A Preview of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con

The San Diego Comic-Con is almost upon us, so here’s a look at what to expect. It will take place at the San Diego Convention Center from Thursday, July 21, through Sunday, July 24, 2011.

Wednesday is a special “Preview Night” that will offer lucky early visitors to the convention a “Special Sneak Peek” at upcoming shows, including Person of Interest from CBS, The Secret Circle from the CW, FOX’s mid-season replacement series Alcatraz, and Warner Bros.’ direct-to-Blu-Ray-and-DVD cartoon Supernatural: The Anime Series.

A highlight for movie buffs is the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, with screenings of movies in various categories competing for top honors – Thursday will feature Action and Animation, Friday will include Comics-Oriented, Humor, and Horror/Suspense, Saturday will spotlight Science Fiction and Fantasy and Documentaries, and Sunday will have more Documentaries and the Awards Presentation.

Here are some trends in the long line-up of fun panel discussions and presentations.

Comics in the spotlight - Hollywood might be getting all the glamour and glory at Comic-Con, but it's good to see the comic book industry actually stepping up and making their presence heard.  In addition to Marvel touting its multimedia successes, as well as all the independent comic publishers trying to be noticed amid all the hoopla, the big news is the risky relaunch of all its titles by DC Comics. The Superman reboot is already stirring controversy as fans cry foul over the silly new costume and the erasure of Clark Kent's marriage to Lois Lane as the continuity is wiped out and restarted from scratch.

An examination of gender roles in comics - The comic book industry has been stereotypically (but often justifiably) identified as a male dominant genre, but its good to see women starting to get the long overdue respect and attention that they deserve.  One panel called "Oh, You Sexy Geek!" has the following description: "Does displaying the sexiness of fangirls benefit or demean them? When geek girls show off, are they liberating themselves or pandering to men?" Another, called "No Damsels in Distress Here" examines kick-ass heroines and their female creators.  Other panels include "Her Universe: What Women Want in Their Female Sci-Fi Heroes" and "Girls Gone Genre."

Previews, previews, previews - Part of the appeal of Comic-Con is the chance for attendees to see upcoming clips or entire episodes and movies before they are released to the general public.  This year is no different as a bunch of sneak peaks are set to debut, including Ringer, Awake, the new Beavis and Butthead, Raven, Underworld Awakening, Attack the Block, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, The River, the Fright Night remake, the brand new ThunderCats, the rebooted Total Recall, The Amazing Spider-man, the animated Batman: Year One, Terra Nova, Snow White and the Huntsmen, Grimm, and screenings of the pilot for Locke & Key, the adaptation of the acclaimed Joe Hill graphic novel that unfortunately still hasn't been picked up for a full series.

Common topics - Some themes are repeated among all the panels and discussions.  Digitization (Web series, digital comics), legal issues (copyright and a series by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), and opportunities and tutorials for newcomers to break into the comic book industry. 

Debate - Genre fans are not shy about expressing their opinions and arguing the finer points of such thought provoking issues as which superhero is the strongest or coming up with a logical (if far-fetched) explanation for a glaring plothole or storytelling inconsistancy.  This year's discussions included such heated topics as "Books vs. Graphic Novels and Comics," "The Best and Worst Manga of the Year," "Is the Comic Book Doomed?" and "Worst Cartoons Ever."

Awards - In addition to the above-mentioned Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, other prestigious honors handed out at the convention include the Star Wars Fan Movie Awards, the San Diego International Children's Film Festival, and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

Stars - Celebrities scheduled to appear at the 2011 convention include Pee-Wee Herman, Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Guillermo del Toro, Sid and Marty Krofft, Matt Smith, and many more.

Nostalgia - Comic-Con attracts young and new fans, but it also builds on its heritage and offers some great content for veterans, such as "The Golden Age of the Fanzine," "That '70s Panel," "Watchmen: 25 Years Later," and "50 Years of Comic Fandom."

The 130,000 fans in attendance can also expect the usual creative costumes, wide variety of exhibitors (click here for the full list), and tons of surprises.

For the full schedule, click here:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wish I was there. Maybe next year.