Written by Sarah

My friend E, who, in the decade I’ve known him has missed only one Comic-Con, got all over me last year for calling Comic-Con “Dork Storm”. As you can see, I really took his words to heart. I really do mean “Dork Storm” with a great deal of affection, though. The last few years have seen the Rise of the Geek, so what was once a gathering of outsiders and The Fringe has become a massive industry event where movie studios and television companies throw down a lot of coin in hopes of luring the lucrative geek audience to their projects. I will poke fun at the Comic-Con geeks, and myself by extension, but if you ever get a chance to go to Comic-Con, I highly recommend it. It’s fun and the it’s the best people watching, bar none.

Special goings-on outside the convention: Cowboys and Aliens is having its world premiere during Comic-Con and while Captain America isn’t having a premiere or a panel, they are opening the movie a day early in San Diego and Chris Evans will be on hand. Lainey should have fun with that.

Once again I’m focusing on what’s happening on Comic-Con’s twin main stages, Hall H (movies) and Ballroom 20 (television), but I did notice a lot of TV activity happening at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront’s Indigo Ballroom, so I’ve marked those panels as “IB”. Here’s a rundown of what’s on tap for Comic-Con 2011.


Hall H:

The Comic-Con organizers have finally learned the lesson on how to handle Twilight and they’ve booked Breaking Dawn Part 1 into Hall H first thing on the first day. Get the Twihards in and out and let those seats turn over to people who actually care about the rest of the panels for the day. This should ease tensions between genre geeks and Twihards and make for smoother sailing in Hall H on Thursday. Sony is having an “Animation Showcase” which is featuring The Pirates! Band of Misfits, based on Gideon Defoe’s hilarious book series The Pirates! If you haven’t read these books, they’re tiny pieces of literary delight and I highly recommend them.

Fox and Robert Rodriguez’s Quick Draw Productions are both having panels without announcing any specific titles or talent. This seems kind of strange to me. I kind of see it from Rodriguez’s end, given that he’s a lone filmmaker hyping his own work, but I don’t get why Fox won’t just commit to three or four titles for their panel. In my head, Rodriguez’s spot will go like Kevin Smith’s annual gabfest—one filmmaker talking about himself for an hour—but Fox is mystifying. I’m betting they somehow involve Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The highlight of Thursday (to me) is the FilmDistrict panel since it includes Drive and Ryan Gosling is scheduled to appear. Please. You know he’ll kill it. Director Nicolas Winding Refn, Carey Mulligan, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman are also slated for the panel. Drive was a hit at Cannes in May and there’s some early Oscar buzz going for it. Yes. You heard that. Oscar buzz. And Comic-Con. That’s happening now.

Thursday’s Hall H schedule winds down with Entertainment Weekly’s “The Visionaries” panel featuring Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro. They’re both fanboy favorites so the hall should still be full at the end of the day.

Ballroom 20:

The Thursday television schedule features a biggie—Game of Thrones. Prediction: This is the year of TV and Game of Thrones will be one of the biggest winners of the convention. This panel is going to be PACKED. Peter Dinklage is scheduled to be on the panel, as well as Daenerys, Ser Jaime, Khal Drogo and Jon Snow. Author George R.R. Martin is moderating. Why this isn’t happening in Hall H on Sunday I don’t know. Next year, it will probably have to move to the bigger hall. Showtime is also having their panel on Thursday featuring Dexter, Shameless and the new Claire Danes vehicle Homeland. Danes isn’t appearing in support of her show. Compared to Game of Thrones, Showtime’s lineup looks a little limp this year. Sorry Dexter.

Do you watch Covert Affairs? It’s a decent enough show I guess. I only mention it here because Christopher Gorham and Sendhil Ramamurthy are appearing on the panel, which is being moderated by Oded Fehr. It’s like some kind of geek girl fantasy lineup. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new show, Ringer, will also have a panel in Ballroom 20 on Thursday and anything involving anyone to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer is always a big draw so I expect that panel to be full. Rounding out the day is the animated show Archer (IB). Do you watch Archer? It’s hilarious. If you’re not watching it, get on it.

Other interesting panels:

Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior asks the age-old question: Vampires or zombies? Their “vampire vs. zombies” panel is one of many zombie-themed panels this year, along with “The History of the Modern Zombie”, which features World War Z author Max Brooks alongside a panel of zombie experts and neuroscientists. Look, I only tell you about this stuff so that you’ll be prepared for the day the dead rise against us.

Elijah Wood and Jason Gann (who created the show in Australia) are part of the panel for FX’s Wilfred. Wood is a pretty big draw by himself. These are his people. They’ll turn out for him. Friday concludes with a sing along to Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, which has become something of a Comic Con tradition.


Hall H:

Paramount will be showcasing their 3D mocap monsters in their natural nightmare hellscape, The Adventures of Tin-Tin. Don’t look directly at them! The mocap monsters will melt the skin right off your face! Steven Spielberg will make his first Comic-Con appearance in support of the film, and I expect Peter Jackson to appear via satellite or taped message, too. Prediction: This panel is going to tank. One film panel is always good for it, and this year it’s going to be Tin-Tin.

Relativity Media is presenting the Edgar Allen Poe thriller Raven starring John Cusack, who will be part of the panel, and Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. Soderbergh is also expected to appear. Slightly more interesting to me is the Screen Gems panel. I don’t care about Underworld 4, except to see how overdressed Kate Beckinsale is (and will she change clothes for the Total Recall panel?), but they’re also promoting Attack the Block. This should be an excellent panel. The movie is GREAT and writer/director Joe Cornish is pretty entertaining and he’ll be joined by producer (and co-collaborator on the Tin-Tin script) Edgar Wright.

Colin Farrell is doubling down on Friday, appearing on behalf of Fright Night, along with Anton Yelchin, and Total Recall as part of Sony’s panel line-up. Sony is also presenting Nicholas Cage in the pointless Ghost Rider sequel, the comedy 30 Minutes or Less (no Danny McBride or Jesse Eisenberg, sadly), and The Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are both scheduled to appear and I CANNOT WAIT to photo assumption the alleged couple. My friend B wants everyone to know he thinks Spider-Man will get the most buzz.

Ballroom 20:

One of the biggest panels of the entire convention is on Friday—The Walking Dead. My friend AD made a good point: last year The Walking Dead had people dressed as zombies all over the convention to promote the show and no one cared and this year nobody will be able to get close to the panel. According to Comic-Con’s own tracking metric, The Walking Dead is the most popular panel going into the convention. Officer Rick (Andrew Lincoln), creator Robert Kirkman, show producer/runner Frank Darabont and pretty much the entire regular cast is scheduled to appear. Comic-Con prediction: Zombies will dominate the convention and The Walking Dead will be the single biggest property all weekend.

True Blood
is also having their panel on Friday and they have their entire cast appearing, too. This is always a popular panel and this year should be no different, though it likely won’t come close to the level Walking Dead reaches. And Children’s Hospital (IB) is having a panel, which if you aren’t watching this show WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING THIS SHOW?

Other interesting panels:

Legendary Pictures is having a “Preproduction Preview”, and I’m just curious to know exactly what that entails. There’s also another zombie-apocalypse preparation class offered, “The Science of Zombies: How possible is a zombie virus?” BE PREPARED.


Relativity is running another panel, this time for Tarsem Singh’s Immortals. The movie looks incredibly stupid but something tells me it will play to the Comic-Con crowd. These people bought into Sucker Punch last year, after all. The Knights of Badassdom panel unites Peter Dinklage, Community’s Danny Pudi, Ryan Kwanten and others to preview IndieVest’s fantasy spoof about a heavy metal dude who gets dragged into a LARP camp by his roommates. This seems designed to please a Comic-Con crowd, which, if Scott Pilgrim is any kind of gauge, doesn’t necessarily mean mainstream success.

Universal is bringing footage from Snow White and the Huntsman, which is baffling as the movie hasn’t started filming yet. So what is this, then? Wardrobe tests? Key art? Concept video? The four leads—Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin—will be on hand along with director Rupert Sanders. It’ll be interesting to see Stewart at Comic-Con for something other than Twilight and I suspect that Theron will cause more than one fanboy to spontaneously combust. Rounding out the day is First Look: Dorothy of Oz, an animated movie featuring Lea Michele. She’ll be sharing the stage with attention hog Martin Short. Cannot wait to see their inevitable round of one up-manship.

The last night of Comic-Con ends with An Early Evening with Kevin Smith, which is Smith’s annual panel in which he talks for an hour without taking a breath. I swear he could fart for ninety minutes and it would be the most genius thing anyone at Comic-Con has ever seen. I’m really starting to hate Kevin Smith.

Ballroom 20:

NBC’s always popular (at Comic-Con, anyway) Chuck makes its final appearance at the convention while the show is still in production, ahead of the final season which will air this fall. The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad are all having panels in Ballroom 20, as is The Vampire Diaries, which—wasn’t the turnout disappointing for that panel last year? Community and Charlie’s Angels are both over in that Indigo Ballroom situation. The Community panel is, like Chuck, always a crowd pleaser and promises lots of treats for fans.

Other interesting panels:

Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead is having his own feature panel, and screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski is part of the “Spotlight On” series. If you ever get a chance to see Straczynski speak, please do so. He is completely unintelligible. It’s hilarious watching people try to understand him. FX is having a pilot sneak peek but they haven’t given out any information about it. FX brought Wilfred, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy and an unnamed pilot. WHERE IS JUSTIFIED?


Hall H:

There’s no film stuff in Hall H on Sunday; instead it features some top-line television shows. Guaranteed stadium-fillers Glee, Supernatural, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy and the BBC’s Doctor Who all have panels going up on the last day. The one that I don’t get? The Cleveland Show. Does anyone actually watch that?

Other interesting panels:

Comic-Con rockstar Nathan Fillion has a “One on One” panel on Sunday, sure to draw a major crowd, and Max Brooks teaches his final zombie apocalypse preparation course, “Zombie Survival 101”. And Comic-Con ends with its new tradition, a screening of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode, “Once More with Feeling” in Hall H.

This year is dominated by top-notch television programming and zombies, and the one thing that combines those two, The Walking Dead, is the convention’s top draw. But I also expect Ryan Gosling/Drive and Andrew Garfield/Spider-Man to fare well with Hall H audiences, and for Tin-Tin to bomb out due to the sheer creepiness of motion capture. Comic-Con is upon us. Are you ready for the Dork Storm?