For five days each July, San Diego, CA, becomes a mecca for fans of all things related to popular culture, be it comics, films, novels, toys, art, video games, and every medium in between. Just a short walk down the street at The New Children's Museum, NerdHQ was in full swing Sunday afternoon, July 24th. Established by actor Zachary Levi in July 2011, the NerdHQ panels raise funds for Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that raises money to pay for cleft lip and palate surgery for children around the world.

As dusk waned, creators and publishers from the comics industry gathered for the “Oscars” of the industry, the 28th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards on Friday, July 22, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Administrator of the awards, editor, and publisher Jackie Estrada opened the ceremonies by explaining the voting and nomination process, followed by thanking sponsors and organizers of the event. Then, she introduced the special host of the evening, actor John Barrowman, known for his roles on Arrow and Torchwood, but who has also co-written with his sister Carole for Arrow: The Dark Archer (DC) and Torchwood (Titan). He was the perfect choice: representing both comics and Hollywood.

“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

Beneath a broken canopy of threatening rain clouds and rays of sunlight, square white tent peaks dotted the manicured green lawns of the urban campus, and it felt like the opening of a sweeping English novel as the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books got underway Saturday morning, April 9. Held at the University of Southern California campus, this cultural zeitgeist is touted as the largest of its kind in the U.S, annually attracting 150,000 visitors over the two-day event. In addition, on Saturday evening, the event hosted the 36th Annual Book Prizes with honors going to novelist James Patterson, among others.

Game of Thrones Psychology: The Mind is Dark and Full of Terrors is an upcoming book full of essays delving into the psyches and psychoses of the various cast members of the popular Game of Thrones universe. Several contributors to the book gathered at WonderCon in Room 515B to share their thoughts with fellow enthusiasts and share their expert opinions about the "best and worst" people of GoT.

Kodansha Comics is probably best known in the US (and among the WonderCon crowd) for bringing the hit manga, Attack on Titan, to English-speaking readers.  At 4:30 p.m., fans of the series, including some adorable cosplayers, stormed Room 515B for information on the upcoming Attack on Titan Anthology and other news from the publisher and members of the creative team behind the upcoming work.

On Saturday, March 26, moderator Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions) brought together a panel of geeky entrepreneurs to share their successes and challenges with eager WonderCon attendees in Room 502B.  Matthew Arevalo from Loot Crate, Donna Ricci of Geeky Teas (formerly Clockwork Couture), Janelle Badali from family business Badali Jewelry, and David Nett of LA’s own Nerdstrong Gym generously shared stories of how and when they identified as nerds/geeks and when that love developed into a viable business.

In the Glendale Civic Auditorium, the smell of old books waifed in the air, mingling with the myriad of ongoing conversations, the shuffling of plastic, and flipping of book pages as attendees to the 37th Annual Los Angles Vintage Paperback Show got underway last Sunday morning, April 3. With over sixty book sellers in attendance, the room was packed with stacked books on and under tables throughout the auditorium. Approximately 55 guests were set up at vendor tables or taking turn in the signing area in front of the stage, making themselves available to sign books and chat with fans. Some of the guest highlights included Lisa Morton, Cody Goodfellow, Joe R. Lansdale, William F. Nolan, and Wendy & Richard Pini (ElfQuest) – many who had long lines of people waiting to have one book or bags full of books to be signed.

James Ganiere (Chief Editor, Fallen Angel Press; CEO-Rio Vista Universal) moderated the Saturday afternoon WonderCon panel, “Romance in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” which assembled actress Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Star Trek Continues), writer Rebekah R. Ganiere (Fairelle series, President of Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapter), writer Mark O'Bannon (The Dream Crystal, Star Raiders), and actor James Kyson (Heroes, Nobility). Unfortunately, actress Mira Furlan was unable to attend due to being on a shoot. Why a romance panel? Romance sells well; at least 50% of the books sold are romance, and romance is a critical component of any story told.

He had hoped that his collaborator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, would have been able to join him, but, instead, Francesco Francavilla sat at the long table on his own, bringing new meaning to the “Spotlight on Francesco Francavilla” WonderCon panel. With a distinctive pulpy art style that punctuates the horror and noir stories he has worked on, it seems a strange marriage that his career would lead him to the All-American, boy-next-door comic, Afterlife with Archie, published by Archie Comics. Just looking at his covers evokes some of the early Abbott and Costello Meets [insert monster name] films or just about any of the 1940s-1950s horror B-movies that would eventually be featured on a Joe Bob Briggs or an Elvira show decades later. For 50 minutes, Francavilla entertained questions from the audience.

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