Counting Down to Star Wars at Comic-Con

Pablo Hidalgo | July 12, 2012

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San Diego Comic-Con International begins today, and I’ll be moderating a trio of panels this weekend. As I rush to make sure that we’re all clear on what we’ll be talking about, and all the video and visuals are good to go, I’m thinking back to my first Comic-Con, back in the summer of 2001. It was a very different animal back then.

But before I get to that, here’s how the program guide describes what we’ll be talking about:

Friday, July 13th: 12:00-1:00 A Quirky Point of View: The Fun Star Wars Books of Matthew Reinhart and Jeffrey Brown— New York Times bestsellers Matthew Reinhart (Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure) and Jeffrey Brown (Darth Vader and Son) discuss writing and illustrating the world of Star Wars for two generations of fans. Matthew will discuss the joys and challenges of creating Star Wars pop-up vehicles, aliens, droids, and Jedi, while Jeffrey will discuss finding inspiration in fatherhood for his humorous graphic novel that puts a new spin on the classic saga. Moderated by author Pablo Hidalgo (Star Wars: Head to Head). Room 7AB

Friday, July 13th: 3:00-4:00 The Future of Star Wars Publishing: Dark Horse & Del Rey— Find out what’s coming up in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars publishing. Editors Randy Stradley and Dave Marshall from Dark Horse Comics discuss what’s next for Agent of the EmpireDawn of the Jedi, Lost Tribe of the Sith, and Darth Maul, as well as reveal a new secret title that’s on the horizon. From Del Rey Books editors Frank Parisi and Erich Schoeneweiss, along with author Troy Denning (Apocalypse), look at new novels coming later this year from fan-favorite authors Timothy Zahn and Aaron Allston, as well as give a peek into 2013. Also on the panel is Jennifer Heddle, senior editor at LucasBooks. Moderated by author Pablo Hidalgo (Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion). Room 7AB

Saturday, July 14th: 2:00-3:00 Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Onto Season 5—The aftermath of season 4 has left the Star Wars galaxy a very dangerous place: Darth Maul is alive, Asajj Ventress is a bounty hunter, and the Mandalorian Death Watch is deadlier than ever. How will these threads continue in season 5 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars? Find out in this behind-the-scenes panel, which will feature new clips, new insights, and more. Join the discussion with supervising director Dave Filoni and head writer Matt Michnovetz(who wrote season 4′s powerful Umbara arc). Moderated by Star Wars author Pablo HidalgoRoom 6DE

If you can’t make it to Comic-Con, and there’s a question you want to make sure gets asked, post it in the comments below. I might pluck from these comments as the panels progress.

Eleven years ago, it was pretty much just me and Steve Sansweet from Lucasfilm who would go for the purposes of presentation. Steve would take the stage, and I, intrepid boy reporter, would snap pictures and write about it anonymously after the fact for the website.  Here’s what I wrote at the time:

On Saturday, July 21, an eager audience crowded into a large auditorium at San Diego Comic-Con International, looking to catch an exclusive glimpse at Episode II, a film not due out until next year. By the sound of their jubilant cheers and applause, they weren’t disappointed.

“[Comic-Con] is the place where it began for Star Wars and Lucasfilm in 1976,” said Lucasfilm’s Steve Sansweet. “This is the place where Star Wars was really first introduced to a fan audience. So, it makes sense that this is the place where we introduce the premiere of Star Wars: Connections.”

Twice during the weekend, Sansweet screened the special video put together specifically for conventions. Star Wars: Connections explores the evolving Star Wars story, and how the elements and characters of Episode II tie the ever-growing saga closer together.

So, an exclusive video presentation a year before a big blockbuster release… Surely, you think, Hall H must have gone nuts. But this was 2001 – and Hall H wasn’t yet the show business stage that it’s now since become. No, the Star Wars: Connections piece ran in adjoined rooms 6AB, and 6CDEF, much like The Clone Wars panel is running this year.

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That was my first taste of the convention circuit. Steve was kept busy that summer, moving Connections from town-to-town. I accompanied him to San Diego, Milwaukee and Atlanta. I remember at Gen-Con that year being the guy to set up a VCR to play the tape. And to run it again, I rewound the tape and pressed play. A far cry from the glitzy celeb-packed showstoppers that are the norm these days!

Here are more of my photos from that Comic-Con.

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Pablo Hidalgo is paid to know the difference between Romba and Lumat and dies a little bit inside when you misspell Wookiee or Lucasfilm. He lives in San Francisco.

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