Later this week, I’ll be neck-deep in what is often called the Super Bowl of geekdom: Comic-Con 2010. An expected 125,000 rabid fans of all things pop culture will crowd the San Diego Convention Center eager to see glimpses of the movies, TV shows, video games and, yes, even comic books that will dominate the landscape … until it’s time for next year’s Con.
Starting Wednesday, I’ll be posting daily blogs here and Twitter updates at @ChannelGuide and @ChannelGuideSRH detailing what I’m seeing. Some of the panels I’ll be hitting include AMC’s The Walking Dead, The Hub’s upcoming new cartoon series for G.I. Joe and Transformers, NBC’s The Event, Starz’s Spartacus prequel series, and — hopefully — a sneak peek at TRON Legacy.
But no one can see everything Comic-Con has to offer, so here’s a peek at some of the nerdier panels I’ll be missing. BTW, “nerd” is used as a term of affection here, as I count myself and most of my friends among their numbers. If I were trying to be mean, I’d say “dork.”
Iron Man and Rocket Men: Is Stark Industries an Appropriate Model for Private-Industry Space Exploration? — Here is the perfect melding of geek and nerd, contemplating how a character like Tony Stark would fare in the real world as it pertains to advances in space travel. The guests include representatives from XCOR Aerospace and Quicklaunch, private companies that focus on space exploration, having developed means for space tourism and a space cannon, made for launching supplies into space.
The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Turns 40 — Comic-Con, lest we forget, started 41 years ago as a lovefest for comic book fans. An essential part of that passion includes collecting comics, a practice that has both saved the industry and nearly destroyed it on several occasions. Here is a chance to marvel (see what I did there?) not at a particular comic, but at the price guide that sets the standard for how much that mint-condition copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 is fetching these days.
Abusing the Sci of Sci-Fi — Call it the science-fiction equivalent of watching CSI with a forensics expert. A group of TV/movie writers, along with a couple of real-life scientists, get together to discuss their favorite moments in good and bad Hollywood science. What, all that shape-shifting and alternate-universe stuff I love in Fringe is just a bunch of hooey?
Archie Comics: Cooler Than Ever! — Aren’t you curious as to who still reads Archie comics? I wonder that every time I see them crowd the bookstore rack. Despite them having been around for more than 600 issues, I’ve never seen anybody buy one — heck, I’ve never seen anybody read one. Well, almost nobody.
Star Wars Trivia Game Show — This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Comic-Con always designates one day to be “Star Wars Day,” a daylong series of events pertaining to George Lucas’ space saga. It all culminates with this contest to see who is the most versed on such topics as the Battle of Tanaab and the Caamas Document. Rumor is that many Bothans died to bring the winners their information.
America’s Greatest Otaku — I suppose your first question is, “What’s an otaku?” and then “Is it contagious?” It’s actually a term for someone obsessed with Japanese pop culture, particularly manga, anime and video games. I’m one of those who tried to get into the genre several times, but never could make it much beyond Akira and Miyazaki. But these folks are among the most dedicated anywhere, and TOKYOPOP magazine will give the crowd news about its upcoming reality show that highlights the search for the biggest otaku stateside.
Ball-Jointed Dolls Collector Group — Another fascinating (OK, some would say creepy) subculture focused on the collection and customization of eerily lifelike polyurethane resin dolls articulated with ball and socket joints. See, something for everyone!
“The Batman Dreams of Hieronymous Machines,” or The Matt Fraction Spotlight Panel — Matt Fraction is one of the comics’ world most colorful characters, known for his penchant for slipping in musical references in his writing. He takes the stage to perform a spoken-word history of comics that’s sure to be unlike anything you’d read in a textbook. Oh, and Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader will be there, too. ‘Nuff said.
Starship Smackdown XVIII: Ultimate Platinum Collector’s Edition — The official Comic-Con description even calls this one “the geekiest and most beloved panel of all time,” so who am I to argue? The case is pretty strong, as the idea is to pit fictional spaceships such as the Starship Enterprise (Star Trek) vs. an Imperial Star Destroyer (Star Wars) to see which one would blast the other to bits. A group of “spaceshipologists” (aka writers/producers from the world of sci-fi TV and movies) debate the merits of each ship until the audience decides the winner.