San Diego Comic-Con was canceled this year for the first time in its half-century history, only to be replaced by something remarkable. The biggest general pop culture event in the U.S. has spawned a virtual conference, styled as Comic-Con At Home, which boasts hundreds of panels and events — all of them free.
Considering the drastic change in format, and the general uncertainty in the entertainment sector, the organizers have managed to cobble together a pretty full program. There are omissions: Paramount and Universal have pulled out, and Marvel and Lucasfilm aren’t presenting full slates. On the animation side, though, there’s still plenty to watch. Comic-Con is typically a good place to catch both insightful historical discussions and reveals of new shows or seasons, and that hasn’t changed.
Comic-Con At Home runs July 22–26 (Wed–Sun) — the very dates on which 130,000-plus attendees were supposed to descend on the San Diego Convention Center. The panels, most of which are pre-recorded, will generally be hosted on Youtube, and will be free to watch. We dread to think what this is costing Comic-Con International, the non-profit that runs the convention, although its chief communications officer David Glanzer has told Variety that it has the financial buffer to survive until next year.
Explore the full schedule here, or read on for our selection of the 12 intriguing animation panels this year, along with their official descriptions…
Crunchyroll Industry Panel
What? Hear about all the latest and greatest anime and manga coming out of Crunchyroll straight from the source, panelists Adam Sheehan (director of events, Crunchyroll) and Lauren Stevens (events manager, Crunchyroll). Special prize giveaway and virtual goodies available during the panel.
What? Find out what it takes to create the sonic worlds of your favorite animated shows! Learn how creatives in entertainment write songs, create sounds, and compose music for projects like the Harley Quinn animated series, Central Park, JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, King of the Hill, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, and more! Featuring panelist songwriters Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (Central Park), and composers Jefferson Friedman (Harley Quinn), Roger Neill (JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales), Sebastian Evans (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Tim Davies (Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia). Moderated by actors Keith David (JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, Gargoyles) and Alan Tudyk (Frozen, Harley Quinn).
What? JG Quintel, creator of the Emmy-winning Regular Show, discusses his new HBO Max series Close Enough with a panel and table read. Close Enough is a surreal animated comedy about a married couple, their five-year-old daughter, and their two divorced best friends/roommates all living together on the east side of Los Angeles.
Jason Mantzoukas, Gabrielle Walsh, Kimiko Glenn, and Jessica DiCicco will join Quintel to discuss the show’s themes of navigating the transitional 30s, juggling work and kids, and pursuing your dreams, while avoiding time-traveling snails, stripper clowns, and murderous mannequins. Moderated by Regular Show’s William Salyers.
What? ASIFA–Hollywood and some of the brightest talents in animation will assemble for a lively discussion about the inner workings of the animation biz! Moderator David Derks (vice president of ASIFA–Hollywood VP), Jorge Gutierrez (The Book of Life), Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse), Brooke Keesling (head of animation talent development at Bento Box), Mike Hollingsworth (Bojack Horseman), and Alonso Ramirez Ramos (Disney Mickey Mouse).
What? 2020 marks what would have been legendary animator Ray Harryhausen’s 100th birthday. To mark this occasion, the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation present an exclusive look into the incredible collection which was gathered over a lifetime of creativity. Join Ray’s daughter Vanessa Harryhausen (foundation trustee), John Walsh (foundation trustee), and Connor Heaney (collections manager) for a chance to get close to some of Ray’s most iconic creations, as the three share memories and secrets from the archive, celebrating a century of cinema magic.
Water, Earth, Fire, Air: Continuing the Avatar Legacy
What? Dark Horse Comics, Abrams Books, and Nickelodeon are thrilled to treat fans to a panel worthy of the Avatar! Join Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra creators and writers, Michael DiMartino, Faith Erin Hicks, F.C. Yee, and Gene Luen Yang for a further exploration of the beloved world as it has grown and changed since the animated series has ended.
What? Show creators of Robot Chicken, Samurai Jack, Primal, Black Dynamite, Lazor Wulf, and Final Space share their favorite San Diego Comic-Con memories. Panelists include Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Genndy Tartakovsky, Carl Jones, Henry Bonsu, and Olan Rogers.
What? The Emmy Award-winning animated Fox series Bob’s Burgers invites fans into their homes for a virtual panel with all of the laughs and surprises they generally bring to the Indigo Ballroom. Creator and executive producer Loren Bouchard will break news about the upcoming season, and the always entertaining cast including H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Dan Mintz, and Larry Murphy will have you howling with laughter with never-before-seen footage, followed by a lively panel discussion and fan Q&A.
What? Meet the pioneering team from Halon Entertainment (The Mandalorian, The Batman, Logan, Ford v Ferrari, Borderlands 3, God of War, and the soon-to-be-released Free Guy) as their executive and creatives discuss virtual production, the impact of Covid-19, and the challenges of transitioning to a completely remote workforce, as well as how Hollywood can proceed with production during the pandemic utilizing real-time workflows.
Warner Archive’s Secret Origins of Saturday Morning Cartoons
What? Dip behind the curtain to reveal the beginnings of the beloved tradition of Saturday morning cartoons with movie historian, author, and tv personality Leonard Maltin (Entertainment Tonight), animation historian and author Jerry Beck (Animation Scoop), Warner Archive Home Entertainment senior vice president of theatre catalog marketing George Feltenstein, and the Warner Archive Podcast team of D.W. Ferranti and Matthew Patterson.
The panelists will offer a grand history of the evolution of animation — from silver screen shorts to full-fledged television cartoons — with glimpses along the way of Tex Avery, Popeye, and Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, as well as Space Ghost and Dinoboy, Jonny Quest, Lippy the Lion, and more!
What? Meet the masters of stop motion who have conquered 13 Ariel Awards for animation in 20 years and more around the world. Currently working on computer animated and full stop motion feature films, these bold Mexicans are about to take the world under the wing and guidance of none other than Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro. Karla Castañeda (La Noria), Luis Téllez (Viva El Rey), Sofía Carrillo (La Casa Triste), Juan José Medina (Jaulas), Rita Basulto (Lluvia en los ojos), León Fernández (Taller de corazones), and Rene Castillo (Poncho Balón). Moderated by Rodolfo Guzman.
What? The star-studded voice cast of Hoops, a new adult animated series for Netflix launching this summer from 20th Century Fox Television, gathered for an irreverent-in-the-best-way conversation about coming together to make this show that follows a foul-mouthed high school basketball coach who is sure he’ll hit the big leagues if he can only turn his terrible team around.
Voice stars Jake Johnson, Rob Riggle, Ron Funches, Natasha Leggero, Cleo King, and A.D. Miles join creator and executive producer Ben Hoffman and moderator/guest voice star Max Greenfield (Johnson’s former New Girl co-star) for a truly wild and hilarious Q&A. Fans will be treated to an exclusive first look at footage from the premiere episode. Hoops comes from writer-comedian Ben Hoffman (The Late Late Show with James Corden, Archer), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie), with animation produced by Bento Box (Bob’s Burgers).