Well, we’ve spent the past week giving you detailed previews about what to expect from this year’s San Diego Comic Con when it comes to films, television, comics, and various exclusives, but now it’s time to take a step back and look at everything else this show has to offer…as written by a man who admittedly has never been to any incarnation of Comic Con before.
But now that I’ve had an insane load of various panels, programs and events dumped into my lap to look at, it actually did get to me thinking that as a first-timer of sorts, what could the behemoth that is SDCC offer that tickles my fancy the most? Where would I go there, assuming I also had infinite money and could be in two places or more at the same time? Well, let’s take a look and find out, and maybe highlight some places all of you had best check out as well…
1. The Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed Obstacle Course
You may get to play some bits of Assassin’s Creed: Unity at the show, but now you also get to experience the real deal (sort of) with a full-on parkour-ish obstacle course! Complete a full-on variety of obstacles including a 25-foot Leap of Faith (that disappointingly does not have you landing in a hay-filled cart) in order to win yourself an AC:U t-shirt and live the full assassin experience, which apparently consists of 50% parkour, 50% Wipeout obstacle course, and 0% actual assassinations. Come for the challenge & for what will no doubt be a large amount of female contestants determined to complete the course just to spite the hell out of Ubisoft (can’t blame ’em)!
(MLK Promenade Park, taking place all day from the 24th to the 27th)
2. The Gotham Zip-Line
To help promote the upcoming Gotham live-action show, Fox has set up a 30-foot-high and 130-foot-long zip-line designed to send you zooming above the Gotham City landscape in order to help fans, in their own words, “channel their inner superhero”…which is kind of odd given how heavily they’ve tried to emphasize that this isn’t a Batman show. Then again, maybe the GCPD in this incarnation just tends to use zip-lines in duty a lot more often. Oh great, now I’ve imagined a show in my head called Zip-Line Cops that I know is too awesome to exist. Happy now, Gotham?
(Between the SD Convention Center and the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, taking place all day between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM from the 24th to the 27th)
3. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Laser Tag
Yes, 2K, Gearbox, and The Nerdist have teamed up to give you a chance to shoot Chris Hardwick in the balls! Even though, since this is laser tag, it won’t do any actual harm. Oh well, nice effort. Anyhow, come celebrate the upcoming release of the new Borderlands game by participating in one of many 25-on-25 team battles and then sticking around for live stage shows and an oxygen bar which ties into the game’s “moon” theme and will thus provide you with a new way to lift up your spirits after being crushed by an opposing team members who offed you & then pretended to shoot you in the nuts for humiliation.
(Petco Park, taking place all day between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM from the 24th to the 27th)
4. Artists’ Alley
Well, seeing as how deviantART is the other website I have open in my browser 24/7, I kind of feel obliged to point out that they’re sponsoring Comic Con’s Artists’ Alley for the fourth year in a row. Come one, come all and meet some of the most talented artists and illustrators working in all forms of genre fiction today, and also Rob Liefeld for some damn reason. I could think of least twenty other artists from DA alone that deserve to be there instead, and I should be highlighting those artists, but that’s kind of another story. Besides, DA has assembled their own legion of superstars for a panel on how to build your fan following amongst several other how-to events, including Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Wenqing “yuumei” Yan, & Stjepan “nebezial” Sejic, among others. So come on down, prepare to have your eyes amazed, and make sure to have some tomatoes ready for Mr. Liefeld.
(Taking place from the 24th to the 27th, 9:30 AM to 7:00 PM (5:00 PM on the 27th))
[Editor’s note: Rob’s a friend, and I would only bring tomatoes to him as a juicy snack. Not responsible for the rest of you -LYT]
5. Mattel and WWE: Over-the-Top-Action!
Well, the last time we saw one of Mattel’s WWE toys on the site, it featured Randy Orton wrestling a gorilla in a cage by slingshotting himself at it. So while Hulk Hogan and Daniel Bryan will be popping by here along with Michael Cole and Paul Heyman, I’m afraid I’m going to be disappointed unless either of them also debuts playsets featuring themselves where they wrestle gorillas. I will settle for them wrestling the yeti, the Jersey Devil, or a bear, though.
(Room 6DE, July 24th from 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM)
6. NASA’s Next Giant Leap
Well, seeing as how this is the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, it only seems fair to pay tribute to one of the most defining moments of science that capped off the legendary Space Race and opened up doors for countless possibilities of things to come. I don’t necessarily know if Seth Green was the best choice to lead this tribute, but whatever; you still get to hear about NASA’s possible plans for the future from Dr. Jim Green and Bobak Ferdowsi, along with legendary astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Mike Fincke. So basically, even if we don’t get around to discussing the likes of moon pizza and such, it should still be a stimulating discussion indeed.
(Room 6A, July 24th from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM)
7. George R. R. Martin Discusses In the House of the Worm
The legendary George R. R. Martin drops buys for a Q&A to discuss his upcoming In the House of the Worm comic book, his various novels, various projects in the works, & maybe his deep-seated desire to punch the one guy there who just has to make a joke about him being late. We get it, buddy, and we get that MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore. Also, maybe he’ll discuss wieners.
(Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, July 24th from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM)
8. The Fusion of Art and Style in Sunset Overdrive
YES, MAYBE I WILL MARRY SUNSET OVERDRIVE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!…*clears throat* Okay, I know I may have been a bit of a strong supporter of this game for the past year, albeit very slightly, but I have my reasons for believing in this game. And go figure, you get to see several of those reasons on display here as Sunset Overdrive’s creative team gives us an insight into the game’s acclaimed art style and signature look, complete with new gameplay footage and a truckload of Batman-style onomatopoeia. Come for the awe-inspiring visuals and then go check out the game and score some free energy drinks, classy t-shirts, and maybe one of those kick-ass Mondo posters! Fizzie demands that you celebrate consumerism anyway, so why not?
(Room 5AB, July 24th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM)
9. MTV Fan Fest & Fandom Awards with Linkin Park
…Yeah, look, I’m basically contractually obliged to mention this (in other words, an MTV exec has a gun to my head), hence why it’s here. In reality, best to avoid this show. The fact that MTV thought the band who performed the theme songs for every Bayformers film would be appealing to your average Comic Con attendee and that mtvU figured that The Fault In Our Stars, Glee and Pretty Little Liars have fandoms that could potentially be more deserving of praise than anything else geekdom has was bad enough, but having an award for the animated series with the best fandom and not including My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?? Now that’s just insulting. I think you made some people here cry, MTV. Shame.
(Petco Park, July 24th at 5:00 PM)
10. Cartoon Hangover: Bee and PuppyCat and Friends
Okay, odds are you’re going to see a metric ton of Fionna and Cake cosplay at SDCC alone, so you may as well come see the woman behind it all, Natasha Allegri, and the cast and crew behind her recent success that is Bee and PuppyCat. And not only will you get to hear more about the upcoming Bee and PuppyCat series on Cartoon Hangover, you’ll also get to see and hear from Adventure Time writer Jesse Moynihan and his brother Justin as they premiere their brand new animated short film, Manly. Yes, it’s a two-fer of all-new acclaimed Adventure Time alumni animations! Huzzah!
(Room 6A, July 24th from 5:50 PM to 6:30 PM)
11. The Walking Dead Escape
Yes, last year’s hit Walking Dead Escape returns for another year! Run a course either attempting to escape the ravaging Walkers or become a Walker and hunt the humans who are just going to end up fighting each other, whining over who ate the last can of pudding, and declare themselves to be the real monsters anyway. Those coming can pay $75 to participate as Survivor, $95 to participate as a Walker and receive a pro makeup session and Walker training, or $20 to be a spectator and thus immediately regret not spending more once everything starts.
(Petco Park, July 24th at 6:00 PM and July 25th at 11:55 PM)
12. Steam Powered Giraffe Comic-Con Show and The Aquabats 20th Anniversary Tour with Koo Koo Kanga Roo
One is a legendary group of robots who perform modern vaudeville and folk music, the other is a legendary group of superheroes who perform rock with punk and new wave influences. Depending on how long the shows run and the travel time between venues, this will either be a sheer nirvana of seeing two of the nerdiest bands ever back to back, or a truly sadistic choice you’ll have to make.
(Steam Powered Giraffe: North Park Theatre, July 24th at 6:00 PM)
(Aquabats: House of Blues, July 24th from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM)
13. Eat Like The Boxtrolls
Now, let’s assume that you’ve just walked away from the oxygen bar at the previously-mentioned Borderlands Laser Tag, still in PetCo Park and still feeling quite a bit dizzy and high, or least pretending like you are because you legally just did prescription drugs. What would naturally seem like a good idea to you at the moment? How about eating some bugs! But not just any, as the famous “Bug Chef” himself, David George Gordon, will be popping by a food truck to help promote The Boxtrolls with some of his edible bugs and insects. But not only will get a chance to eat like the Boxtrolls and finally answer you childhood joke of whether or not these things taste like chicken, you can actually get an autograph fom a Boxtroll…or at least one of their adopted kids, as they’ll have limited-edition posters signed by the film’s star, Isaac “Bran Stark” Hempstead-Wright. So yes, exclusive swag simply for devouring gross stuff. Truly every kid’s dream.
(PetCo Park, July 25th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM)
14. Digging E.T.: Behind the Scenes of the Xbox Originals Documentary, Atari: Game Over
So as you may recall, a while back Xbox helped to produce an excavation in the New Mexico landfill where the legendary 1983 Atari video game burial took place, where supposed truckloads of unsold Atari 2600 games that led to the 1983 video game crash – mainly copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – were buried and then covered up. And the excavation dug up the copies and proved this urban legend to be true, leading to this generation’s version of the moon landing…largely because several of us looked at it in awe, while the rest turned into conspiracy theorists convinced that the whole thing was faked.
Well, now we finally get to see the first glimpses of the documentary that came out of this excavation, Atari: Game Over, thus hopefully helping to prove what really happened. Xbox’s Major Nelson will lead such luminaries as Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari game designer Howard Scott Warshaw, award-winning producers Simon and Johnathan Chinn, and more as they discuss the experience and the making of the documentary, and eventually reveal whether or not you’re crazy.
(Room 5AB, July 25th from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM)
15. Zombies vs. Vampires: The Extinction Parade Survival Panel
Zombie Survival Guide and comic book author Max Brooks shows up to provide us with this tips on how to survive an apocalypse of zombies vs. vampires. Honestly, I’m kind of disappointed no one has ever brought up the idea of a werewolf apocalypse these days, since that’s the area I’d say we’re truly boned in, but this shall hopefully be quite the stimulating discussion as well. Granted, we also covered this territory before with that one Deadliest Warrior episode, but I’d say that such a topic needs to be handles with a touch more dignity. Also, depending on what types of vampires & zombies we’re dealing with, odds are I’d say the best solution is to just rig up some juntu stakes outside, board up the windows, and seal yourself up in your house with wall-to-wall Clif Bars and iced tea, but odds are I’m probably wrong, and Brooks probably has some much better strategies, so go take a look.
(Room 5AB, July 25th from 4:0 PM to 5:30 PM)
16. The Greatest GEEK Movies & TV Never Made
In a look back at what sadly could’ve been, a panel of expert filmmakers discuss the greatest bits of geek entertainment that were planned but ultimately scrapped, including the ’70s Star Trek reboot, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, a couple of denied David Lynch projects, and several others, possibly including the already-dead Zip-Line Cops. Needless to say, this is sure to be a hoot, particularly if they bring up the magnificence that was Heat Vision And Jack. Really, I’d consider it a crime if they didn’t bring it up.
(Room 7AB, July 25th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM)
17. Adventure Time: A Totally Algebraic Dramatic Reading
Well, you’ve watched the show and (hopefully) read the comics, and now for something completely different in the world of Adventure Time: A brand-new live radio play performed by the show’s voice actors designed to tie into the new mini-series comic Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy! Join head writer Kent Osborne for the special show, followed by room for some questions that give you time to chuck an egg at Osborne for supposedly killing of Root Beer Guy off-screen immediately followed by a comic with him as the main character that Osborne wrote himself (yeah, still bitter here, sorry).
(Horton Grand Theatre, July 25th from 6:15 PM to 7:15 PM)
18. The Musk of Tusk: An Evening with Kevin Smith
Well, it’s the moment of truth as a discussion and Q&A with Kevin Smith leads to the premiere trailer for Tusk, his walrus fetish film starring Justin Long that all his followers apparently demanded. Will it be a sickening piece of crap, a surprise odd hit, or anything in between? Will anyone bring up his recent Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet comic which has been really good so far, or just ask him questions about Ben Affleck as Batman? Will this be a train wreck, or will we get anything positive out of it? I don’t really know (heck, even the official description of this contains self-deprecation: “After all the interesting and exciting movie panels are over, Hall H belongs to a middle-aged man who once worked with BatFleck!”), and part of any interest in this might be morbid curiosity, but one thing’s for certain…odds are we will definitely be talking about something from this event the next day.
(Hall H, July 25th from 6:35 PM to 8:05 PM)
19. Queer Horror
There are indeed countless panels and discussions about the issues of race, gender, and diversity in popular culture at SDCC as always, but somehow this one stuck out to me as being the most unique and interesting. Because yeah, we’ve all seen horror films with homosexual subtext before, and the occasional gay character in a horror story, but is there actually a “gay horror” genre, and what is it like? Does the increased tolerance towards and increased prominence of the LGBT community mean a possible influence on horror stories? Well, I don’t actually have any snarky answers towards those, because this sounds legitimately intriguing. But maybe horror expert Sean Abley and his friends will have snark for you, so come find out!
(Room 28DE, July 25th, 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM)
20. He-Man.org Power Party
Open to those who register at the He-Man.org message boards, this party returns for its 5th year for all the He-Man and She-Ra fans out there to get together, discuss the toys, shows, comics and fandom as a whole, enjoy some drinks, host a trivia contest, and just generally have some good times. Although I bring this up because considering the allure of both He-Man and liquor, I figure at least one of us should know when and where to pick up Luke afterwards in order to get him safely back to the hotel.
(Hennessey’s Tavern, July 25th at 7:00 PM)
21. Worst Cartoons Ever!
Jerry Beck returns for the tenth straight year to highlight some of the most hilariously bad cartoons from eons past, highlighting the cheapest and most insane animation from the ’50s and ’60s. Half-assed edutainment, casual racism and of course, Rocket Robin Hood are all on the table for us to laugh out asses off at while thanking god we don’t feed our kids anything like this anymore…well, at least not until we’ve offed Johnny Test. And once you’re through here, you may as well get back in line for…
(Room 6BCF, July 25th from 8:15 PM to 9:15 PM)
22. The Sick & Twisted Gauntlet of Animation
…Always a classic! Come support democracy by coming to this annual circus of sheer insanity depravity and voting for your favorite cartoons live as you see them from a pit of such gold as banned NSFW Danish commercials for voting, Japanese zombie Claymation Star Trek spoofs, and an episode of Bravest Warriors directed by the creator of Dr. Tran! When the description for the event boasts that it hands out free barf bags, you know it’s a good sign!
(Room 6BCF, July 25th from 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM)
23. The Wonderful World of “Weird Al” Yankovic
If I seriously need to explain why anyone would interested in Weird Al hosting a discussion and Q&A on his career and his new album, please leave. Just…just leave. Leave. Leave the convention center, exit the grounds, get into the shuttle provided, rocket away into the air, leave Earth as you are not fit for it, exit the Milk Way, get as far away from us as possible, finally reach Planet Slor, inform your superiors that your attempts to infiltrate human society for the upcoming invasion failed because you made a crucial mistake in fitting in, tell them it involved actually needing an explanation as to why anyone enjoys Weird Al, watch as they react in horror over the existence of any sort of being who dares question Weird Al’s work, prepare for your imminent execution, and finally die. Either that or have someone smack you in the face. Either way.
(Horton Grand Theatre, July 26th from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM)
24. Japanese Visual Novels: Steins;Gate and Beyond
A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have given this presentation a second thought. But given that some of my recent gaming addictions have involved the likes of Zero Escape and Danganronpa, the current English American release of the massive hit Steins;Gate which came out to critical acclaim, and the surge in visual novels on Steam such as Long Live The Queen, Analogue: A Hate Story, and Sakura Spirit (yet ironically, no Steins;Gate yet, I’d say now is best time to pay attention to something that covers this ever-growing genre. So come see JAST USA owner Peter Payne as he outlines a history of the genre from the 1980s to now, covering the likes of dating sims, sci-fi adventures, and possibly that one game where you date pigeons (seriously, someone desired that?).
(Room 29A, July 26th from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM)
25. Toy Collecting In the Modern Age: The High Price of Having Fun
Picture courtesy of suanie on flickr
A discussion concerning the issues of rising action figure prices, the habits of current toy collectors, and what the toy companies shall do to counteract all of this mayhem. And considering Liz’s previous list and the fact this convention practically encourages attendees to fight tooth and nail over who gets a $40 My Little Pony figure of that one background character from that one episode, I’d attend just to see what will no doubt be dubbed “Most Ironic Panel” in action.
(Room 8, July 26th from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM)
26. Cartoon Network: The Regular Show Rock-a-Thon
Yes, it’s an event where you get to see some classic Regular Show episodes topped off with the premiere of the advance screening of a brand-new episode, but the real highlight here is a competition between fans to come of their best original Regular Show-themed songs. So if you’ve ever obsessively written an entire Mordecai and the Rigbys song for your fan fiction and was wondering when you’d ever get a chance to show it off in the best way possible, well, your time is now.
(Room 7AB, July 26th, 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM)
27. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
I admit that I foolishly wasn’t going to include this one at first, since despite the presence of the likes of Troy Baker, Dee Bradley Baker, and freaking Adam West, I didn’t think seeing some gameplay and character reveals for a new LEGO Batman would be all that intriguing, even with prizes being handed out…but then the game’s official Twitter account revealed the above picture, and holy crap. Is Adam West…actually going to be in the game? Like, will there be an unlockable playable Adam West that I can beat people up with? Will there at least be an Adam West minifig to be released? Will this lead to some sort of Lego Batman ’66 game or set sure to cause Tron boners of such a magnitude not seen since Pacific Rim? If the answer to any of this is “Yes”, then hot dang, this just got interesting!
(Room 6BCF, July 27th from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM)
28. Lumberjanes Merit Badges
…Okay, this isn’t an event or a panel the other stuff featured here, I just really wanted an excuse to mention Lumberjanes here. You know, as one last reminder that here are actual comics at this comic convention. Are you reading it yet? Because if the answer is no, then I have no choice to come over and personally hurt you. Anyhow, this is your chance to score these official Lumberjanes merit badges as seen and mentioned in the comic, so don’t miss out on them. Besides, by this point you’re already waist-deep in exclusives, so why not grab one of the best ones the show has (in addition to everything Liz mentioned)? And some more of the comics and variant covers? And maybe just just set up an altar to Lumberjanes in general? And maybe – and thanks for The Mary Sue for pointing this out right before my deadline – the exclusive WeLoveFine “Holy Kitten” t-shirt that’ll be at the BOOM! booth as well:
…Seriously, read it. And Kitten bless Ripley.
Well, those are my picks for some of the best stuff SDCC has to offer this year, at least until some of you either gladly share your additional picks and/or point out events I blatantly missed and thus proceed to scream at me in the comments for having not included them. But until then, toodle-oo, and enjoy the Con!
Previously by Kyle LeClair: