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Arts & Culture

Comic-Con's Chief Communications Officer Gives Panel Recommendations

Skeletor searches for his arch-nemesis He-Man within the throngs of people at Comic-Con International, cosplay by Owen Berry. July 21, 2017
Nicholas McVicker
Skeletor searches for his arch-nemesis He-Man within the throngs of people at Comic-Con International, cosplay by Owen Berry. July 21, 2017
Comic-Con's Chief Communications Officer Gives Panel Recommendations
GUESTS: David Glanzer, Comic-Con chief communications and strategy officer Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Comecon preview night is tonight and Cape PBS arts reporter Betha komando. Checks in with the pop culture conventions. Chief Communications and Strategy Officer. David Glanzer. About what to expect this year. David Comecon is about to start and probably the biggest news is the fact that for the first time Harbord drive is going to be closed. So explain to people what this means and what it's going to do for Comecon. We were approached I think this has been in the works for some time between the convention center I think the city and as DPD for a way to try to reduce the craziness right in front of the facility. So by moving the shuttle buses on the Harbor Drive by not allowing any cars on to the front driveway will be all pedestrian. I think that they're hoping to have it be a little bit more safe a little bit more aware of you know security and we'll see how it goes. So you've kind of tried this approach out at one Rokan which is up in Anaheim. So what have you learned from that. When we first started in Anaheim Anaheim had a road that went directly into the very front of the convention center. At one point they ended up blocking that off and creating a plaza. And it's it's amazing right now. It ends up becoming I don't want to say function space because it's not really function space but it is a place for people to gather. We put our kiosks for RFID badges a little bit farther out. It's a great gathering place. People in costume people take pictures. People mill about it creates a really great community out there. We've added a food cart food trucks and whatnot so it's worked out in Anaheim really really well. And no wonder our sister show in Anaheim is kind of we have the ability with that show to go ahead and try new things and if they work well we can go ahead and try in San Diego. You know. Now is the size that Comecon was in 2002. So it gives us a great opportunity to try these things you know again the community at wunderkinds is really great in that plaza area. And I think we'll see a lot of that in San Diego too with the closure of Harbor Drive and that one section. Now this year it seems like there isn't that one or two huge panel that people are getting all excited about. For Hall H. And it seems like there's also a little bit more competition for you these days with other conventions coming out. Disney's gotten bigger in terms of their own conventions that they ran. So what are you seeing for this year in terms of that and in how that is kind of forecasting for the future. What are the interesting things as you know studios come every year. But the reality is not every studio comes every year. One of the things that savvy networks and studios realize is if they don't have something to pitch it's better to skip a year and come back with something that the fans will enjoy rather than come just to have a placeholder and try to promote something that people may not be very much interested in or attendees are very vocal they're huge fans and they know that when they're being sold to. There are a lot of other conventions out there. You know next year will be our fiftieth convention. So we've been doing this for a while. We have a great reputation. We put on the top of the show we want to attend ourselves and you know what one of the great things is when we sold or badges we sold them months in advance. We saw it very quickly. And the people who buy those badges realize that they're buying badges without knowing what the programming will be. So it's it's a surprising thing to people who don't come to the show a lot that somebody may be sitting out. Longtime veterans I think take it all in stride. Now the focus from the media is generally on Hall H and the big panels that are going on but there are hundreds of other hours of programming going on. So is there something you'd like to highlight maybe that people aren't aware of. Yeah you know I always tell people when I see them individually and they say oh you know I've got badges and I'm going to Comic Con this year and I'm trying to decide are thinking of what to see. I would say you know go through the schedule and look at not just the really big huge panels but look at the smaller panels too because there's there's amazing stuff going on. Somebody had written recently that there were over 2000 hours of programming across the four and a half days and they can be everything from like a sort of big movie studio panel of big TV network panel. But also stuff about you know how to break into common business there's a quickdraw panel. It's kind of an improv thing where people throw out ideas from the audience. And comics artists create their own panels. But it is educational I think a lot of our panels are educational you can have fun and still learn stuff. I'm actually very excited about a program on Thursday I think it's about basically propaganda art in Nazi Germany and it's fascinating because it'll take a look at that but I think perhaps the most interesting thing is that one of the guests on that panel is a survivor of several concentration camps including Auschwitz. And it will be interesting to hear her take on everything really but how art and popular art can be used you know for good and for bad. And I think that's going to be really fascinating panel. And there are a lot of different panels of that caliber at the show that sometimes people don't know about because they don't have big megaphones. So there's a lot of that I would suggest people go to the website or check out the whole program and pick some of those to attend. And this year is there's still going to be kind of this campus footprint for Comic Con so that it's not strictly what's in the convention center itself. Yes. What are the issues that we've had to deal with in the last few years really is the lack of space. We ran out of convention center space many years ago and luckily in working with local hotels and even the city we've been able to move programming to different hotels right across the street. We've taken some park space and allowed these experiential activations if you will I think Hulu Amazon NBC FX and Fox and others will will be there. So it does create kind of a campus atmosphere and those are sanctioned events and if you go to our Web site or download our app you'll see which ones those are. And there's differentiation for us between sanction and non sanction that is there's a lot of people who do stuff downtown the people that have worked with us know that you know this should be for Berridge attendees know that there are certain safety and other requirements that they need to adhere to that same to the other our divisions. But we just don't know. So the fiftieth is coming up. Are you already thinking in any way shape or form about what that might mean. And if there's going to be anything special we really are we have a committee that is looking at this and it's a big milestone. I was at the 25th anniversary and I thought you know that was a huge milestone which was. Here we are you know the break of 50. It's amazing because so much stuff has happened. Things are done so differently now than when I first started attending the convention. You know the way we used to get in touch with people and spread news was by phone or by letter you know and now people know instantaneously with instant messaging and blogs and podcasts and whatnot. Cell phones. So there's a lot of stuff I think we're looking at to do we want to highlight not our history. It should be a lot of fun. I have great great expectations. That was Comcast international chief communications and strategy officer David Glanzer speaking with KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando.

David Glanzer, Comic-Con's chief communications and strategy officer, usually has to address a lot of questions about the logistics of running a large pop culture convention. But Glanzer is also a fan of pop culture (especially "Star Wars" if all the toys in his office are any indication) and if he wasn't busy running the show he'd be attending panels.

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One panel he recommends that people seek out is Art During the Holocaust (Thursday, 1:30 p.m., Room 4).

The panel description states: "Panelists examine the art and propaganda that was seen during WW2 and the Holocaust. Art was used in so many ways along with the Nazi propaganda that destroyed so many innocent lives ... Panelists will include Ruth Goldschmiedova Sax (who survived three concentration camps between the ages of 13 and 17, including Auschwitz), Sandra Scheller (daughter and award-winning author of 'Try to Remember: Never Forget,' a book describing her mother's holocaust experiences), Robert Scott (owner of Comickaze Comics, San Diego), and Esther Finder (president and founder of Generations of the Shoah-an organization based in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors). Igor Goldkind (author, 'Is She Available?') moderates."

Glanzer said the media often focuses on the celebrities and studio panels of Hall H but Comic-Con has a mission statement to also provide education and many of the hundreds of hours of programming do just that.

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