Congratulations! You've made it to San Diego Comic Con. After surviving the trial by fire that is getting tickets, finding a room and securing transportation, you are ready to do your victory lap through the districts... err... panels and absorb expert advice from pros, rub elbows with industry insiders and generally be inspired.
Here are five panels for comics creators that, if missed, will set off a wave of rage and regret:
The Black Panel
Always a source of entertainment, controversy and invaluable insight, The Black Panel is a SDCC tradition. It brings together creatives from a variety of media entities to discuss issues affecting creatives of color. Don't let the title fool you - it's not a panel solely for Black people - and if you want to be in entertainment, you better recognize the sweeping call for diversity in media. That understanding starts Friday at the doors of 5AB at 10 a.m.
This year's panel consists of actor and best-selling recording artist Ne-Yo (Ghost: The God Killer, Non-Fiction), legendary former Batman editor and Comic Book Resources columnist Joe Illidge, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Karen Hunter, prolific TV director and creator of the hit graphic novel series, Legend of the Mantamaji, Eric Dean Seaton and visionary 2015 Bill Finger Award recipient for Excellence in Comic Book Writing and legendary Black Panther writer Don McGregor. Michael Davis, Milestone co-founder and comics bad boy, once again acts as moderator for the event.
Nobody's Damsel: Writing for Tomorrow's Women
Does your chiseled chin story lead need a girlfriend? The Nobody's Damsel panel will get you thinking about better ways to create a great female character - like starting with her having an actual personality instead of starting with her petite waist and uncanny ability to get kidnapped.
Moderated by D'nae Kingsley, industry pros share their tips on creating female characters that resonate with the growing audience of female comic enthusiasts. The fans are are out there spending money and the last thing you want is your comic to become a case study in everything that is wrong with comics today.
Make your way to Room 25ABC Thursday July 9, 2015 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. for this awesome panel.
Kelly Sue DeConnick Writing Workshop
A comics story burns in your heart and pictures dance through your mind, but how do you get what's in your head down on paper? Eisner Award nominee for Best Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick - you know, the woman behind Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel - has a kickass workshop that will provide you with an overview of comic scriptwriting, writing styles and even exercises. Bring something to write with and be ready to sit at the master's feet.
The workshop takes place Thursday July 9, 2015 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. in room 2.
Artists as Brands: Rise of the Artist Entrepreneur
The oft-romanticized idea of the starving artist creating art that is real and true (again, while starving) is slowly falling by the wayside. Today, artists are taking more control of their brands and building financially sustainable careers that are still meaningfully connected to their audiences.
Greg Spalenka moderates this annual San Diego Comic Con panel discussion where artists learn strategies on how to create an income without 'selling their souls.' Panelists include the Shiflett Brothers, Jeff Soto, Daniel M. Davis, Diana Levin, and Melissa Pagluica - and there is even a free giveaway.
Comic Con How To: Proper Pitching and Promoting Yourself 1.5
Every creator has to pitch their work. Whether you're talking with distributors, chasing down industry titans or chatting with the media, Bryan Tillman has something for you in his popular panel. Make your way on Saturday, July 11 to Room 2 at 5:00 p.m. to get tips on presentation, body language, elevator pitches, standing out, interview skills and how to make an opportunity when there doesn't seem to be one.
Tillman is the owner and CEO of Kaiser Studio Productions and is the academic director for game art and design, visual effects and motion graphics, media arts and animation, and visual game programming at the Art Institute of Washington DC.
San Diego Comic Con can leave conference goers with a lot of regret - "Why did I wear these shoes?," "I shouldn't have eaten that...," and the favorite: "I shouldn't have gotten that steampunk, vampire Iron Man tattoo." One thing you don't have to regret is missing out on great panels that can help further your craft and career as a creator.