Comic-Con: 10 Noteworthy Comic Book Panels

Time Traveling - Kevin Huizenga Drawn & Quarterly Publicity-H 2019
Kevin Huizenga/Drawn & Quarterly
The San Diego convention will unveil the future of X-Men, feature appearances from Robert Kirkman and Thanos creator Jim Starlin, and include conversations about women in the industry.

The full schedule of programming has been unveiled for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which is set to run July 18-21, bringing with it the usual staggering amount of panels and appearances. With almost every publisher holding panels to tease and promote upcoming releases and multiple creators and topics getting their own time in the spotlight, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything happening. Thankfully for those attending, I've has chosen 10 comic book-related panels that you should focus your time on.

A brief note on the process: I’ve tried to shy away from straight publisher panels promoting specific titles in my selections and head towards topics and discussions worthy of attention — although a couple of publisher panels sneaked on, nonetheless. I’ve also avoiding mentioning panels that the Heat Vision team appears on, for fear of being biased.

Thursday July 18
Jim Starlin: The Infinity Gauntlet Saga and Beyond — If any veteran comic creator has earned a victory lap at Comic-Con this year, it’s Starlin; he is, after all, the man behind the storyline that gave Marvel Studios its biggest hits to date. If the writers and directors behind Avengers: Endgame get their own Hall H panels, it’s only fair that Starlin get his own spotlight to talk about his own career. (He’s also the writer of the Batman story that had the 1-900 number where fans could vote whether or not to kill Robin, so he’s certainly got stories to tell beyond Thanos.) (10 a.m.-11 a.m., Room 7AB)

The Making of a Graphic Novel Publisher: Random House Graphic — Last year, it was announced that Gina Gagliano — one of the most beloved and well-respected figures in comics publishing — was moving from First Second to Penguin Random House, where she’d head up a new graphic novel imprint. More than a year after that news, Gagliano talks about what’s happened since, and what it’s taken to create Random House Graphic’s debut lineup, which is due in bookstores next year. (2 p.m.-3 p.m., Room 28DE)

Skybound: In Conversation With Robert Kirkman — Even if Kirkman hadn’t just made news by ended the long-running Walking Dead comic book series in a move that surprised everyone from fans to comic store owners, this spotlight panel would likely be one of the convention’s must-see panels, as he’s one of the most charming and entertaining comic creators to grace a convention stage — not to mention one of the more blunt, as well. Will he go into detail as to what brought him to close out the comic book adventures of humanity’s survivors? If nothing else, we can expect that he’s going to be asked at least once. (3 p.m.-4 p.m., Room 6A)

Friday July 19
Jimmy Olsen, Kirby and More — Even for those who aren’t fans of Jack "The King" Kirby and his seminal 1970s run on DC’s Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen — and if you’re not, why not? — this panel promises to be something to see, bringing together two of alternate comics’ biggest names (Seth and Gilbert Hernandez) and two beloved veterans known for their superhero work (Kurt Busiek and former DC president Paul Levitz) as they talk about shared passions and the comics that made them the creators they are today. (10 a.m.-11 a.m., Room 28DE)

Time, Memory and Comics Storytelling — Seth Hernandez also shows up in this panel, which also features The Time Traveller’s Wife author Audrey Neiffenegger, The River at Night’s Kevin Huizenga and Jimmy Corrigan cartoonist Chris Ware. All four are talking about the intangibles that are part of making comics; expect something high-minded, effortlessly educational and surprisingly enjoyable and amusing. (4 p.m.-5 p.m., Room 28DE)

Super-Powered YA: DC Graphic Novels for Your #TBR Pile — DC has no fewer than 47 panels across the entire convention, including a showcase with publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee on Thursday, and a spotlight on the creators nominated for an Eisner Award on Friday afternoon. This panel, which focuses on the young reader graphic novels that DC launched earlier this year, is likely to be one of the most eye-opening and informative panels of the entire lineup, given the success of the material with readers, librarians and retailers. If this is likely to be a large part of DC’s future, what does that future look like? (6 p.m.-7 p.m., Room 23ABC)

Saturday July 20
Superpower to the People: Making Comics Work for Its Workers — It’s an important —if rarely discussed — part of the comic book industry and a subject that’s beginning to become more talked-about and more vital in light of recent layoffs and reorganizations, so it’s only fitting that comics labor rights are the topic of this hourlong panel featuring creators and editors from different eras of the business, including former Vertigo editor Joan Hilty and colorist Marissa Louise. (10 a.m.-11 a.m., Room 29AB)

Expanding the Black Comics CanonPublishers Weekly editor Calvin Reid leads a discussion about a new slate of comics and a new generation of creators that address and examine the black experience in comic form, with a lineup that’s hard to beat: Upgrade Soul’s Ezra Claytan Daniels, Hot Comb writer/artist Ebony Flowers, David Walker of Naomi and Bitter Root fame and the great Alitha Martinez (Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, the upcoming Omni). (11 a.m.-12 p.m., Room 9)

Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing — Ahead of his X-Men franchise relaunch at the end of the month, Jonathan Hickman takes center stage at this panel to tease what’s lying ahead for Marvel’s mutants. The official description of the panel touts secrets that can’t even be hinted at, so don’t be too surprised if there are announcements of whatever is to follow Hickman’s House of X and Power of X miniseries… (1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m., Room 6A)

Sunday July 21
Friends of Lulu: We Changed Comics — Those present at the formation of Friends of Lulu — an organization created to get more women and girls involved in comic books 25 years ago — will reminisce and consider how successful the organization has been in achieving its goal and what problems remain to be solved even with a more diverse industry today. (11:00am - 12:00pm, Room 32AB)