We've drawn your attention to several instances where Wizard World comic conventions have been ramping up the educational level of some of their programming to the point that it has attracted attention, and certainly provided a welcome place for fans to essentially soak up a great deal of knowledge about comics history and hear from experts about how comics are made and how the industry functions. Wizard World Chicago is already underway and actually there was some programming on Thursday night (whoops, sorry, missed listing those panels), but there is a remarkable amount of programming still to follow over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
If you need a break from the show floor, and you want to hear from creators before you approach them at a signing so you feel you know their work and can bring in some geek cred points on the industry, these panels are the place to be. Learn about issues of censorship, processes of coloring comics, Batman's history, the 75th anniversary of many Marvel comics and more, including a Q&A with Stan Lee himself. It's all open to ticket holders and it's a fine opportunity to educate yourself about the medium you love.
Those comics-focused panels this weekend are:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 22
12:30 – 1:15PM: 1939: BATMAN'S BEGINNING AND THE YEAR THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING WITH THOMPSON, MASSENGILL, CHARET & FINGEROTH (ROOM 2)
75 years ago, as fateful events that would lead to the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 were coming together in Europe, the U.S.A. was experiencing, in the same year, an explosion of popular culture. In 1939, Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27; Timely (later Marvel) Comics released Marvel Comics #1, showcasing the first Marvel superheroes, Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch; and Hollywood produced classic films including The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and Stagecoach. Discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including Maggie Thompson (The Comics Buyers Guide; Maggie's World), Ron Massengill (Superman expert and pioneering Chicago comics retailer), Larry Charet (owner of Larry's Comics and co-founder of the Chicago Comic Con) and Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero).
2:30 – 3:15PM: CONSPIRACY CIRCUS: THE WARREN COMMISSION REPORT ON THE JFK ASSASSINATION 50TH ANNIVERSARY GRAPHIC NOVEL WITH DAN MISHKIN AND DANNY FINGEROTH (ROOM 2)
As with movies, TV, and novels, comics creators have been fascinated with the facts—and the maddening mysteries—surrounding the murder of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The still-controversial Warren Commission issued its report on the assassination on September 27, 1964. Just in time for that anniversary, Abrams ComicsArts is releasing The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assassination by Dan Mishkin, Ernie Colon, and Jerzy Drozd. The book's writer, Dan Mishkin (Amethyst; Blue Devil) discusses the book and the commission's history with Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man; Studs Terkel's Working) who is writing a graphic novel biography (drawn by legendary artist Rick Geary) of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.
4:30 – 5:15PM HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH COMICS, NOT JUST CREATE THEM, WITH DEVIL'S DUE'S JOSH BLAYLOCK (ROOM 2)
There's no such thing as breaking in (to Comics)! Creating Comics, self-publishing, and traditional publishing have been disrupted. With that said, how do you stand out? And "break in"? Josh Blaylock has done all three, building a comic book company from an artist alley table to a chart-topping operation managing billion dollar licensed properties and expanding to Hollywood. Then he lost everything… only to use the new landscape of Comics to build it all over again. A veteran who had to "break in" to Comics again, and rebuild a company, now with an entirely new successful publishing library, Josh will show you the ropes as he discusses his own amazing journey! Danny Fingeroth (The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels) moderates.
5:30 – 8:15PM: SCREENING AND DISCUSSION: "DIAGRAM FOR DELINQUENTS," THE STORY OF FREDRIC WERTHAM AND THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF COMICS! POST-FILM DISCUSSION WITH CAROL TILLEY, PRODUCER JULIAN DARIUS, GEORGE HAGENAUER & DANNY FINGEROTH (ROOM 2)
Join us for a screening of the new documentary Diagram for Delinquents, which captures the zeitgeist of late 1940s and early 1950s America and investigates how the funny books found themselves on the fire. Using expert and comic book insider interviews, never seen before historical photographs and films, and animation, Diagram goes further than any previous comic book documentary to explore and understand the controversial figure at the center of this American tale: Fredric Wertham. After the screening, there will be a fascinating discussion of Wertham and his legacy with one of the film's producers, Julian Darius, as well as Wertham researcher Carol Tilley and comics historians George Hagenauer (Men's Adventure Magazines in Postwar America) and Danny Fingeroth (The Stan Lee Universe).
SATURDAY, AUGUST 23
1:00 – 1:45PM 100 YEARS OF SUPER! CELEBRATING THE 100TH BIRTHDAYS OF BATMAN CO-CREATOR BILL FINGER AND SUPERMAN CREATORS JERRY SIEGEL & JOE SHUSTER, WITH MAGGIE THOMPSON, RON MASSENGILL, DAN MISHKIN AND DANNY FINGEROTH (ROOM 2)
More than 75 years after the debuts of their creations—Superman and Batman—and on what would have been their 100th birthday years, Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman) and Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster (creators of Superman) are still in the news, both for the mega-successes of their creations, as well as the never-ending battles over credit and money involving those characters. Today, an all-star panel celebrates the titanic trio's centennials and discusses their legacies. Panelists include Maggie Thompson (The Comics Buyers Guide; Maggie's World), Ron Massengill (Superman expert), Dan Mishkin (Warren Commission Report; Blue Devil) and Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero).
2:00 – 2:45PM CELEBRATING THE FIRST COMIC BOOK: "NEW FUN" COMICS 80TH ANNIVERSARY! WITH MAGGIE THOMPSON, RON MASSENGILL, LARRY CHARET AND GEORGE HAGENAUER & JIM BROZMAN. (PLUS: LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE AND L'IL ABNER'S 80TH BIRTHDAYS, TOO!) (ROOM 2)
Eighty years ago, in 1934, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, through his company National Allied Publications (later to become DC Comics) released the first regular, ongoing comic book composed of new material, New Fun Comics! Celebrating this milestone—as well as the 80th anniversaries of the debuts of classic comic strips Little Orphan Annie and L'il Abner—are Maggie Thompson (The Comics Buyers Guide; Maggie's World), Ron Massengill (comics historian and pioneering Chicago comics retailer), Larry Charet (owner of Larry's Comics and co-founder of the Chicago Comic Con), George Hagenauer (Men's Adventure Magazines in Postwar America; many items form his collection are on display at the 2014 Kenosha Festival of Cartooning) and Jim Brozman (Dick Tracy; Green Hornet). Danny Fingeroth (The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels) moderates.
5:00 – 5:45PM SUPERSTAR ARTISTS: LEINIL YU, KEVIN WEST, MIKEY BABINSKI & ADELSO CORONA (ROOM 2)
Five top comics artists talk about their careers, their craft, the comics business and whatever else might come up—and may even show you some of their top-secret techniques! Join peerless pencilers Leinil Yu (Wolverine; Fantastic Four) and Kevin West (Guardians of the Galaxy; The Authority) and acclaimed inkers Mikey Babinski (Deadpool; Spider-Man) and Adelso Corona (Deadpool; Blindside) for this eye-popping panel. Danny Fingeroth (How to Create Comics from Script to Print) moderates.
6:00 – 6:45PM THE SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS CENSORSHIP WITH WERTHAM EXPERT CAROL TILLEY (ROOM 2)
In 1954, comic books were put on trial by the US Government whose Senate investigation prompted the birth of the Comics Code, a censorship body that shackled the medium for decades. New research by scholar Carol Tilley reveals a secret history behind the trials, including insights into the methods of Dr. Fredric Wertham whose findings weren't merely faulty, but also fabricated! Go behind the scenes of this fateful moment in comics history with Wertham researcher Carol Tilley (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and learn the untold stories of Fredric Wertham, Estes Kefauver and the kids who tried to fight the tide of anti-comics momentum. Danny Fingeroth (Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society) moderates.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 24
11:30 – 12:15PM ONE-ON-ONE WITH STAN LEE (ROOM 24)
There is only one Stan "The Man" Lee. Co-creator of the X-Men, the Avengers, Spider-Man, Agents of SHIELD, Iron Man, and countless other characters, Lee—at age 91!—is still going strong with his Pow! Entertainment company and projects such as Stan Lee's Mighty 7! Danny Fingeroth, longtime Stan-colleague—and co-editor (with Roy Thomas) of The Stan Lee Universe—interviews Stan about his incredible career—and then makes sure there's plenty of time for questions from the audience!
12:30 – 1:15PM FROM CAP'S SHIELD TO AGENTS OF SHIELD (AND GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!): MARVEL COMICS AT 75 WITH DANNY FINGEROTH AND MAGGIE THOMPSON (ROOM 2)
In 1939, Marvel Comics #1 debuted, unleashing The Sub-Mariner and The Human Torch on the world, and launching what would come to be known as the Marvel Universe. Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man; The Stan Lee Universe; longtime Marvel writer/editor, researcher on Taschen's upcoming 75 Years of Marvel: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen) and Maggie Thompson (The Comics Buyers Guide; Maggie's World) present an illustrated tour through the more than seven decades of the phenomenon that is Marvel.
1:30 – 2:15PM HOW TO WRITE COMICS WITH MARV WOLFMAN, DAN MISHKIN, AND DANNY FINGEROTH (ROOM 2)
Accomplished comics writers Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans; Blade), Dan Mishkin (Amethyst; Blue Devil), and Danny Fingeroth (How to Create Comics From Script to Print) show and tell you how to write comics and graphic novels, going from initial idea to outline to script to finished story. Plus, the panelists will answer your questions about both the creative and business sides of the comics writing profession, including how to find an artist to work with (hint: a comics convention is the number one place!) and how to write exciting dialogue!.
2:30 – 3:15PM HOW TO COLOR COMICS WITH FANTASTIC FOUR'S LINDA LESSMANN REINHOLD AND THE LIFE AFTER'S GABRIEL BAUTISTA (ROOM 2)
With literally millions of colors in their digital palettes, comics colorists have a more challenging job than ever, with the responsibility of adding mood to the stories they work on, while keeping the narrative clear and compelling. Ace color artists Linda Lessmann Reinhold (Spider-Man; Fantastic Four) and Gabriel Bautista (aka GABO; The Life After; All-Star Western) discusses their careers and their craft. Includes DEMONSTRATIONS OF HOW COMICS ARE COLORED! Moderated by Danny Fingeroth (How to Create Comics From Script to Print).