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Comic-Con Goes Virtual in 2020

Comic-Con@Home promises a packed schedule, including many panels with steampunk appeal

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
San Diego Comic-Con Panel
In screen: His Dark Materials panel at 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC-BY SA 2.0) via Flickr.

Comic-Con International has announced the program schedule and other details for Comic-Con@Home, and it appears to be one of the most ambitious efforts to produce a virtual convention in the era of COVID-19. The free online event will include more than 350 panels, along with a masquerade contest, virtual exhibit hall, and more. It all happens July 22-26, though most panels will be viewable afterward.

The virtual convention replaces the in-person Comic-Con, which was set for July 23-26 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Panel Highlights

The virtual panels, many with celebrity guests, will cover a wide range of topics for creators and fans of comic books, movies, TV shows, and other media. The following should be of particular interest to steampunk enthusiasts. All times are Pacific Daylight Time.

A Zoom with Joss Whedon features the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and most notably for steampunk fans, The Nevers. The latter is a forthcoming HBO science fiction series “about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.”

When: Friday, July 24, 5 p.m.-6 p.m.

Whedon will also appear in A Conversation with Nathan Fillion, which looks at the career of the actor who starred in Firefly and Castle.

When: Sunday, July 26, 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Update: The Friday Joss Whedon session was removed from the schedule. It's not yet clear if he will appear at the Nathan Fillion panel.

His Dark Materials is a panel and Q&A session with executive producers Jane Tranter and Jack Thorne, along with cast members Dafne Keen (Lyra), Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Coulter), Ariyon Bakare (Lord Boreal), Amir Wilson (Will Parry), Andrew Scott (John Parry), and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby).

When: Thursday, July 23, 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

Graphic Novel or Illustrated Book: You Make the Call is a creative panel with Armand Baltazar, Rick Veitch, Mark Wheatley, Karen Green, and J. C. Vaughn. Baltazar is author of Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vaslantic, a middle grade adventure novel with steampunk elements. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 2018 Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention. Wheatley is co-creator (with G.D. Falksen) of Doctor Cthulittle, a Lovecraftian take on Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle books (“Only one man in the universe is mad enough to talk back to the Elder Gods”).

When: Thursday, July 23, 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

San Diego Comic-Con Cosplayers
Cosplayers at 2013 San Diego Comic-Con. Photo by Heng Ung (CC-BY 2.0) via Flickr.

History Goes Graphic features creators of comic books based on historical events. Panelists include David F. Walker (The Life of Frederick Douglass); Mikki Kendall (Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists); and Tom Scioli (Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics).

When: Friday, July 24, 12 noon-1 p.m.

License to Thrill is about graphic novel adaptations for kids. Panelists include James Otis Smith, author and illustrator of Black Heroes of the Wild West, and David Bowles, author of Rise of the Halfling King and Clockwork Curandera. The latter is a steampunk graphic novel series set to launch next spring.

When: Wednesday, July 22, 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Public Domain Comics: From Sherlock Holmes to Mickey Mouse and Beyond is about adapting public domain properties to comics. The panelists include Michael Lovitz, a trademark and copyright attorney who founded Comic Book Law School.

When: Sunday, July 26, 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Reclaiming Indigenous History and Culture Through Comics features Johnny Bear Contreras, Kilma Lattin, and Chag Lowry.

When: Friday, July 24, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

20 Years of DeviantArt: An Oral History will be led by co-founders Angelo Sotira and Andrew McCann, plus chief creative officer Justin Maller and director of community relations Danielle McKay.

When: Saturday, July 25, 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Cosplay - the Spice of Life!!! will offer costuming insights from Catherine M. Fisher, Bob Mogg, Loki Sanlok, and Dan Moyer. Mogg, aka The Iron Tailor, is a costumer and propmaker who specializes in steampunk.

When: Friday, July 24, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

Over 30 Cosplay is a panel with John D. Callison, Tony Swatton, Patricia Tallman, Chad Edward Lee Evett, Mary Sorenson Schwacher, Anders Scott Hudson, Sherman Blakley, and Jen Greeley.

When: Sunday, July 26, 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Two panels will focus on the Doctor Who franchise, including one about the new Time Lord Victorious comic series and one that poses the question, Who’s the Best Doctor Who?

Not Steampunk, But. . .

It’s not steampunk related, but Star Trek fans will want to check out the Star Trek Universe Virtual Panel (Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.) featuring the lead cast members from the series Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard.

Comic-Con@Home will also have panels with creators and cast members from Wynonna Earp, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Walking Dead, and more.

Amazon will present panels on its Amazon Prime series The Boys, Upload, Truth Seekers, and Utopia, but apparently not Carnival Row. Truth Seekers, starring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, is a forthcoming supernatural comedy series about paranormal investigators.

In conjunction with Comic-Con@Home, Amazon will also launch Amazon Virtual-Con, with creator interviews, live artist drawing sessions, and other convention-themed programming. A schedule will be available on the morning of July 23. Content will be available in front of the Amazon Prime paywall through July 26.

To view the panels, you’ll be able to click on links in the panel descriptions, or you can watch them on the Comic-Con YouTube channel. Most will be available for viewing after the convention, but the organizers say that some may be viewable only for a limited time. You can sign up for a free MySCHED account to maintain your own convention schedule and share it with friends.

More Programming

The Online Exhibit Hall, which goes live on Wednesday, July 22, will feature listings of all exhibitors who were signed to appear at the live convention, some with promotional links and exclusive product offerings.

The Virtual Masquerade Costume Competition will use a Tumblr page to display photos and videos submitted by cosplayers. A panel of judges will determine award winners in various categories. Entries for the competition are now closed.

The organizers are also hosting the “Create Your Own Comic-Con@Home Experience,” in which participants are invited to submit a short video showing how they’ve re-created a convention experience in their homes. The page includes downloadable badges and convention center signs plus video clips and recorded announcements.

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