One thing you don’t see a lot written about are the Comic-Con panels that don’t feature mostly Caucasian millionaires and focus on the niche aspects of the comics and entertainment industry. There’s over a hundred that take place during the convention’s four-day run. These hour-long sessions tend to be my favorite part of the con, partially because I am a loser who loves homework and partially because they are the parts of the event that really push the medium, diversity and the conversation about the culture the con celebrates forward, even if it’s done more quietly. Each and every one is held in one of the lecture halls in the San Diego Convention Center and, if you happen to fall upon a particularly good panel, can do a lot to inform the way you look at the next popular media you consume or create.
That said, a lot of them are dumb.
So instead of the go-to galleries of five hundred mouth-breathing nerds in expensive costumes and hocking whatever remains of network television, we at Paste present you with a game: Which of these overly specific panels took place at this year’s Comic-Con, and which did we make up? Ten are real, ten are not; answers below, no cheating, assassins are watching.
(All descriptions written by the author.)
A) “Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Star?” At a con already mobbed with the fame-hungry, this panel features a group of publicists, starmakers and YouTube personalities who have gaslighted the world into believing they are marginally talented so as to encourage mediocre attendees to leverage their limited ability to get sweet, sweet clicks.
B) “Food Network Graphic Novels Preview.” Join Bobby Flay, Jeff “The Sandwich King” Mauro and Giada De Laurentiis as they reveal the storylines to their new small press graphic novels, featuring the famous chefs in noir-style detective roles.
C) “Becoming Nerdstrong.” A panel that features a gym made specifically for nerds who are not comfortable in a traditional gym setting. Lots of buff people who know how to speak Elvish.
D) “Ghostbusters 101.” Spanning the 1980s to the present, this panel features members from every era of the Ghostbusters franchise, and addresses some of the gender-based controversy and “ableism in ghosts” brought up in the past handful of years.
E) “All Female Reboot of…” A panel spotlighting some of the major franchises currently being adapted into an ”all-female reboot” format, including Lord of the Flies and Animal House.
F) “Crash Bandicoot: Then and Now.” A panel intended to recap and celebrate Crash Bandicoot’s many years in the media, including his creator, his original voice and even a married couple who both legally changed their names to Crash Bandicoot and who named their children Coco and Dingodile.
G) “Comic Books After the Apocalypse.” Comic Con has a healthy attitude about the impending end of the world under the Trump administration, and assembled a panel discussing some of the most notable dystopian comics and novels of the past 50 years to brainstorm what to do with the con when democracy inevitably crumbles.
H) “Raising Fankids: Teaching Young Geeks to Be Self-Confident and Successful.” A gathering intended for loser parents and their loser kids.
I) “Wealthy Men Named Chris Starring in Superhero Movies.” A panel that tackles common tropes, often at the expense of diversity or thinking outside the box, used in superhero blockbuster movies today.
J) “How to Pitch Your Own Panel.” A meta-panel, if you will: Panelists give audience members advice on how to pitch, what they’ve pitched panels to Comic Con in past years and what makes a panel-worthy idea. Not confusing at all.
K) “Gumby’s Back!” A panel that, from what I could tell, continued to repeat its title to the audience for the duration of the panel in an attempt to get its under-25 audience to give a rat’s ass.
L) “Welcoming Deadpool into Your Library.” The only more disturbing Deadpool-themed panel that “Welcoming Deadpool into Your Lovemaking,” this is an instructional panel for librarian attendees on how to incorporate the world’s only “like totally random” pun machine into the nation’s dying libraries.
M) “Haley Joel Osment: A Good Actor Worthy of Your Attention.” Though only 29, Haley Joel Osment has already produced an unbelievable body of work. This panel and screening celebrates the Osment oeuvre, from Forrest Gump to his scenes in Silicon Valley.
N) “ASMR: Star Wars Style!” A panel of YouTube-based internet whisperers bring the auto-sensory meridian response phenomenon into the live sector, featuring famous personalities cosplaying in Star Wars gear while relaxing the audience into a Death Star-induced stupor.
O) “Bisexuality and Beyond: Deadpool Made Us Do It.” A panel that closely analyzes the sexual preferences of Hot Topic’s favorite son who’s one step removed from being a full-on steampunk nightmare, the insufferable Deadpool character.
P) “How to Turn Your Childhood Trauma into a Webcomic for an Extremely Small Audience.” A workshop directed at aspiring comic book artists who think their crummy life story would be interesting for another person to learn about, even if they’re dead wrong.
Q) “Save the Bees With Art.” A panel about how the bees are dying and, from what I gleaned for the 45 seconds I was there, how cosplayers can geek out with minimal impact to the environment.
R) “Klingon Lifestyles.” This is a panel that I had a lot of trouble with because it was called “Klingon Lifestyles” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
S) “Can I Sexually Identify as Deadpool?” Yet another disturbing Deadpool-themed panel as we wait for the whole ”what if superhero, but sarcastic?” thing to blow over.
T) “Nerdkids With Nunchucks.” A morning instructional section that ”turns nerd kids into nerd bullies,” and teaches some basic self-defense techniques for children who are attacked by bullies when it’s discovered that they’re trying to learn Klingon or something.
How’d you do? Test your knowledge of overly specific discussions that were had in a weekend that will come to be known as “the last weekend we all had healthcare” below:
Real Panels: A, C, D, F, H, K, L, O, Q, R.
Fake Panels: B, E, G, I, J, M, N, P, S, T.
Jamie Loftus is a comedian and writer. You can find her some of the time, most days at @hamburgerphone or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.