than television. Not only are there panels highlighting new shows and fan favorites, but there are also workshops where attendees can acquire skills and learn from established pros.

Here are 21 panels you might want to attend at SDCC if you are a television fan or looking for how to break in.

1) Inside The Big Bang Theory Writers’ Room

Image from The DungeonsMaster

Like it or not, The Big Bang Theory is currently the most popular comedy on television and is a perfect example of how geek culture has infected the pop-culture zeitgeist. Comic-Con is one of the few places where fans can interact with the hit show’s executive producers and writers and discuss the creative process. The show is produced by Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television and will be returning for its 8th season this fall, Monday nights at 8/7c on CBS. TBBT’s writers and executive producers are geeks themselves – even if the actors delivering their dialogue aren’t always – and listening to them discuss the challenges of writing “in jokes” for a broader audiences can be a great experience.

When: Friday July 25, 2014 10:00am – 11:00am
Where: Ballroom 20

2) Greendale Forever: TV Guide Magazine’s Tribute to Community


When Dan Harmon launched Community his goal was to have “six seasons and a movie” and fans want to know whether this will become a reality. While the show has been saved by a move to Yahoo, we might still wonder whether Greendale Community College been saved? I’m certainly interested in how a move from broadcast to streaming will change the kinds of stories we get about Jeff Winger and the study group. The panel will be moderated by TV Guide’s executive editor Michael Schneider, and will include Community creator Dan Harmon and members of the cast and producers who will chat about last season and discuss what the future holds for this fan-favorite comedy.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 2:15pm – 3:15pm
Where: Ballroom 20

3) Hasbro: Transformers


What better place for the Hasbro and Hasbro Studios team to introduce a new Transformers animated series than at SDCC? The new animated series Transformers: Robots In Disguise will be airing in early 2015 on Hub Network in the U.S. and globally. Additionally, fans will get a glimpse of what is to come in the third season of Transformers: Rescue Bots, which also airs on the Hub Network. The Transformers franchise will be celebrating its 30-year legacy at this year’s convention so fans can expect a couple of glimpses of never-before-seen products. Team members who are working on Transformers will spend some time answering your questions about the brand.

Maybe we should ask if anyone actually watches Hub Network.

When:Thursday July 24, 2014 11:00am – 12:00pm
Where: Room 25ABC

4) Star Blazers 2199


“Our Star Blazers!….” I can’t see the words “Battleship Yamato” without that song running through my head. Recent years have seen a number of re-imaginings of classic ’70s and ’80s anime and the Yamato has already seen a recent theatrical release. Now it is time to bring the classic Star Blazers series back to silver screen! The Star Blazers crew will share information regarding Star Blazers 2199 movie releases at this exciting and fans will have a chance to witness the screening of episode 10 of the new TV show.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 7:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: Room 24ABC

5) Scorpion: World Premiere Screening and Panel


This fall CBS will be releasing a new drama that at first glance will slide right into the network’s existing line up of procedural titles. Scorpion is based on the adventures of Doctor Clark Savage Jr., who gathers together a bad of brilliant experts who all happen to be slightly less expert than Doc Savage…oh wait. Scorpion is based on the real life story of Walter O’Brien. The show will follow the adventures of the man with “the world’s fourth highest IQ” (because humblebrag) and his company of brilliant misfits – who are slightly less brilliant than O’Brien – and use their combined genius to defend the planet against high-tech threats and the estate of Lester Dent.

The show is brought to you by the makers of Star Trek, Sleepy Hollow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and The Fast and the Furious, SDCC will feature the world premiere screening of the pilot episode which will be followed by a panel discussion with the real-life Walter O’Brien, and series stars Elyes Gabel (World War Z), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2), and Katharine McPhee (Smash). Executive producers Nick Santora, Nicholas Wootton, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Justin Lin will also be in attendance. One wonders when Kurtzman and Orci find the time to sleep.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 12:05pm – 1:10pm
Where: Ballroom 20

6) Reign: Panel & Exclusive Sneak Preview


The CW interpretation of the tale of Mary, Queen of Scots, Reign, will be returning for its second season this fall. This season Mary and Francis will find themselves facing the difficulties of ruling a nation subjected to plague, famine, and religious strife. Readers of history know the exciting twists the plot might take and will take interest in the stylized representation that the CW offers, while fans of Game of Thrones will complain about how Reign is ripping of G.R.R. Martin.

The panel will begin with an exclusive sneak preview at what’s to come in season 2 – if the show follows history it should not be a very happy season. The panel discussion will include cast members Adelaide Kane (Teen Wolf), Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables) and Toby Regbo (Mr. Nobody), as well as executive producer Laurie McCarthy.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Where: Room 9

7) iZombie Pilot Screening and Q&A


Ever wonder what would happen if you combined Brian Lumley’s novel Necroscope with hipsterism and the current zombie craze? It might look something like the CW’s iZombie. The show is based on the DC Vertigo title created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred and tells the story of Olivia “Liv” Moore who is 25-year-old medical resident who is on the fast track to a perfect life…until she’s turned into a zombie. Now stuck somewhere between half-alive and undead – and with an eternity to study – Liv loses all traces of her former drive and ambition. She transfers from residency to the city morgue in order to eat brains with a minimum of moral dilemma.

But it turns out that there is a side effect to Liv’s high fat-content diet. Liv experiences some of the memories of the corpse whose brain she eats. This creates the perfect opportunity for an undead version of Crossing Jordan. Fans of the comic will note some significant changes to the narrative as the title was translated to the new format. The iZombie panel will feature a screening of the complete pilot episode, which will be followed by a Q&A with series stars Rose McIver (Once Upon a Time), Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings), Rahul Kohli, and Robert Buckley (One Tree Hill). The show has some strong geek connections with executive producers Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Veronica Mars).

When: Friday July 25, 2014 11:30am – 12:30pm
Where: Room 6BCF

8) Gravity Falls

Disney XD

The Disney XD series Gravity Falls is a brilliant combination of the X-Files, Twin Peaks, and ’80s pop-culture from creator and executive producer Alex Hirsch. This year’s panel will feature Hirst and by series stars Kristen Schaal (Mabel), Jason Ritter (Dipper), and Thurop Van Orman (L’il Gideon). Audience members might even be able to uncover some of the mysteries of Disney’s hit series (click the link to watch a great episode), like why it’s premiering season 2 on the Disney Channel and then moving to Disney XD.

Find out what’s next in television’s most bizarre town through exclusive clips from the show’s upcoming season and an audience Q&A.

When: Friday July 25, 2014 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Where: Room 6A

9) Outlander


Clearly, Starz is looking to leverage the audience of a popular series of romance novels. This year’s SDCC will be featuring a panel discussing the new TV series Outlander, which some might describe as a spicier and more violent Brigadoon. Okay, only I would do that. Panelists will include writer/executive producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman), author Diana Gabaldon, and a number of cast members from the show. Premium networks like Starz, HBO, and Showtime have produced some excellent genre fare of late and fans of Gabaldon’s novels might be the next group to be ahead of the curve of what becomes a popular show.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: Horton Grand Theatre

10) Marvel Television Presents


For those who want to know whether Marvel Television will continue the trend of taking cool characters from Marvel feature films and creating relatively dull television series around them, Jeph Loeb will be hosting a panel that presents Marvel Television’s plans for the coming year. Loeb will discuss what is to come in the second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and might answer whether the show will become anything more than filler between features as well as introduce fans to Marvel’s new series Marvel’s Agent Carter. Both series have potential – Agent Carter in particular – and members of the casts will be there to discuss the future of Marvel’s live-action series with fans.

Let’s hope that Loeb and crew will take some time to discuss the four upcoming Netflix Original series, including Daredevil and Power Man and Iron Fist. With a Doctor Strange film in the works, it is likely they’ll want to chat about the upcoming mini-series The Defenders as well. I’d personally like to see a surprise visit from Vincent D’Onofrio, to get a good glimpse at the next Kingpin.

When: Friday July 25, 2014 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: Ballroom 20

11) Intruders

BBC America

In BBC America’s upcoming series Intruders, there is a secret society devoted to attaining immortality even if doing so requires using the bodies of other people. SDCC will feature an exclusive world premiere screening. Intruders is based on the novel by Michael Marshall Smith and is executive produced by Glen Morgan (The X-Files) and Julie Gardner (Doctor Who, Torchwood). The show’s cast includes Mira Sorvino (Human Trafficking) and Millie Brown (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland). Executive producers Glen Morgan and Julia Gardner will participate in a panel discussion along with cast members. Intruders premieres Saturday, August 23, 10/9c on BBC America.

When: Friday July 25, 2014 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: Ballroom 20

12) Sleepy Hollow


Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Fringe, Spider Man 2), Len Wiseman (Underworld, Total Recall), Mark Goffman, and Heather Kadin introduced viewers to a new interpretation of Sleepy Hollow last year. The show creators return to Comic-Con to give audiences an exclusive look at the second season. This look will be followed followed by a fan Q&A featuring cast members Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, John Noble, Orlando Jones, and Lyndie Greenwood.

If only Kurtzman, Orci, or Wiseman would be there to explain some of the temporal anomalies in Sleepy Hollow’s timeline for the Revolutionary War.

When: Friday July 25, 2014 5:45pm – 6:45pm
Where: Room 6BCF

13) Constantine Pilot Screening and Q&A


NBC’s upcoming series Constantine has been abuzz on the Internet of late as fans debate the choices being made to translate the DC Vertigo title to television. In the series, John Constantine is a less-than-pure man combating the forces of darkness and his own failures. Constantine is an urban fantasy magician who combines the role of con man, occult expert, exorcist, and demonologist. He tends to deal with threats to our world through the use of an extensive list of supernatural contacts rather than the might of his own mystic manipulations.

Constantine begins with the title character having taken shelter in an asylum promising himself that he has given up investigating the international. The show promises to include much of the lore of the fan-favorite comic…save the parts of said lore where he smokes and sometimes likes guys in that way. Attendees will see a screening of the complete pilot, followed by a Q&A with series stars Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior), Harold Perrineau (Lost) and Charles Halford (True Detective) and executive producers Daniel Cerone (Dexter) and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight). NBC’s Hannibal demonstrated that the network could be brave in what they offered on television; let’s hope that Constantine continues that trend.

When: Saturday July 26, 2014 5:15pm – 6:15pm
Where: Room 6BCF

14) The Strain


FX’s brand new series The Strain launched this past week and SDCC attendees will get an early look at the third episode “Gone Smooth.” The pilot received decent ratings, but SDCC is the perfect environment for a show like this to build more audience. An adaptation of the classic Dracula story envisioned as a viral outbreak by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro, its creators hope that their horror trilogy can become a five-season television series. (The network clearly has high hopes for the show as they secured space in Hall H.)

After the screening, there will be a panel discussion including series creators Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) and Chuck Hogan and showrunner Carlton Cuse (Lost) as well as cast members Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mia Maestro, Sean Astin, Kevin Durand, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Miguel Gomez, Ben Hyland, and Jack Kesey. If you’re still wondering what The Strain is, it’s the reason you’ve been seeing all of those posters of a worm digging itself into an eyeball around town. Thanks, Guillermo.

When: Sunday July 27, 2014 1:45pm – 3:45pm
Where: Hall H

15) The Science of Science Fiction

IEEE Spectrum

In classic Hollywood, scientists were treated as either villains or dull, high-minded lecturers who were socially awkward. Rarely have film and television presented scientists in a heroic role. Or have they? Are scientists playing the hero more in film and TV today than in the past, or have there always been a decent number of heroic scientists? Has Hollywood been anti-intellectual before, only now promoting the power of science? This panel discussion will be moderate by IEEE Spectrum senior editor Stephen Cass (Coming Soon Enough) and features Kevin Grazier (Defiance), Andrea Letamendi, Ph.D. (Under the Mask), Jessica Cail, Ph.D. (The Hunted), Phil Plait (The Bad Astronomer), writers and producers Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy), and the team of Zack Stenz and Ashley E. Miller (Fringe). The panelists will discuss whether or not scientists have escaped the Frankenstein/Weird Science stereotypes.

When: Friday July 25, 2014 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Where: Room 7AB

16) The Legacy and Return of Battlestar Galactica

Sci Fi Scoop

So far there have been at least three distinct visions of Battlestar Galactica – the original, 1980, and the recent series – and we may soon be getting a fourth. Attendees can join Richard Hatch (Tom Zarek, Captain Apollo), Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama), and science consultant Dr. Kevin Grazier (Falling Skies, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka) for a discussion about the upcoming Battlestar Galactica movie. Other panelists include Luciana Carro (Battlestar Galactica, Falling Skies) and producer Alec Peters (Propworks, Star Trek: Axanar).

Will that new movie actually happen? So say some.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 10:30am – 11:30am
Where: Room 6BCF

17) The Writer’s Journey: Breaking into Comic Book and Hollywood Scriptwriting


Remember when I told you that Comic-Con was a place where you could network and learn about the industry? This is one of those opportunities. This panel is designed for unpublished writers who have dreams of breaking into the transmedia marketplace but have little or no idea where to start. This panel features a number of experts includeing screenwriters and graphic novel producers Brandon M. Easton (ThunderCats [2011], Transformers: Rescue Bots), Geoffrey Thorne (Leverage, Ben 10), Jonathan Callan (Ben 10, Generator Rex), animation showrunner Charlotte Fullerton (Ben 10: Omniverse), screenwriter Tony Puryear (Eraser), and actress/writer Erika Alexander (Living Single). These panelists will share their expertise and help attendees develop their ideas into a viable proposal. Topics will include hiring artists, contracts, and pitching the project as well as some discussion of managing intellectual property in the modern digital environment.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: Room 32AB

18) Behind the Scenes of Science Fiction in Movies and on TV

TV Writer Podcast

If you want to talk to three of the hardest working women in entertainment and a new voice, this is your opportunity. Jane Espenson (Husbands, Once Upon a Time, Gilmore Girls), Amy Berg (Eureka, Person of Interest, Leverage), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, The Terminator) discuss what it’s like to work on science fiction projects in film and television. They will discuss their own challenges and what the current trends are in the industry. The panel will be moderated by Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy Blog).

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 12:45pm – 1:45pm
Where: Room 6DE

19) The Pitching Hour

Man of Action Studios

Have you ever wondered how new animated television shows get made? Are you looking for advice regarding how to put together a pitch document, obtain and agent, and securing a pitch meeting? If so, this is the panel for you. Jill Sanford (VP, Nickelodeon original series TV animation), Duncan Rouleau (executive producer, Man of Action), Kevin Burke and Chris “Doc” Wyatt (head writers, Avengers Assemble), Charlie Chu (editor, Oni Press), Lindsay Rostal (VP /producer, The Odd Gentlemen), Jennie Kong (publicist, Geek & Sundry), will be joined by moderator Dan Evans III (director current, Marvel TV Animation). This panel will take an idea from conception through production for various media. Following this creative exercise, there be a Q&A where the audience can ask for advice regarding some of the biggest obstacles and challenges that new creators face. Brendan McFeely (IP lawyer, Kane Kessler) will also be available to give to give creators insight on how best to protect their ideas.

When: Thursday July 24, 2014 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Where: Room 5AB

20) How to Write a TV Pilot

Script Magazine

Do you think your idea has what it takes to entertain millions of viewers? Do you have a perfect idea for a television series? Are you struggling with how to translate your idea into a working screenplay? Join Gray Jones (host, TV Writer Podcast, partner of Script Magazine) as he moderates a discussion and Q&A with powerhouse panelists Jen Grisanti (writing instructor, NBC’s Writers on the Verge), Lisa Alden (Entourage), William Rabkin (author, Writing the Pilot), Bill Taub (author, Automatic Pilot), and Carole Kirschner (director of the WGA Showrunner Training Program).

When: Friday July 25, 2014 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Where: Room 23ABC

21) Inside The Writers’ Room: Earth’s Mightiest Writers Re-Assemble

Chris Parnell

Wondercon featured an in-depth panel that included some of televisions hottest writers, and that group has agreed to get back together to share their thoughts about how to write and rewrite the series you love or want to improve. These writers will give you a glimspe into the writers’ room and discuss how the room interacts with network executives. Is it a network executive’s job to take remove all joy from the writing process and remove any creativity or originality that they are offered? These panelists will discuss how shows go from an idea to the dry erase board to screenplay.

The panel will be moderated by Sony Pictures Television’s jocular senior VP of drama development & production, Chris Parnell (not the actor) and will incldue Michael Narducci (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Steve Holland (The Big Bang Theory), Sarah Watson (Parenthood, About a Boy), William Harper (Grey’s Anatomy), Christine Boylan (Constantine, Once Upon A Time), Ashley E. Miller (The New Terminator TV series, Fringe, Andromeda), Steve Melching (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Transformers Prime), Gabrielle Stanton (Haven, Castle, Arrow), Jose Molina (Sleepy Hollow, Firefly, Agent Carter), and Mark A. Altman (Femme Fatales, Castle, Free Enterprise TV Series).

When: Saturday July 26, 2014 11:30am – 12:30pm
Where: Room 24ABC

* * * * *

This Saturday I’ll be discussing Comic-Con (and Transformers 4!) with Topless Robot editor-in-chief Luke Y Thompson on Shawna Benson’s and my Geekerati podcast. Since Con’s a week away yet, you can spare the time to tune in, right?

Previously by Christian Lindke:

10 Geek Holidays and How to Celebrate Them
7 Reasons I, Frankenstein Is Like the Greatest RPG Campaign Ever GM’d
The 10 Best Superhero Role-Playing Games
From The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle to Dallas: 10 Strange Licensed RPGs
Ten Ways to Make a Dungeons & Dragons Movie Not Suck

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