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Preview: San Diego Comic Fest

Fun, Casual, Friendly, And On An Intimate Scale

Jack Kirby's art work for Barry Ira Geller's script that ended up being used ...

Credit: Barry Ira Geller

Above: Jack Kirby's art work for Barry Ira Geller's script that ended up being used as cover for the CIA rescue of Iranian hostages. Geller has a panel at this year's Comic Fest to tell the real story behind "Argo."

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews San Diego Comic Fest's second year.


The San Diego Comic Fest is not affiliated with Comic-Con but it wants to create an event that harkens back to the early days of Comic-Con when it was smaller, more intimate, and you had a chance to hang out with guests.

San Diego Comic Fest, now in its second year, promotes itself as “fun, casual, friendly, and on an intimate scale.” Attendance is capped at 1500 and founder Mike Towry says panels will draw hundreds and not thousands.

“We learned that it was a lot of fun and that we wanted to do it again,” Towry explained, “It was really nice to be able to experience the way we used to have the Comic-Con when it was smaller, more intimate, and you had a chance to hang out and really converse with the different guests and the authors and artists. People really enjoyed the social aspects of it so we increased that a little bit this year to try and give more opportunities for people to socialize both with the professionals, the artists and writers, and filmmakers that they want to see but also fellow fans and just enjoy one and other’s company.”

The dealers room will also be more intimate and less crowded but Towry said “our dealers were very happy last year and most of them are coming back this year. In fact we had a waiting list to get into that and that’s our one line, we had a waiting list to get into the dealers room because it actually did very well because we attract a lot of people that are serious fans of comics and science fiction and they enjoy the opportunity to purchase the little treasures that they have been looking for.”

One new addition this year will be one-on-one panels.

Towry explained “it’s kind like ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ and so there’ll be like one person interviewing a guest and sort of in a more relaxed fashion, not so much like a panel or a personal speech but like that show.” (I will be moderating one on Sunday at 12:30 with Disney animator Willie Ito).

One panel Towry is especially excited about features Barry Ira Geller: “He’s going to be telling the true story behind the movie Argo because he’s actually the one who wrote the script and commissioned Jack Kirby to do the art for the project he was working on that ended up being used by the CIA to provide cover for the Iranian hostage rescue so of course Hollywood dramatizes things and tells the story they want to tell, that they think will be most entertaining so he’s going to be there telling the true story.”

Another panel of note features two veteran Disney animators.

Floyd Norman is our animation guest of honor, he was the first major African American animator to work at Disney and he actually worked personally with Walt Disney,” Towry said, “And we have another animator named Willie Ito, a Japanese American animator, they are going to be doing a very interesting panel and it’s going to be called “Who’s Afraid of Song of the South: Race and Ethnicity in Animation.” There’s a lot of controversy about the history of animation and some of the cartoons and trying to get a good perspective on those and I think it’s going to be a very exciting panel.

Other highlights include Phil Tippett, a former San Diegan who won Oscars for his effects work on “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Jurassic Park.” He will be highlighting a personal project he funded through KickStarter and he’ll be demoing new software for filmmakers of any level to use to add creature effects to their films or home movies. David Lloyd, the artist who created the iconic mask for “V For Vendetta” will be making the trek to San Diego from England. Local comics publisher Ted Adams of IDW Publishing will have multiple panels. Plus voice actor Jeremy Shada, who voices Finn in “Adventure Time,” will have a panel. There will also be kid friendly programming as well as movies projected on 16mm just like in the early days of Comic-Con.

San Diego Comic Fest runs Friday through Sunday at the Town and Country Convention Center in Mission Valley. And check out the Draco Tavern, “Earth’s only multi-species coffee bar.”

I will also be moderating a panel Friday at 7:30pm about podcasting so I hope you can join me for one of my panels.

A full, downloadable schedule is available here. Three-day general memberships are $50, students are $25, and children up to 12 are free.

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