The Crime Buff's Guide to Comic Con International: San Diego 2014

Comic Con International: San Diego 2014, the four-day extravaganza of all things "comics and related popular artforms" taking place July 24-27, has a decidedly dark bent to it, as do many of the works it celebrates. With crime(fighting), villainy, and violence central to so much of the content presented, one would think there would be an easy way to filter down to the crime-focused programming, alas there is not. So...I'm to the rescue.

At first look, it seems like there are a few ways of isolating the crime-focused content, for example, there is a "Mysteries & Crime Dramas" tag, and there is a search feature for the programming, as well. But the search feature is only as good as the content's organization. Clicking through the "Mysteries & Crime Dramas" tag yields 21 items. Surely, there has to be more than 21 events scheduled with content relating to mystery or crime, no? Yes. Typing "crime" into the search box yielded 29 items, and there is a "Horror & Suspense" tag, too. Ok, better...but still, I felt like there had to be programming that I would be excited about that I was missing. I painstakingly (ok, it wasn't really that painstaking) went through each event listed and unearthed some absolutely, positively, undeniably crime related programming that was not tagged as such. My primary example being Bones a panel session devoted to the eponymous hit Fox show about FBI CASE FILES! Does it get crime-ier than that?

The website description says:

"Fan-favorite actors David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel and executive producer Stephen Nathan share secrets from the set, upcoming twists and turns, and what's in store for Booth and Brennan as Bones enters its milestone tenth season."

The Bones session, scheduled for Friday, July 25 at 12:30 PM is neither tagged "Mysteries & Crime Dramas" nor is it revealed using the search term "crime." It is tagged "Television." And P.S. the Hannibal: Embrace the Madness session isn't found via "Mysteries & Crime Dramas" or search term: "crime," either! I rest my case.

My list includes 136 sessions, spread out over the four-day event, and is still not exhaustive. Here is a general sketch of my reasoning behind what to include/exclude. I stayed away from content that is primarily fantasy and/or sci-fi, thusly I didn't include stuff like Dr. Who, True Blood or zombies, in general. There are sessions I did include where the focus isn't specific to crime, but the featured panelists' backgrounds mostly included content with a strong crime theme, and their pertinent contributions will likely relate back to crime-centric content. I included all things super-hero, because above all, they are crime-fighters and defenders of justice. I'm not well acquainted with every single item included, but a quick perusal indicates that what is may be of interest to people who fancy crime.

If I were going, these would be my MUSTS (descriptions courtesy of Comic Con International):

Behind the Music: Crime, Death and Resurrection
Thursday, July 24 • 10:30am - 11:30am
Murder, mayhem, mystery and more are all at the center of crime, death and resurrection, a Behind the Music panel featuring composers that create the music to some of your favorite television shows and movies! James Levine (American Horror Story), Jeff Russo (Fargo), Daniel Licht (Dexter), Brian Reitzell (Hannibal, 30 Days of Night), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers, The Last Ship, Ender's Game), Christopher Young (Deliver Us From Evil, Dominion, SpiderMan 3) as they share their secrets for getting us to the edge of our seats as blood spills on screen. With special guest moderator Shane West (Nikita, Salem)! With exclusive giveaways for fans!

Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael: Inside the Minds of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers
Thursday, July 24 • 8:00pm - 9:00pm
This terrible trio has terrified audiences worldwide...but what makes each one tick? Is Michael simply a sociopathic stalker, Freddy merely a manipulative monster, and Jason just a killing machine? Or will we find there's more to these slashers when we slice below the surface? Join forensic psychiatrists H. Eric Bender, M.D., Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., and Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., from Broadcast Thought, and very special guest Mark Swift (writer of Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th [2009]), as they analyze these villains' murderous motivations. Can we make sense of a vengeful boogeyman's sister obsession? Could fire turn a violent predator into a sadistic serial killer? Did "mommy issues" and bullying birth a brutish butcher? Who is the most dangerous killer, and which, if any, would be considered insane? Join the discussion moderated by horror-meister Evan Dickson of Bloody Disgusting! Discover the answers to these and other questions, and take a stab at these iconic slashers!

101 Ways to Kill a Man
Friday, July 25 • 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Coming up with creative ways to commit mayhem and murder is the lifeblood of these talented thriller authors. A fatal chimera virus; hybridized bioengineered parasites; murderous microchips; lethal electric stimuli; deathstrike via satellite targeting-how many ways can you kill someone? Top thriller authors Tobias Buckell (Hurricane Fever), Alex Hughes (Marked), M. A. Lawson (Rosarito Beach), Stephen Blackmoore (Broken Souls), Gregg Hurwitz (Don't Look Back), and moderator Jeff Ayers (Long Overdue) discuss the art of delivering deadly thrills. But don't worry too much. A little light reading never killed anyone.

Sixty Years of Seduction: Right, Wrong, and Wertham
Friday, July 25 • 8:00pm - 9:00pm
In his book Seduction of the Innocent, published 60 years ago, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham claimed that comic books were a leading cause of juvenile delinquency. Forever cast as a villain in the eyes of comic fandom, Wertham is, at worst, represented as an enemy of free speech and, at best, a misguided moral crusader. But is either characterization correct? Was Wertham right, wrong, or both? Do his mid-century hypotheses about media violence have any relevance today? And why are we still talking about him? Author Bradford W. Wright (Comic Book Nation) will offer an historical perspective of Wertham. Library and information science professor Carol Tilley (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) will explore and critique Dr. Wertham's research methodology, while psychiatrists Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D. and Praveen R. Kambam, M.D. (Broadcast Thought) will discuss Wertham' s views on juvenile delinquency within the context of current media violence research. Professor Robert A. Emmons, Jr., director of the forthcoming documentary film Diagram for Delinquents, will share his insights in his effort to create a more complete picture of Wertham. Emmons will also discuss the zeitgeist of America during the crusade against comics as one of the first media backlashes in American history. Attorney Jeff Trexler (The Beat, The Comics Journal) moderates.

To see what else made the cut, here is my customized, crime-centric, Comic Con 2014 schedule:

Have fun (and stay safe)!