San Diego Comic-Con is just around the corner and event/panel announcements are dropping left and right. I'll be arriving Wednesday for Preview Night where early screenings of the new Flash and Constantine shows will be debuted but they run during exhibition hall hours so forget that! Offsite you can check out a screening of Warner Brothers' new age take on Bill Paxton's Twister, Into the Storm in the Gaslamp District as well as see displays and props from Godzilla to hype up the home video release. In a strange bit of scheduling, Image Expo, the industry conference where the independent publishing powerhouse trots out special guests for announcements, will be held next door at the Hilton Bayfront. Maybe not that strange since throngs of creators will already be in town and they can draft from the abundant media and crowd.
Panel wise there's over 1,000 to choose from over 4 days highlighting just about everything creative arts where you can work on your illustrating, painting, pitching, publishing, writing, self-promotion and legal skills. Writers and artists from all eras will get their light as I noticed Bill Finger, Neal Adams, John Romita, Jr, Mark Waid, Len Wein, Jim Steranko and many, many more will be topics of discussion. For the kid in us you'll get updates from video game giant Capcom, the annual Street Fighter panel and an hour celebrating the 90's. Anniversary wise Batman keeps on celebrating his 75th while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rings in 30 years with several panels focused on the comic books, cartoons, toys and movies complete with Ernie Reyes, Jr. appearance! Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo also celebrates 30 awesome trips around the sun with an anniversary panel while Disney's Gargoyles cartoon turns 20 as well.
Randomly, Hollywood directors David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino will be hitting San Diego to discuss the legacy of Fight Club from novel to movie and the new Django Unchained comic book which has the hero meeting Zorro?! Stop-motion animation innovator Phil Tippet will be on deck to discuss his career and future work as well. Speaking of Hollywood, this year's Hall H line up is surprisingly sparse. So far there are no confirmed sneaks at new Terminator, Stars Wars or Jurassic Park chapters but fans will get a look at The Hobbit, Marvel's upcoming slate and I'm sure new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick. Sadly, Lionsgate is nowhere to be found which is surprisingly as the new Hunger Games flick hits in November but really I'm talking about no Expendables 3 panel! Lionsgate has had a pretty heavy presence at Con for the last few years where in 2010 The Expendables took out Con king Scott Pilgrim at the box office. Their floor booth is always crazy with tons of giveaway posters and pins. But given recent misfires like Red 2, Escape Plan, Dredd and Ender's Game, maybe they're spending their money elsewhere. IGN has bestowed an action icon award for the first two films and thrown a huge party but maybe since being bought the new owners don't want to spend the dough? Who knows.
Could this lack of studio presence signal the start of Comic-Con's "downfall"? By that I mean that the hype train could be over as heat from Comic-Con doesn't always equal real world success. Just look at Superman Returns and The Green Lantern; 6,000 screaming fans equaled tepid box office. Then you had Avatar which received a cool reception from Con goers in 2009 but became the biggest earner in history so who knows. Personally, it would be nice to not have to deal with ALL the Hollywood BS of casual fans and parties taking up space and you'd probably have less people crying about not being able to get tickets. Don't get me wrong, seeing Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson bring a fan to the stage and take photos with him for his birthday was amazing and a true Comic-Con moment but having to get in line at 5:00AM or camping out or sitting in the Hall all day to see one panel is just getting ridiculous as there's so much more to see outside.